Lots of fantastic stuff! Take a peek into island life weekends with our new column, Island Weekends, where those who live here share their weekend escapes.
Story and photography by Nicola Barnes.
On an absolute windless day, anchored just off an uninhibited island, we were in the perfect place at the right time to hit a glorious morning of flat, liquid mercury-like sea.
It seems the gods were with us today. Waking up on our small 28ft boat anchored off Epi as the sun rose just before 5am, we were met with calm seas and soft pink light. Surrounded by islands and tropical forest, one island stood out like a jewel before us and was your picture-perfect, deserted, white-sand beach island.
Breakfast was pulled out of the cooler and coffee was quickly made as we headed out to embrace the day. Arriving on the coral reef as the sun started to shine, we had the impression of floating on glass. The visibility was absolute; from the surface through the water all the way to the bottom. Colourful corals and darting blue and multicoloured fish swam below our bow. Liquid bliss!
It called for a dive and we quickly got our dive tanks and gear sorted out and ready to go. Diving in a new site has that ‘Jaques Cousteau’ adventure feeling about it for me every time. Immediately after dropping off the boat, I was eye to eye with a giant, green, gasping moray eel. It was a good start to a leisurely dive off a small wall teaming with fish, untouched corals and only the sound of our own breath – heavenly.
After our dive, we set our small stereo to some soft tunes and proceed to explore the reef this time from the top, on our paddleboards; we even found a small wave and had a quick surf. After all the activity, we happily devoured the fresh mangoes that had been gifted to us by some young girls on the beach the night before.
It was another beautiful weekend. Going out exploring in our boat for a day or two is something we do regularly, and while many things about Vanuatu attract us to live here, it is the ease of access to the islands that really makes it for us. I am often amazed at how much money people pay to holiday in the Greek Isles. Do they not realise what accessible and totally untouched paradise sits in the Pacific just ‘next door’? While not everyone has a boat, there are charter boats for hire and many outer island bungalows run by locals will happily organise boat trips and exploration and proudly share this paradise with visitors. Get out there, get wet – adventure awaits!
Nicola Barnes and her husband Richard are long term residents of Port Vila and have recently established The Point Marina as Port Vila’s first residential marina to provide a tropical ocean-going lifestyle to other families. Nicola owns Pandanus retail store and is passionate about developing the local handicraft industry.