Unique combination of traditional tribal communities, beach resorts, accessible volcanoes, pristine underwater environments and flora/fauna of amazing diversity.
Known as the New Hebrides until it achieved independence on 3rd July 1980, the Republic of Vanuatu is one of those tourist destinations that holidaymakers are only recently beginning to hear about.
The Y-shaped chain of islands (numbering no less than 83) has been inhabited for thousands of years by Melanesian people. Known as the Ni-Vanuatu, on many of the islands they still maintain their age old traditions and culture.
Vanuatu’s Capital Port Vila
Situated on the middle island Efete, the nation’s capital, Port Vila has been the centre of administration since colonial times, when the place was run by a “condominium” set up in 1906 by France and Britain – a compromise that allowed both European powers to jointly “administer” the islands.
This resulted in the islands having two different police forces (with different uniforms), two currencies, two separate systems of justice and law courts, two different hospitals, two separate schooling systems (which resulted in the educated Ni-Vanuatu of the last generation being either Francophone or Anglophone but seldom fluent in both European languages). This unique state of “rule by condominium” must have been quite frustrating for the local Melanesian people who themselves had 114 different languages!
Tourist Sights in Port Vila
Visitors to Port Vila should make sure to visit the National Museum, the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (Cultural Centre) , the World Heritage Site of Chief Roimata’s Domain and also the most interesting Secret Gardens in Mele – where among a host of interesting things they can even learn how the drink kava is made!
The Island of Wala
Situated off the coast of the second biggest island, Malakola, lies the small island of Wala which has become a regular port of call for the several Paciifc Cruise ships that bring tourists to these parts. Although some of them have jobs on the mainland, most of the people on Wala live in villages much as their ancestors did– cultivating yams, rearing pigs and chickens, trapping land animals and fishing. Visiting here is like going back to the time before Europeans came – the only difference being that these days there are no longer any cannibals on these islands!
The only access to Wala is by boat – visiting cruise ships have to anchor offshore and ferry their passengers to the beach on tenders. Children in these villages have to make their daily trip to the school on Malakula across the water by boat.