Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Straight up I will admit a soft spot for this beautiful uninhabited island. There is something about cruising into the area and seeing this tiny little island for the first time, which helps realign your perspective on life. The sun combines with the aqua blue sea closely surrounding the island, to create gorgeous sparkling diamonds, dancing across the top of the water.

Yes uninhabited, also taboo to stay on the island overnight, however there is an airfield running the length of the island. Perhaps not the most upmarket airport terminal around, but most certainly very cute!


Ni Vanuatu travel by boat from nearby islands to sell their crafts and provide entertainment to cruise ship visitors. Permanent market huts are set up on the island to cater towards the visitors. Kindy children sit in their groups beneath the big shady tree branches, singing songs, while their curious eyes follow the ship passengers. You can tell when someone has stopped to listen, the volume of the singing increases, as the children throw all their enthusiasm into the songs. A delightful sound as you traverse the island.

Photo opportunities with ‘cannibals’ are provided. I must admit a giggle at this cannibal who was having a heated discussion on his mobile phone during our stopover.


Our second visit to the island was Christmas Day last year. To spend Christmas Day snorkelling these beautiful waters was an incredibly relaxing experience. One of the hardest decisions for the day, do we walk round the island on the whiter than white sand, or wander down the middle, along the grass airfield. Sand tracks meandering through the shady trees thriving on the island, provide another option for exploring.

A word of warning should you choose the airfield option, this airfield us in regular use, you may need to duck for cover as a plane comes in for landing. Even on Christmas morning, two flights arrived and departed, somewhat unexpected on an island like this.


Definitely a place for snorkelling, you will no doubt find the beckoning of the gorgeous aqua sea, very difficult to resist. A nice quiet area is located down the opposite end of the island to where you land. Fewer people make the five-ten minute trek down there, preferring to stay close to the landing dock. Leaving you to enjoy a peaceful uninterrupted snorkel. You may even find yourself in middle of a school of darting fish.


Be sure to take a cruise stopping off at Mystery Island, you won’t regret your decision.

Mele – Cascade Waterfall

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Cascading water twisting yet seamless, runs next to and below your feet whilst negotiating a path on non slippery rocks, your goal being the ultimate last big waterfall.

Breathtaking. Yes there is an uphill walk involved, however, if you have been to Efate and not visited Mele, then your travels were not complete. The water here is unbelievable as shown to us on leaf, by our guide.

However you visit this memorable part of Efate, maybe by tour or on your own, just be sure you do it. This is a truly stunning landscape.

Upon reaching the top waterfall you can indulge in a massaging free shower, wallow in the rock pools, use the rocks and water as natural slides, or simply enjoy the beauty. There is a lot of uphill in this trip, you do not have to be an athlete, just be prepared for some exercise before your evening cocktail!

I will say, this is worth every step. Surprisingly the rocks are not slippery, even with water cascading over, you can keep a good footing.


Our guide could fold a leaf, then, with a few well placed bites, produce some amazing artwork.


This is a case you may find a guide or personalised tour is worthwhile. The information on medicinal plants, history or anything else you may learn, is most definitely worth it.

The right spot on your walk will give you an uninterrupted view of Hideaway Island.


Mele is definitely worth a visit, I recommend this area.

Sunset Bar & Cafe, Iririki Island

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.



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!


World War Two Museum – Vanuatu

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.




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 !!




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!




La Mer, Efate, Vanuatu


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.

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.


Balihai Bar – Iririki Island


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 !



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 🙂




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!