Sunset Bar & Cafe, Iririki Island

20140624-183250-66770856.jpg
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.

20140624-184135-67295974.jpg

20140624-184134-67294800.jpg

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!

20140624-185309-67989639.jpg

World War Two Museum – Vanuatu

20140624-173111-63071577.jpg
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.

20140624-181800-65880402.jpg

20140624-181801-65881222.jpg

20140624-181938-65978247.jpg

Real Pasifik banquet – Iririki Island

Wow! To join in this most awesome banquet experience, you do not need to be staying at Iririki. The day begins with a 10am food market tour to showcase the food which will be used in the banquet that night. Our tour was conducted by Stanley, Chef Amos and Bernie.

Chef Amos taught his small class of pupils the differences in many different types of food. For instance, we learned which varieties of bananas are for eating, whilst plantain bananas are for cooking only. The difference between the cooking and the eating peanuts, types of fruit and vegetables, all accompanied with an insight into the life of the locals. Bernie’s interjections along the way were received with much laughter and hilarity.

I do have some photos of the markets however will upload at a later time when Internet allows. Some have uploaded onto our Facebook page Dine Live Travel as well as dinelivetravel on Instagram.

We were the inaugural tour to be taken to Lapita Cafe after the markets. I would say this topped off the tour beautifully. A review of a Lapita Cafe has been provided separately however I really urge everyone to visit this beautiful lady and her staff.

After the cafe everyone dispersed to spend the day however they wished. That evening we came together for the most amazing evening. The group is limited to around 16 which was an ideal number. Drinks are included, now the best part here is it was any drink you were drinking. Certainly making a change from the usual basics only inclusions we have found at other restaurants who advertise all inclusive meals.

A large screen tv, played the show filmed in Vanuatu featuring Robert Oliver and the lovely lady from Lapita Cafe, whose name no one was sure how to spell!

First on the menu was a banana soup. Right now I totally understand if you are raising the eyebrows a little, however we were assured by Chef Amos and Bernie in the morning the soup was devine. There is no denying they were correct. One really does need to try this, a description does not it justice.

A copy of the full menu will follow later. We would encourage everyone to try this. Remember even a coeliac can eat everything on this menu. Internet restricts the upload at the moment, I will however add to this blog in a couple of days time. Enjoy the banquet !!

20140623-140044-50444008.jpg

20140623-140044-50444853.jpg

20140623-140205-50525516.jpg

Lapita Cafe

This tour was the inaugural visit to the cafe following a walk through the colourful markets. A delightful and interesting experience. This beautiful chef has worked alongside Robert Oliver, ( a NZ chef voted the top TV chef in the world only three weeks ago), to promote natural foods in Vanuatu.
Unfortunate photos will not upload at this time, will add some at a later date.

For those who are gluten intolerant, this may very well be one of the only cafés you can eat everything. We tasted pizza, sausages and relishes, as well as some crunchy ginger cookies.

The flour here is manioc flour, produced directly from the manioc root. The flour is wheat & gluten free, high in fibre with no preservatives. It does not come any more natural than this. Not only that, finally we have tasted something which ensured the food tasted ‘normal’. The first small shipment if this flour was exported to Sydney last week. If anyone would like to know more, feel free to leave a comment or contact via Facebook Dine Live Travel page.

I will be the first to admit, I won’t spend extra $ on organic in Australia as I don’t believe it is organic. However in Vanuatu everything is. No sprays are used anywhere in the country. Pretty much as described to us, you dig a hole, plant a plant, then leave until it is matured. A cafe like Lapita is a place which needs a lot of promotion to showcase what they available.

There is the opportunity here to look through the small factory, or, you can check the local native kitchen which was used by Robert Oliver in the TV show he did in Vanuatu.

Photos will follow!

20140623-140506-50706646.jpg

20140623-140504-50704982.jpg

20140623-140505-50705829.jpg

Balihai Bar – Iririki Island

20140618-084142-31302266.jpg

20140618-084143-31303144.jpg
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 !

20140618-083515-30915812.jpg

20140618-083515-30915068.jpg

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 🙂

20140618-083649-31009584.jpg

20140618-083650-31010178.jpg

20140618-083648-31008910.jpg

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

20140612-120143-43303743.jpg
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.

20140612-121727-44247954.jpg
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….

20140612-130203-46923997.jpg