South Pacific Series - #3 Lelepa Island, Vanuatu

Dec 21 (Wed) Vanuatu, Day 2 – Lelepa Island Tour

Lelepa Island Tours
$9,800 VT per person
8:30am - 5:00pm 

Today we are going to Lelepa island, just off the Southwest coast of Efate main island. This tour operator started from a guy that actually lived in the village on Lelepa island. There’s only 1 village on Lelepa island, so most of it is not inhabited. The tour company has been operating for over 15 years so it’s pretty well known. The minivan was so full we had to fit 3 people in front. We drove 25 minutes to Havannah bay and then took a 20 min boat to Lelepa island’s north end. There were 3 Australian families and 2 or 3 couples. Two small boats carried us over the crystal clear water which soon turned into a dark aqua blue.

We were dropped off at a coral shore, there was nothing but coral on the ground and just trees in front of us. To get to the other side of the island, we made a short 15 min walk through the forest. In there we learned about various medical uses of plants, for example there was this jasmine plant they used for tooth aches. And also the locals can tell if a tropical storm is coming depending on where the hornets nest. If it’s high on top, then the weather will be nice. If it is lower and close to a secluded tree trunk, that means a storm is coming. As mentioned before, Vanuatu was a group of islands full of cannibals. We passed by a big rock with many large microwave sized holes in it, this is where they cook their meat. The guide said that once a missionary came on this island, but he was chased by the cannibals. He ran for the boat as the cannibals can’t swim, but lost his shoes just before he got into the water. The cannibals thought that the shoes were part of him, so they chopped it up, cooked it and ate it. 

At the end of the forest path, we end up on a quiet beach. The sand was the whitest I’ve ever seen, and soft as flour. There was one grass hut where the kitchen is and where BBQ lunch will be served. There are some beach chairs, a few hammocks, and wooden chairs and tables with grass roofs covering them. It looked like a desktop wallpaper. At this beach, we spent the first hour or so swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. I went straight for snorkeling. Just soon after where I couldn’t reach the bottom, I saw a group of sea cucumbers just chilling, good I didn’t step on them, would probably be really squishy. Continuing to about 2.5 – 3 meters deep, there were tons of coral and tropical fishes everywhere. It was really clear so you can see a lot under the water. I was mesmerized and couldn’t stop swimming around and checking out the different corals and fishes. 


 Lunch time came soon. There was some bread, salad, fruits, rice, beef, and cookies. Not bad for a small island like this. But the best part is, I get to enjoy lunch with a very relaxing view of the ocean. After lunch I attempted to kayak but the current was too strong. It seems that everywhere in Vanuatu you go, the current is strong. So I gave up and just relaxed on a hammock till it was time to go. The next stop was a cave. It had a massive entrance and immediately you can see and hear fruit flies. The guide said this is where the villagers used to bring the old and weak to rest before they die. We ventured into this cave, it became pitch black quickly, but the path was led by pre-lit candle lights. It got so narrow it could only fit one person and was about 160m in height. We turned back after about a 15min walk, most people were getting cluster phobic and just wanted to get out and get some fresh air. 

After the cave, we went for one last snorkel. This time we were dropped off in the middle of the ocean near a cove. The water was probably 4-5meters deep, this time the coral even more amazing. There were so many fishes swimming around, and the coral came in all different shapes and colors. The last time I saw something this amazing was probably 2015 in Boracay. 

We boated to the south side of the island where the village was, got some refreshments and took a rest. I was a bit sunburned, I just had too much fun snorkeling and swimming I completely forgot about sunscreen. Some local village kids gathered and sang us 3 songs, it was pretty adorable. Afterwards, we took a 15 minute walk through town. Life was simple here, there’s 1 primary school, 1 church, and you see houses here and there with clothes hung outside and pet dogs sitting in the yards. We reached the end where our boats back to Efate island were waiting. 

A little rant here. After we got back to Port Havannah, the guide said there’s a little bar where we can get some drinks while we wait for our bus. It was a house with some grass and benches and a pool in the backyard. As soon as some of us sat down on the bench, this b*tchy Australian lady ran out and said “Sorry, private property. Unless you’re going to order a drink, please stay off the benches”. Okay, so number one, if it’s private property (assuming the port as well), our guide probably paid you already to use this port. Number two, we are probably the only visitors you get in a day, and if you’re going to have that type of nasty attitude, don’t expect to get any business. Anyway, it’s a shame that in a country with so many friendly and lovely people of Vanuatu, you get this foreigner, living on their land, being rude.

Back in town, I took a shower to freshen up. It was a really lovely day, and again we did an all round tour of another island in Vanuatu. So far it’s been a very balanced trip where you see a bit of everything, and the tour guides do a very good job of explaining the culture and history.

Tomorrow we're back on Efate Island for a half day tour to the Rarru Rantapau Waterfalls and Naiwe beach to see some turtles.

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