Visitors Guide I
Ice is one of life’s little luxuries, especially in the tropics. If you are going on a picnic, it’s almost a necessity. In Port Vila it is safe to eat/drink the ice. The supermarket, Au Bon Marche sometimes stocks it but it is always available, bagged, at the Chew Store, just up the hill (on the left) from Mega Mall and D-Dock bottle shop (opposite Café du Village) also stocks ice.
That reminds me of Wild West legend, Bat Masterson. Masterson was a buffalo hunter, gambler and lawman before retiring to become a journalist. He died, at his desk, in 1921 while writing a column. His last written words were, “There are many in this old world of ours who hold that things break about even for all of us. I have observed, for example, that we all get about the same amount of ice. The rich get it in summertime and the poor get it in winter.”
The local ice cream, Switi (‘swit’ is Bislama for ‘sweet’) is rich and tasty and supermarkets and stores stock all the usual Streets style ice creams like Cornetto, Paddlepops, Gaytimes and Magnums.
Like travel anywhere, it’s wise to leave your passport in a safe place like a hotel safe. You’ll need a current driver’s licence to hire a car.
Immigration for visitors is a straightforward process. You must have a valid passport with a minimum of six months on it. You must also have an onward or return ticket, also valid. Residence permits are usually given for one year. To extend your stay you must apply for a long-term residence permit, a work permit or a retirement permit directly at the immigration office in town. (See also Citizenship)
In Vanuatu there are no nasty third world diseases in Vanuatu you have to be protected against, but a current tetanus shot is not a bad idea in case of coral cuts (they can be had after the event).
Like many ancient or tribal cultures, infanticide was once practised. The word alone is abhorrent today but it is understandable when you think of a time when there was no medicine or health facilities to care for children born with extreme disabilities or sickness.
Travel insurance is highly recommended and very affordable. As they say, if you can’t afford the insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Having said that, if you take the punt and have around $10,000, ($40,000 for your own plane) there are MediVac facilities available in the case of a major illness or injury.
A few years ago WWW stood for World Wide Wait but now it’s Weally Weally Wonderful. Welatively. Thanks to e-commerce and off-shore gambling the speed is pretty good and the server robust. There are a few Internet Cafés – The Naviti Internet café (opposite the markets) is relaxed and professional, there’s one behind the Coongoola office in the main street (down the passageway), TVL behind Independence Park has a dedicated office for public use and the post office also has Internet services. All are competitively priced at around 15 to 20 vatu per minute.
As Vanuatu is a tax haven there is much offshore investment activity managed by the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority. This type of activity ranges from having a legitimate international company to hold shares to laundering money (of course, that’s just a rumour). Investors can get residence status by investing 5million vatu in the country. This could be in the form of a bank account, real estate or even a car and possessions (and the money doesn’t have to stay in the account). However, there are a few things to keep in mind if considering relocating to the tropics.
For Australians and New Zealanders to qualify as ‘expatriate’ and not be under their homeland’s tax laws, they have to live outside their country for at least six months of the year and Vanuatu’s living costs are far higher than Australia and New Zealand, so that could negate any major benefits. There’s also a clause in Australia and New Zealand tax returns asking whether you have money invested offshore. Even if money were held in an international company, it would be a large white lie not to declare it. A prominent Vanuatu accountant is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence in Australia for his part in a multi-million dollar tax fraud.
IRIRIKI ISLAND RESORT
Iririki Island Resort sits in Port Vila Harbour just three minutes on the 24 hour ferry from town. The island was once home to the British High Commissioner’s residence and the British hospital. Today there is a couples and family resort. On the back of the island is Snorkeller’s Cove with 62 Deluxe Rooms and Penthouses that have balcony spas, as well as the 70 bungalow original resort. The resort welcomes day-trippers to use the beach and water sports hut and the ferry fee is refunded if they buy a drink or snack. Frangipani Health Spa and most rooms have undergone extensive refurbishment. Michener’s is the resort’s signature restaurant. There is also the Watermark Restaurant, Bali Hai Café & Bar and the Sunset Café & Bar.
Contact us regarding Iririki Island Resort
This is Port Vila’s answer to KFC – opposite the markets.
ISLAND MAGIC RESORT
Island Magic Resort consists of two-bedroom self contained apartments that are bungalow style, roomy and well appointed with a fresh tropical feel. Each villa has its own fully equipped kitchen & dining, living room, laundry and each bedroom has its own ensuite.
The setting is tranquil with a swimming pool, poolside barbeque and a lovely jetty and deck over the water (there is great snorkeling out front). There is no restaurant but the Officer’s Club at Benjor Beach Club is only a short stroll down Devil’s Point Road and it is about 15 minutes into Port Vila.
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It’s frustrating and annoying – but it’s what being in a tropical paradise is all about. And once you get used to it, it’s not a problem – unless you’re in a rush. Island time means things don’t happen when you think they should. What you thought would take no time at all will take forever but what you thought would take ages will be done in a flash. Let go, relax and enjoy it. It’s a nice change and it helps you to live longer.
If you’d like free itinerary advice, just send us an email outlining your interests. There are a number of excellent options for honeymooners, people wanting to get married or renew their wedding vows, families on holiday, those wanting scuba diving, horse riding, game fishing, tours or ways to get the most out of travelling around the island (Efate) or to other islands.