Visit this South Pacific island nation if you’re into health and fitness.
Made up of 83 spectacular islands, the archipelago of Vanuatu isn’t all about lying on the beach and sipping cocktails. The South Pacific paradise also features an authentic and unique blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich culture and exciting, heart-pumping adventures.
In case you weren’t already in the know, here are a few reasons why Vanuatu makes for the perfect short-haul getaway – specially crafted with health, fitness and wellbeing in mind.
1. Mountain biking on Efate
While exploring Vanuatu’s main island of Efate (pictured above), there’s no better place to base yourself than the bustling capital of Port Vila. The Ramada Resort is centrally located and provides a tranquil respite for your tropical getaway, with stunning views out onto the Erakor Lagoon, spa facilities and friendly staff who will be happy to help organise all your adventures. For an exhilarating experience, try one of Vanuatu Ecotours’ mountain biking tours. Along the way you’ll come across traditional villages and even explore hidden parts of the island locals aren’t privy to. Jump on the mountain bikes and follow the off-road tracks and jungle trails to beautiful unspoiled coastlines, Ni-Vanuatu villages, waterfalls and colonial cattle farms.
2. Soaking at the Port Resolution Hot Springs
If you’re feeling a bit stiff from all your adventuring, head to Port Resolution Hot Springs on Tanna Island. The natural hot spring located at the base of Mount Yasur is the perfect spot for a swim or steam to relax your muscles after a long day of exploring the island’s rugged landscape. For a truly distinct Tanna experience, try cooking in the springs! Guests can prepare food with local women, dipping vegetables into the boiling springs for a delicious, healthy meal.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, grab a board and try ash boarding. At Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, you can actually ski or board down the side of an active volcano. Traditionally, locals would use a fallen coconut leaf stem for skiing on the land slope, known as katketik. Today, skiers and boarders come from all over to hike their way up the mountain and ski down, while the volcano bubbles and boils just metres away.
Just off the coast of Efate lie Nguna and Pele – two beautiful tropical islands where you can really get off the beaten track. A three-day trip with Vanuatu Ecotours will have you hiking on extinct volcanoes, experiencing local village culture, snorkelling in pristine water and staying in beachside bungalows.
The perfect way to discover the barrier reef of Mele Bay is on the water with a kayak or SUP. Warm tropical waters and picture-perfect horizon views will make sure you have an unforgettable experience. Local guides from Kayaking Vanuatu will lead you to your own sand island, sharing their knowledge of the environment and letting you in on little-known secrets of Ni-Vanuatu culture. Surrounded by stunning scenery, you might even be lucky enough to swim with the resident turtles and dolphins.
6. Discovering Malekula
Malekula is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse islands in Vanuatu. Shaped like a dog and sitting right in the heart of the archipelago, Vanuatu’s second-largest island is best explored on foot. You can hike through the coastal jungle, take a picnic to the gardens, or stumble through the trees and discover some of the island’s spectacular waterfalls.
The Millennium Cave tour is the ultimate experience for adventure seekers. The full-day excursion will have travellers scrambling through dense jungles, trickling creeks and cascading waterfalls. Navigating the jungle in such a hands-on way gives you a deep appreciation for the natural environment of Vanuatu and an understanding of why it’s so important to the locals.
8. Eating fresh local produce
Located on Tanna Island, the Lenakel Fresh Produce Market is the place to find fresh, organic local food. Adventurous eaters will love exploring the market and tasting exotic tropical fruits and kaikai – seeds and nuts from native trees. The White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa sources all of its produce from the Lenakel market to create its seasonal menu.
Dive into one of Vanuatu’s crystal-clear freshwater blue holes. Surrounded by lush rainforests, the Malo blue hole is a huge natural swimming spot located right in the middle of island’s north-facing coastline. Naturally occurring and refreshing, the bright azure river flowing out of the blue hole is quite breathtaking.
10. Treating yourself to a volcanic spa
A must when visiting Port Vila, the Volcanic Earth Healing Centre Day Spa offers the ultimate in indulgence, detoxification, relaxation and restorative healing. The treatments combine the benefits of volcanic ash with modern body wraps and scrubs for holistic therapies that will leave you feeling rejuvenated throughout your holiday.
Just three hours from Sydney, Vanuatu is more accessible and affordable than ever, thanks to Air Vanuatu’s great deals. Return economy flights from Sydney to Port Vila start from $499.