The world is huge and we are tiny. Explore it. ✧♡•
In just under two and a half hours from Brisbane you can escape to paradise.
You know those places that you instantly connect with, that pull at your heartstrings in an unfamiliar but almost comforting way? Calling you back again so much so that you spend days dreaming about your return, before you even leave? I was pleasantly surprised and completely blown away with the incredible untouched beauty of Vanuatu.
Just over a year ago the devastating category 5 cyclone Pam was regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of Vanuatu. Thousands of homes, schools and buildings were damaged or destroyed, with an estimated 3,300 people displaced as a result (wiki). Now rebuilt and in recovery mode, Vanuatu is open for tourism. And trust me - it’s a door you want to open.
We were able to squeeze in a lot in a short amount of time and it has honestly left me with an insatiable thirst for more. In just 8 days we explored the best of the rugged coastline and rolling countryside, fast-flowing rivers, cascading waterfalls, the isolated, pristine white-sandy beaches and aqua lagoons of the islands Efate, Espiritu Santo and Tanna.
Struggling a little bit with some overwhelming elements of my personal life, I think it was really a case of right time and right place for me. Vanuatu is really soothing for the soul; it’s like time seems to slow down there. I found myself noticeably more silent than usual and a lot more in tune with my surrounds. Taking the time to contemplate and appreciate the path I am on, it really does amaze me how quickly the world fades away when immersed in and connected with nature.
So, where to go and what to do?
Go: Mele Cascades and Eden On The River.
Just a short drive from Port Vila are the Mele Cascades. Following the beautiful rainforest pathway through a series of vibrant blue pools you are invited to take a dip at the base of the towering waterfalls.
Calm your thoughts and racing heart by spending the afternoon floating in the jungle, feeling completely isolated from the world - you can breathe easier here. Eden on the river is a must visit!
Go: Champagne Beach, Million Dollar Point, Nanda Blue Holes, experience Santo Horse Adventures and from what I hear allocate an entire day to millennium caves (I’ve added it to my list for next time).
Santo and all of Vanuatu for that matter is romantically exotic and mysterious. The roads are wide and lined with palm plantations, the beaches are respected and the vibe is warm and welcoming. Full of the most heartwarming moments, I felt like we were really welcomed by the local villages, reminding me about the universal language of a smile and simple principles of friendship; how rich life can truly be when shared with others.
We lost track of time underneath the sparkling waters of Champagne Beach, gasped in disbelief of dazzling fresh water blue holes and marvelled at the beauty and mystery of the shipwrecks sun below the sea. For all the water babies out there, Vanuatu sure has a great deal to be captivated with.
It is truly paradise waiting to be uncovered.
Stay: You’ll be amazed by how you’ll never want to leave the gorgeous grounds of White grass Resort Tanna Island.
Go: Black Magic Village tour, visit the Banyan Tree. And of course the highlight of my trip and quite possibly one of the best experiences of my life, Mt Yasur.
Its unfortunately too often that tropical islands can spoiled and disrespected, but thankfully you won't find that in Vanuatu, with the locals knowledge of environmental sustainability and generous spirit of land. To be completely and candidly honest “cultural experiences” don’t often excite me, however the Black magic village tour was unexpectedly charming and unique. We certainly left with aching bellies from laughter, tear-stained cheeks and very full hearts.
Mt Yasur - worthy of it’s own blog post I’m positive, but I will try and collect my thoughts. Bear with me.
Firstly, in the words of my friend Matt, Mt Yasur is "Equally impressive from a distance as it is up close. This tremendous display of nature is Mount Yasur on the island of Tanna. As it's one of the most easily accessible active volcanos in the world, it's an absolute must see when visiting."
To describe the afternoon that was:
The lunar-like landscape and ash plain is dramatic. It was raining on me and I could hear the active volcano rumbling softly in the distant background, left feeling completely humbled by this, knowing of my smallness. We stood on the very edge of an active volcano while the sun slowly disappeared, the stars began to shine and the ground below began to shake, amplified and rumbling through my already trembling body. Chunks of bright orange lava and molten rock propelling into the night sky made us sigh in disbelief and sheer awe. I stood right there on what felt like the end of the earth, with tears streaming down my cheeks, completely overawed by her beauty and power.
Beautiful is definitely an understatement and no photograph could possibly do this scene justice. I cannot recommend visiting Mt Yasur on Tanna Island enough. Honestly, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Are you ready now? Vanuatu is full of magical secrets and limitless beauty waiting for you to explore.
Special thank you to Air Vanuatu.
Thank you for holding my hand and hugging me while I fell apart - moments like this make me remember how lucky I am to not only experience the places I do, but to have people around me who wholly support and encourage me. I think the greatest thing travel has taught me is to let go.
To live for those moments that make your chest swell, eyes well with tears, and heart feel like it might possibly explode. Those silent moments, those priceless friendships, those are the experiences that will stay with you, forever.
The high highs to the low lows, the blessing and the curse to feel everything so deeply.
Thank you for just understanding me. x