My first thoughts when the discussion of the honeymoon came up was Bora Bora, Tahiti. I have dreamt of going to this place since I can remember. But of course when you are planning a wedding and the costs are spiralling out of control at an alarming rate, the budget for the honeymoon becomes less and less. I put my foot down though and said we are not going any lower than $5,000 for our honeymoon. So where can you go that reminds you of somewhere as beautiful as Bora Bora for a fraction of the price? The most amazing honeymoon destination: Vanuatu!
Now I know there are parts of Vanuatu that aren’t so beautiful but there is a little piece of paradise about 40 minutes drive North from Port Villa called Port Havannah. The resort that we stayed at is The Havannah and basically designed for couples only. No kids allowed! Let me tell you the story of how I found out about this place:
I was at work one day (when I was a beauty therapist) and we had a meeting with the Issada make up rep to try out the new products that were being realeased and she was telling us about her wedding and was showing us the photos. She looked absolutely stunning and the wedding looked like something from the pages of Vogue Magazine. Anyway, I asked her where she went for her honeymoon and she said The Havannah in Vanuatu. She told us how amazing the place was but honestly I thought she would have been the one to go somewhere like Bora Bora or the Seychelles or something. So a few weeks later when it was getting to crunch time to decide on a honeymoon destination I remembered the conversation I had with Corrine and googled this place. It looked pretty nice on the website and it was within our price range. Vanuatu was never one of those exotic destinations that I ever really dreamed about seeing but Corrine made it sound so amazing so I thought – why not and I booked it!
They day after our wedding we flew out of Brisbane heading for Vanuatu. Its only a short 2 hour flight which suits me fine as Im not a great flyer.
But by the time we reached Vanuatu a big storm had brewed right over the top of Vanuatu.
We attempted to land but the pilot pulled out at the last minute, so we circled back around again and he told us that he will try and land again and that they can only attempt to land 3 times, if its not successful then they would fly back to Brisbane! I was devastated! I thought, how can this happen, I will have to spend my honeymoon in Brisbane and who knows what will happen with the reservation at the Havannah. There is only a flight to Vanuatu from Brisbane every 4 days!
So after circling the island once more we went in for the 2nd attempt and he pulled out again! By this point I started crying! Firstly because I hate flying so this was terrifying for me plus I had the flu and was completely run down from the madness of organising the wedding the previous couple of months!
The pilot came over the speaker and said that we were flying to Fiji and landing there and waiting until the storm passes before we attempt to land again. So off we went for a further hour of flying! Then we landed and had to stay on the plane for an hour before flying back another hour to Vanuatu. By this stage I was just so over it I didn’t even care what happened at that point. Thankfully the storm had passed by the time we got back to Vanuatu and we landed safely.
I can tell you everyone on that plane breathed a sigh of relief and there was a big cheer once we touched down!
By this stage it was late afternoon and Port Villa airport is like landing in the backyard of someones property! Oh and they do everything in Vanuatu time (which means slow!!!) haha. So after waiting for good 30 minutes for our luggage to arrive, Andrew got his bag and we kept waiting another 30 minutes for mine and when the last person took theirs and there was us and another couple waiting for our luggage still with no more luggage coming out we soon realised that our bags never made it!! It was not a good start to the honeymoon.
We headed over to the one little desk that resembled something official and told them that our bags didn’t arrive. The guy behind the counter didn’t seem to care that much and said the next flight doesn’t arrive for another 4 days and it will probably turn up then!
I was gutted. I had no clothes, no make up, no swimmers, no toothbrush, nothing and there was nothing I could do.
It was late by this stage and dark at night and we caught the shuttle bus that had been waiting for us for the last 5 hours to the resort. Road safety in Vanuatu is not a priority and the roads are usually a single lane road, with long stretches of dirt and sharp corners with no guard rails. It was a scary trip from the airport to the resort but we made it!
Once we arrived at The Havannah the staff were so caring and concerned. Vanuatu is such a small island so they had already heard what had happened. They escorted us to our villa and arranged for some dinner to be delivered to our room. Our room was so beautiful and the dinner was delicious. By this stage I was so exhausted that I went straight to bed!
The next morning I woke up even sicker than I had been. I got up and had a quick look outside because I hadn’t seen any of the resort so far. It was dark when we arrived and then I went back to bed again and slept all day!
The following day I started to feel slightly better and the amazing produce that the Vanuatu people grow was really helping me to get back on my feet. One of the most favourite things I remember from the honeymoon was the amazing fruit salad they would serve up every morning for breakfast with a fruit punch cocktail followed by pancakes (my fave). I think I had that every morning I was there!
We explored the resort and relaxed on the beach and went for a bit of a snorkel that day and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Afternoons were spent drinking cocktails and beer and watching the amazing sunsets from the lounge area.
On one of the days that we were there we took a boat ride over to one of the deserted islands where they filmed one of the seasons of Survivor. It was lovely but also kind of weird exploring a completely secluded island. We had a picnic and did a bit of snorkelling before the boat came and picked us up again that afternoon!
After our Survivor experience, the boat came and picked us up that afternoon to take us to Tranquility island to visit the Hawksbill Turtle Sanctuary which is a voluntarily run conservation program based at Tranquility Island Resort. They have upwards of 200 juvenile turtles that they raise from hatchlings until they reach 1 year old, before they tag and release them into the ocean. To date they have released over 1200 healthy Hawksbills turtles.
Hawksbill Turtles are considered critically endangered, meaning the species faces a very high risk of total extinction. The first year of their lives is the most perilous, many get snatched by hungry predators before even tasting the ocean. Humans, however, are the greatest threat. Plastic waste chocking our oceans; unsustainable fishing methods; propeller-damage from speedboats and vessels are amongst the key killers of sea turtles.
Not only are they considered the most endangered species of turtle, Hawksbills rank as the 4th most endangered species on the planet according to the WWF, behind the Amur Leopard, the Black Rhino, and the Cross-River Gorilla.
After seeing hundreds of gorgeous little turtles thriving in this amazing place it was time to head back to The Havannah again!
The next day we chilled again, swam, snorkelled, kayaked, ate, drank and soaked up the island vibe! I seriously think I could spend the rest of my life doing this! haha.
That afternoon Andrew went out fishing with one of the staff from the resort. They left at about sunset and got back that night with one of the biggest fish I have ever seen. The staff from the resort (who are the most beautiful people ever) were so excited because it was so big it would feed there village for a good week the guy that drove the boat said. They are such interesting people and even though they have nothing in the way of possessions and material items they are still the happiest and friendliest people I have ever met.
Everyone was unsure what type of fish it was that Andrew had caught so they had a great way of testing if the fish was edible or not by leaving it out overnight and if the ants start to eat it then they know that it is safe to eat! haha, very clever.
The next day while were were having our usual amazing breakfast in the dining area overlooking the ocean, Corrine the make up rep and her husband walked in! I couldn’t believe it as I hadn’t seen her since the day she was telling us about her wedding and she didn’t know that I had taken her advice about The Havannah. I went over and chatted to her after she saw me and she said that they loved the place so much they couldn’t help but come back a few months later for another holiday! Small world!
That day we did some more snorkelling, relaxing, kayaking eating and drinking and relished the island vibe again because it was out last full day!
Then it was time to leave our little island paradise and head back to reality and Brisbane after feeling extremely relaxed. I ended up getting my bag back after about 3 days. We ventured into Port Villa the 2nd day we were in Vanuatu so that I could buy a dress because there was no way I could wear my jeans and t-shirt that I had worn on the plane for 4 days straight!
So after the disastrous start to the honeymoon it didn’t take long to forget all about it when you are staying somewhere that feel like you are in heaven! All your troubles melt away here. I think I might have to go back for our anniversary next year as there is just something special about this place. The owner and staff make you feel so welcome and do everything possible to make sure your stay is as wonderful as it can be!
There is so much more that you can do around Vanuatu too but we just loved the place so much we didn’t want to leave!
Have you ever been to Vanuatu? I would love to know what your experience of it was like, so leave a comment below!