At first we were thinking of staying longer in Fiji instead of visiting Vanuatu but heard through other cruisers it was a country we shouldn’t missed. I am glad we didn’t.
Here is what I know of Vanuatu. It has over 105 “Mother Tongue s” some villages speack French others English, but the common language to communicate throughout the nation is Bislama, a pidgin English. Words like Welkom (welcome), Kanu (canoe) and Bilong (belong) are easy for most to understand. But I was thrown off when looking at the local beer’s slogan, “BIA BILONG YUMI”, thinking it meant beer tasted yummy roughly means “Beer belongs to you and me.”
Meeting people here is easy since the locals are learning that Ecotourism brings in revenue and using their resources like volcano tours, kastum (custom) dance performances or simply making a traditional meal for a small fee helps pay for their children’s schooling. So don’t be surprised when you are invited for dinner and in the same invitation be asked to make a donation (about 5 dollars US). For the most part, the locals, outside of Port Villa, live off the land by fishing, gardening and building their homes from the vegetation.
Kava seems to be the big thing here and it’s a drink the men crave. You can tell if they drink too much of it when the white part of their eye is yellow. In many of the villages women are not allowed to join the men in the Kava Kustom. But as a tourist, I would recommend going to a Kava Bar in Port Villa, to get a taste. Make sure to ask if the drink was made from fresh water instead of the spit from young boys.
So if you are thinking of taking a trip to Vanuatu here are a few of my suggestions. The dress here is conservative. Short sleeve tops, capri pants or skirts (below the knees) are acceptable. Not many people are exposing their belly buttons or upper thighs…well except to swim. Port Villa is the center of activity and a good place to research which islands you would like to visit since some islands can offer unique experiences like tribal bungee jumping and active volcano tours. At some islands you may be able to trade for their carvings, but they prefer money.
If an adventure in Vanuatu is what you are looking for, here is another website I came across with more details and information by Andrew Gray.
Have you traveled to Vanuatu? Let me know your experiences.