When it comes to celebrating our love as newlyweds and honeymooners, some names hold incredible power over our imagination. Iceland, Bali, Santorini… in just a few words, our sense of wanderlust is awakened. Every now and then though, we stumble upon a name not so familiar, it’s actually intriguing. Just a few hours flight from Australia and New Zealand, Vanuatu certainly remains one of those often unknown destinations. At least it was for Kim and Marcus as they boarded their direct flight from Auckland to Port Vila, Vanuatu’s bright and bustling capital.
Port Vila is a charming harbor town that will delight any visitor with its typical island vibes and landscapes, its traditional local culture and its multicultural influence. Kim and Marcus enjoyed exploring the town and the island of Efate for two weeks, by bus, on a scooter, a quad bike, or simply by feet. They loved being on their own and have complete privacy in breathtaking scenery, and were moved by people’s gentle smile and kind welcoming whenever driving by or going across a village. As the time to leave got closer though, they felt they wanted to explore further.
And so they hopped on another 30 minutes flight to the outer island of Tanna. There, the storyline changed altogether, from a perfectly romantic and enjoyable tropical getaway to a truly unique experience. With its mere 40 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide, Tanna is just crumb of a land, lost in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, unnoticeable at first, like most hidden gems. But…
To the adventure seekers, the nature lovers, the wild at heart, and those of us who can hear their inner child begging to be set free of our grown up lives and responsibilities, for just a moment to be and breathe, Tanna holds every promise.
As Kim and Marcus watched the island get closer with their plane’s descent, and even more so as it landed, they knew this would be no ordinary destination.
After grabbing their bags along with Tanna’s other visitors, they hopped in a 4×4, and let themselves be taken onto this journey. Their first stop was to Tanna’s upscale Rockwater Resort where they were warmly greeted by owner John and his wife Sylvana. While sipping their complimentary fresh coconut water, they discovered a couple of hosts whose cheerfulness, warmth and sense of genuine welcoming made them feel at home right away. So they settled in, laughing like kids when discovering that their bright, luxury suit was actually carved in the cliff, a perfect combination of modern dream and natural environment.
After enjoying a tasty meal on the restaurant’s terrace with 180 degrees garden and ocean views, Kim and Marcus took a quick selfie to send home to their loved ones, as they knew that on this land, internet connections and cell phone networks are only available in modern resorts. While this ground reality seemed hardly bearable at first, Kim and Marcus actually felt it was liberating, allowing them to focus on themselves, on this moment, this adventure they were taking together. As they hoped on another 4×4, they certainly felt more like bold explorers rather than just digital nomads. And so their adventure truly began.
On the island of Tanna, locals live their lives the way they always have, with an easy smile on their faces, walking at a nonchalant pace, enjoying what they have with respect to their environment, their traditions and their culture.
Lush sweltering jungles are home to fresh ferns, colorful birds and pristine waterfalls accessible only by feet. Turquoise waters come whispering their secrets to palm-fringed white sand beaches, while massive swells crush full force onto black volcanic cliffs. Centuries of wind and salt, light and rain carve unbelievable caves in the bosom of the land. Tranquil rivers flow through dead ash plains, unlikely stretches of blue in a sea of black sand and red solidified lava. And above it all, majestic and fierce, Mount Yasur casts its shadow in the day, and lights up a red sky at night.
Everywhere on the island, one can feel the Earth under one’s feet, powerful, alive. Everywhere, one can hear its voice coming from the deep. And standing on the crater rim of the world’s most accessible active volcano, one can feel, hear, and see, underneath and all around, the pulse of this planet we call our home. Up there, one feels a part of something ancient, bigger than us, stronger than us. Beautiful. Humbling. Inspiring.
The next day we were taken on a boat ride from the Rockwater Resort along the coast to reach what the locals simply call the “Blue Cave”. The ride to us past deserted beaches, fishermen villages, and daunting solidified lava cliffs. The water was a display of all possible shades of blue and that alone would have made the trip worth it. Little did we know we had seen nothing yet. Once we reached our destination we were explained that to get in the cave, one needs to swim off the boat and through a hole in the cliff wall. While this requires no particular swimming skills at all, this entrance feels like transiting from one world to another.