There are few things more romantic than the sun drenched islands of the South Pacific. Endless beaches fringed with swaying palms, gentle waves lapping the shore, lush tropical gardens leading to a secluded hammock. Whether its for a wedding, honeymoon, an anniversary or just a couple’s weekend away, the warm, idyllic settings of Fiji and Vanuatu can seem like a world away from the day-to-day rush found back home.
Australians are lucky enough to have two such mesmerising destinations close by – both little more than a 3 hour flight from the east coast. But which to choose when looking for that intimate couple’s getaway? It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Whether it’s the bustling tourist centres of Denarau and the Mamanucas with their flashy, big name hotels and resorts, or the peaceful outer islands of Ovalau, Taveuni and Qamea where Fijian culture meets natural, yet upscale seclusion, Fiji offers everything a couple could want in a holiday. Indulgent spa experiences, 5-star dining mix well with a Fiji overwater bungalow experience too – just another way Fiji differentiates itself from its Pacific neighbours.
From the busy tourist areas, to the most secluded island, guests will find upscale digs with all the latest mod-cons and luxuries. And depending on how much of a cultural immersion you’re after, local life is there to be experienced, whether it be at an orchestrated evening of performance or through a real life village experience. From cooking to the arts, the Fijian culture is always close by, you sometimes just have to look a little closer to find it. Even if you choose not to leave your Fijian resort, the traditional bure with their pointed straw and grass roofed tops will certainly put any guest in a Fiji frame of mind.
Located directly west of Fiji, Vanuatu is equally blessed with warm tropical breezes, lush rainforests and quiet beach lined coves, however the more laid back atmosphere provides less of a reliance on flashy tourist areas, with an emphasis on smaller, independently owned resorts and guest houses. And while tourism plays a big part in the country’s economy, agriculture and fishing are the mainstays of the economy. This mix provides greater opportunity for the visitor to more closely interact with Vanuatu’s people and its culture.
Vanuatu certainly has its share of upscale and mid-range resorts, but this is a place that offers a more authentic, slightly off-the-beaten-track Melanesian style experience. With much of its food being locally sourced, Vanuatu’s cuisine is as much a part of the holiday experience as the people or the accommodation. Dependent on fish, root vegetables and fruit, cooking is often an expression of Vanuatu’s traditional ways. Like the national dish lap lap, many dishes are prepared using coconut milk.
For anyone looking for a uniquely Vanuatu outdoor land and sea experience, hiking trails can be found from the rocky shores and rainforests to the cinder plain of Mount Yasur, an active volcano while the deep waters not far off shore provide some of the best diving in the world.
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