When visiting Port Villa, the capital of Vanuatu, a visit to Hideaway Island is well worth it. The only way to reach the island is by ferry. It’s free, but you have to pay a small fee once you reach the island.
Being a marine sanctuary, the main activity is snorkeling. Although some of the coral around the island has died, there is still plenty left. You can visit the island for the day or stay in the islands only resort. There are private rooms available as well as shared accommodation for backpackers.
The resort offers a pretty decent restaurant and a nice beach bar. Don’t expect white sandy beaches here: the beach is completely made up of washed up coral.
The resort also offer glass boat tours on the reef. This enables you to see some of the fish without getting your feet wet. They provide fish food to attract the fish. I’m never a big fan of this type of activity, I rather put on my flippers and explore in the water.
Marine life you can encounter at the reef: Butterfly fish, Parrot fish, Trigger fish, Clown Fish, the occasional Puffer fish and a lot of Snappers. I’ve spotted some of the biggest Snappers I’ve ever seen at this reef. But the highlight of my snorkeling adventure was a very different type of creature. One of my favorites, the Octopus!
I find the behavior of this elusive creature quite intriguing. Although we differ in appearance (I only have two arms for example), I feel like I can relate to my multi-coloured friends. We played hide and seek for at least half an hour before I admitted defeat. The ability to squeeze oneself into narrow crevasses in the coral turned out to be a strategic advantage that I couldn’t overcome.
If you happen to visit the island on a sunny day, make sure that you stick around after the snorkeling to watch the sunset. Nothing beats sipping a cold beer enjoying this phenomenal natural event.
One interesting feature of the island is that is has one of the world’s only underwater post offices, if not the only. The resort sells special underwater postcards that you can send to your loved ones at home. Unfortunately, it was closed when I was there. To bad, because I was really curious to find out how they manage to keep it manned giving the lack of oxygen underwater. Maybe the octopus I played with helps out.