Sunday, 30 December 2018

Honeymoon Part 1 | Iririki, Vanuatu

 Ollie and I hadn't actually planned anything for our honeymoon until right before our wedding. We knew we wanted to relax on a beach ad stay in a place where we could snorkel right off the shore, but that was about as far as we'd gotten with the planning.
We were looking at the typical honeymoon destinations like Tahiti and the Maldives but the super long flights were really putting us off (especially after we had just flown from Canada). We were leaning towards Tahiti (and a 23 hour day of travel) until, by chance, we ran into a friend at the airport who was just returning from Vanuatu. He works for Flight Center and was checking it out for work, so we felt like he would be a pretty good judge of a place. And so, without ever having this country on our radar before, we booked the flight and 10 nights split between 2 resorts.

The first place we booked was Iririki -- a resort on a small island right off the harbor of Port Vila. It had been highly recommended on Trip Advisor and a couple of blogs, so we felt like it was a safe bet. We liked that it was so close to the town and they had free boat rides every few minutes, 24 hours a day, so if the resort itself wasn't that great, we could just head over there.

We didn't have the best weather in the first few days of our trip, but luckily it was beautiful for long enough to get a good snorkel in each morning. The fish and coral were so incredible here and I hadn't realized, but tour groups actually come to a spot right off the island called snorkelers cove because its that good. This was definitely a highlight of the place and if you're into snorkeling, I would 100% recommend Vanuatu.

The resort was quite cute and would be a really good option for families, but if I'm honest, I would recommend other places over it. Don't get me wrong -- we had an amazing time, but we've stayed in some pretty special places for much cheaper (namely Fiji) and it's hard not to compare. Our next resort more than makes up for it though and I'll show you that in the next post!

But for now, I hope you enjoy the photos from Iririki and if you're thinking about visiting this place, feel free to email about any questions you might have!
We rented one of the overwater huts for the 5 nights that we were here. The sound of the ocean beneath you at night is such an incredible experience. We were hoping that we would be able to swim right out in front of the huts, but it's on the harbor side of the island and the water is a bit polluted here. To be fair, it's still crystal clear, but there's a thick layer of gunk on the sand that looks like you'd go right up to your knees if you stepped into it. But, with the water being so clear, we were able to watch the fish from our balcony as the tide would come in and the swimming beach was just a short walk away. 
The staff at the resort were really sweet and set up our room with champagne and flowers on the bed with "HONEY" and "BABY" spelled out, lol. I'm such a sucker for stuff like this so it really made our first night -- especially since it was pouring rain as we arrived. Nothing like a bottle of bubbly as you listen to the rain and thunder out over the water. 
After a couple of glasses of champagne, we headed out for dinner to one of the restaurants on the resort. The great thing about Iririki is that at any given time, there's probably a Happy Hour happening. We found the appropriate one and I ordered what was to be the staple of my diet for the next 5 days -- vegetarian spring rolls and kumala fries. I think those 2 dishes, plus pizza without cheese were the only vegan options on the island so I had a LOT of them. Luckily, honeymoons aren't for being healthy!
The next morning we woke up and saw the place in the sunshine. It was stunning. The color of the water in Vanuatu is really something else. And so clear! I almost can't believe the water was that color of turquoise even now. It truly is a paradise. From this point on, snorkeling every day was a necessity.
So even though the food was a bit of a miss for me -- the drinks were not. And with non-stop happy hours, I really didn't mind! There were 3 restaurants on the island and with the alternating happy hours, it really encourages you to check them all out. The photo above is from the beautiful pool area, which had the best wood-fire pizzas. This was our daily lunch stop.
Like I mentioned before, there is a free boat to Port Vila every few minutes and so it makes checking out the town super easy. We went in most days to pick up snacks and I think we had a meal or two there as well. The boat drops you off at the market, where local farmers sell their produce 24 hours a day. One tour guide told us that they call it the mothers' market because the mothers from farming families will work at their stalls 24 hours a day; even sleeping beneath the tables of their stalls when they need to rest. I imagine this is just a small glimpse into the hardship these families must face. 
The market is pretty incredible, selling all the yummy tropical fruits and vegetables, so if you're in the area, it's worth buying a bunch to help these families out! And if you do, I would recommend the banana chips -- those things are tasty!
Since we were in Iririki at the beginning of December, we had the luck of catching a Christmas parade down the main street. The photo above is of the marching band and there was a Santa of the back of a truck that was whipping candies at the kids (and anyone else really). A photographer had to duck his head and run out of the way a few times to avoid the candies being hurled at him. It was pretty hilarious to watch. 
The Christmas celebrations lasted the entire time that we were on Iririki and you could hear the concerts happening across the way in the park all day and night. I think it lasts the first full week of December each year. 
The town of Port Villa is quite small but has a few nice restaurants and a cute little boardwalk along the water's edge. It felt totally safe and the locals are so friendly that you never feel threatened or in harm's way. We were happy to walk around at night amongst all the activity.
I always love trying out new snacks in each country we visit. These Peanut Ruffs were my favorite discovery in Vanuatu. They're like cheese puffs, but peanut butter flavor. Seriously -- why don't we have these in Canada??
We weren't having too much luck with the weather, but we really wanted to check out the island and see the cascades & blue lagoon while we were there so we booked a tour and hoped for the best. This time we weren't so lucky and it rained the entire time, but it honestly didn't even matter. The island is stunning and so GREEN! Everything is lush and tropical with tropical fruit trees growing wild everywhere. We had an incredible tour guide that was so informative and got right in the water with us in the pouring rain. This day was one of my favorites of the trip and I'm so glad we went for it. And really -- pouring rain in 30 degree weather isn't so bad.
I really am a sucker for anything tropical and if I've got a glass of wine and a good view -- I'm happy as a clam. Actually, I think that's pretty good life advice for Ollie!
Iririki was a great start to our honeymoon and I'm glad we decided to stay close to the town to get a real feel for the place. The island itself was beautiful and the staff were super friendly. I have a feeling it would have been pretty incredible in the sunshine -- lazing by the pool with a drink in hand while reading a good book... We did get this sort of vacation over the next few days though and I can't wait to show you part 2! 



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