"Vana...what?" "Which country is that in?" "Wait, it's a country?" "Where is that?"
It's not uncommon for people to have no idea where Vanuatu is. Get the map out, this is a place you want to know about.
Ah...we camped here at Lonnoc Beach Bungalows for almost two weeks alone with this view and warm waters. The staff were wonderful, the view amazing, accommodations clean and food delicious. What more can a traveler ask for?
One of the best beaches in the world, we often had Champagne Beach completely to ourselves on the island of Espiritu Santo.
Down the road there are these amazing blue hole springs that guests can swim in. The water is crystal clear and it's a place you definitely want to bring your snorkel mask to see lots of fish.
To get around all these islands we fly to and from multiple airports with Air Vanuatu. It was awesome and in most instances if you wanted to switch your date of travel, you can simply go into the office and ask, "Please may I switch my dates?" They will look at the computer and if there are open seats then you can switch. Pretty sweet mindset.
And to stay energized we'd eat at variety of cafes. I love the way they spelled 'katchups'.
We woke up to such lovely prepared breakfast by Veronica every morning while we stayed at White Beach Bungalows - they let us pitch our tent so it was very affordable.
Us with Veronica, who was one of the kindest people ever. She let me come into the kitchen so I could help make our dinner which I loved.
It was a good thing Veronica prepared us such lovely meals because we were finding nothing but a lot of cabbage from the markets.
If people are looking for entertainment, they can go to the video store run by Jonas.
We met Jonas while walking on a beach. He approached us and was very intent on letting us know that everyone in Vanuatu was very friendly towards visitors and not to be afraid, even if they are dark skinned. He referenced our different skin colors as casually as if he were telling us he had potato's for dinner and insisted we not be afraid nor shy to talk to people because they would like to know more about us.
Here locals can go in and point to the movie on the piece of paper they would like to watch.
Known for their Tanna coffee, Jonas also had a small coffee shop he runs. He couldn't bear the thought if we were to ever leave Tanna without trying his coffee so he ensured we felt welcomed to have a seat in his cafe and he gave us each of us a cup of coffee. He would not accept any money for this.
These guys at the mechanic shop were more than happy for me to take their photo. Vehicles were always falling apart on the islands rough roads. Within the first ten minutes of our arrival to Tanna the van we were riding in stalled in a big hole and a bunch of people came running to help push us out.
As you can see, these boys loved having their photo taken. I think they could have posed for hours. They kept changing positions, whopping and hollering as they ran back and forth to see what each photo of themselves.
This group of boys also didn't mind posing a picture either when I stopped to ask them what they were doing. They said they were playing with their toy truck. All these boys shared this one 'toy truck.' When I see photos like this it reminds me of how much I take for granted the ease at which I am able to acquire material possessions living in a first world country.
Close up of their toy truck.
What the Vanuatuans do have is a strong sense of culture and they are more than happy to share that with visitors. Prior to canyoneering through Millennium Cave our guides painted our faces to keep the spirits on our side and grant us safe travel through the cave.
Despite it looking calm in this photo, that ferry was rocking back and forth with great force. Not always easy to deliver goods to an island.
We joined the other locals simply watching everything get unloaded and reloaded onto this ferry on this beautiful day.
We give Vanuatu a big thumbs up! If you've never been to a Pacific Island country before and are perhaps intimidated on which should be your first island, go to Vanuatu. They speak English, are very friendly, safe and easy to travel around. It's a place that will warm your heart, open your eyes to a new culture and remind you of why one travels. If you're just getting into this whole traveling thing, experiencing Vanuatu a great reason to start.