The South Pacific Islands have always been close to my heart because they are sprinkled in-between my two homes of New Zealand and Australia. Another dream destination to tick off the bucket list, all thanks to Billabong and the need for fresh and new content constantly in my Marketing role. So myself, Pip of SeaGypsea Photography, and two of our team riders; Josie Prendergast and Kiani Dobbyn set out to make it happen and delve a little deeper into the hidden gem of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is made up of 80 islands that stretch over 1300kms. We by-passed the capital Port Villa and flew directly to Espiritu Santo; the largest of the islands and home to quite easily the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world. We rested our heads at ‘Moyyan By The Sea’ which is a small set of boutique style farès that could not be situated any closer to the shore. Dugongs are often sighted sprawling about in the waters around there, but we weren’t fortunate enough to see any.
I was in awe of the height of the palm trees and how dense they were. I think I actually took a photo every time we drove past them as it felt like the light just kept on getting better. Pip and I got up with the sun and ran most mornings followed by stretches on our front deck and it was such a beautiful way to start the day in paradise. First up we visited the Nanda Blue Hole which was jaw dropping to say the least. They are a completely natural creation, formed by springs of fresh water rising to the surface which in turn cuts out a deep hole in the limestone. The deeper and more pure the water, the bluer the water will appear to be, and we were treated to a 13 metre deep hole + pure water = SO so blue!
The day at Champagne Beach was the highlight and a moment that will be etched on my memory forever. Not only the sheer beauty of the beach, but the inquisitive children that were playing there and how they enjoyed our company. They cheekily stole our hats and surfboards and liked to show us their impressive back flips into the water. Even though they didn’t speak a word of English, it was such a perspective shift to realise we can still communicate via body language! We almost had to pull Josie away from the new friends she had made that day.
Pip used to live in Vanuatu so we spent one evening with some of her old friends. We took some gifts for the children and they were beyond excited with their new backpacks for school. We actually saw the feathers of the chickens in the backyard that we were about to devour for dinner which made me soon realise that is how food is meant to be consumed. It’s a process; from growing and harvesting fruit and vegetables, cleaning them, chopping them, preparing a fire and then cooking them really reminds you to appreciate food and where it comes from. Food is not abundant for some people and it takes moments like these in our incredibly fast-paced consumer driven life to remember gratitude.
We also spent a whole day on the boat with Fabrice from Island Fishing Santo and learned a heck of a lot about his upbringing and the rich and violent history of Vanuatu, which was both interesting and shocking at the same time. We ventured out to a drop off zone for a snorkel session and I have never snorkelled in such a pristine spot…. It was so magical and seriously has to be seen to be believed. The next day we hung with his fiancé Megan on her ranch and got to take some beauties down to the beach for a horse ride. After the initial mini earthquake we felt, the horses weren’t too afraid of the drone buzzing above their heads and we managed to get some cool shots.
Spending a week in Santo didn’t feel like long enough, it was a humbling, inspiring and incredible trip where we made new friends, lived simply and didn’t sweat the small stuff. Paradise in the Pacific; our very own backyard.
Thanks to Vanuatu Tourism, Air Vanuatu and our lovely hosts at Moyyan By The Sea for helping us to make this happen. Also to my fellow fish, Pip for being super talented, having gills and paddles for feet and being the best roommate and dinner date. Check our her snaps here…..