Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pacific Dawn - April 2011, Day 5, Port Vila

13th April 2011 - Port Vila

Often while we are in port the staff have drills - today was their 'man overboard drill'.

Man overboard!!
Port Vila! We'd been here (well the girls have been here!) on our first cruise in 2010 on the Dawn and were very happy to be going back on this cruise. The markets were calling! It can be a bit overwhelming when you first head off the ship and into the main market area - there are a LOT of taxi's and the drivers are all trying to get your attention! Just be calm and polite and if you can, before getting to Vila, ask others who have been there before what a fair price is to get to town etc this way you'll be less likely to be overcharged and can bargain a bit more. We weren't quite sure what we wanted to do after checking out the markets so thought maybe a bit of a scenic tour and then the Cascade Waterfalls. There were 8 of us so we needed to get a bus or mini van - after speaking to a couple of the drivers we found one who seemed to understand what we wanted and set our price ($100). Miss 10 was getting her hair braided so once that was done we headed off!

Pet piggie having a scratch
 The driver took us through one of the villages so we could see how most of the people lived - very eye opening. No electricity or water, very basic living but the people where always smiling and waving as we drove passed.

After our tour of the village we headed to Cascade Waterfalls, unfortunately it had started to rain (it was still very warm) so we decided against doing the walk up to the waterfall - plus it worked out quite expensive for the 8 of us and all the kids really wanted to do was go swimming.

We didn't really know what else was around so the driver suggested heading to Hideaway Island. It was far from Cascades and he made it sound lovely so, off we went.
Hideaway Island
Wonderful suggestion! We caught the barge across to the island, it's not very far - maybe 5minutes or so. It did cost you, adults only, but was only about $5 or so. Once there we hired some snorkel gear and set up camp!
Hideaway Island - coral filled beach
The snorkeling was fantastic!! Just watch out for the sand as it is made of lots and lots of pieces of quite sharp coral - reef shoes are a must! The water was gorgeous and there we so many fish plus an underwater post office! We had arrange for our driver to pick us up and gave ourselves about 3hours - we definitely could have stayed there longer! There weren't too many other people there - it was just wonderful!
 While waiting for our driver to arrive a boat pulled up to the ramp, they'd obviously been out deep see fishing - they had a huge tuna! Lucky them!
Local school near the boat ramp to Hideaway
We sat and watched the kids play during their lunchtime break at a local school while hoping our driver was indeed coming back to pick us up! A bit worrying when you're a long way from the ship and don't know how to get back! We needn't have worried though as he did turn up - he said he'd got caught in a bit of traffic coming back out here. The journey back was speedy and bumpy.
Back on board
We wandered through the markets again and bought a few bits and pieces (bow and arrows, sling shots - the usual!) and then headed back onto the Dawn - we were hungry! Getting on and off the ship at Vila is easy as it docks so you can just walk off walk on when ever you like, no lining up for tenders.

Island Night!!
Bonito doing some magic
During dinner Bonito (he appeared to be the head honcho for the wait staff) came around to our table and did some magic tricks for the kids, great to keep them entertained while waiting for our meals. Not that our meals ever took too long anyway - the service was superb! As were the desserts!

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