Having completed the run through of our sailboat with the new owners yesterday, we were finally ready to explore the island of Efata, Vanuatu. We had been here almost a week and still had not done any exploring. We had been so preoccupied with cleaning up and cleaning out our sailboat that we had seen little more than the waterfront section of Port Villa.
Zakary and Eli were sick and so Kirsten decided to stay home with them. I boarded our shuttle with the rest of the family and we headed out Eastward along the southern coast of the island.
Our first stop was the beautiful Blue Lagoon (500 vatu per person – $5.50). It was a the most picture perfect little saltwater swimming hole. The water was turquoise and there were knarled trees growing into and up from the water. Other large trees overhung the sides of the enclosed bay, one which had a long rope swing and platform.
Alyssa was too cold on the cloudy day to go swimming but everyone else was ready to get wet. All of the boys took a beeline straight toward the rope swing. Jaeden, Dailin, Orin and then Eli all took turns in the lineup dropping into the water. After the excitement of jumping from shore wore off, they started to climb up into the tree to swing from higher up in the branches.
I watched from behind the video camera as their swinging and drops became more and more intense.
Finally I slipped into the water. Teyauna had been by my side pestering for me to take her into the water too. With Alyssa unwilling to get wet, I was the only one left to take her in. We splashed around the blue, green waters of the pool as we sat on a semi-submersed crooked tree. It had a slippery surface due to being in the water for so long but Teyauna was thrilled for me to lift her up so that she too could jump and splash into the water. Before long we knew we had to move on. We had an entire day of activities to see and still had to drive around the island to see them all.
We hopped into the shuttle in our wet clothes and continued on down the road for another five minutes before reaching Eton Beach (300 vatu per person – $3.30). Having already gone for a swim we stopped for a minute just to check things out. There was a freshwater stream winding along a sandy riverbed as it entered into a well protected swimming lagoon. Rock outcroppings sheltered the little bay from the waves offshore. Had we not been off to a late start, everyone would have loved to stop here for a swim.
We continued to explore the edge of the island as we circled around the Southeast corner and up the East side. It was close to noon and so we stopped for lunch at Sara Beach. It was the perfect little covered open walled family restaurant. Lunch wasn’t ready yet but there were some locals singing some somewhat familiar tunes to the waiting bus loads of tourists. They sang all sorts of classic folk songs with accompaniment from a guitar and base washboard strummer. What made the songs so interesting was the Ni-van accent and unique style of singing. It almost changed each song into an island style serenade.
I went over to the beach area as we waited for lunch. The kids were all happy to walk around in the sand and climb onto the rocks just offshore. Teyauna was happy to build herself a sand volcano.
Before long we were called back for lunch (1000 vatu per person – $11). Stretched out into two long rows of picnic tables under the shelter was a simple yet filling buffet. The kids walked up and helped themselves to the curry chicken, beef, cooked bananas, rice and juice. They were all famished and polished off a few good healthy portions. It was great to stop for such a short enjoyable meal.
We passed the islands off the northern edge of the island before rounding up the top of the island at the Havannah Eco Lodge (200 vatu per person – $2.20), site of one of the previous Survivor TV series. Here was a series of self contained cottages on a shallow beach. I looked in awe at the sailboats just offshore wishing that we could have made our way to this beach paradise before having sold our sailboat. The kids spent most of their time climbing up the steps that led to the top of a tree on the edge of the ocean. Every one of my kids were up in the tree exploring the branches and view of the ocean. I could not have found a more enjoyable stop for them.
We skipped past Safari cave and the Coca Cola bottle collector and finished rounding the island by about 3pm. It was a treat to circle the island and finally get to see some of the highlights around Efata. While this main island is not as rustic and third world as Tanna, each of these islands have different things to offer. I would love to return one day and sail around the many beautiful and diverse islands of Vanuatu.