the kids are
having a ball!
Turtles, organic food, aqua lagoons and duty-
free shopping... monique van tulder discovers
why Vanuatu is one of the most relaxing
holidays a family could dream of.
01 Dance to the island beat 02 Kids at play. Image by David Kirkland, courtesy Vanuatu Tourism 03 Branching out at Blue Hole 04 Local reptilian wildlife
05 Peaceful Holiday Inn Resort 06 Impossibly Blue Hole
t’s beautiful... but it doesn’t look like
France!” announces 10-year-old Henry.
As our plane begins its descent I realise
my pre-holiday talk of Vanuatu being a
French-settled nation was probably hazy
and confusing for my son’s perception of
where we were spending the next five days. As
I stretch across from my aisle seat to peer out
at plentiful palm trees and the meandering
coastline of jade-green water and fringing
coral, I agree with him. The landscape does
not resemble a European country at all.
As a family we’ve holidayed at many tropical
destinations. I know well that the Pacific is a
region where the days sway along to the
rhythm of relaxation, offering the perfect
contrast to the military-style life most families
juggle during school terms.
Within hours of landing at the capital of Port
Vila our boys have already declared this to be a
favourite holiday... and for children who plane
hop to different destinations at least four times
a year this is high praise indeed.
Also set against the lagoon’s brilliant blues is
Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa, which
offers activities galore, from tennis to golfing,
and the idyllic Oasis Spa.
Eratap Beach Resort is usually an
adults-only retreat, but they open up to all ages
during school holidays for ‘family weeks’. Here
you’ll choose from a bounty of cultural activities
such as fishing, cooking and surfing.
The Vanuatu variety
What are holiday memories without people in
the picture? My 12-year-old, Benjamin,
articulates the Ni-Vanuatu perfectly. “Kind and
friendly,” he says. “That’s why they are called
the happiest people on Earth!”
We feel part of a cultural feast in this
Melanesian nation, with British, French and
Portuguese influences evident everywhere.
The boys get a thrill as we drive on the
right-hand side of the road, and learn to show
appreciation three ways: “tankiu tumas”, “merci
beaucoup” and “thank you”.
“If Vanuatu was a food it would be organic,”
says the charming bus attendant Maria on our
drive into Port Vila.
With this in mind we seek out the food
market; a pristine, bustling hub where prices
are fixed – no haggling – which makes for a
relaxing stroll. Here we sample a surprise local
favourite of fluffy, home-baked bread spread
So, you may rightfully be asking, what made
our Vanuatu experience so positive?
The stay, rest (and play)
Family-friendly accommodation abounds here,
and the question for us was which to choose
when travelling with older kids. Gone is the
luxury of shuffling the kids off to kids’ club; we
needed to be sure we get a chance to ‘flop’
while the boys would be safely zooming from
activity to activity.
Our choice? The Holiday Inn Resort,
nestled on sheltered Erakor Lagoon. Thanks to
a recently appointed Teens Activity Coordinator
we happily relax in beach huts while the boys
sail, kayak, swim in the two pools, join new
mates for beach volleyball, and learn how to
use a local bow and arrow. Plenty of dining
options give them the freedom to pick their
own times for a milkshake and burger, and they
can even take themselves off to the breakfast
buffet as they please, leaving us to enjoy a
112 volume 42 2015 www.holidayswithkids.com.au
We relax in beach huts while the boys sail, kayak,
swim and join new mates for beach volleyball
Keep in mind that bargaining is not cultarlly acceptable in Vanuatu,
but the duty-free prices are competitive.
Air Vanuatu flies direct to Port Vila from
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Virgin
Australia flies direct to Port Vila from
Brisbane (connecting from other major
Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa
Eratap Beach Resort
08 07 Tanna Island volcano. Image by David Kirkland,
courtesy Vanuatu Tourism
08 Swimming with turtles (and sharks)
09 Beautiful Eratap Beach Resort
generously with peanut butter and jam washed
down with sweet milky tea. Another day we
return to lunch on traditional root vegetables
wrapped in banana leaves (lap lap), and enjoy
dessert in the form of giant punnets of
raspberries. All fresh. All delicious.
At French restaurant, Le Jardin des
Saveurs, Henry tries frogs’ legs (interesting but
bony) and escargots (like chicken), while we all
make short work of silky crème brûlée.
The boys cannot believe their eyes. The hues
of the Blue Lagoon run the gamut of azure; but
it’s the rope that has their attention. Dangling
breathtakingly high; they watch until they get
the hang of it – jump to grab, swing out, let go
– splashing deep into the glorious springs.
During our time in Vanuatu we swim with
turtles and sharks, snorkel among a visual
feast of rainbow fish, zipline high above the
jungle, picnic on pristine beaches, wade
through waterfalls, and even visit a village
where the boys help feed animals and marvel
at the freedom with which the local kids move
from home to home.
In the end we simply run out of time and
reluctantly save zorbing (rolling downhill in a
huge ball), waterfall abseiling and a flight to
Tanna Island (an active volcano) for next time.
With such a variety of easily accessible fun for
the boys we find ourselves easily able to
unwind. By our second day I have read beyond
chapter one of a novel – previously unheard of
– and I glance up and catch my husband’s eye.
“Relax,” he says. “The kids are having a ball!”
I can see that they are – so I do.
114 115www.holidayswithkids.com.au volume 42 2015
The ideal place to stay — with kids.
Keep the children busy with our exciting daily activities program, tennis, kayaking,
hobie-cat sailing and swimming in our two huge pools and special kiddie pool. Kids love the
Funtastik Kids’ Club with its new mini cinema, Kids’ Kitchen and PlayStations! Spacious family rooms.
While the kids are busy enjoy Oasis Spa and the gym. Just a few hours from Australia and NZ and only
a ﬁve minute cab ride to Port Vila township, Warwick Le Lagon Vanuatu is the perfect holiday destination.
www.lelagonvanuatu.vu or visit your favourite Travel Professional
enchanted family holiday
LL045 Holiday with Kids Ad.indd 1 19/11/2014 1:37:24 PM
With so much to see and do, it’s no surprise the tropical islands of
Vanuatu are so popular for Australian family holidays. There are
resorts with Kids’Clubs, multiple restaurants and excursions, with
plenty of nearby activities to explore. A short flight from Brisbane,
Sydney or Melbourne means no jet lag. Put your wallet away – hot
meals, drinks and in-flight entertainment are all complimentary.
The friendliest smiles in the Pacific await you! See your travel agent
or visit www.airvanuatu.com