Lelepa Island day Tour has a lot of great reviews on Trip Advisor and other sources, so we decided to include it on the next opportunity. Looking at the weather forecast there appeared to be only one day, so we quickly made the booking.
The transfer bus came and picked us up around 8.30, then picked some others from various accommodation in Port Vila. Then we enjoyed a pleasant drive past Hideaway Island and wound up the very steep road which has Mele Cascades at it’s base.
By 9.30 we were waiting on a small beach to be picked up and ferried by island boat out to Lelepa Island.
A short boat ride saw us landing on a small beach on Lelepa Island. Then our guide took us on a leisurely stroll along an impeccably groomed path and gave us some very interest insight into the way that various trees and plants are used in every day life. They included antiseptic leaves to treat coral cuts etc, leaves for toothache and even a tree whose only function is to warn the people that they cannot eat reef fish for a certain period of time by flowering at a definite time.
The path ended on a beautiful beach which is nicely set up with toilets, BBQ and shelters. We were immediately given some refreshments then given instructions on where best to snorkel and engage in other water activities. All snorkelling gear is supplied as well as glass vision body boards and an island outrigger canoe. The snorkelling immediately in front and too the left is pretty amazing. It is just a very broad coral bed, with many types of fish making it their home. The outrigger was fun too, though a little bit of a challenge to get the steering right at times.
While we played the Lelepa Islanders prepared a simple but delicious meal of fried chicken, rice, a very tasty beef stew, and plenty of fruit and other salad. Then it was time for more snorkelling or relaxing in a hammock.
After a little while we were asked to pack up to move on to another highlight. The boat trip was extremely short, taking us just to the next small bay. We disembarked here and were led to the entrance of a very large cave.
In the past the villagers used this as a refuge during cyclone season. It is massive and extends about 130 metres! You could imagine an entire village living here and all keeping dry and safe. They do not use it now, not since WWII, having moved their entire village to the other side of the island where the cyclones do not wreak as much havoc.
We followed a candle lit pathway to the back. Here we were told that when the cave was being explored human bones were found, where cannibals of the distant past enjoyed a taste of their enemies!
Our next boat ride took us around the coastline to a cove which sported a handwritten sign NO FISHING. Marine Reserve. Here we simply tied up to a mooring in about 4-5 metres of super clear water, put our snorkels on and jumped overboard. WOW! The most beautiful coral formations and loads and loads of fish. Leftovers from lunch were thrown into the water and the fish literally teamed around us. Not just small ones either. There were quite a number of sizeable members too. I would have to say that it was easily as good as Hideaway Island, if not better. The fish were not as big as Hideaway, but the coral was alive, vibrant and extensive. A definite winner.
The next leg of journey was a little rough but showed the skills of our young boat captains. The wind chopped up the sea and it was surprising how stable their long boats were.
Before long we arrived at the village shore and were soon at a small market area arranged for us especially. The village has about 500 persons and they have 3 sources of income. Fishing, market vegetables and tourists. The items they had for sale were very good quality. Woven bags, baskets and coasters as well as various types of jewellery and other souvenirs. A couple of the locals were actually demonstrating the weaving which was interesting. There were also complimentary hot drinks and snacks available. One lady even went and picked some nuts and gave us a taste. We loved the time spent there with these friendly people.
Then it was time to go home. So another walk to another small rocky beach and then another boat ride back to the mainland shore.
The bus soon picked us up and brought back home again.
What a day. 8.30am till 6pm. But worth it. We all enjoyed the experience and would thoroughly recommend it for those who want a taste of an Island fishing village and the wonderful people that live there.