7 Reasons Vanuatu Needs to be on Your Bucket List

'Only seven reasons,' you say? Trust me, you won't need that many!

Last week, myself and an awesome bunch of photographers and filmmakers spent 7 days exploring Vanuatu and capturing the beauty of this South Pacific island. The week before that, the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Vanuatu was 'Port Vila' and the countless cruise ships that arrive week after week. I was so pleased to discover that it is infinitely more than just that. Vanuatu is full of adventure, culture, relaxation and some of the most beautiful scenery this world has to offer.

The first and most important thing worth noting about travelling to Vanuatu, specifically from Australia, is that it's only a short 3 hour flight, with Air Vanuatu, from Sydney and an even shorter 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane. It takes longer to fly halfway across Australia!

Anyway, as you could imagine, it would have been impossible to explore all 83 islands that make up Vanuatu in just 7 days, so here's a condensed selection of images that will inspire you to visit Vanuatu.

1. Mele Cascades (Efate)

After a very short and rewarding walk alongside a series of crystal clear waterholes and cascading streams, you'll find yourself in the heart of one of the most spectacularly lush rainforests you've ever laid eyes on. Photo opportunities at every turn! Once you reach the end of this short walk, you're greeted with this scene, Mele Cascades.

Tip: Along with walking shoes with decent grip (water shoes preferable in wet season), you'll also want to bring something to swim in as it's just too beautiful to not go for a dip!

2. Coconut Palms (need I say more?)

You'd be hard pressed not to find at least a thousand palm trees when visiting Vanuatu. And seriously, who doesn't love a good palm tree? Especially ones that produces some of the tastiest coconuts in the world.

Fun Fact: 65% of Vanuatu's population depends on agriculture which includes coconuts, copra, cacao, coffee and fish.

3. Dual Blue Eco/Nanda Blue Hole (Espiritu Santo)

There are no amount of photographs or words I could share here to do justice to how incredible the Dual Blue Eco and Nanda Blue Hole is. When you first arrive and start to walk towards the jetty it's immediately obvious that it is, in fact, quite blue. It isn't until you reach the end of the jetty, around the time your jaw hits the floor, that you realise it is actually the definition of blue.

In addition to it's colour, it's also crystal clear. At a maximum depth of around 13 metres, I was quite surprised that I could clearly see the bottom. It really has to be seen to be believed!

Tip: You'll kick yourself if you don't bring at least a snorkel mask!

4. Champagne Beach

If the water of the blue holes aren't enough to entice you, then maybe the turquoise waters and pure white sands of Champagne Beach is enough to push you over the threshold!

Fun Fact: Champagne Beach gets it's name from the volcanic activity beneath the water. During low tide, the gasses from said 'activity' create bubbles in the water like that of a freshly poured glass of champagne. True story...

5. Santo Horse Adventures (Santo)

As you meander through some of Santo's most lush and tropical rainforest, the leaves of passing native plants gently tickle your face. The only audible sound is that of the subtle clip clop from your horse and the trickling streams to your side. It is in this moment that you truly feel at one with nature, fully immersed in what is happening right now.

Everything about this experience was beautiful! From the horses themselves, to the way they're looked after and every little bit of scenery you see along the way. Santo Horse Adventures is a sanctuary for previously poorly treated and abused horses that our now living the life with owner, Megan. If you do one thing whilst on the island of Santo, give these guys a visit!

Tip: If you happen to be paired with Spirit, be prepared to get wet! She likes a good ol' lie down in the water!

6. Island Life (Vanuatu)

Whilst this isn't a 'must see' location or awesome experience like most of my other reasons to visit Vanuatu, I feel as though the general vibe and feeling of relaxation you get whilst travelling to Vanuatu is a reason in itself. Spending the last week here, was almost a mind reset to the busyness and chaos of regular Australian life. There's no better opportunity than to just let yourself be in the moment and fully immerse yourself in everything and nothing all at once!

7. Mount Yasur (Tanna)

You could say I've saved the best for last... As you can see, Mount Yasur is just as impressive from a distance as it is up close, but it's the indescribable feeling you get from being metres away from such powerful activity that makes getting up close and personal so so worth it.

This one deserves a tip and a fun fact!

Tip: Dress for cold weather (trust me). Also, if you plan on taking photographs bring a protective filter for your lens (I learnt the hard way) AND don't change lenses if you can help it - that volcanic ash is brutal!

Fun Fact: Mount Yasur is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting several times every hour!

So whether you're looking to spend the long weekend here with the family, have a full on adventure driven month with some good mates, or anything in between, there is something in Vanuatu for everyone. From the beautiful coastlines and wildly scenic mountains, to the tranquil rainforests and cultural experiences on offer, Vanuatu is a must see for all.

Head over to www.discovervanuatu.com.au to start planning your very own trip!

Also, if you'd like to see some other beautiful imagery from Vanuatu, please check out the hashtag '#savvyshells' on Instagram. Failing that, you can always follow all these legends on Instagram: @jewelszee, @melissafindley, @haileybe, @photography_byron_bay, @matjoez, @robmulally and @tscharke.