It is no secret that the greater part of Western history has seen an absence of cannibalism, terrifying adolescent rites of passage and the use of animal hide for as many purposes as there are islands in Vanuatu. However, in the Pacific, these practices have flourished, spawning unique social structures that surprise many with their complexity.
Because of this, 'cultural' sites that offer information and entertainment are everywhere. Every island culture has its own beliefs, its own stories, its own structures, and this seems to be part of the draw for visitors to this less-developed part of the world. The 'Secret Garden' is one of the larger of these cultural education sites.
One of the old adages to writing informatively is to 'show', not tell. The Secret Garden has no regard for such advice. Every corner has a sign. The maze of pathways that lead through forestry to little houses and exhibit sites are all equipped with obscure and comprehensive cultural information. If there was a vacant space I saw at the Secret Garden, I'm sure the managers have erected a sign and stapled an A4 brief about a creation myth in its place by now. Children and the functionally illiterate will find some aspects of the experience confusing.
There are some exhibits, however. There are wire cages with ill-tempered bats and coconut crabs that could easily dismember any appendage you care to stick inside. There are huts that replicate the meeting place of the chiefdom, or shelters. Another house holds a great deal of material discarded by US soldiers from WW2. As if to anticipate the stereotypes of tourists concerning Vanuatu, there is an inordinately extensive wealth of information on three things: the war, cannibalism, and penis sheaths. Go figure.
All in all, the Secret Gardens poorly lives up to its name. It isn't much of a secret, being adjacent to Cascades and the village of Mele across the road, neither is it much of a garden, unless you were to count the greenhouse of potted plants. I would recommend the establishment change its name to 'Sign Forest' to live up to visitor expectations. Because, precisely, if you come to the site with a thirst for knowledge in the form of endless spaces filled with signs, this may be the greatest attraction ever conceived.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.