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Life on the Vanuatu islands has a simple elegance to it that travellers to this sun-drenched region find hard to resist.
For the natives, every day is a chance to live to the fullest and explore the bountiful sights of nature. Port Vila is a true embodiment of these down to earth values to a tee. Even the shopping and business districts are completely laidback in keeping with the serene character of the whole archipelago.
With colourful coral reefs, deserted beaches and sparkling blue waters lying just off shore, the steep hillsides of Port Vila overlook an incomparable tableau showcasing the finest scenery Oceania has to offer. This is a tourist town, yes, but it's one that has never succumbed to the commercial interests that normally turn authentic ports like this into a place without personality, but with plenty of garish sun loungers. Port Vila has defied the odds to remain a beautiful harbour in symphony with nature.
National Museum of Vanuatu
This museum is a wonderful way to enjoy a fascinating delve into the Vanuatu culture. Housed within a majestic building on the outskirts of Port Vila, the National Museum of Vanuatu is home to an extensive collection of artifacts dating back so far as to include clothing and ceremonial headdresses used by some of the first settlers upon the island. There is even a massive outrigger canoe, preserved for hundreds of years, and examples of Lapita and Wusi pottery.
Michoutouchkine & Pilioko Foundation Art Gallery
As unlikely as it seems, this quaint gallery is home to the finest Oceanic art pieces from across the entire region. The selection is hugely exotic, including relics and artefacts created centuries before – prime examples of primitive Vanuatan artworks like ornate carvings and masks originally created by the master craftsmen of southern Malekula.
The main harbour of Port Vila is home to a thriving fishing industry, a colourful selection of vendors… and an island. Iritiki lies just offshore from the mainland, lush with greenery and home to a tight-knit community of local bar patrons and a single restaurant.
There are 24 hour ferries connecting it to the Port Vila bay, so getting across is beautifully simple whether its day or night. Ironically, for the best view in Vila, you have to leave it. Looking over the port from Iritiki Island is a striking sight, especially during the spectacular sunsets of the oceanic.
The island may not have megamalls, but it makes up for it with its fine boutiques, all owned by the locals. Proud's is a great place to indulge in a shopping spree, with cosmetics, jewellery and fine porcelain all for sale.
In terms of the local cuisine, it's fair to say the island has a bountiful share of seafood delicacies. L' Houstalet in particular stands out, with its exquisite menu featuring omelettes stuffed with lobster, flying fox, wild pigeon and not a few delicious cocktails for you to indulge in.
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