Melanesia Day.

Beginning a new day with a quiet yoga session is a treat on a swimtrekking holiday. We are lucky to have Carmel from Brisbane offer us yoga.

We did 20min on the beach yesterday and this morning another session facing the ocean. Downward dog never looked so good.

Muscles are starting to become sore so massage kindly offered by ‘Healing Hands’ Jenny and Yoga by Carmel are helping. Thank you ladies.

Breakfast, a briefing on the days program and away we went. A slightly shorter trip today. Through the town centre and up to the lookout and a secret road to the water. Into the boats to Hat Island which does indeed look like a hat!

Reef shoes are needed today for the walk across the low tide rocks into the boats and away.

This island is a special one in Vanuatu. No villages here at all. But there is a very old cemetery. It’s a significant one.

We arrived at the beach, left our things then continued along the coast for a few kilometres. The ocean is a darker blue and a little rolling. Very inviting.

So off we went. Our group is bonding both in and out of the water. Some like to zip to the front following the leader. Others lurk at the back really enjoying the views of the reef. I prefer to hover mid group – in my own space with a swim buddy. Today it was Margaret. We were keeping a steady rhythm – until we turned a corner of the island and it became lumpy and challenging.

We swam over coral reefs with lots of little fish flitting about. A multitude of blues and purples and pink tipped coral. Bright blue starfish, schools of black & white or yellow fish 🐟.

And Kathy, Soosi and I got out in our

S, M, L matching swimmers!

Back to the beach for lunch. A walk to the ancient cemetery led by a local through a rocky grassy path shaded by pandanus before turning right into the island. Matthew one of our local guides offered a gift to the dead in friendship.

A little nap was needed then before the final swim of the day.

All up we swam 2.7km in the morning and 2 this afternoon. Quite an effort.

Matthew caught a turtle during our swim. What an experience

It’s a really amazing experience here with Yves , his sister Monique and the people of Vanuatu. It’s as much a cultural experience as it is a swim trekking holiday.

Tonight is Melanesia night. Starting with Kava. It’s a full on week and everyone is getting tired!

Yves with his sister Monique

So Yves has scheduled a late start tomorrow morning.

We’ll have yoga at 7.30, breakfast then a rest before a visit to the marketplace in town. Then in the afternoon a visit to a lagoon.

Perfect swimming in Vanuatu.

Yesterday we said it was perfect but today the swimming was even more beautiful.

Swimtrekking- it just keeps getting better.

We had our briefing for the day at 8am after a breakfast of tropical fruit and for some of us eggs- for energy!

Into the two buses by 8.15. One slightly more comfortable than the other, so it was decided we’d mix it around a little tomorrow.

Good coffee was missed yesterday so on the way to the boats we stopped at the Tanna coffee house. The manager gave us a tour and we enjoyed a lovely coffee. Most of the coffee is grown on Tanna Island and 90% is exported – so look out for it particularly in Australia at the Oxfam shops. It tasty and the locals deserve support.

There was also essential oils production. They use mostly Sandalwood and combine it with other oils- ginger and lemongrass. I bought some delicious smelling soap with lemongrass lime and coconut. I’ll have to try not to eat it.

I also bought some oil for sore muscles! There won’t be enough for the number of sore muscles we’re going to have after our lovely long swims.

We continued onto the banana boats and headed off towards today’s destination Pele Island. Another new swim destination for Yves and the swimtrekking group.

Again we were met by the chief and welcomed but no dance of welcome. Just as well as we were keen to get going. The water looked gorgeous.

The curious children came down to see what we were up to but the village people didn’t turn out to welcome us. They have other tourists here from time to time.

And it’s no wonder. It’s a tropical paradise.

Into the water we went. Water temperature ✔️ perfect. Clarity of the water for vision ✔️beautiful. Excitement levels of swimmers 🏊🏻‍♀️ ✔️✔️✔️.

And off we went. Today everyone settled a little, swimming straighter lines, following the leader. I swam with Bec just at the back of the pack. ( ahead of Steve on his kickboard) We got into a nice steady rhythm and maintained a good pace. Until her goggles started to leak. Such a swimmers curse. Leaking goggles!

We all swam past our landing point because we felt so good!

Just over 2km later we pulled in for lunch.

Under the trees we sprawled on towels or red chairs. Lunch was provided by the lovely friendly village people. Grilled chicken, rice, salads delicious fruits. All tasty and much appreciated.

Spying the rather strange looking jumping , climbing, blow up contraption- the sort used in one of those Gladiator TV shows we set a few challenges. Fun and games started. The limber, focused, determined swimmers took on the challenge. Greg, John and Shean versus Kathy, Maryanne, Bec and Colleen.

Lots of laughs as they tumbled, rolled , pulled and climbed their way to the top! There’s always an accident and today it was Shean twisting his shoulder. Let’s hope he can still swim tomorrow.

A short, Carmel led yoga session on the beach followed by a nap under the trees reinvigorated us for the afternoon swim.

Off in the boats down the pretty coastline- into the water to swim back.

It was beautiful. We saw a giant turtle pass the boats and while swimming along saw a smaller turtle wizzing underneath us.

More excitement when Matthew our guide spotted a dugong. He was thrilled as he lives here and hadn’t ever seen one.

Back on the beach we packed up for the 20 min boat ride back to the buses on the main island.

This is the downtime of the day. During the hour long bus ride some sleep, some chat and I start writing.

We also see some spectacular views and an amazing sunset.

Now it’s into our Bures to freshen up for dinner. I’m enjoying the outdoor shower in our room. A great end to a great day!

We’ve enjoyed dinner at Cafe Villa just along from where we are staying. The fish curry was superb.

We really must try and get to bed early.

But Jenny massages, John’s cigars and the Scotch and Baileys are holding us back!

A Cultural Swim with a Difference

The first swim of a swim trekking experience is full of excitement and anticipation and nerves in equal parts.

There was no need for nerves on this trip. Yves, Matthew and Lizzie our guides had planned a great first day.

It was a sunny wind free day so we headed across the island in mini buses where the boats met us for the 20 mins ride to Emao a fairly remote island with 6 small villages and two primary schools.

We arrived to the wail of a conch shell. A local dressed in leaves was blowing a greeting to us.

We unloaded and made our way up the grassy slope to be met by a group of leaf covered men who danced a welcome.

Yves said these people had not had western visitors before. They greeted us in song and dance and everyone lined up to shake our hands as a hibiscus was placed behind our ear.

We were so moved by this beautiful greeting. Yves presented the village chief with books, pencils, paints poster and things for the children.

Then it was swim time. We creamed up and hopped in the banana boats for a ride along the coast. The coral reef was visible in the crystal clear water.

Safety instructions and then into the water. Unlike any swim trek I’ve been on – we swam as one group. A guide in the front middle and at the back to keep us contained and away we went.

Conditions were perfect. Warm, calm and current assisted we swam comfortably along the coast. We swam over coral, alive with little coloured fish. Parrot fish, striped sea snakes, electric blue star fish a turtle and lots of coral.

The reef was damaged in the big storms Vanuatu experienced recently as were the villages. The one we visited on Emao lost all but 3 buildings So sad for people who really don’t have much to start with.

We swam and swam stopping for a chat and a regroup.

It was exhilarating. Everyone was quietly pleased with their effort.

Some towed little floats for safety. Well done John, Colleen and Shean for helping us.

Our boatmen did a little fishing. And

We finally returned to Village and had some downtime. Lunch – rolls for most salad for the gluten free.

Suddenly it was time to leave so the village chief farewelled us and gave a blessing!

Home via the sand island. A little mystery.

Now we’re sitting at Breakas sipping gin and beer.

A good day.

Swimming Vanuatu. Fins, friends and fun.

Today we are on our way to Vanuatu a group of some 83 islands in the Pacific Ocean. We aren’t going to laze by a pool or dip our toes into the lagoon – even though that sounds great. No, we’re going to swim. Along coastlines, around small islands enjoying the water, observing the fish and feeling the sheer pleasure of being free in the ocean.

Steve & I won’t be swimming alone. No that’s far too dangerous!

We are joining a group called Swim Trekking. Our leader, organiser, guide and friend, Yves, who spent quite a few years growing up in Vanuatu has put together this trip for us. And we invited a few friends along to share the fun.

What is it that keeps taking us on swim trekking holidays?

This is our 8th swimming holiday! I took up swimming to be able to go along with my husband on our first one in Sardinia in 2013. I was terrified but loved it. Now I love swimming. I’m not fast. I still use fins. But I can keep going and love how it makes me feel.

What is a Swim Trek holiday?

We got on to our first Holiday through SwimTrek a company operating out of Brighton in the UK.

We joined a group of like-minded people from a handful of different countries. We had two guides- our first guide being Francesco from Rome. (he owns a company called Swim Trekking) And each day for a week – with a boat driver & Francesco we swam along picturesque coastlines, into caves and across from one island to the other.

I was scared but exhilarated. I’d found something I loved.

Since then we’ve swum in Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Spain and Galápagos. All different but all wonderful. We’ve met some fantastic friends. If you read my recent blog about New York you’ll have heard about our swim trek friends who came to meet us there. What a holiday !

This one is different. Only a short flight from Brisbane. With a group of people we already know and a guide who is a friend.

It will be terrific.

If you’re coming to Vanuatu there are direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney. It’s only a few hours and it’s a beautiful group of islands.its a tropical paradise.

We’re staying at Breakas resort. In little Bures lining a white sandy shoreline.

The sound of the waves will lull us to sleep under the mosquito net over our bed.

So after orientation by Yves and Lizzie we had a group dinner and planned our first day.

A 7am breakfast so we can head of. In the bus to our boats to swim a more remote island.

We can’t wait.

Our view friends m the Bure