There’s a lot more to Vanuatu and Samoa than both the misconceptions of reality TV and Girl Scout cookies. You might be surprised to discover these are in fact two luxury vacation destinations. Don’t know where to start? Read on to find out where to stay and where to play as well as a little bit about these exotic island locales.
Located east of Australia and north of New Zealand, Vanuatu is one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet, brimming with inhabitants speaking over 113 different languages. However, visitors can learn “Bislama,” a lingua franca originally developed to help communicate with European traders. Vanuatu has six provinces and three major cultural regions, each with a distinct culture and customs.
Situated halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, Samoa consists of 362 villages spread out over 10 islands. Samoa highly values family, its elders and church. Visitors are warmly welcomed; however, there are certain customs that must be observed such as asking before taking photos, and dressing conservatively.
Where to Stay
In Vanuatu and Samoa there is a fantastic selection of both luxury and budget accommodations. Staying in Vanuatu offers a variety of lodging types including top end resorts and spas, overwater bungalows, waterfront and beachfront villas, deluxe room suites and conference venues. There are also accommodations for campers and backpackers, in addition to budget and mid-range options.
The majority of Vanuatu’s most luxurious resorts are located on the island of Efate, home to Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital city. A notable exception is the island of Ratua, a private island resort 30 minutes by boat from Espiritu Santo. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, spa retreat, fine dining or relaxation with a truly breathtaking view, Vanuatu certainly does not disappoint.
Not to be outdone though, Samoa offers plenty of serious pampering along with white sand beaches and gorgeous panoramic views. Samoa also offers a similar range of types and pricing of accommodations to that of Vanuatu, with the addition of the humble yet authentic beach fale. A fale has no walls, just a palm frond roof and as such, is about as in touch with your surroundings as it gets.
What to Do
In Vanuatu and Samoa, the options for excitement and adventure are nearly limitless. Both locations offer a mind-boggling array of activities sure to please the most discerning travelers. In Vanuatu you can:
- Book an adventure tour. Go kayaking, sailing, game fishing or scuba diving. Try surfing down a volcano, abseiling down a waterfall or exploring a deserted island. Tours and adventures can be customized to suit any age or physical ability.
- Go on an eco-tour. Meet locals involved in environmental projects, and then go turtle tagging or bird watching while learning about local history and conservation efforts.
- Take a cultural or community tour. Truly experience authentic Vanuatu by exploring traditional villages and witnessing dances and rituals rooted in ancient history.
That’s not it, however. There are also cruises, water sports, scenic flights, land diving, events and festivals, as well as shopping, golf, volcanoes to explore and nightlife to enjoy.
For your options in indulging in a trip to Samoa– there are more than dozens of events and attractions:
- Celebrate culture at the Teuila Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the South Pacific.
- Swim with the turtles at the wetlands sanctuary at Savaii’s Satoalepai village.
- Shop at the produce market, flea market and fish markets at Apia to savor the freshest flavors of Samoa.
- Explore the tropical rainforests, a great place for nature lovers and bird watchers. Follow the walking tracks or cross the treetop canopy walkway 40 meters up at the Falealupo Rainforest Reserve. Alternatively, take the nearly half mile long Ma Tree Walk through O le Pupu Pu’e National Park.
- Surfing. Samoa is known as a world-class surfing location with enough diversity to satisfy surfers of all skill levels and abilities.
- Waterfalls. Explore the highest waterfall in the Samoan archipelago, Sinaloa Waterfall, or swim with the spirits of great Samoan warriors at Togitogiga Waterfall. There are over a dozen falls throughout Samoa, each with its own unique beauty and appeal.
No matter if you like to travel in style, experience the splendor of nature or appreciate the best of both, Vanuatu and Samoa have plenty to offer you.
This article was written by Beverly Agostino. Beverly writes about luxury vacations for a living and gets her material from first-hand experiences.