Vanuatu July 2008 (1 of 3)
Our first trip to Melanesia! Before independence Vanuatu was known as New Hebrides.
A beautiful, interesting, and most importantly, warm place.
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Our first stop was Paradise Cove, on the island of Efate, near the capital city of Port Vila. While adjusting to the warm climate we enjoyed the snorkelling, paddling, and eating. There were tons of hermit crabs for Zane to catch, but the geckos proved a little more challenging to capture.
We sailed (well, motored actually) for a day on the Coongoola, a teak vessel built in 1949. The trip included a visit to a Hawksbill Turtle hatchery, some great snorkelling, and a fantastic lunch. We were happy campers. We were told that this was the area that the "Survivor Vanuatu" series was filmed. Not being TV watchers, we took their word for it.
Back in Port Vila we visited to local market, which featured heaps of local produce. We sampled some peanuts and fruits we had never seen before, some of which we quite liked. We visited the supermarket as well, where we found the fresh fish display was piled with beautiful blue Parrotfish - snorkel with then during the day, eat them at night! I went back twice to get a photo of this but where were the fish then?
Back in the day New Hebrides was co-managed by the French and English. They called this system the condominium - the natives called it pandemonium. Not sure if it is true, but I read that the French drove on the right side of the road, the English on the left. We thank the French for their influence as the food was fantastic. As well as the food, they left behing the language, which is still widely spoken, as well as the game of Petanque. These fellows found a good way to spend their lunch hour.
Port Vila has a wide range of touristy activites to keep the visitors happy, from helicopter tours to "priate" ships, to hair braiding. Zane enjoyed this harborside water park. Mom and Dad enjoyed watching.
We're not sure where this ranks on the range of turtle conservation practice, but it sure was fun to play with the little turtles! Local eggs are hatched and the turtles are raised until they are about 1 year old, hoping to improve the survival rate of the hatchlings. In the wild perhaps 1-3 of 100 will reach adulthood.
After fondling the turtles we sailed around Moso island for our beach and snorkel site. The water was nice and clear, and a great bit warmer than back in NZ. The fish and coral were beautiful. We even saw a large sea snake hanging around under this rock.
We got in some good short paddles in Fatumaru bay, which was conveniently found right outside our veranda.