Christmas in Northern Vanuatu, Day 4: The Double Beach Day

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Today we had a big day planned. Thanks to Keevon, we had a truck and driver booked to drive us anywhere and everywhere we wanted for the next 24 hours. On our agenda: Big Bay and Port Orly.

Frances, Anna, Eve and I walked into town and met up with the gang, who were trickling in from their respective sites. We went grocery shopping for snacks at LCM and met up with Keevon and the truck driver, who were waiting for us outside of the store. We loaded up our bags and all of us (Vanna, Sydney, Keevon, Chase, Eve, Frances, Annalisa and myself) stepped into the flatbed for our cruise through the tropical roads of Santo.

Hopping in our private car for the day.

I personally love land travel, and I love looking out the window and watching the scenery pass by. While Vanna commented that this island is “so very her” because of the constant rides on flatbed trucks, I rarely, if ever, get the opportunity, both in Vanuatu and back at home. I enjoyed the wind blowing through my hair as I looked out the back of the truck, a view even better than from a convertible. I found myself distracted by the farms and hoards of cows and palm trees and bushes lining the open road, unable to focus on the group’s conversation.

Flatbed photoshoots

After about 45 minutes of riding, we arrived at Big Bay, a black sand beach beside a small village. Our truck driver parked in the shade, we unloaded our things, and we walked down the small hill. Since the beach was near a village, there were small boats like the ones I see back in Nguna, anchored to the sand and ready for people or small amounts of cargo to be transferred. A couple dozen ni-Van dotted the area, enjoying the sea breeze, and other than them, we were the only people on this beach. It was ours.

Not walking, RUNNING into the waters at Big Bay

We spread out our lava-lavas on the sand, doubled up on sunscreen, and ran straight into the water. The bay is a giant crescent, and along with the clue of the black sand, it was obvious it was once a volcano. The sand was scorching hot but the water was nice and cool. After a refreshing dip, we retreated to the shade where we snacked on freshly-cut pineapple and jackfruit that Keevon brought (the latter of which was the size of a small toddler) and either napped or read.

When it neared lunch time, we decided to move on to our next destination, Port Orly.

Here at Port Orly, we had another nearly-empty beach, this time with bright white sands and crystal blue waters. All of the water in and around Vanuatu is gorgeously blue, but here, it was especially magnificent. We went straight to the Port Orly Harbour Beach Restaurant where we ordered tourist-priced meals around 1200-1800 vatu. The food was not great, as my vegetable pizza ended up being a giant tortilla with pizza sauce covered in canned tomatoes and mushrooms and topped with slices of semi-melted slices of white American cheese. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the sustenance. Everyone but myself swam here, as I was still recovering from my Aore resort sunburn.

The gang on Port Orly's beach

We took some great group pictures and rested a bit (and watched a woman take about 100 Instagram-ready pictures of her brand-new engagement ring with the ocean as the backdrop) before getting some work done and then calling it a day.

Sunscreen is important. Sydney's got it.

We climbed into the truck and had a quiet ride back to town, as all of us were exhausted from spending so much time in the sun.

We went to Eve’s favorite store, Daming, near her house, which has tons of foreign imports, including pre-packaged chocolate chip cookies which are actually good, like Pepperidge-Farm-level good, instead of the usual 98%-cookie-to-2%-imitation-chocolate-ratio cookies that are found all around Vanuatu. We stocked up on treats and headed back to Eve’s house.

Since the ferry was noisy and I was not super focused on it, I agreed to re-watch Office Christmas Party with the gang, to get in the holiday spirit. We had a full theatre setup with Eve’s projector on her wall, and we set up mats and cushions on the floor to watch. After the movie finished, we were exhausted and went to bed.