Vanuatu: Volcano to Villages, More Than A Resort Holiday

Families of Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Tanna Island Vanuatu

Tanna Island, Vanuatu revealed something new to me about the South Pacific that I didn’t expect.

When you think of South Pacific, what’s your first thought?  Does it conjure up images of lazing poolside at an island resort enjoying local hospitality, destressing from your busy days back home?   And which island paradise – maybe Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Samoa comes to mind?  Is there more to these island destinations and their holiday resort packages?

I’ve always thought of the South Pacific Islands as a resort destination - but since my last visit, my outlook has changed after my discovery of Tanna Island, Vanuatu – they aren’t just resort destinations – these are islands to be discovered, with adventures, natural wonders, incredible cultures, new foods and incredible beauty.

Tanna Island is where you can visit, Mt. Yasur, with the most accessible volcano in the world.  I don’t think I’d even given a thought to Vanuatu volcanoes before my visit. The highlight of seeing the Volcano was incredible - hearing it's thunderous raw – getting louder and louder as you get closer and closer. Going from lush greenery to all of sudden the blackest of black covers everything from the ground up - you feel like you’re on the moon. It’s one amazing sight. Even better, is planning your visit to see the volcano as the night draws near – witness her changing as the night sky darkens, and the colours get brighter.

Mt Yasur, Tanna Island Volcano

The Night View, of the my volcano visit

Be touched by the warmth of the Tanna Island people, and enjoy a view into their world and culture.

I got to visit a traditional village in the middle of Tanna. The roads to get there were so bad, we weren't sure if we'd get bogged making our way there. But we took the risk and it was well worth it.

I felt drawn to the people and experienced a true connection with the villagers who still live a traditional life. Coming from my modern world, Tanna Island is a reminder that true humanity still exists.  The villagers welcomed us into their homes, made of grass and palm leaves. Although visiting at a time that was unexpectedly cold and wet, we felt warmed from their generous hospitality. Seeing the beautiful children was such a delight, and I was even more chuffed meeting kids I knew where they same ages as mine. Their children don't have technology, they don't have toys or even much in the way of clothing - they huddle together in the cold to keep warm. They wear what they can make from trees and grasses.  Taking their photos and seeing their big smiles and hearing their giggles when they when they saw themselves on the screen was a special ‘takeaway’ moment.  

But their greatest charm was that they truly wanted to know about us. Where we were from and what our world was like.  When they found out some of us had children they wanted to know more. We got out our phones and showed them what our families looked like, all the way in Australia, a land so far away. They were so happy to see them and how they looked and wanted to know lots more. The connection was real, mother to mother.

Travelling is about seeing the sights, learning new things and experiencing the country and its culture, but it always comes back to the people.  If you want a truly raw experience Vanuatu would be my pick. A water filled paradise, where the snorkelling is up there with some of the best in the world. There’s even a post box under the sea and on top of a volcano!

Air Vanuatu flies direct from Sydney and Brisbane to Port Vila, and recently announced direct flights from Melbourne will start from18 June 2019. It’s an easy flight form our major capitals in Australia:

Brisbane - Port Vila 2hours 30minutes
Sydney - Port Vila 3hours 50minutes
Melbourne - Port Vila 3hours 45minutes

Air Vanuatu flies daily from Port Vila to Tanna Island and returns every day except Tuesday. It's takes just 40 minutes to fly from Port Vila to Whitegrass (Tanna Island airport).

It’s a tropical island paradise so there’s no wrong time to visit Tanna Island, but between April and October the Vanuatu weather is more reliable. Between November to March it’s the wetter season but most of the time showers are short lived. Visiting during the wet season has it’s perks – you may find better rates on the resort packages and even lower airfares.

At just 40 kilometres long and 19 kilometres wide you may be surprised to learn there’s some great options for hotels on Tanna Island.

The new Rockwater Resort is a one of a kind – crafted out of limestone cliffs.
White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa offers bure and villa accommodation.

From Australia T:  1300 653 692 or visit our Contact Us page on our website

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About the author

Chantal is the product manager of tours at Encounter Travel. Chantal has been in the travel industry since she left school.  She has a passion for travel and found it at an early age.  After working in corporate, inbound and group travel, Chantal joined Encounter Travel in 2012 as a travel consultant after a short career break, having two children. As a Travel Consultant, she has spoken with many of our solo travellers over the years.  She started assisting with groups in the early days as well as consulting, then moved into a groups development and operations role.  

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