By Krista Bjorn, RamblingTart.com
There’s nothing quite like going to sleep at night and not hearing a single sound of modernity. No hum of a refrigerator, no flush of a toilet, no laughter from a loud television, just the gentle lap of waves on sand and sea breezes rustling palm fronds.
I found such a spot at the Vat-Vaka Bungalows on the small island of Nguna, one of approximately 82 islands comprising the archipelago of Vanuatu, situated nearly 1,500 miles off the east coast of Australia.
I wanted a place to stay that was inexpensive, beautiful and interesting, and I found all three at this small family-run business.
For about $35 USD (3,000 vt), I had my own little bungalow set just across the road from my own private beach. The price also included three delicious and hearty home-cooked meals made by the manager’s father from food grown in their own island gardens.
It did not include electricity, running water, or air-conditioning, but to me, that was all part of the adventure. I learned to take bucket showers with rain water, and simply ducked into the warm waters of the Coral Sea anytime I got too hot. At night the owners gave me a red kerosene lamp to light my way. There is also no cell phone service – a real perk if you want to get away from it all, but unsettling if you need to be in touch with anyone.
I loved my sojourn at this exquisitely beautiful tropical island. Walking trails led me to idyllic hidden beaches and pretty villages where I was always greeted with beaming smiles and conversation from the islanders.
Numerous activities are available for nominal cost. Yoan, the manager, will guide you on a climb up Mount Taputoara, an extinct volcano, arrange for boat trips to explore nearby islands, or direct you to snorkeling on the coral reef. Just remember that Sundays are sacred in Vanuatu, so make your plans accordingly.
Accommodation, food and lifestyle are simple and basic on Nguna. When I return I will be sure to bring a flashlight and extra batteries for any essential electronics such as my camera. I will bring better walking shoes since cars are not available, and ensure I have sufficient entertainment to last me through the long, dark evenings. I will also throw in numerous bottles of water to keep me hydrated in the searing tropical heat.
The cheapest way to get to Nguna is to take a public bus from Port Vila to Emua Wharf and from there a public boat to Nguna for about $22 USD one way.
If you miss the departure times, you will need to take a chartered taxi or bus and a chartered boat. This will drive the cost up considerably and you will end up paying between $175 USD and $200 USD round trip. Chartered transportation can be arranged with Yoan.
For more information, visit their (modest) website http://vat-vaka.blogspot.com.au/
Krista Bjorn is the writer behind RamblingTart.com. She’s a self-described “Danish-Canadian lass who loves to write, travel and cook with people I love.”
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