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Image credit: Vanuatu Tourism

Welcome back to Vanuatu

Despite natural distaster, Lauren McGroder discovers that the people of Vanuatu sparkle brighter than ever.

The news that Vanuatu had been hit by a Category Five cyclone in March 2015 was devastating to all; the impact of such a tragedy was felt far beyond the 80 islands that make up the South Pacific nation. Australian families have long enjoyed its transparent waters, volcanic terrain and friendly welcome, and as the people of Vanuatu re-establish their communities, their infallible spirit reminds us why we’ll always return to its shores.

Port Vila
As images of Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital, were broadcasted to Australian living rooms in the aftermath of the cyclone, the scenes were distressing. Now, however, after just a few short months, the face of Port Vila is altogether different and families are once more flocking to one of their favourite destinations.

Warwick Le Lagon
Warwick Le Lagon is a longstanding favourite with Holidays with Kids readers, regularly placing in the South Pacific category of the Reader’s Choice Awards. Situated on the edge of Erakor Lagoon, this family paradise took the opportunity to refurbish some of the rooms affected by the cyclone, giving them a lick of paint and a fresh start. The resort’s jetty remains out of action for now, but this won’t stop you from taking full advantage of the many activities on offer. Take to Vanuatu’s crystal-clear water, with snorkelling, kayaking, and windsurfing, or stay on dry land and make use of the 12-hole golf course, Oasis Spa and the kids’ club for the little ones.

Warwick Le Lagon

Hideaway Island Resort
Just 10 minutes from the airport, Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary is fully operating and welcoming visitors with open arms. Luckily for families, this resort is fluent in the language of ‘kid’ and there are endless activities to occupy them. You may even find yourself joining the fun!

Glass-bottom boating, sailing, kayaking and snorkelling are just a sample of the water adventures to be had, while back on land the exciting possibilities of the capital are yours for the exploring. Horse riding, village tours and waterfall treks prove popular options and make for impressive additions to the photo album. While you’re there, don’t forget to stop by the world’s only Underwater Post Office, and send a waterproof postcard to your friends and family telling them about the best holiday you’ve ever had.

Hideaway Island Resort and Marine Sanctuary

Poppy’s on the Lagoon
Also making regular appearances in the Holidays with Kids awards, Poppy’s on the Lagoon is perfect for families making their return to Vanuatu. For those who want to holiday in style, the three-bedroom Beachfront Villa is for you. A private balcony and two-step journey to the beach are the ultimate luxuries for a family escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs. There is a kitchen in each room, but we think you deserve a week without cooking duties. The restaurant at Poppy’s is a Melanesian-style thatched bure that sources most of its produce from local business for that unmistakable taste of the tropics.

Watch this space
A number of hotels and resorts are undergoing developments and plan to welcome you back in the future. You can keep updated with the progress of two Holidays with Kids reader favourites on Facebook:

1. Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
2. Iririki Island Resort

Image credit: Vanuatu Tourism

Aquana Beach Resort
Although Aquana Beach Resort is only in its third year, it’s certainly made an impact on Australian families. Its major drawcard is the unique childcare programme, with nannies available free of charge for guests from daybreak to late evening. With 13 spacious two-bedroom bungalows, the whole family will quickly settle into this South Pacific sanctuary, if they can tear themselves away from everything else that’s happening! Nightly entertainment ranging from fire dancing to string band performances make for a memorable experience indeed.

Espiritu Santo
It wasn’t the cyclone itself that had the most severe impact upon the island of Espiritu Santo (as it was mostly unaffected) but the drop in holidaymakers as a result of it. Happily for Australians, Vanuatu’s largest island is as beautiful as it ever was, and its famous Millennium Cave and Million Dollar Point are waiting to be explored and admired. It’s the ideal extension to a Port Vila escape, or a holiday destination in its own right.

Ratua Private Island

Ratua Private Island

Ratua Private Island
A luxury experience like no other is just a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland of Espiritu Santo. Ratua Private Island is a place where animals roam free, encouraging you and your family to leave the iDevices in your suitcases and surrender to nature.

Children will fall in love with Ratua’s horses, with over 20 roaming free on Marc’s Ranch. If you’ve never experienced the thrill of riding horseback through the shallows of the ocean, this is your chance, as you saddle up and let the island’s four-legged expert guides give you the grand tour. When not refining your cantering style, spend the day mountain biking, snorkelling and exploring Vanuatu’s iconic blue holes.

When it is at last time to retreat indoors, the island’s 13 Indonesian style villas will ensure a luxurious night’s sleep. While the Yacht Club, featuring media room, cinema and kitchen, is the meeting place of the island where guests gather to swap tales.

If your idea of the perfect holiday involves seeing Vanuatu from as many angles as possible, day tours and unique experiences are ideal for you and your family. Here’s our pick of the most exciting activities and tours that are currently operating:

1. Buggy Fun Adventures

2. Havannah Beach and Boat Club

3. Vila Flyboard

4. Ocean Walker Vanuatu

5. Meridian Charters

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