The Secret Garden

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

170 reviews
Very good

Wilkes-Barre, PA15 contributions
Dec 2019
Our bungalow was so amazing and beautiful. They were on top of stuff when we brought up anything (fresh towels, hot water, etc). The place really feels exclusive and like you're in your own world. Definitely recommend staying here. They will help you find anything. The waterfall is a short walk up the road. On site they have a walk with the history and photos and legends from Vanuatu. They also do a traditional culture night where you learn more and they dance and do a big feast.
Written January 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sydney, Australia35 contributions
Jan 2020
We recently visited The Secret Garden, not really knowing what to expect. We were greeted by a lovely lady and then show around the grounds by a man who was very knowledgeable about the surroundings and passionate about what he was doing. It was very interesting to hear about the history of Vanuatu and its culture. We saw some native wildlife eg Fruit Bat and Lizards. All very interesting and informative. Well worth a look.
Written February 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chris J
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand2 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
My partner and I both really enjoyed the Melanisian Feast night, The hosts had a great sense of humour and the whole thing was massively entertaining, Highly recommended (This is the one that the elderly gent walking around Port Vila invites you to, be sure to take him up on the offer!). Good company, good (cheap) Tuskers, and good food.

The only downside was the 4 incredibly plastered Australian women, The hosts dealt with them admirably however.

We were invited back to come see the Secret Garden during the daylight for free, and did so.

Its Awesome! One could easily spend hours walking around the place reading the highly comical legends/stories. One gets a sense that part of the Ni-Vanuatu culture of yesteryear had a very twisted sense of humour.

The caged up animals were a bit sad, but in saying that they all looked healthy and happy. The white bat (who was playing peek a boo!) and the coconut crab were highlights.

The Staff were awesome, very helpful and friendly. One got a good sense that they were locals trying to help share the Ni-Vanuatu culture. I learnt a thousand times more about Vanuatu and its people at the secret garden, compared with the national museum (which is dreadful...). There is also more information and artifacts from Vanuatu's part of WW2 at the secret garden than at the WW2 museum (which is also dissapointing...)

Felt good supporting the local villages, instead of foreign investors.

Keep up the good work Secret Garden.
Written September 7, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

39 contributions
Sep 2012 • Friends
Just returned from a great trip to port Vila with a large group of people and had a very bad experience at the Secret Garden supposed Melanesian Feast. My daughter booked the feast from a street seller called Bob ( bad idea) at a cost of 3,000 vatu per person for 26 people. When we got there we found that instead of the 50 expected there was over a 100. This meant no seats for the very ordinary cultural show and no tables and chairs either. When we asked the owner Jenny for a refund she agreed to pay us 1500 per person. When we were leaving she changed her mind and became rude and uncooperative and told us we would get no refund. We then had to get our own way back( difficult with so many disappointed people) Upon our return to the hotel we talked to several other groups who said even though they stayed they had no seats and that they ran out of food. Obviously the street seller sold more tickets than they knew and they were seriously underprepared. A civil conversation and half the refund would have been satisfactory to us however this was not the case. Considering this is a well known tourist destination it is surprising that they were prepared to let 26 tourists go home with such a bad impression. Never again will I recommend to anyone!
Written October 7, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Melbourne, Australia3 contributions
Jan 2018 • Family
After reading that this is the Number 1 thing to do in Mele my family and I decided that after visiting Mele Cascades, which were astoundingly beautiful, we would visit The Secret Garden which was only a kilometre down the road. What a mistake!!!

We were greeted by a lady at the desk who advised it would cost us 4,500 vatu (just over AUS$50 for three people) to enter the premises. We gave her a 5,000 vatu bill and she said she did not have 500 vatu change to give us, which I found odd considering there were people in front of us at the bar drinking. Surely someone at the bar two steps away could have provided 500 change. I had a bad feeling at this time but overrode it and decided to continue on. She told us to walk around and have a look and then afterwards she would provide us our change. We entered the property expecting to find beautiful gardens and interesting people to provide us with knowledge, only to walk through a dark and dingy looking eating area then out to a trail that split into other tracks. There were no arrows or anything to point us in any particular direction. There were signposts everywhere with information on them but nothing of any particular interest. We tried to make sense of where to go next only to end up at what I later realised was someone’s actual hut. I thought initially that it was one of the things to see until I noticed the thongs outside the hut. We thought that surely that there must be more to see and tried to venture further out into the forest but found nothing. It must have taken us about 7 minutes to walk around only to discover that that was that. I actually found this place to be very eerie. No one approached us and offered to explain anything to us even though there were locals around watching us.

As we went to leave after our entire 7 minute walk around the place I said to another lady at reception how disappointed I was that that cost us 4,500 to walk in and out of there within 7 minutes with no-one to explain anything to us. She quickly replied that she didn’t work there and therefore couldn’t assist me. I found that odd as she was busy behind the desk looking as though she did work there. She also told me that she couldn’t provide me with our change, so my son went to the bar and had to negotiate bottles of water in lieu of our change.

I can’t understand how this place has gotten such rave reviews, and believe me I am not usually a critical person whatsoever. I have loved everything about Vanuatu, its gorgeous sites and beautiful people but this place just left a sour taste in my mouth and was just an absolute rip off. Later as we left I noticed there was a small tour hut, which was closed, which had the prices on it on for a tour, which made me wonder if I was charged for a tour when I didn’t receive any sort of tour, and now upon reading more reviews it appears to me that we were supposed to have seen some sort of a cultural show and perhaps even a feast as well. I’m not sure of that though. Other reviews on here even mentioned being showed reptiles and snakes but once again we didn’t see anything like that.

It seems pretty obvious to me that we were viewed upon as vulnerable tourists who they could just take money off. What a disgrace! If a tour wasn’t available on the day a simple, “Sorry, there is no tour today,” would have been the proper way to treat a tourist, or alternatively organise someone to guide us through.

I would definitely NOT recommend this place as a site to see and was even disappointed with the garden itself. I have been to many places in Port Vila where the gardens weren’t even mentioned in their advertising yet their gardens were far more beautiful. Don’t waste your time and money here!!
Written February 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cambridge, New Zealand24 contributions
Apr 2015 • Couples
What a great day we had at the secret garden, we were lucky enough to be some of the first visitors after cyclone Pam. Our cruise ship docked to a warm welcome from the locals, a short bus ride was eye opening, especially the empty markets, but once we arrived at The Secret Garden we were treated to a wonderful tour through the history of Vanuatu, with some wildlife encounters on the way. A cultural show and refreshments topped off what was a great day. We will be back when we we will be able to really explore,it to its full. Thank you for a great day.
Written April 21, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Brian G
50 contributions
Apr 2015 • Couples
We had the great privaledge of visiting the gardens as only the second Cruise Ship back into Vila after Cyclone Pam and the guys at the gardens showed us how the wonderful surroundings and activities are coming back and ready to welcome guests again and they do a great job of it. Coming off a cruise ship we were only able to have a shortened version of the tour but Steve our guide while being funny and entertaining showed the passion he and his colleagues have for not only the gardens but their culture as a whole. The ability to get up close and personal with the wildlife on display was a highlight although the time spent with the guys at the end was full of laughter and knowledge. We will go back to this attraction next time we visit Vila one of our favourite places in the world.
Written April 16, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kate B
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia19 contributions
Dec 2014 • Family
We visited the Secret Garden on a feast night - the whole experience was fantastic.
We were shown around the gardens and learnt some Vanuatu history (including cannabilism) and met some interesting creatures - fruit bats, coconut crabs, snakes and iguanas. There are plenty of photo opportunities. At the end of this tour all groups meet in the local meeting area (Nakamal).
Steve (a very funny guy) leads an evening of entertainment which includes magic, dancing (we got to meet and dance with the Chiefs sons) and kava drinking. This whole show was an amazing experience. It was a highlight of our holiday.
After this fun we sat down to a feast cooked underground in banana leafs. The meal was full of different tastes, all of them quite delicious.
We would highly recommend this evening to anyone wanting to experience some local culture.
Written December 12, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Bundaberg, Australia28 contributions
Jun 2014 • Couples
The Secret Garden is a very well tended rambling garden with a huge amount of interpretive material in every nook and cranny. I would have liked more time to read each panel but my husband may have died of boredom so probably best that we went around at a very reasonable pace with our informative guide Steve.

Steve was a wealth of knowledge about the culture not only of his own island but the other tribes of the islands. He was engaging and entertaining and was certainly worth the entry fee that we paid.

The demonstrations of cultural activities, cooking and drumming etc, were fantastic.

My husband really loved the wildlife sections of the show - the animals looked well cared for and were obviously not phased by visitors.

The cultural "magic" show was genuinely amazing - how did they do that?!?!?

We were told that there would be a small snack and this came in the form of pineapple juice and some beautiful fresh tropical fruits - lovely.

I'd like another visit, just to read some more information, and I think the negative reviews here are fairly harsh based on our own experience.
Written June 28, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Auckland, New Zealand11 contributions
Sep 2012 • Couples
We paid 3500vt each for the Melanesian feast, which included our transport to and from town. This was good value, as there was quite a bit of entertainment with dinner (terrible band, but we enjoyed ourselves). Especially good for people who don't know much about Pacific Island culture - though that might not be what you think.

It also included the entrance fee to come back during the day and have a good look around. We only got to spend about two hours here (it was nearly dark), which wasn't enough! We went to several other 'museums' and 'cultural centres' in Efate, and this was the only one that had interesting information about colonial days, WWII, and the history of the various islands.

If you only do one museum/cultural thing in Vanuatu, do go to the Secret Garden. Sure, it was a bit run-down. But so is Vanuatu. This place was genuinely interesting, and good value.
Written September 8, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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The Secret Garden (Mele) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about The Secret Garden