Top 5 VANUATU family holiday ADVENTURES
A water baby I am not. Bobbing around for hours in the sea and getting multiple sinus rinses of salt water when plunged into it is not my idea of fun. So surfing has never been high on my bucket list i must confess.
However I always like my daughter to try a new sport and am determined to role model giving things a bash. And so we found ourselves getting rather hot and sweaty learning the basics of balancing on ribsticks, mats and indoor surf boards before we even went near water, which i was actually very grateful – it would have been impossible to learn that much straight out in the sea.
After over an hour learning our trade we graduated to the lagoon and the gentle surf break which was perfect for beginners. Our instructor Thomas was amazing – thorough but fun, helpful and reassuring but pushing our boundaries. Before we knew it we had the thrill of being up on the crest of the waves – “HUGE they were!” Well maybe not but we all have to start somewhere hey?!
I think we are pretty fit but that was some workout we had over 3 hours and the next morning I discovered tired muscles I didn’t even know I had! But it was worth every minute and every ache to have the shared sense of achievement of riding waves together as a family and counting how many times we fell off – not hard to figure who took that award!
With the warm waters, shallow lagoon and expert tuition I am extremely glad my surfing “career” was kicked off with Cara in Vanuatu. Next stop World Champs???
My daughter’s favourite when she reflected on the holiday, which surprised me. She is not the biggest risk taker and was pretty nervous as the time to go came but the Vanuatu Zipline crew were very skilled at encouraging unconfident kids. On the smaller lines she built up confidence to go it alone and on the longer lines she was hooked in with me or a guide. She was certainly stood on the platforms looking at long lines with trepidation but with just the right blend of reassurance and “just do it” the guides got us off zooming over the jungle squealing.
With beautiful views and a wander through the rainforest thrown in for good measure it was definitely a great location for my first zipline experience too. Its safety conscious approach and efficient organisation means Vanuatu Zipline is definitely a good set up for families. To see my daughter push her boundaries and take more and more risks was worth every dollar – all the kids wanted to go back and do it again as soon as we finished! Time they save their pocket money then…..
For more information see https://vanuatujunglezipline.com/
THE REEF turtle zoo
The Reef was on our Vanuatu “to do” list and we were pleased to learn that it was owned by friends of friends. Emma and Andrew moved from Australia and bought this turtle sanctuary a year ago (on the internet!) and have put lots of hard work and sweat into transforming it from a rather run down operation to a beautiful homage to turtles. We had about 10 kids from various family friends with us and what started as a trip to see some turtles turned into a whole afternoon of fun that it was hard to drag them away from. From sitting with baby turtles swimming around their feet, through the mini zoo where the main attraction was the many lizards to hold and down to the beautiful rock pools down on the beach where they got to swim with a couple of bigger turtles – all the children happily spent hours fooling around together.
Some of the older children and adults went snorkelling off the beach and our friends declared it was the best coral they had seen around all the island – coming from a student of marine biology that’s some recommendation!
With an onsite café to chill out in and some newly restored beach bungalows with a view from the bed to die for I am definitely booking ourselves in to stay over here next visit.
Andrew and Emma have taken their passion for conservation of the turtles and the beauty of their location and turned it into a successful operation and a great day out for all the family – good on them!
For more information see: https://thereefvanuatu.com/
River kayaking and rope swinging
Like a Famous Five adventure we took 5 kids off to kayak down the river through the jungle with the help of a local eco adventure tour company. The 30 minute trip from town was made more interesting by riding in the back of a “jungle jeep” and we were soon kitted up and in pairs off down the Rentapo river. It was a leisurely paddle so that the kids could take turns and take in the life of the island villagers with the mums doing the washing in the river (no rest for the mums in any country!) and the village kids doing back flips into the river. With lime juice refreshments en route and fruit platters at the end it was all rather civilised and pleasant.
The undoubted highlight though was the rope swing into the river which it was hard to drag the kids away from at the end!
THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Aelan, Bislama for ‘island”, is the brain child of a French volcanologist who wanted to understand how to help those on the islands she was working on. On many she heard the same story – that the villagers gave their coffee or cacao beans to family to sell on the main island markets but they never received a bean back in return. So the idea to turn these into a commodity was born and the chocolate factory was built.
I think my daughter was expecting something resembling Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as she was desperately keen to get there . What she got instead was an education in how small local enterprise supports the islanders, a walkthrough the chocolate making process and without a doubt her favourite – the chocolate tasting. Even I was surprised how she ploughed through each of the flavours of 80% dark chocolate including turmeric, ginger, even Cava. Coffee bean was the only one to get a “no” and the sea salt got several repeat orders. Although she undoubtedly took away the memory of her fav chocolate I am hoping she also soaked in the stories of the different islands that each chocolate was named after depending on the ingredients they provided. On an island which is seeing increasing Chinese investments (and profits) it was nice to put money back to the local economy through an enterprise such as this.
For more information see: http://aelanchocolate.com/