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Island Soothing

If you set yourself a mission to visit the most relaxing place on the planet, you needn’t look beyond Vanuatu. Melissa Rimac reports.

On these richly rain-forested, coral-fringed islands, most of the famously cheery locals live in pretty thatched villages. Fittingly, idyllic lodgings reflect their dreamy surrounds with designs that celebrate local materials and invite a deeper discourse by engaging both senses and spirit.

Vale Vale Beachfront Villas

After closing the big timber doors, guests at Vale Vale Beachfront Villas move through a walled courtyard scented by frangipanis and crowded with heliconias and papaya trees; establishing an almost ethereal seclusion.

Whether you’re dining on the huge deck, floating in the plunge pool or cooking up a storm in the chefs’ kitchen, there’s an exhilarating sense that you have the beach all to yourself, thanks to thoughtful screening.


Deliciously cool floor-tiles, ceiling fans, shading, abundant ventilation and enveloping gardens obviate the need for air-conditioning. And whilst many upmarket resorts eschew fly screens – here the sound of lapping waves and ocean whiffs wafts in unimpeded: Bliss.


At Eratap Beach Resort it’s hard to stir from one’s beach cabana. But whilst averting your gaze from the shockingly bright turquoise lagoon is a challenge, it’s hardly a privation. Not least for the spectacular snorkelling right out the front of your large, private lawn.

Huge openings, two decks and a surfeit of daybeds means the sublime vistas are undiminished should you deign to nap or lounge.

An open sided, tropical flower embellished ‘corridor’ segments spaces – the lounging area set well away from bedroom, thus enhancing relationship harmony- and primes the eyes for the arresting backdrop.

In the coral-walled outdoor bathroom – the tropical vibe is enhanced by hand-honed coconut potions. You’d swear you were on an outer island – even though Port Vila’s low key airport lies about a half hour’s drive away.

Friendly Beach Vanuatu

Situated on Tanna – an island synonymous with hyper-active Yasur volcano-friendly beach bungalows brandishes wide, fabulously textural floorboards – saw marks visible, oiled only lightly.

Following Cyclone Pam’s devastation, architect Lucas Rotteveel conjured a design that utilised debris – uprooted trees for posts, beams, railings and floorboards – along with three types of bamboo and wild cane to create sensual, luxe-rustic bungalows.

Timber shutters lure morning sunshine and a reef-thrashed breeze that’s optimally appreciated from the large timber daybed. On each side of the muslin-draped hardwood bed, stumps of mango trees act as bedside tables.

The bathroom mandates a barefoot approach – so as to get the full effect of corals and textured volcanic rocks.

Granted, you’re likely to giggle out loud, but that’s not an uncommon reaction to Vanuatu.

Vale Vale Beachfront Villas


Friendly Beach Vanuatu