We were excited about Port Vila in Vanuatu and all its possibilities. This is the country that “invented” what one might deem the original form of bungee jumping, after all. When boys reach a certain age, they have to twist vines from a particular type of tree together, tie the vines to their ankles, and then jump head first and plunge toward the ground. They tuck their heads and attempt to make their shoulders barely touch the ground when they fall. To pass the test to become a man, one must achieve this goal, and not die in the attempt.
Vanuatu is comprised of several islands, and we weren’t on the one with the vine jumping. We also weren’t on the one with the active volcano (Tana), and we quickly found out that said island was a three day ferry ride away. The admission alone to enter the famous Cascade waterfalls is $25pp and all the Aussies who go to Vanuatu (it seems like they go to Vanuatu like we go to New Jersey) said it would be crowded. So we decided to come up with an alternate plan. Kayaking through caves sounded good! We waited for the same group with which we had hiked in American Samoa, and we got a driver after some HARD bargaining. Vanuatu is a place we’d love to come back to based on what we know about it, but wow, the transportation here is expensive!!
The drive to the caves was gorgeous, and the cave was in a little village by itself, near a beach. There was only one kayak, so most of us decided to swim through the caves. The water was cold and most of us didn’t have lights. We found out the hard way that the batteries in our flashlight were dead. Luckily someone had a headlamp, though it wasn’t waterproof! So one person took the headlamp in the kayak and lit the way for the rest of us. What a cool, cool experience, swimming through rooms in a cave! We didn’t have to go underwater to go from room to room thankfully. 🙂
We were finished early quickly with the cave, so after some more bargaining our driver agreed to take us to two additional destinations and then all the way around the island. First we went to Eton Beach, which I swear is one of the nicest beaches I have ever been to! White white sand, clear blue and light green water everywhere. There was tons of pumice stone floating in the water which was very cool since we never see stones float really! There was lots of lava rock around too so it was a super photogenic beach. The lava rock formed a wall around the water protecting it from the ocean, except for one break where the ocean water would come pouring in. The flow was very strong there so it was a ton of fun to get right where the water flowed in, and just let yourself be carried back towards the beach. We had fun doing it a few times, holding hands once or twice. Then I climbed up there with Samuel and Emily, and we stood up on the shelf, which was quite difficult when the strong waves came! Elliott took some photos and then joined us and Samuel and Emily took some photos of the two of us. When we were done fighting the waves we jumped in and let the current carry us in once more.
Next up was the Blue Lagoon, which was this huge blue pool formed by the ocean but separated from it by a narrow channel and surrounded by gorgeous trees with bright green leaves. It was much more protected than the water at the last beach, since the entrance to the ocean was quite a swim from where we were. And wouldn’t you know it – there was a huge rope swing! We each took a couple of turns on the rope swing and then I swam around in the still blue lagoon for a bit while Elliott did the rope swing some more. Eventually he joined me, and we each climbed a tree and jumped out of that, videoing one another for fun. We swam with the two kids out towards the ocean. We swam in and out of the many coves, looked for caves, and played with some unusual looking fruits that had fallen off the trees into the water. Eventually we got close to the ocean and could feel the current getting stronger and the temperature getting cooler.
When we got back we tried the rope swing a few more times, but I was so tired I couldn’t keep my legs from dragging in the water each time I jumped. We headed back towards town, enjoying the scenery on the rest of the island loop. After stopping at a point where we were able to get some WiFi, we walked the 40 minutes back to the port. It was a beautiful afternoon for walking and we really enjoyed being along the water when we could, checking out the boats. The weather was nice and breezy.
We got to the ship at 5:23 for an all-aboard time of 5:30, and it turned out this time we *were* the last ones to board. Elliott pointed out we were seven minutes early, and they said it was okay, but then one security officer said, “Just don’t make it a habit.” What? We were both pretty shocked at the comment and decided we will make it a habit now, lol. Hey, if they want us on the ship earlier, just make the all-aboard time earlier! We went up to the deck above the pool deck and watched the beautiful sunset as we sailed out of Port Vila. Wow, what a nice night to be up there.