Visitors Guide K
KAIVITI VILLAGE MOTEL
The Kaiviti has motel-style accommodation with self-contained rooms. It’s a clean, spacious, comfortable and friendly place to stay, a short walk from town and has a swimming pool and poolside bar that advertises the ‘best hamburgers in town’.
KAKULA (RABBIT ISLAND)
Kakula Island is a lovely little island just off the north of Efate. A Frenchman, who had a large colony of pet rabbits, once lived there – hence the nickname ‘Rabbit Island’. When he decided to pack up and leave, he asked the people in the local village to look after his rabbits – and they were more than happy to oblige. They were eaten in very short time.
The island is 36 hectares (89 acres), biologically diverse and teeming with cultural and historical significance. A variety of fruit trees line the trails and coconut crabs indigenous to the island scurry about. There is a secret sea turtle sanctuary where turtles lay their eggs.
There are old ruins left behind by missionaries, NiVanuatu spiritual sites and other cultural landmarks, as well as a ruin on the beach and an abandoned 3 story tree house that is currently being repaired.
A short boat ride away is a wrecked American Corsair fighter jet from World War II, which can be explored by scuba or snorkel.
The private island home has 6 comfortable ensuite bedrooms, a large dining area right at the beach and a staff of seven to look after guests and keep everything clean and neat.
Vanuatu kava is more potent than kava drunk in other South Pacific countries. It’s a legal ‘opiate’ that comes from grating, grinding or chewing the root of the plant. There are many varieties, from mild to ‘two-dei’ kava, so called because it can be strong enough to induce a two-day sleep. Unlike in Fiji, there is no hand-clapping ceremony that accompanies drinking although kava can be part of a ceremony. But, like in Fiji, it should be swilled down in one motion, simply because it tastes pretty ordinary. It is a great stress reliever and is useful in healing urinary tract infections and stomach ailments. The chemicals sensitise hearing and sight, which is why nakamals are dark and quiet. How many shells should you have? Probably no more than three at first although some have a motto that kava is like breasts – one’s too few, three’s too many. Once your lips become numb, you should have had sufficient to be ‘mellow’.
Another test is to get up and go for a short walk as kava can also affect the limbs. I remember seeing one tourist from a cruise ship on Epi Island who was showing off his drinking prowess to the locals. Cross-legged and lucid, he knocked back 7 shells to no apparent ill effects until he had to head back to the ship. His brain worked fine but his body didn’t. His legs were like spaghetti and he seemed to have grown several knees that worked simultaneously in several directions. It took four local men to help him along the wharf back to the boat with the local women laughing at “white man fuldrong long kava” – full drunk on kava. The cruise ship left for Mystery Island, but Epi would always be a mystery to him.
Hopping in a kayak to explore the lagoon or harbor is a pleasant thing to do and a great way to explore the region. If your resort doesn’t have kayaks, you can hire them from the larger waterfront resorts.
Kayaking Vanuatu run a great guided tour in Mele Bay (off the front beach at Benjor Resort) which includes a village tour, refreshments and a snorkel with giggly and delightful local guides.
The major resorts have Kids Clubs for 3 to 12 year olds (Le Lagon, Holiday Inn and Iririki Island Resort) and they do know how to keep kids occupied with activities, swimming, crab hunting, watersports, craft and so on. They also have kids menus and child minding. Le Lagon has a kids stay, eat and play free offer.
Erakor Island Resort will provide an activities organiser for children staying and the Melanesian has a Kids Club during school holidays. Cocomo Resort looks after littlies in school holidays and also has a kindy for local children.
All resorts can arrange babysitting at around 300vt an hour (1000vt a night).
Vanuatu uses the European METRIC (and Australia/New Zealand) system for weight, length, distance and area: millimetres, centimetres, metres, kilometres, Celsius etc. For US and UK visitors’ reference.
- 1 mile = 1.609 kilometres
- 1 pound (lb) = 2.21 kilograms
- 1 gallon = 4.55 litres
The few kiteboard riders I have met have been addicted to the sport, so if you are one and are heading to Vanuatu, pack the board so you can get that hit while you’re away. The best spots are out front of Breaka’s Beach Resort and on Mele Bay (Hideaway Island).
The Kiwanis Club Of Port Vila is one of the larger charity organisations that is responsible for many projects in and around Port Vila and run Kiwanis Race Week in June or July with all proceeds going to good works.
The ‘klevers’ (clever) are ‘medicine men’ who practise custom (kastom) magic.
KOKODA (TAHITIAN FISH SALAD)
Kokoda (pronounced kokonda in Fiji) is also known as ‘Coconut Ceviche’, ‘Tahitian Fish Salad’ and, in the Cook Islands, ‘Ika Mata’. It takes about ten minutes to knock up and it’s a delicious South Pacific favourite (or it should be – it doesn’t appear enough on Vanuatu menus). It’s raw fish, marinated in lime juice, with coconut cream and is served cold. Fresh tuna is probably the best choice of fish, but it works just fine with the excellent local poulet fish. For an entrée for 4 people, get:
- 400g fresh fish
- 1/2 cup lime or lemon juice (kiwi fruit can be used for a quick-time marinade)
- 1/4 cup thick coconut cream
- 1/4 cup red onion
- handful chopped coriander
- finely sliced spring onion or two
- a green or red chilli (no seeds, no pith and finely chopped)
- salt and ground black pepper
Cut the fish into small chunks or thin strips and mix through the lime juice. Leave it for at least an hour – up to 4 – in the fridge. the finer the slice, the quicker it will ‘cook’ in the citrus juice. Combine the remaining ingredients, drain the fish and toss through the coconut mixture. Serve at once with salt and pepper to taste. A crispy bed of lettuce makes a nice presentation and a cool crunchy taste. For a different taste replace the coconut milk with soy sauce.