We bought some snorkeling gears last year and there was a competition on the pack. Based on some luck and probability calculation, we decided to enter the competition and we won! The prize was a PADI scuba diving course in Vanuatu for a week, all paid for.
It will also be our first time to the Pacific Islands so a new place to explore. Strange as it may be, I have never ventured east of Australia before. Nope, not even to New Zealand. They are on my list of places to visit, along with New Caledonia, Tahiti and all the other exotic Pacific Islands in the region but all of our travels have always taken us westward so hopefully, this will change things!
This was an all-expenses paid for trip so all we had to do was provide some dates and the company arranged the rest.
We flew on Air Vanuatu to Port Vila on a Saturday morning. Vanuatu is 3.5 hours from Sydney – a short trip away and summer temperatures beckon. New Caledonia is even closer because we flew over it on the way there! All this time, we thought that Asia was the only place that was hot all year round. But Vanuatu was lovely and warm at that time of the year, which was our winter in Sydney!
Hideaway Island Resort
We stayed on Hideaway Island Resort, a small coral atoll just off Port Vila. It is a small island accessible by ferry and the stay was actually very similar to
our time at Nikoi Island – it is all inclusive so you don’t have to leave the island if you don’t want to.
They put us up in the Twin Share Room that comes with a shared bathroom while we were there. It was basic and compact but it serves our needs. We are usually out for most of the day so we didn’t spend a lot of time in the room anyway.
Location: Efate Port Vila, Vanuatu
Price: From AUD$128/night. Book Hideaway Island Resort on Booking.com
Things to Do
Part of the prize package was a PADI scuba diving course. I’ve always, and I mean, ALWAYS wanted to learn how to dive. Only thing is, Mr R can’t dive as he has problems equalising his ears so that has been the one thing that has stopped me from doing it. I figured if someone was going to pay for me to get it, I might as well get it and then see how I feel after that. Nothing to lose even if I never ever dive again since I’m not paying for it.
No surprise that I actually loved every minute of it! It is a gazillion times better than snorkelling and it is just amazing being able to dive to such depths and see the fish and coral up close. After this, I don’t think I ‘d mind diving by myself anymore.
When I’m not diving, we spent our days lazing by the waves soaking up the sun’s gorgeous rays, playing with the resident cats, finding hermit crabs and doing some snorkeling together discovering blue starfish, schools of baby squid, giant clams and thriving coral. I never thought I was a ‘chill by the beach for more than 2 days’ kinda gal but it seems that maybe one can get used to this sort of life!
Visiting Port Vila
The day before our departure, we caught the daily ferry from the island to Port Vila to check out the town for the day. The town was bustling – such a huge contrast to Hideaway Island where we have been lazing our days away.
Port Vila Market
We were dropped off at the Port Vila Markets and it was busy with tourists and locals perusing the stalls when we arrived so we decided to check it out! There was a lot of fresh produce and cooked produce being sold there with locals buying or chatting with the stall vendors.
It was very interesting to walk around and soak up the sights and atmosphere. There was a lot of things being sold that we’ve not seen before so we bought some local snacks at random to try and they were delicious but I wasn’t sure what they actually were. Haha!
Exploring Port Vila
We then walked from Port Vila Markets along the waterfront towards the south of the island where we could see restaurants lining up the boardwalk before heading back the way we came to catch the ferry back to Hideaway Island. We love how colorful the place is, you do see a lot of bright colors wherever you look and the walk on the boardwalk is lovely!
Watch the Locals Play Petanque
On our walk, we stumbled upon some locals playing with some steel balls and we watched them for a good while trying to work out the rules of the game. I don’t think we figured it out but the game looked quite chilled out and relaxed. I looked it up when we got back and found out they were playing Petanque, a French form of bocce.
We really enjoyed our relaxing week in Vanuatu. The best bit for me is getting my PADI scuba diving license of course while Mr R enjoyed the time away from work. Oh wait, the best bit should be that the holiday was all paid for!