Guest Traveller: South Pacific

by Monday, July 3, 2017

Guest Traveller Janet Faes works as a public servant in Canberra and likes visiting new places and seeing new things but, more than anything, she loves cruising. For Janet, if you live in eastern Australia, cruising and the South Pacific go together. She has travelled to the South Pacific five times: Her first trip was a week in Vanuatu and the next four trips were on cruise ships. She has visited Noumea four times – each time trying something new. Join Janet as she explores the amazing South Pacific…

There are a lot of adventure activities which make Noumea a great place to visit. I’ve always managed to find something to try, whether it be snorkelling at Amedee Island, learning to stand-up paddle board at Kuendu Beach, or kayaking up the Dumbea River.  I had never tried to SUP (see, I know the lingo!) before they took us to Kuendu Beach, a protected bay with nice, calm waters. We paddled around for two hours as our teacher showed us cool tricks to try. He was very patient with the group and didn’t leave anyone behind. I couldn’t do any of it, but had fun watching the truly adventurous try and sometimes fail, sometimes conquer.
We did a 12-day cruise out of Sydney over Christmas with stops in New Caledonia and Fiji. The ship served up the most delicious Christmas lunch, and I had a massage in the afternoon… Every Christmas should be spent like this! So doing a zip-line in Suva was a great way to burn off those Christmas-pudding calories. So much fun. Jumping off towers high up in trees to zip through the jungle got my pulse racing; so did the walk up the side of the mountain to get to one of these towers!

I’ve made five trips into the South Pacific: Three of these visited Port Vila in Vanuatu, and I always go back to Hideaway Island. For my first trip to Vanuatu, we stayed on Hideaway Island for a week. Sunbathing on the coral beach, snorkelling in Mele Bay with the starfish, coral and schools of fish, and eating at the beach restaurant. During the 17 years between my first visit and my most recent, there has been a lot of change in Vanuatu. The ferry out to Hideaway Island now has a dock (no more wet feet and carrying suitcases over your head) but the cost of everything has gone up.

My second trip to Port Vila was my very first try at adventure tourism. I’ve done abseiling before, but never down a waterfall [Scroll up to the top of this page to see a picture of Janet abseiling down the waterfall!]. The Mele Cascades offered this experience: an abseil down a 50m waterfall. So awesome!!

Janet’s Top Five Tips for Travelling in the South Pacific:

  1. Bring extra cash to Vanuatu. With the islands devastated by cyclones, the cost of living has risen to pay for repairs and rebuilding. The locals now charge a lot more for their taxi services, which is the best way to see the island. This is how they make their living so support the local drivers.
  2. Head out of town. There is so much to do on this island and the best of it is out of town.
  3. Keep going back. Going into the South Pacific by cruise ship lets you see more islands however, you also only get to spend one day on each island/town. Maybe that’s why I keep heading back.
  4. Take your own snorkel gear. You can hire it but once you’ve used it on four different islands, you may as well have brought your own.
  5. Take local money. While they accept Aussie dollars on the islands, take some local currency for the countless markets you come across. You will definitely find something to buy.