03.02.2016 - 05.02.2016
Our next day we were in Vanuatu officially the Republic of Vanuatu, it is an Oceanian island nation. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some 1,750 kilometres east of northern Australia, and 500 kilometres northeast of New Caledonia, Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people. The first Europeans to visit the islands were a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Fernandes de Queirós, who arrived on the largest island in 1606. He then claimed the archipelago for Spain, as part of the colonial Spanish East Indies, and named it Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.
In the 1880s, France and Great Britain claimed parts of the archipelago, and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago as the New Hebrides through a British–French Condominium. An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.
Our first stop in Vanuatu was Mystery Island. This tiny, uninhabited inlet, originally named Inyeug, is located at the southernmost end of the Vanuatu archipelago approximately half a mile from the mainland, Aneityum Island. It is one of over 80 in the Vanuatu island chain. Used during World War II as an airstrip for the allied forces, it was dubbed "Mystery Island" because its location prevented the Japanese from seeing it from the water, making the appearance of allied planes a "mystery."
Mystery Island also has the auspicious claim to have been visited by royalty. Queen Elizabeth, in 1974, traveling to Australia aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, was so intrigued by its beauty that she made an impromptu stop for a picnic on the beach!
From afar you can see the island and the surrounding reef.
From the ship we went by tender to the beach.
The waters off Mystery Island are a Marine Protected Area, offering a wonderful opportunity to see the ecosystem of the undisturbed coral reef. We were met at the beach, where our friendly guide gave us safety instructions before we went snorkelling. We then boarded a small boat and set off into the turquoise sea, admiring the storybook scenery of the island. As you begin cruising into the clear, open waters, phenomenal underwater vistas come into view. We then went snorkelling and saw dazzling coral formations and various marine life. Tropical fish came out to say hello.
We were refreshed and invigorated from the time spent in the water, we returned to the white-sand beach to relax and enjoy the rest of our day in paradise.
We couldn’t resist these photos with the locals.
The next day we arrived in Vila. Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu and is located on the island of Efate.
Its whole name if Port Vila. Its population in the last census (2009) was 44,040, an increase of 50% on the previous census result (29,356 in 1999). In 2009, the population of Port Vila formed 18.8% of the country's population, and 66.9% of the population of Efate.
Situated on the south coast of the island of Efate, in Shefa Province, Vila is the economic and commercial centre of Vanuatu.
On March 13, 2015, Vila bore extensive damage from Cyclone Pam.
While in Vila we wanted to see as much as possible so set off on a Round Island tour. We visited the Iarofa Cultural Village, where warriors greeted us.
We watched a variety of cultural demonstrations and discovered the fascinating history of the Iarofa people, which included an era of cannibalism.
The highpoint of the visit was an opportunity to watch the ritual preparations required prior to performing a fire-walking rite.
They spit a prepared plant substance on the bottom of their feet before they walk through the hot coals.
They walk through the coals 4 times.
They sang and danced for us and then we posed for some photos.
We then visited Eton Village on our way to the Blue Lagoon. It had sparkling blue water with forest all around it. We spent quite a bit of time cooling off here before enjoying some fresh fruit and a cool drink.
We then went on to Pang Pang village where we were told all about the huge banyan trees. These trees came in handy during the cyclone as protection.
We stopped at a lovely spot for lunch right on the beach at a local village. They prepared a lovely meal and they sang to us while we had our lunch.
That night we went and saw a comedian on board, we hadn’t laughed so much for a long time. At around midnight we awoke to the smell of smoke in our room. We were quite worried, as the last thing you want is a fire on a ship in the middle of nowhere. Shane rang the pursers desk and they advised us that we had passed an erupting volcano and the smell was so strong it had gotten into the air conditioning. We were told all was well. The little old italian couple in the room next door were not put at ease and he said “the captain of the Titanic had said all is well and look what happened to that ship”. We had a laugh and went back to bed.
On the move again, we awoke the next morning at Champagne Bay. We had an early breakfast as we were going to get an early tender to shore. However it was raining so hard you could not see the island. We went back to our room and a couple of hours later the sun was beating down and it was really humid. So went ashore.
It is situated on the east coast of Vanuatu’s largest island, Espiritu Santo. The island has been inhabited for many years by Melanesian people known as Ni-Vanuatu, who still proudly observe the clan system and maintain many of their ancient traditions. We spent the day relaxing on the beach, set amongst a dramatic landscape of mountains, plantations, farms, lowland forest and jungle. We were far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so enjoyed the chance to do next to nothing. We swam in translucent blue waters and strolled along the dazzlingly white, soft sand. Lots of market stalls had been set up so did a bit of retail shopping. I bought a couple of summer dresses and Shane got a t-shirt and cap.