Foto's & tips
02 februari 2008
Visas to enter Vanuatu are not necessary if you are from: Commonwealth countries, EU countries, Fiji, Japan, Norway, Philippines, South Korea, Switzerland or USA. Other nationalities can apply for a visa at the Immigr. Department in Port Vila. Your visa can be extended up to 4 months. Check for information on (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or www.vanuatutourism.com/visa-info.htm) Languages spoken in Vanuatu are: English, French and Bislama. Bislama is a sort of Pidgin English. Very interesting to listen to and to learn of course. Once you know a few words (like: Thank you= Tank yu tumas, How are you?=Olsem wanem?) and you try to speak with the locals, they will reward you with smiles. You show them that you are interested in their language, their culture and therefore....them as people. Oh yeah…no worries about being eaten! Cannibalism doesn’t exist here any more (as far as we know). Vaccinations / immunizations are not required for Vanuatu. If you are planning to visit the outer islands, malaria medications are advised for those areas.
Vanuatu is a home to a lot of visiting sail yachts or motor yachts. Good places to meet boaties or yachties are The Waterfront, Café du Village or Anchor Inn. You might be able to get a berth on a boat, to become temporary crew (or just someone who comes along) and see some islands sailing around. You can also put a notice up on one of the noticeboards at these places. Who knows….you might even be able to sail to Fiji, New Caledonia, the Solomons, Australia, New Zealand or even Papua New Guinea. If you feel like an adventure….get some information on the captain, the boat and safety gear, how long the trip will take, what the expected conditions are (weather, currents, pressure and winds) and what they will expect you to do. Don’t get me wrong…sailing is not just fun and relaxing…it can be pretty hard too. Depending on the other people on board and the weather conditions. Here’s some good advice I got from a sailing friend (which turned out to be great advice): if you are going on a passage, take some food-items you really like (maybe chocolate, Coca cola, Pringles, candy or pretzels) and hide them away from yourself and the others until you really need them, as a present to yourself. I sailed from Palau (Micronesia) to Australia, my first passage ever and it was quite an experience. Good and bad memories. Three weeks of sailing and the weather was bad. We didn’t see land the first 10 days we were sailing. Only water, water, water, water and some whales and flying fishies. I tell you…I was seasick for the first 3 days! And covered with bruises! Not getting enough sleep, because of the movements of the boat (bumping into everything) and of course the watches everyone had to do. So…realise it is not just a pleasure cruise and prepare yourself for the worst. One thing is for sure….you will learn a lot and have more knowledge! Some more advice: don’t have a hangover the day you are supposed to leave on a sailboat, remember that the first sign of seasickness is that you yawn.
I visited Nguna Island, just North of Efate, for a couple of days. A beautiful place to stay and the people are so friendly. They have a Marine Protected Area, which is teeming with fish life and has beautiful coral. The MPA also does turtle tagging and you (as a tourist) can come along to spot turtles and you can even sponsor one. If you do so, your money (5000 Vatu) will go to the MPA and will be used to keep the Marine Protected Area in order, to do surveys on the reef (like Reef check) and they will be able to use the money for one of their other projects. You in return can name the tagged turtle and you can experience a turtle from very close by. You also get a certificate with all the information of your turtle (length, head width, species, sex, etc) and you can check the website to see if your turtle is spotted again. If this is the case you can read how much it has grown since you saw it and of course…where it has been seen. I was staying in a bungalow and I had to pay only 2000 Vatu per night and it was including 3 meals of local food! You can take a truck from Port Vila and then take the ferry across to Nguna Island. This will cost you around 1000 Vatu one-way. So…all and all I would definitely advise you to go there. The website of the MPA is: www.marineprotectedarea.com.vu. For people on sailboats who want to visit Nguna Island: there is also a mooring, which can be used in return for a small donation.