It’s 9:00am and life-jacketed tourists, bellies full following a hot buffet breakfast, dart and weave on colourful catamarans in front of Iririki Island.
The harbour sparkles.
A local fisherman paddles his outrigger canoe to drop his nets behind the island.
On the harbour front at La Tentation restaurant, the manager, Nick Smelik, stoically shrugs off his hangover and three-hours sleep and serves a cappuccino to photographer, Andrew Read. Andrew has a wedding at 10:30am.
There’s no rush in the second floor boardroom of Barrett & Partners, accountants. Around the fine timber table, with sweeping harbour views, Lindsay, Adrian and Mark sit, short-sleeved and no ties, casually giving advice to an Australian investor. Vanuatu is a tax haven. There are legitimate investors and some a tad dodgy. Another Vanuatu accountant, Robert Agius, sits in Australia, with bail but without passport, awaiting the findings of a tax scam investigation. Vanuatu can be a sunny place for shady characters.
At the souvenir and handcraft markets outside, women in Mother Hubbard dresses laugh and chatter. A young, freckle-faced girl sits, patiently, having her hair braided. At the nearby Mama’s fruit and vegie market, pikininis sleep on woven mats while their mothers tend to business. Jenny, from Sunset Bungalows, collects flowing stems of Bird of Paradise to contribute to the wedding arch. No rush. But she hopes Andrew won’t be late.
Another day has begun on ‘island time’, and it will stay on that time until well into the night.
“Discover What Matters” is the current tourism ‘brand’ for Vanuatu. There’s a lot more to do and see than sit by a swimming pool with a colourful cocktail (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Port Vila hugs the prettiest harbour in the Pacific and most resorts are in and around Vila. It’s easy to get about for shopping, sightseeing and sampling some terrific restaurants. Mainly thanks to the French influence the cuisine on offer is superb and varied but that’s just part of the Vanuatu experience.
There’s excellent diving, snorkelling and game fishing as well as waterfalls, caves, horse riding, golf, parasailing, abseiling, cruises, river kayaking, mountain biking, bushwalking, myriad cultural experiences and an active volcano. There is a rich Melanesian culture with some villages on the outer islands still adhering to traditional customs and lifestyle.
There are over 100 tribal languages spoken throughout the 83 islands but everyone speaks English, which is one of the three official languages along with French and Bislama (pidgin English). The ni-Vanuatu people are reserved but warm, genuine and welcoming. From the moment you step from the plane you are greeted with tropical weather and that wonderful thing called ‘island time’. Relax and go with the flow that is part of this beguiling, seductive, surprising and sometimes mysterious tropical paradise. As Canadian travel writer, David Stanley, says… “Away from the packaged day tours and commercial resorts, this unpolished jewel of the South Pacific is still a land of adventure.”
Some links for more on Vanuatu:
- Resort wedding packages – Resort Weddings
- Tropical honeymoon packages – Tropical Honeymoons
- Wedding packages for cruise ship passengers – Cruise Vanuatu
- Dedicated honeymoon site – Honeymoon Vanuatu
- Comprehensive information website – Vanuatu A to Z
- School and study tours – Study Vanuatu
- Vanuatu sightseeing and activities – Go Vanuatu
- Same sex couples holidays – Gay Vanuatu
- Schoolies in Vanuatu – Schoolies Vanuatu