Port Vila, Vanuatu

Photo: ERATAP Beach Resort
Photo: ERATAP Beach Resort

Go ahead. Tell people that you’re planning a trip to Port Vila. Watch their brows scrunch up. They don’t know where you’re talking about. Add Vanuatu. More puzzlement. But finally a flicker. Sounds like a Survivor destination. It was. The 83-island archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is far from, well, everything. And that’s the point. Remote. Peaceful. Beautiful. But no need to build your own shelter or catch your own food. It’s all taken care of.

To reach Port Vila, first head to New Zealand, and then fly backward to Efate, the main island of Vanuatu. It isn’t an accidental destination. Since Vanuatu was jointly ruled by the United Kingdom and France until 1980, the capital feels European. French street names. A cathedral. And an old Word War II airbase. But you didn’t travel all this way to socialize in cafes.

Photo: ERATAP Beach Resort
Photo: ERATAP Beach Resort

The ring road and a long, bumpy dirt road bring you to ERATAP Beach Resort. It’s only 20 minutes outside of Port Vila, but it has the solitude for which you’ve been searching. Twelve waterfront villas looking out over white beaches, forested islands, calm lagoons, and untouched reefs. Grab a kayak or a boat–plus snorkel gear–and head out to explore. Find a pristine patch of sand or an uninhabited islet. You’ll be surrounded by Natapoa trees, coconut palms, masked kingfishers, and giant starfish. Maybe a Palm Lorikeet. Paradise.

Eventually, your stomach will guide you back toward your villa. Stop by the main nakamal–the meeting house–to drink kava. Enjoy the tropical gardens from the pool. Watch the sun dip over the horizon from your bathtub or waterside nakamal. And prepare for an amazing meal. Beef carpaccio, grilled scallops, fruit and vegetables grown from the island’s volcanic soil, and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. All under the incredibly starry sky.

Your agenda for the next day? Surfing, waterfalls, and those French cafes are all so close. Yet they still feel quite far. And for now, that’s how you’d like to keep it.

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