Vanuatu – Efate

We spent a week lounging on Vanuatu’s 3rd largest island of Efate. The national capital city of Port Vila can be found on the south coast, and we flew into its petite international airport at Bauerfield. Our original plan only had us in Port Vila for a few days but with Air Vanuatu’s ever fluctuating schedule, we ended up with an extended stay. Our home was the budget Pacific Paradise Motel, and we were happily upgraded to an en-suite triple. With free WiFi, hot water, fridge, free coffee/tea, and communal kitchen, this was one of the best bargains found in the Pacific at under $25 a day. Since we had been on the go for the past 6 weeks in Fiji, we used our time in Efate for a bit of R&R. During our down time, we did manage to: squeeze in a couple walks around Port Vila (quaint capital city with a vibrant produce market), swing into the Blue Lagoon, get entertained by villagers dancing in traditional tribal gear, learn about Vanuatu’s WWII history, snorkel at Survivor’s beach, listen to school kids perform a repertoire of songs, and soak in countless pools at the Mele Cascades. Efate certainly has its charms and we were glad we didn’t write it off. Next up we will be flying to the outer islands of Pentecost, Espiritu Santo, and Tanna before returning briefly to Efate for our outbound international flight.

Flying over Port Vila on the island of Efate Becky smiles upon arrival to Vanuatu A string band welcomes us to Vanuatu Port Vila waterfront view Carved totem poles are a common sight throughout Port Vila Scenic helicopter flights lure in the super rich; Port Vila Kava shop with the logo "the best way to finish off your day"; Port Vila Wall painting at a handicraft market; Port Vila Ni-Vanuatu dolls for sale at the handicraft market Traditional masks from the outer islands; Port Vila handicraft market A friendly shopkeeper shows off her prized merchandise Paintings for sale; Port Vila handicraft market A wide assortment of wood carvings on display Robby admires this wooden turtle carving. The price dropped from 3,000 VUV to 1,500 VUV once the vendor heard we weren't day cruisers Port Vila down town scene Colorful wall mural in Port Vila Vanuatu post office in Port Vila The main market is the best place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for a bargain price Robby demonstrates that the plantains are as big as his hand; Port Vila market Friendly vendors and colorful fruit are a photographer's delight Vendors sit on buckets as they patiently wait for a sale This Ni-Vanuatu woman adopted a serious expression when posing for a photo Colorful food shack; Port Vila Vanuatu is known as "Ripablik blong Vanuatu" in Bislama, a pidgin based common language widely spoken in Vanuatu Stewart and Robby flash the thumbs up after he successfully talks us into an "around the island" tour with his auntie's company; Port Vila Iririki Island Resort Wee wee dry - Bislama for "diapers" Pablik laebri (Bislama for "public library") - we found Bislama signs easy to interpret and self explanatory Graffiti art is a common sight in Port Vila Rounded tusk - considered a symbol of great wealth throughout Vanuatu, in front of the National Museum Parliament House of Vanuatu Robby swings into the Blue Lagoon Eton natural pool, also known as the "Blue Lagoon". Entrance is 300 VUV Becky's turn to swing into the Blue Lagoon Panoramic view of the blue lagoon; Eton Light snack of plantains, bananas and papaya; Blue Lagoon Due to the heavy recent rains, there were tons of cascades visible from the ring road as we made our way around the island of Efate Charlie plays with a massive spider while showing us that it is quite harmless Colorful village kava house Village chief grants us access to his village; near Buraoloa Performing a welcome dance The cutest warrior! Adorable Ni-Vanuatu girl catches our eye The villagers performed several traditional dances for us Close up of ankle rattles, made from dried seeds Jeff and Robby are invited to join the men in a tradtional dance Getting attacked by the villagers...our guide told us that cannibalism was practiced up until the 1960s and that humans taste like chicken! Being led to the huge banyan tree Tribal chief and his daughter pose in the banyan tree; near Buraoloa Young Ni-Vanuatu girl strikes a pose Village chief explains how he traps wild pigs with the magnificent banyan tree as a gorgeous backdrop Showcasing the chicken trap The village kids eagerly check out their photos Dozens of massive banyan trees can be found all around the island of Efate Rustic dwellings on the east side of Efate island Charlie shows us wild kava that can be used to stop bleeding (wild kava is not the same as drinkable kava!) Ekonak primary school children gather to sing us songs School boys strike their best poses The school children sing us several songs. The kookaburra song was our favorite! School rules in Bislama - "werem klin klos oltaem" translates to "wear clean clothes all time" The school kids go back to playing after our visit Woven baskets by the road side Souvenirs for sale - the wood was surprisingly heavy Rugged beach near Le Life Resort Outrigger canoe propped up against a tree String band performs during our lunch stop Ni-Vanuatu boy shows off his pet turtle Semi-wild turtle swimming in its sea pool Our guide explained that the crossed leaf symbol means that all coconuts at this plantation are off limits per Vanuatu custom Circa WW II airstrip known as "Takara Landing" School girls returning home from school WW II tanks driven into the sea after the war ended as the US didn't want to pay to ship its military equipment home Loads of WW II relics found buried all over Vanuatu (where the US had numerous base camps during the war) "Rust in Peace" - Havana Harbour WW II Museum WW II remnants at a makeshift museum; Havana Harbour WW II museum shack; Havana Harbour Labeled "American Pool", this pond was used by American forces during WWII as a source of fresh water Garden at Havannah Eco Lodge Robby getting ready to snorkel at Havannah Beach (more commonly known as "Survivor Beach" since the reality TV show was filmed here) Pipe fish - related to the sea horse family Clownfish protecting its sea anemone Becky amazed by the number of fish seen while snorkeling off Survivor Beach Lionfish hunting for prey Giant clam Lookout point over Mele and Hideaway Island Resort Robby admiring the view at our lookout point stop A steep decline to reach Mele (famous for its popular cascades) Base of the Mele Cascades, one of Port Vila's top sights Villa with a private plunge pool; Mele Cascades From the entrance, its an easy 20 minute hike past  turquoise pools to reach the main waterfall; Mele Cascades Wear tevas or waterproof hiking shoes as the path to the main waterfall requires you to wade across portions of the cascades; Mele Cascades Bamboo forest; Mele Cascades Panoramic view of the lower portion of the Mele Cascades 9 am and we have the entire waterfall complex to ourselves; Mele Cascades Vowing to return to swim in these pools, we force ourselves to continue the hike up the Mele Cascades Despite the guide ropes, the path up the Mele Cascades is a bit slippery Smiling as we reach the base of the 115 ft waterfall - impressive! Gorgeous panorama at the top of Mele Cascades Becky enjoying our natural plunge pool; Mele Cascades Mine, all mine! Loving the Mele Cascades - definitely one of Vanuatu's must dos! After spending an hour at the top, we hike back down to a lower portion of the cascades...check out the amazing view! Robby getting a water massage A local strolling up the cascades A photogenic swimming hole; Mele Cascades A dad shows his son how to dive into the cascades Becky's zen moment; Mele Cascades View from Mele's lookout point - Hideaway Island in the distance has the world's only underwater post office Mural painted on the side of Mele Maat school Dragon totem pole; Port Vila Mermaid carving on a totem pole; Port Vila The pretty flower market in Port Vila Vendors at the Port Vila market Shoppers have a vast selection of fruits and vegetables to choose from; Port Vila market Coconut and plantain vendor; Port Vila market Vanuatu flag next to this pastel blue house Tribal mural; Port Vila Handicraft market near the cruise port; Port Vila Wooden carvings for sale at the handicraft market; Port Vila Straw woven souvenirs Shell ornaments for sale; Port Vila handicraft market Panorama of volcanoes at the Volcano Museum; Port Vila handicraft center War Horse Saloon; Port Vila Ambrym slit gong drums/totem poles A wood carver proudly shows off his latest piece; Port Vila Family sculpture at the entrance to Vanuatu's Parliament building; Port Vila School kids play during recess; Port Vila WW I memorial; Port Vila foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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