In 2010, I was invited to something super DUPER special – a destination wedding in Vanuatu.
The only other destination wedding I’ve ever attended was my sisters. And it was totally dreamy. In the vineyards of Tuscany, hot and sunny (AND she married her childhood sweetheart). It was amazing. Destination weddings are amazing. And this one in Vanuatu was no less. The happy couple got married on Erakor Island (below), which is an island just off Efate (the most populous island in Vanuatu, which houses the national capital Port Vila).
We flew Virgin from Brisbane to Port Vila. It took about 2 hours to fly there and cost like $200pp each way. Pretty cheap. We arrived at midday and got taxis from the airport to the ferry terminal (we had to catch a little ferry to the island). The ferry took us right to our accommodation the Erakor Island Resort.
Vanuatu is a group of islands consisting of about 82 small islands (the population of the whole nation is about 200,000). Most of the population is of Melanesian descent (“Ni-Vanuatu”). I read somewhere that it has the highest density of languages of anywhere on earth; an estimated 133 of them. A lot of these are only spoken by a few thousand people and remain a mystery to scholars, because they simply haven’t been studied (this page has some info if you’re interested).
The most widely spoken languages in Vanuatu are Bislama, English and French. Bislama is the shizzle. It’s a mix of English, Spanish, French and colloquialisms (i.e. words or phrases from informal language). I just googled Bislama and found the blog of a guy who did Peace Corps stint in Vanuatu and wrote a list of Bislama Gems. It’s hilarious. These are just some I got off his blog (read them out loud).
Gat Hed – to be intelligentBlong Mi – mineWoman Blong Mi – my wifeDikim Hol – dig a holeGivim Titi – to breastfeed
Anyway, other than the language I loved Vanuatu. We went on a day trip horse riding and hired a local guy to drive us there. He was super nice; taking us sightseeing and telling us about local villages. He even took photos of us! On the way back, we stopped to pick up his nephew from school (and picked up another few customers, haha) and then back to the ferry terminal.
Most of the rest of the time we spent at our resort, around our villa. The whole island is owned by a local village, who rent it to the resort owners, so pretty much the whole island is the resort. There are day-trippers who catch the ferry across to snorkel, but other than that – it’s mainly just guests and staff.
We hung out with the staff from our villa a lot; playing volleyball, learning to weave and learning to climb coconut trees (well.. . my brother-in-law did). The staff were really fantastic (plug plug); one of the managers gave us a coconut making demonstration, where she made coconut milk and explained what you can use all the bits of the coconut for. She also took us to a local kava bar, where we tried some kava.
The food and drinks we had at the resort were delicious. As as measure of its deliciousness – my sister doesn’t even like seafood but she was eating it. It was beautifully fresh and prepared with fresh coconut cream and fruit. YUM!
The resort was perfect; we woke up every morning and literally walked out the door into the sea. We went snorkelling, sailing and kayaking in a plastic bottom kayak (where you could see coral and starfish beneath you as you paddled).
My sister got to do lots of fun wedding stuff with the bridal party. I didn’t put any photos up of the bride and groom (preserving their wedding privacy and all that). But it was spectacular! They had the ceremony on a tiny beach on the island and the reception (a buffet dinner) right on the beach-front at sunset. The bride and groom let off these beautiful floating lamps they had brought in town, and the boys (Dave and my brother-in-law Ben) let off fireworks they had brought in town.
Yep, suffice to say I am a total convert to destination weddings. (Did I mention that I’m having one next year?)