When people think of the region of Oceania, the images of Australia and long golden beaches fills many people’s minds, but there are so many tiny island nations that often get overlooked. While some of them have built up grand names for themselves, such as Fiji and Tahiti, many remain relatively unexplored and unknown. Read ahead to learn more about the island nation of Vanuatu, and why you should consider a small side trip to this unique place when you next set food in the area.
Vanuatu – About
Many people don’t know very much about this string of 83 islands, home to over 100+ different languages including English, French and Creole. The islands were first sighted in the early 1600s by a Portuguese explorer. It took over a hundred years before any other Europeans would return though and when they did, Captain James Cook chose to name the island chain the New Hebrides after the Hebrides in Scotland. Vanuatu eventually experienced a large male population loss when neighbouring western countries such as Australia, New Zealand and those further afield required labourers and called on the men of Vanuatu to fill positions. These days the islands are home to less people than it was in pre-contact times because of the men leaving to fill jobs abroad.
There are a good variety of accommodation throughout the islands ranging from small local run guest bungalows to luxurious resorts so there is something for everyone. Eating out can be fairly expensive in Vanuatu, so if you’re on a budget check out self catering options for accommodation.
Exploring the islands throughout the archipelago can be an incredibly fun, rewarding and adventurous experience. Ferries depart the main island’s capital, Port Vila regularly and flying is also an option however it can be subject to frequent disruptions in the smaller outlying areas.
Kava – A Culture
Kava is a drink made from the roots of a specific pepper plant found on the islands. Kava bars known as nakamals are found throughout towns and cities where you can sit and drink kava and enjoy the experience. Kava is a sedating drink but is intoxicating. Be sure to drink it slowly and not to mix it with alcohol otherwise you can make yourself ill. Always drink kava before a meal as eating then drinking can make you sick as well. You may be invited to come along to watch the kava preparation before you sample some. Overall drinking kava at a nakamal is a truly unique and rewarding experience that should be done at least once on your trip to the islands.
So there you have a rundown on the gorgeous island chain of Vanuatu – an increasingly popular place with travellers and tourists of all kinds who flock to the archipelago in the high season to enjoy its beaches and breezes. For a lower price consider coming to this island chain in the off season when you are more likely to find epic deals to save money!