just wanted to post a brief trip report as I enjoyed reading about other peoples trips and tips on this forum before I went.
my partner and I went for an 8 day relaxing break. We normally travel for longer and further afield but this year we could only squeeze a week off for some relaxation closer to home.
We flew Air Van syd to melb which was fine- got our first dose of "island time" waiting for the immigration people to arrive.
We stayed at Tamanu - which was perfect for us and what we were after- out of town, private, simple, relaxed, tranquil, great food- brilliant chilli mud crab (except for a couple of things that were spoiled by drowning them in cream- prawn bisque, seafood lasagne), gorgeous swimming in a rockpool. (see my review) would not suit everyone but after visiting 4 other resorts for meals etc I was even more sure I'd chosen a winner.
We had a great $990vt lunch at Chill- my prawn/ mango/ macadamia salad was excellent. we also visited another day for coffee (much better than au peche mignon in my opinion).
We visited Iririki the resort was mostly empty and our lunch of burgers in the Bali Hai restaurant was underwelming.
We had dinner one evening at Villa Chaumeires- gorgeous candlelit setting, loved the fish and good food.
We had lunch at Breakas one day which was very interesting as I had considered staying here- glad we didn't. I'm not sure if it was typical of the Breakas guest profile but there were a lot of loud, posing 20somethings monopolising the pool area and making the handful of older couples appear uncomfortable. lunch was ok not spectacular and the staff seemed to have a great deal of difficulty coping with a minor problem with our credit card.
We had dinner at Eratap one evening- great food, classy resort- easy to see why it is No. 1 on trip advisor hotels list. Not too large (12 villas) away from port vila, nice location would onsider staying here although much more $$, and resorty than Tamanu. Restuarants (Villa Chaumeires, Eratap, Tamanu) were all similar prices
We rented a car from World Rentals for 2 days- no problem for them to pick-up/ drop off from Tamanu and drove round the island. The main round island round was in excellent condition- mostly paved, unpaved sections wide and smooth- easy for 2wd. The only bad bits of road we encountered were the loop to Tamanu and the track to Eratap- pretty rough hopefully their turn for roadwork is not to far away. Easy to visit any of the round island sights without a guide, easy driving, stop and go as you please, no "three's a crowd" (if taking a guided trip)
I am worried about the cascades- having never been before I can only guess that it is a new developement but there is another large building over hanging the lower pools and being sandwiched between the road and developement didn't ad to the tranquil natural experience of the cascades.
Port vila itself didn't do much for me- humid compared with being on the coast, deisel fumes etc. I certainly recommend staying out of town. Enjoyed the markets, bought some snacks etc. Interesting driving through the villages. saw a dance/music performance one eveing
Great weather, great time. The Tusker beer was good
Food (both in supermarkets and restuarant) and accommodation appeared very similar in price to what you would find in any Australian tourist region for the equivalent standard.
Re my earlier post about coconut crab- I didn't have any, some places didn't have it on the menu (eg Tamanu) some offered and explanation of why it wasn't on the menu (eg Eratap) and some still featured it (don't know if it was actually available as i never saw anyone else with one either.
flew home with pacific blue- no probs there either. prices were about the same with both I just picked what suited us better times wise.
I wish the trip advisor review section would list the resorts under "restaurants" too since they are open to guests and a review of the restaurant may be quite different to the accommodation review.