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Published: June 23rd 2017
Geo: -15.1333, 167.1
After two easy days crossing the Coral Sea (compared to the Tasman), we were rewarded with a day at the beach!
We anchored off the northeast shore of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's largest island. The Republic of Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides, is made up by about a dozen significant islands and many smaller islands extending between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. Vanuatu obtained its independence in 1980 after some 74 years of joint rule by Britain and France.
The ship's tenders shuttled us into a beautiful beach called Champagne Beach - named after the cold water springs that bubble out of the sands at low tide. You could see these springs released along the shoreline and feel the cool water in contrast to the warm sea water.
The villagers from nearby Hog Harbour were exhibiting and selling their wares at numerous bamboo kiosks. Groups of women and children were singing to raise money for their churches.
The actual village of Hog Harbour, population 1,000, was a 30 minute walk from Champagne Beach. You would pass Lonnoc Beach on the way with its small resort - Lonnoc Beach Bungalows. The area also has a fresh spring fed swimming hole
called the Blue Lagoon.
The beach was impressive enough, so we stayed put. A beach bar with a friendly husband and wife proprietor (all blacks fan), cold Victoria Bitters and the heat dissuaded me from hiking to the town.
Sweet potato fries were made on the spot in a rustic food shack with a pot of hot oil on a camp stove - took me back to my teenage years and cooking up a batch at home after a night out (nearly setting the kitchen on fire once, when I feel asleep waiting for the oil to heat up!).
It was a relaxing day that started with the first tender departing at noon and last tender picking up at 7:30. I was dismayed by how few of the passengers availed themselves of the shopping, eating or drinking opportunities and felt badly for the locals, who were very sweet people. Bonnie and I were shocked as we headed out that some folks were already returning and that by 5pm it was pretty well only a few passengers and crew that were left on the idyllic beach.
We headed back at around 6:30 with the stragglers after a fantastic, leisurely stay in a beautiful place. As
you will see, I picked up a beautiful woman on the beach and she joined me for dinner on the ship! Lucky me!!
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