Vanuatu Journals

Vanuatu-Land of Fire and Magic

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A February 1999 trip to Vanuatu by g3

The Congoola Photo, Vanuatu, South Pacific More Photos
Quote: "This place is what Fiji was like before it was overdeveloped" my divemaster told me. Fiji--overdeveloped!?! Clearly, that's a matter of perspective. Regardless, this statement says alot about the Republic of Vanuatu, a little known island archipeligo located between the Solomon Islands and Fiji in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu-Land of Fire and Magic

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Overview

Quote:
In order to fully appreciate all this country has to offer, it is best to visit several islands. Most visits begin and end in Port Vila, a beautiful harbor town featuring numerous all-inclusive resorts as well as a variety of restaurants. The town center is compact and easily explored in a day. Our next stop was the island of Espiritu Santo which has one main reason to visit: diving. During WWII, this was the base for U.S. operations in the South Pacific. It is the amazing collection of ship wrecks that attracts divers here. The main attraction is the S.S.President Coolidge, the world's largest accessible shipwreck. We made 9 dives on this ship, and felt as though we only scratch...Read More

Sweetwater Lift Lodge

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Hotel | "LeLegon Resort"

Sweetwater Lift Lodge Photo, Vanuatu, South Pacific
Quote:
While our goal during our visit was to seek out adventure, we opted to spend two nights at this beautiful, all-inclusive resort located right outside of town. We opted for a garden bungalow since it was less expensive than the over-the-water options. The bungalow was cozy and had all the creature comforts you could hope for: air conditioning, tv, a hot shower and a comfortable bed. The resort''s restaurant serves a wonderfull dinner buffet featuring fresh seafood and local fruits. A group of indigenous niVanuatu people provide nightly entertainment performing traditional music with a lively, joyful sound. The resort caters to Australian honeymooners and the pool was the center of...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 31, 2001

Sweetwater Lift Lodge
1255 Empire Ave.
Park City, Utah 84068
(435) 200-0300

Smoke Tree Lodge

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Hotel | "Port Resolution Yacht Club"

Smoke Tree Lodge Photo, Boone, North Carolina
Quote:
This beautifully located 'resort' is actually a collection of eight thatched bungalows situated on the edge of a beautiful bay. The bungalows are immaculately maintained and have double or single beds (each with the requisite mosquito netting). Lighting is provided by kerosene hurricane lanterns and everyone shares a common outhouse. Warm showers are available thanks to a small water pump that is turned on each morning. The resort is situated on a bluff overlooking Resolution Bay, which was discovered and named by Captain Cook and is home to a rather large dugong (Pacific cousin to the manatee) that you can swim with. The sound of Mt Yasur, the island's active volcano, rumbling in the distan...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 31, 2001

Smoke Tree Lodge
Hwy 105
Boone, North Carolina
(828) 963-6505

Shark Dive

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Attraction

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The scenario was typical; the dive boat was anchored in 50 feet of water and our DiveMaster, Kevin, was giving the pre-dive briefing. The content of his briefing, however, was anything but typical for the six of us who were preparing to dive. "When you get to the ocean floor, lay flat and wait for us to get into position with the spear guns," Kevin told us. "If anything seems unusual and we have to abort the dive, I want everyone to form a tight circle around me and to surface slowly. That way, if the sharks get unruly, they'll get one of you first." He was joking, of course, but it took awhile for the distracted divers to realize it, and even longer for some to appreciate his sense of humor. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 13, 2001

swimming with a dugong

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Attraction

Showing affection Photo, Vanuatu, South Pacific
Quote:
We traveled to Tanna for a unique wildlife experience, the opportunity to swim with a dugong. A larger version of the manatee, dugongs are indigenous to Australia and the oceanic islands of the western Pacific and like their American cousin, the 'sea cow,' as it is called locally, is endangered. Our lodging was perfect for our quest as it overlooks Resolution Bay, home to a large dugong. At dinner, I thumbed through the guest book and read entries like, "they tell me the dugong was only playing," and "it must be a male, because he sure liked my wife." We were told that he weighed over a thousand pounds and that he was very friendly with people. We were anxious and a bit nervous. Th...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 13, 2001

Congoola tall ship cruise

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Attraction

Hat Island Photo, Vanuatu, South Pacific
Quote:
The Congoola is a tall ship sail boat and is anchored offshore in an isolated bay on the other side of the island from Port Vila. The cruise lasts most of the day and visits two of the near by islands. It is a relaxing and enjoyable way to take in the remarkable beauty of this place and to see some interesting sights along the way. The highlight of the first island we visited was a visit to a large cave located a short hike from the beach. The cave's ceiling was several hundred feet high and we could hear bats moving around and screeching high above us. Ancient petroglyphs marked the walls and our guide told us some of the traditions and legends surrounding the cave. Our second st...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 1, 2001

Diving with the ghosts of WWII

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Attraction

Boris the Grouper Photo, Vanuatu, South Pacific
Quote:
The S.S. Coolidge rises before us within moments of beginning our dive. It is hard to believe how big this ship is, and how close to shore. Originally a luxury cruise liner, it was converted to a troop carrier during WWII. In 1942, it hit a 'friendly' mine in the harbor off Luganville and the Captain decided to run the reef in an effort to get the troops as close to shore as possible. As a result, the bow of the 654 foot long ship sits in 50 feet of water, while the stern lies well below at 240 feet. The ship settled on its side, creating an occasionally discombobulating diving experience. Sometimes it was difficult to tell if the ship was sideways or we were. As we swam sideways along t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 31, 2001

About the Writer

g3

g3
Minneapolis, Minnesota