Crystal Blue Resort Marine Conservation Park

Pacific Ocean was pounding the beach the resort sits upon the day we visited. Amongst the crashing dark blue waves, lay an aqua blue calm strip of water. I have no doubt the snorkelling in this area is good, but the idea of snorkelling in between the thunder of the sea, didn’t appeal to us resulting in a polite decline on the invitation.

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This is a nice area which exudes a somewhat isolated feel. Maybe it’s the drive down the track to the resort, or perhaps the long frontage, then again it could have been the waves rolling in from open ocean to pummel the shore.

Whatever the reason, the feeling of isolation was further enhanced by a lack of people. The only human life around, were those who worked at the resort and conservation park. Given this is a large, sprawling resort, slowly being restored, the size was magnified by the small handful of people.

Lack of people was a good thing though, with a personalised tour, just for us. We were guided around the resort area to view the concrete tanks with different age turtles being grown until they reached their release, back to the wild, size and age.

Iguanas’, flying foxes, chickens, all were on display in their own enclosures, Although we did wonder if they were aware they were also on the menu in the restaurant! Iguanas were happy to socialise and pose for the camera.

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Between the resort/park and the pool of sharks mingling with the three oldest turtles, there lies a village where Ni Vanuatu who work at Crystal Bay, reside during their work tenure.

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Pigs, from little tackers through to a couple of massive ones, live in their own pens at the edge of the village.

The final stage of the tour, is the pool of massive turtles and a lot of reef sharks and a ray. The opportunity exists to swim in this pool, which apparently some people take. The number of sharks was a little off putting

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I did negotiate the steep steps down to the pool to meet the turtles, the biggest around 80 years old.

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Our guide demonstrated sand drawings, which he completed in no time at all. Outlines were neat, tidy and cleverly put together.

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There is an entry fee here, around AUD 20 each which included the tour, snorkel and feeding the big turtles. Swimming with the sharks, ray and turtles did cost more and is available at high tide if you are interested. Families will find plenty here of interest to the kids, when you stop by for a tour. The resort itself still looked a little run down and basic, making a stop on an island tour probably a better choice than staying on site.

Keep in mind also, this is not the location of the blue lagoon, which is a different area on Efate altogether.

Blue Lagoon, Efate

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Photo really doesn’t do the gorgeous colour of the wonderfully blue water justice. A popular spot with the kids, especially with a tarzan rope to jump into the water from, making for some huge, and at times painful sounding, swinging leaps!

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You may visit this on one of the island tours, it’s certainly worth having a swim, even if only to say you’ve swum there. Overall we found it to be a nice little set up with seating areas dotted around, and change huts available for use. There are a few rocks to walk on as you go into lagoon, which may be easier with reef shoes, doesn’t last long though as water does get deep very fast.

Consider an early visit if you are travelling separate to a tour, as this area can fill up pretty quickly. There were a few fish around but not enough for snorkelling. However that was probably due to the jump rope, I doubt many fish would be hanging around waiting to be a target for jumpers! Maybe early with no-one else around you would see more. There was an reasonable entry fee of around AUD 5., handed over at the rustic little entry hut.

These gorgeous local children were fascinated with seeing themselves inside the camera, As always it was heartwarming to see such a simple thing become a huge source of amusement.

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Sunset Bar & Cafe, Iririki Island

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Who does not enjoy a swim up bar? This area is part of the Iririki Island complex. At the opposite end of the island to the Bali Hai Bar & Micheners restaurant, this area of endless lagoon style pools, waterfalls, and seating areas are nested in among the swaying coconut trees and surrounded by the gym, cafe, tennis courts, games room and the bar.

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This area is aimed towards families, with a playground and poolside apartments incorporated into the area. Happy hour is in place down this end of the island too, between 4-5pm and 8-9pm daily.

I for one enjoyed sitting on one of the concrete stools in the pool, sipping a wine, very relaxing whilst one cools off from the humidity. If you are staying near the Bali Hai end, be sure to take a wander down this way, you won’t be disappointed!

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World War Two Museum – Vanuatu

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Tucked away on the island of Efate in Vanuatu is an interesting World War Two Museum. Yes the photo shown above is the museum. 500VT or AUD6 entry fee unless you include this visit on a tour, whereupon entry is sometimes included. Ernest will open the door to this museum to enable you to view the relics left behind by the US soldiers during WW2.

For those interested in snorkelling, the opportunity exists to snorkel and view an intact corsair WW2 fighter plane. We didn’t snorkel to the plane, however Ernest described the plane and the location to us. For the snorkel tour including museum, was around 2500VT or AUD30.

The museum itself is small, with a number of relics including propeller blade, a rusty Japanese helmet, various other relics and bottles, all of which have been dug out the US dump site. For those interested in war memorabilia, you will find this slice of history, appealing. Keep in mind this is not the usual air conditioned, white walled museum you are used to. This is basic, genuine with Ernest more than happy to share his knowledge with those interested. He is most proud of the relics they have uncovered.

Again this is Vanuatu, if you don’t make the first move and ask questions, you will learn nothing. However, if you ask questions you will find Your guide more than willing to part with information.

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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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