Long day, long swims in Vanuatu. Survivor!

Another gorgeous start to the day with yoga on the beach in front of our Bures, looking out to the water. If only it could always be like this.

Breakfast is good as the little hot spot for wifi so the group are happy to sit at the little tables for 2 or 4 checking emails, messaging family or like me writing a blog.

Today we are swimming along the coast to one of the beaches used on the Survivor TV series.

The first challenge for us was entering the water. Not easy over rocky coral especially if you had fins on instead of reef shoes. We made quite a spectacle of ourselves as we congo lined our way into the deeper water.

We finally made it and were rewarded with sighting of an underwater collection of giant clams.

We set off feeling refreshed after our slower day yesterday. I was on tow rope duty pulling a little inflatable safety device.

We swam with the tide – stopping regularly to regroup and swap stories of sea life we spotted on the reefs below us.

We became turtle hunters following Mathew because he is so good at spotting things.

We swam and we swam. A few got leg cramps but before we knew it we were at our Survivor beach. About 3.2km. And about 1.5 hrs

Getting out of the water was another challenge not wanting to risk a fall on the coral so most took it slowly.

Lunch was under a big grove of shady trees then a nap on the little rocks or in the amongst the leaf litter. Bliss. Rest time before another afternoon swim.

Yves brought out a few flags to get us in the mood for the first football game for Australia tonight !

Our guides offered us a few afternoon options. Another 3 km swim with fewer stops , a half hour swim or a leisurely boat trip.

I took the challenge and decided to do the 3 km swim along with Kathy, Jenny, Ralph and Colleen guided by Lizzie.

We creamed up put our reef shoes on and swam away from the coral. Did an acrobatic change to our fins and off we went.

It was a good comfortable pace and we had a few stops to regroup and finished about 10 mins earlier than the earlier swim 🏊‍♂️ the morning. Exhausted yes, exhilarated yes, but well worth it. So today that make 6.2 km !

The rest of the group had a bit of fun on the island before setting off. They painted their faces and posed for photos!

Soosi, Wendy & John.

The second group pulled in on their boats just after us.

Meanwhile Matthew caught an octopus.

Feeling quite pleased with our days efforts we all changed into our ‘eveningwear’ in the grass beside the buses. No mod cons. Swim trekking is a great leveller.

We took off for the beach bar. We were all ready for beer and assorted cocktails, wine and something yum to eat. Fish curry was popular as was pizza.

Yves, Monique, Wendy and I took a quick ferry ride across the harbour to Hideaway resort. We had looked at it as an option for accommodation. But the bunk beds put us off. Even though the island is lovely. Not for us!

Then the highlight of the night – the fire show. It was on the beach with the water as a backdrop. Some very athletic looking men and women hurled fire sticks into the air catching them and doing various tricks. Good music added to the show.

It finished around 8 and everyone was absolutely exhausted. So time to return to our comfy Bures at Breakas. What a day.

A sleep in.

A slow start.

Yoga!

Day 4 of a SwimTrekking holiday is always hard. Tiredness is setting in. So Yves gave us a slow start.

Carmel gave a group of 7 of us a lovely stretching yoga.

Then a more leisurely breakfast and a quiet read in the hammock.

A visit to the town of Port Vila where we split into little groups of market wanderers and coffee drinkers. Hard decision. But the people at the markets were so friendly and not at all pushy when trying to sell their products.

There were the usual things. Colourful happy pants, sarongs, shirts, kids clothes and woven bags, hats and fans. And flowers , the most beautiful colours. And bunches of peanuts. All sold – or not with a smile.

Steve, Wendy & Soosi we’re taken with the iguana jewellery- but they were real slightly sedated iguanas.

As 12.30 arrived we heard tooting if horns and banding of drums as a parade started through town.

The World Cup is starting tonight and football is huge here so people are showing their support. There are local Vanuatu flags, French flags and Australian flags. Loyalties are split for the Australian v France game.

Our next stop is at Yves’ uncles house he is an artist. Emmanuel Watt. He lives in a house that is both gallery and home. He’s a charming man – a French speaker ( no English) so Monique, Yves sister did the translations.

His main art is sculpture. He takes wood he finds and turns into a representative piece. So clever. His works have been exhibited in New York, Paris, London, Brisbane just to name a few.

He showed his pride of Yves achievements by have a laminated article and photo of Yves completion of the English Channel. There is so much pride in this beautiful Watt family.

This sculpture depicts the volcano

Our last stop on this ‘down day’ was the Blue lagoon. It’s a fun lagoon- very pretty with a couple of ropes high in the trees for only the most game/brave/silly to try.

Guess who was first up the tree. John! He may be 70 but he is fit and brave. He did a few big jumps before being joined by Bec. Yes they both took on the challenge on the jumping castle the day before. Shean might have had a go but he was carrying an injured shoulder.

Frances D was amazing. She brought it home for the girls with height and distance. Bec was another champion with her ‘walk on water’ style.

Dinner was a small disaster. Reefers restaurant in the waterfront did not live up to its reviews. Food ok but expensive and a problem with the bill and lack of efpost which had ‘just shut down’. Apparently there is a back story to the owners. Anyway warning. Don’t go there.

But we smiled through it on the bus. Used humour to recover. Had a debriefing with Ralph.

So off to bed!

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.

A Beach Break Refreshes

What do I have to show after nearly 5 weeks at the coast?

Not a lot……….

But Steve and I have settled into a very low key pattern of R& R.

We had a lovely Christmas Day with our good friends Carmel and Peter Harrison and their three daughters and their partners.


I made my famous trifle!


And met Victoria’s beautiful dog. He’s in training to be a guide dog and is more than attached to Victoria.


Since then its all been about swimming, a little walking, sitting on the beach chatting to friends , coffee dates, afternoon drinks and a few lunches and dinners. I must admit to being very lazy and not doing too much in the way of entertaining friends here!

After every everything that happened last year I figure we needed the rest.

So what are my favourite things about the coast? Here’s my

Top Ten

1. Watching the sun rise over the water before the heat of the day.

2. Walks along the coastal path. Passing other walkers who offer a cheery ‘good morning’

3. Swimming. If it’s calm out the front I swim in the ocean. If not then I head to the Caloundra Aquatic Centre. Swimming clears the head. Almost like meditation.

4. Reading. Who doesn’t like taking time to read. I’ve churned through the books these holidays. I’ll do a seperate blog post on books I’ve enjoyed.

5. Umbrella hopping! There are always lots of friends here over Christmas and it’s great to spend time on the beach chatting. Moving from one group to the other.

6. Eating prawns and other delicious summer foods – especially with friends. Yotam Ottolenghi salads have been a feature this year.

7. Discovering a new summer drink. I’m afraid to admit my current favourite is still an Aperol Spritz. It’s always ‘summer in a glass’. And tastes better when shared with friends on the new verandah at the surf club

8. Coffee at Coofee Cat –  a retro style cafe a minute walk from our place. Good coffee and always a paper to read.

9. Riding around summer style in the new mini moke. It’s Steve’s new car and has been great over summer for heading to the pool or out to lunch. It’s always attracts comments from the young and not so young.

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10. Afternoon naps. And watching the tennis or the cricket. Very Aussie way of spending time at the beach.

 

What are your favourite things to do on holidays? Please use the comment box to let me know.