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Thursday, 01 November 2018

Travel Vanuatu: Off the Tourist Trail in the South Pacific Archipelago - Page 2

Written by Liska Crofts
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On the topic of getting about, while there are no bus timetables, Vanuatu runs on around-the-clock minibuses much in the style of a pooled taxi service. This can be intimidating on the basis of no available written schedule and everyone seeming to know what they're doing – except for you. Fear not – in this case the absence of instructions indicates the simplicity of the system. Steel yourself, lean into the front window, and ask the driver if he's heading past your destination. For 150 Vatu (VUV) (that's 1.3 USD, or 1.1 EUR) he'll either tell you to jump in or point you to someone who is going in that direction.

One of the first things we were asked by locals was whether we'd yet experienced the blue lagoons. Happily, our Airbnb happened to back right onto one nearest to Port Vila! Beautiful waters exist in many corners of the world, but among the islands of Vanuatu they're so immediate and accessible that you're never more than 20 minutes from walking, swimming, paddling around, or even diving down in them (if that floats your proverbial boat).

Among the inhabitants of these sandy and reef-filled tropical waters you'll encounter many starfish, clownfish (that is, Nemo), turtles, moorish idol fish (Gill), octopuses and even the rare dugong. As a diver, Vanuatu presents extra excitement as home to the SS President Coolidge, a luxury oceanliner and subsequent troopship sunk full of cargo in 1942 by mines off Espiritu Santi island. Today it's one of the world's most famous dive sites and uniquely accessible for its type, although you'll still need your Advanced diving qualification since its huge vertical spread lays it at a 20-70m depth.

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Moving easily between the land and the water is the status quo for Ni-Vanuatu. Each day on our home lagoon the bottom of our garden was paddled-by by half a dozen kayaks and dugout canoes whose occupants would hop out, chat for a bit, cut down one of the ubiquitous papayas, wave goodbye and continue paddling. Spotting a head bobbing in and out of the water, more likely than not you're watching someone swim out for their daily spearfishing.

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Last modified on Thursday, 01 November 2018

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