Firstly I would like to say thanks to all for the information provided on this TA site that helped us plan our holiday. I would like to return the favour for others planning to visit this amazing country. So our holiday summarized below.
We went for three weeks, and spent our time on efate, lelepa island and Tanna island. We wanted to spend time in the local villages and learning about the culture.
Our first week on efate. Our plane arrived at 12.30am and we were transferred by melanesian tours to travellers budget motel and greeted by janelle, despite the time..many thanks for that. The first day we spent walking around port Vila, the shopping area, the market place, then up to the cultural centre, which although pricey provided a good intro to the country. We then walked around the streets past the parliament building, the hospital, the gaol, government offices, more traditional villages, alongside resorts around the second lagoon. We had many discussions with people along the way about their various life stories.
Second day off to mele village. The bus dropped us off at the intersection and we walked through the village, the largest in Vanuatu. Children greeted us and brought us flowers and walked around the village with us. We found the bakery and bought some delicious bread for 100 vt. Said goodbye to the village and found the Beach Bar on mele bay for lunch enjoying the view and the conversations with the staff working there. We then visited the mele cascades, a lovely place and beautiful waterfall at the top part of the walk.
Third day, off to lelepa island to stay for a couple of nights. The first stop on the island was the snorkeling beach area. We were surprised to find hammocks, sun lounges and even toilets and change rooms. The snorkeling was fantastic, particularly what was called the second snorkeling spot. The fish and the corals were amazing. The next day we walked around the island to the beach, did some more snorkeling, then learnt how to make taro lap lap...this process took us about 3 to 4 hours and was delicious. We also spent time talking to the local villagers, going to the nekamel to try kava. Last day on lelepa we had the pleasure of being guided around the island by two young boys who told us so much about thir way of life, even going swimming with dolphins and dugongs. We also visited a very large cave that had been used for different purposes through the years.
Back to port Vila. The next day was independence day, so we went off to independence park to see the Celebrations....so many people were there, with stalls selling cakes, lap lap, ice creams. The speeches were very long...so after being there for a while we headed off to the craft markets in Vila. At the market there was another independence day celebration underway by the women stall holders, this was much more low key. Some women made speeches about what independence meant to them, then they sang some songs, and shared a cake and cordial..we thought this had more 'heart' than the larger celebration we had seen earlier.
The next day we flew off to Tanna on a 7am flight...will tell more later..