We have just returned after spending a heavenly 7 nights at Aquana with our boys aged 10 and 12. It was the perfect destination for a family with children and one of the most relaxing holidays I've had.
First I have to comment on the amazing nannies or 'youth workers' as my boys prefer to call them. My kids are older and do not need to be 'looked after' but the nannies were amazing for facilitating activities and keeping them happy and engaged. They are independent boys but they loved having someone on stand-by to suggest a game of volley-ball, a kayaking trip, snorkelling, a ball game in the pool, some weaving or a game of cards or board-game.
All the other guests had kids who were friendly and lovely. It was a small enough resort for the kids to get to know each other and make friends. The boys loved being able to wander around and play games with the other kids. There was so much to do. And when all the kids were exhausted at the end of the day they would lie on the trampoline in the dark and chat to each other, tell jokes, etc. They ranged in age from 4-13 but they all got on well.
I love the fact that Aquana is such an intimate family resort. The culture of the place clearly comes from Fabienne and Marcel who are such kind, decent, friendly, welcoming people. Nothing is too much trouble and they go out of their way to make your holiday special. They recruit wonderful staff and train them well and clearly treat them very well as everyone who works there is exceptional.
This creates a positive, optimistic and relaxed holiday atmosphere. All the guests are happy and sociable which makes for a lovely environment. We enjoyed chatting with familiar faces over breakfast and dinner. Everyone who stayed there was friendly and unpretentious. There are some more private tables and private pool chairs - so you could easily keep to yourself if you wanted to - but it is not really that kind of place.
Marcel is a FANTASTIC CHEF. My husband said that the beef was the best he has tasted in any restaurant in the world. He tried it 3 different ways during the course of the week. I loved the fish curry, the fish in banana leaf and the garlic prawns. The garden salad with smoked salmon was great for days when I needed something very light. The kids loved the fresh fruit in the mornings and the fruit fondue for dessert. Our 12 y.o. loved the pizza! One of our boys is gluten intolerant and there was lots of choice for him on the menu. We enjoyed a few lovely lunches at other venues and one evening meal at Eratap resort but Marcel's kitchen was by far the best in Vanuatu. We were delighted to experience the great variety of fresh and often organic fruit and vegetables that is produced by the fertile soil in Vanuatu. The portions were very generous and we sometimes shared dishes. Marcel's delicious amuse-bouches got each meal off to a lovely start!
The entertainment was excellent. We weren't expecting it so it was a lovely surprise. The fire dancers were exceptional, there was a lovely local band, we enjoyed a trivia night and the kids enjoyed roasting marshmallows on the fire. We were touched by the generosity of the resort when they gave away so may free massage vouchers on the trivia night.
Which leads to the massage - it was excellent!
The rooms were spotlessly clean and were cleaned every day. The level of hygiene was exceptional.
The rooms had comfortable beds, air-conditioning and fans. The decor was were simple but perfectly comfortable. It would have been nice to have a little more shelf space in the bedrooms and in the bathroom - but having said that we managed fine with the shelves that were available and the lounge room was spacious. With so much going on outside we really only spent time in our rooms to sleep and shower. We had a lovely veranda with a view over the water.
The location was beautiful. It is close enough to Port Villa to have easy access to the attractions - yet far enough away to be quiet and secluded. We never heard a sound at night. No noisy nightclubs or drunk tourists. It was very peaceful. The resort is set on the edge of a bay and the land around it has been cleared of mangroves. We had a tranquil view over the bay to a lush green island. I enjoyed reading my book lying on a sun lounge at the water's edge looking out at the island. The water is incredibly clean and unpolluted. There is some silt in the bay area but 300m away you will find perfect crystal clear water for snorkelling. The gardens around the resort and still being developed but there were lots of trees for shade and enough shrubs in front of bungalow to provide privacy.
Fabienne organised for Janet to take me on a walking tour of the village beside the resort. It was beautiful and very special to be able visit with a local. Janet took me to the school and church, pointed out her own home and the home of the Village Chief and a home building a marquee for a wedding. She told me a lot about village life and it was a pleasure to spend time in her company.
The resort had lots of equipment for water sports. We forgot to pack reef shoes and we were able to borrow them. They had kayaks, an outrigger, snorkelling equipment, etc. We travelled to the localislands by outrigger on our first day and got our bearings. We went back a few more times on the kayaks and snorkelled at a different spot each time. The water is crystal clear with undamaged pristine coral and lovely fish life.
The resort gave easy access to lots of activities. We did day trips most days and had many fantastic experiences exploring the island. The reception staff booked trips/cars for us. They gave excellent advice regarding the proposed trips and packed a picnic lunch (incl gluten free sandwiches) when we were visiting venues that didn't have cafes. The entire family and loved Eton Beach and the tarzan swing at the Blue Lagoon which is close to Eton beach. We spent one day on an Eco tour to the waterfall at Montemarte (another tarzan swing for boy heaven!), the boys loved the bat cave behind one of the waterfalls there. The Eco tour was also interesting because we drove through acres of cattle farm and saw the pristine environment that produces such beautiful beef. Montmarte also has a seminary. Cascade Falls provided an exciting day of abseiling in a magnificent setting. We snorkelled at Hideaway Island - WOW! What incredible fish life! My husband had a few lovely dives at Mele Bay. The boys loved the Zip Line and we enjoyed the summit gardens, essential oil making and lovely cafe with magnificent views beside the zipline. We hired a car one day and drove around the island. The north side of the island is magnificent - so lush and green and much less developed (not that any of it is too developed). We met lovely people going through their daily existence of knocking coconuts from trees, collecting fruit and vegetables for markets, selling on road-side stalls, etc We met beautiful people who happily posed for photos. Everyone was friendly and welcoming.
Aquana provides a warm, friendly, safe, down-to-earth, relaxed, family environment with great food and fun activities in a beautiful setting. It is intimate and personal in style. We loved it and we look forward to a return trip in the future.
THANK YOU to Fabienne, Marcel, Hugo, Rita, Rose and all the lovely staff and nannies. You should all be very proud of the beautiful experience you have created at Aquana.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.