Voted the happiest place on Earth, it’s no wonder that Vanuatu draws more and more visitors every year. This little South Pacific gem is definitely coming into its own. It is a place where you can sit in a hammock strung between two palm trees, a wildly exotic concoction in your hand, watching the palm fronds sway in the breeze and be only 3 hours away from the east coast of Australia.
Vila is the capital and just as relaxed as the rest of the island of Efate. It reflects a cross section of cultures – the local Ni-Vanuatu, the migrant Vietnamese and Chinese traders and snippets from the joint British and French rule from early in the 20th century.
Of course one of the best things about staying in Vila is its proximity to everything, nothing is too far and everywhere needs ten minutes to get to – at least it does if you speak to a local. And the locals are who set this place apart, they’re always ready with a smile and a greeting when you walk down the street or need some directions.
Mixed in with duty free shops, French restaurants and the local markets are a wonderful array of resorts catering for all holidaymakers, from families to the ever burgeoning honeymoon market. Over the past few years many new resorts have sprung up giving visitors a wide choice of accommodations.
There are of course the well established like Iririki Resort which sits on its own little island right in Vila harbour or you can venture a little further afield to Hideaway Island (just 300 metres offshore), the location of the only known underwater post office in the world, where you put on flippers and a snorkel to post your postcard.
Just outside of Vila you will find one of Vanuatu’s most famous landmarks, the Mele Cascades Waterfall. This is a wonderful place to escape the heat and it is definitely worth it to get to the top to take a high pressured shower under the waterfall’s sprays. Allow at least an hour and a half to view the waterfalls. The Mele Cascades are a series of tributaries that flow a long way, so feel free to jump in whenever it takes your fancy.
For those with even more time there is a lot more of Vanuatu to discover. You can walk up the edge of an active volcano, dive into reef-filed oceans, or simply sit back and watch the land-divers plummet down an assembled wooden tower attached only by the vines on their feet.
Air Vanuatu and Virgin Australia will fly you to/from Australia and there are flights and boats between the islands, so you can take your time to get to know this little nation. Now is the time to book your honeymoon or take your family and visit Vanuatu, you are invited to come and explore and, you never know you may just find the secret to happiness.