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There are not enough words to describe the
stunning beauty of Vanuatu and the islands of the
archipelago and it is best to let the images speak
In Perth we tend to have pretty high standards
when it comes to the beach and coastal life, but
this is as good as it gets.
This is a place where time stands still and
is the epitome of sustainability. The surrounding
island's population is low and tribal communities
remain intact and continue to live their
Located in the middle of the Pacific, warm
currents (the water temperature never drops
below 25 degrees) and steady trade winds clean
the islands daily and maintain a constant tropical
climate, with average temperatures between 23
and 29 degrees all year round. There is no industry
to speak of and the main economic drivers are
cattle, copra and thankfully minimal tourism.
It was a combination of these factors, the
stunning beauty and isolation that attracted
Marc, a super wealthy, yet media-shy, French
businessman to Vanuatu.
After a year sailing the Atlantic and then the
various archipelagos of the Pacific, including the
Galapagos, Marquesas, Tuamotu, Cook Islands,
Samoa, Fiji and then New Caledonia (not a bad
life if you can get it), good friend Patrick Durand
Gaillard recommended the jewel of Vanuatu.
Since arriving at the perfectly preserved
island sanctuary, his focus has been on how best
to preserve the island in its original state
Continual meetings with the local communities
ensure that all activities are approved in line with
local thinking and 100 percent of profits are
put into a foundation to assist with many local
projects such as building schools and hospitals and
providing credit for new businesses.
The guest huts (each on the water) and
communal areas are all on one side of the
island and after construction, the area artfully
revegetated with local plant life, so that without
being obvious, total privacy is afforded.
Only local coco wood is used, together with
Natangora palm thatching, bore water and coco-
based shampoo, lotion and cleaning products.
The food is 100 percent organic and fresh and
much of it sourced daily from the locals -- in a trip
of highlights it too was a standout and each day
was another taste sensation.
We arrived to the delightful smells of a slowly
roasting succulent Red Emperor on hot coals that
we enjoyed later for lunch.
This was only later surpassed by our final pig-
on-a-spit meal, roasted and turned by hand, that
took all day to prepare and which all but brought
me to tears.
The communal area and huts are all traditional
Bali-style. The communal area is spacious
and relaxed, traditional but sophisticated and
The full bar is open 24/7 and out the back is
the kitchen available for anyone to use at any time,
wireless Internet, a games room and computers for
those needing to stay in touch with home.
All the technology is behind the main
communal yacht club area so the ambience is
The huts are all about 200 years old and were
located on Bali, deconstructed and brought to
Ratua -- no expense has been spared. The beds, the
linen and the entire setting were beyond criticism.
There are no TVs and while it took me a while
to notice, there is virtually no plastic and virtually
everything is organic. It's actually very calming.
There is no current to speak of and the
swimming and snorkelling was exceptional.
I was amazed by the quantity of fish and reef
life, so often destroyed in these island paradises.
On my first evening swim I was startled
underwater by a huge turtle and again on the
surface with numerous heads bopping around.
In the morning I took one of the traditional
canoes across the small channel to the neighbouring
island where the turtles can be seen sleeping in
The 59-hectare island is a contrast of
environments, serene and easy enough to navigate.
More than 15 horses roam free with chickens,
pigs, goats and cows, and taking a slow ride
around the island and being in the water was a
For others, taking mountain bikes and simply
walking the coast and the trails was enough.
There is a never-ending list of things to do off
CRUISY SETTING: The island's yacht club.
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