La Mer, Efate, Vanuatu

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Tucked away in a remote location, around an hours drive from Port Vila, is restaurant La Mer. Access is via a grass track, whereupon a few minutes drive will bring you to this most idyllic spot, revealing the presence of a neat French restaurant, which sits proudly near the beach.

Driving down the track you pass some if the best looking beef cattle you have ever seen, possibly even the odd wild pig as we did. A rather huge porker eating at the side if the road, who was in no way intimidated by the passing close by.

Clean, tidy and most of all comfortable. This restaurant is quaint and interesting from the moment you arrive. Huge smiles from the staff as the menu is presented. Meals / drinks are all reasonably priced here. You will require vatu for payment. Our lunch, 2 meals and a few drinks came in just over 6000 vatu.

As the only customers on this particular day, it was delightful to have the restaurant to ourselves. After receiving a very reserved greeting by the resident dog, who then sloped off to sleep under another table and chairs, a cut up grapefruit was delivered to the table. For those who have not tasted Vanuatu fruit, this pink grapefruit was sweet enough to eat without any bitter aftertaste. Grapefruit here is very easy to eat.

The food was well presented and certainly didn’t disappoint with taste either. A beef salad had the lightest and most finely chopped salad possible, interspersed with potato bites and layered with beef. A mixture of flavours and spices which were balanced just right and in no way overpowering. Calamari was the best, without being over spiced and cooked naturally. I’m told the steak was tender melt in the mouth and the very best tasted.

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Coconut water does not come any fresher than this. No plastic bottles for this drink!

During lunch the only sounds you could hear, were the waves rolling into the beach, faint ceremonial noise from a local village and the odd clink and sizzle from the kitchen.

If you visit Vanuatu and have the opportunity to visit, or are taking a tour around the island, ask to visit this delightful restaurant. You will not be disappointed.

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Balihai Bar – Iririki Island

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The Bali Hai bar at Iririki Island has nearly everything you could desire to relax.

Bar staff are relaxed, helpful and happy. Here you can spend time by yourself or mingle with the many different people and cultures. Frangipani spa is located right next to the bar should you feel like a relaxing massage. Or perhaps you’d like a refreshing swim? No problem, the pool with seemingly endless water through to the sea, is located directly in front of the bar.

For the sports buffs, the tv shows the major games. At the moment it is running continuously for World Cup soccer. All black and Wallaby games are popular in the union, with any game the French play also a hit.

Micheners Restaurant is also next to the bar. Here breakfast is served daily and numerous theme nights are covered for dinner. More about those in the Micheners blog to follow.

Two happy hours feature at the bar daily, 4pm to 5pm then 8pm to 9pm. This is the same across all the bars on the island.

Cocktail list is extensive, however should you desire some type of drink the staff do not know, they are more than happy to knock it up if you provide the instructions on the mix. Cheers !

Beef House Bar & Grill, Port Vila

Personally greeted, seated by Karlos, in this large and interesting restaurant, tucked away near the Duty Free in Port Vila. Karlos introduced himself, enquired as to our names, thereafter referring to each of us by name. A delightfully personal touch.

Complimentary fresh bread was delivered by Karlos, along with the menus. Right now I wish I could upload photos with this blog, the menu and everything about this quirky place was interesting and fabulous.

Hubby decided upon the lobster which, as described by Karlos, was fresh off the boat at 10.30pm last night. Half was to be grilled, whilst the other half mornay. At 5000vat, around AUD $50 this sounded like an awesome deal. I opted for the small sirloin which arrived with a baked potato and salad.

You need to hear about this lobster. This crustacean was huge, arriving on a big platter, more than twice the size of a normal plate. Decorated with shoestring fries, onions, battered banana, with a separate plate of mashed potato and salad. Now salad was mostly lettuce with a scattering of a dressing and cheese, however when are presented with a full lobster, whose body alone was longer than a footlong sub, who cares about the salad.

Like I said, I really wish I could post the photo of this unlucky crustacean, however I will update when back in Australia. I will try to upload this on Instagram – dinelivetravel and the Facebook page Dine Live Travel as the blog won’t accept photo uploads on the internet here.

The steak was to die for, but then the steak in Vanuatu generally is. They have amazing beef over here. Topped off with a few of the local Tusker beers and the alcohol infused ice creams, thank you Karlos we loved the whole experience.

Our mid morning lunch was devine and we cannot wait to return as per your invitations. Big hugs all round from Karlos before we left, and the invitation to return one evening, where after dinner we will be taken for a free drink with the locals at the owners nightclub. Sounds enticing, plus we are returning anyway Karlos, the snails and frogs legs on the menu are on our list to try. We shall return !

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Iririki Island

Sea gently caresses land as they merge, a couple of birds tweet their greetings, the occasional holler from one of the nearby islands is answered by other locals with hoots and hollers, and every now and then a water taxi scoots by.

Crystal clear waters provide a picture perfect view, so clear you can see the bottom of the sea from a balcony three stories high, clearly distinguishing turtles and other sea life going about their daily business.

This is heaven on earth. Our arrival on a late night flight was met with humidity and huge smiles. Staff at the island are fantastically relaxed and willing to help in any way they can. They adore interacting with everyone and the more you respond, they will do likewise.

Internet here can be a little dodgy, so I will only post short blogs for now.
Photos may not load however once we return home I will update. Enjoy your weekend 🙂

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An addition to this blog now we have returned home. Tank yu tumas to everyone who made our stay so enjoyable. Staff were fantastic. This is a country where people will keep to themselves however you interact with them and they will respond. The information to be gleaned from talking to these beautiful people is amazing. They are more than willing to answer your questions or furnish you with the information you ask for. I will post a second Iririki blog regarding activities etc, thank you for following!

Holiday time – Vanuatu

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One more sleep until we receive an enthusiastic welcome aboard a flight, and onto the country which holds our hearts- Vanuatu.

A beautiful country, spread out over upwards of eighty islands. Here you can snorkel or swim in pristine waters, visit an active volcano, witness the bravery of the land diving, the list is endless.

Main languages are Bislama, French, and English. Each village usually has their own language which is why there are over 100 native languages. On Efate, where the capital Port Vila lies, a villager can travel less than a kilometre down the road to the next village, and not understand their language. Most native languages are named after the island they are used upon. English is widely spoken, however it is often a form of pidgin English.

From Brisbane, return flights are easy to obtain, under AUD500 if you book early enough. 4-6 months out will see some fantastic flight deals with their own Air Vanuatu. Choose to fly Air Vanuatu and your holiday will begin upon boarding. A seemingly endless supply of food, drinks and the friendliest staff are all inclusive of your ticket.Accommodation rates vary from backpackers through to resort style.

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If you are expecting glossy, pristine resorts and to drive down a road like you do at home, you will be disappointed. Resorts are generally clean, however, maybe sometimes things will be a bit worn, who cares as long as it’s clean. Roads exist – in places, however potholes dominate the roads and would probably outnumber the vehicles!

Crossing the road takes skill and swiftness in parts of Port Vila, yet somehow the locals look completely casual as they stroll out in front of swiftly moving, horn beeping vehicles, a noise they appear totally immune to. They arrive on the other side unscathed, whilst you arrive less a few arm hairs, with a rapidly increased heart rate! Good for metabolism I guess. If you stay for any length of time you will work out where not to cross the main road.

Dawdle at the side of the road, or hesitate for moment, you will be besieged by taxis and buses. Now that may bring visions of the type of buses and taxis you are used to, however, I assure you these are not your typical modes of transport. Basically they look the same, usually mini vans. To distinguish the difference is easy, a bus number plate starts with a B, a taxi plate starts with T. Like I said easy. The only difference is the price. Buses are cheaper than taxis. Be sure to agree on the price for where you want to go, before embarking on a ride.

This could well be the ride of your life with the main road rule being, drive on the right hand side, whilst conveying your intentions to other road users, via the horn!

So many forget this is a third world country. Here there is no such thing as a Welfare system, no taxes apply, and work is generally shared to make it fair on everyone. Families have their own plots of land to harvest, children are generally not receiving a full education as families earning so little cannot afford to pay under AUD100, per year to send a primary school age child, to school. Fees of over AUD200 per year prevent most children from ever receiving an education, year 7 onwards. We are fully loaded with school supplies for the school where we directly sponsor some children’s education. This time, we have the pleasure of meeting our children and attending the school assembly. It will be delightful to put faces to names and spend time with these beautiful people.

Over the next ten days, whenever the intermittent Vanuatu Internet network allows, I will keep you posted with the places we visit and the beautiful people we will meet.

Now it’s back to the packing, before we head off on the next adventure, where no doubt more of these delightful signs will appear….

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