In October, Keenan and I travelled the Pacific Islands with Carnival Cruise. We honestly had the most amazing time over-indulging ourselves by drinking way too many cocktails and over-eating! Carnival is such an awesome cruise line. I could say a lot about why this was, as I have experienced a few different cruise lines. But to keep it short, it is mainly because the staff were so great to us and there was such a better vibe!
For the fun experience we had, it was such good value, especially if you’re a uni student like myself! It was perfect for us, as it included food, travel, accommodation and entertainment all for only $900 each. All we needed to pay extra for was alcohol, flights to and from Sydney and the tours we did on the islands.
Here is a summary of all the islands we explored and a few tips as well if you are heading on a cruise soon.
Also, here is the video I made which you can check out too! Vanuatu & New Caledonia 2017
Keenan and I were actually the first people off the boat on the first day at about 8am. So, we had lots of locals approach us as soon as we hopped off, asking us where we wanted to go. We told them our locations that we wanted to visit and they offered to take us both around for the whole day for $150 (AUS) and drop us back when the cruise was to depart at 5pm. We could’ve bargained for less, although we thought this was decent considering the cruise tours cost up to $80 just for a couple of hours to visit one destination. We hopped in this very small, purple car. Later to be joined by a couple, Kat and Chris, that had made our total cost cheaper if we all went together. To fast forward, we ended up becoming very close and spent everyday together for the rest of the cruise! We were all squished in this little car for the whole day. We actually couldn’t get up any hills fast because there was so much weight in the car. On our way back to the boat, the car actually broke down and had to be jumpstarted HAHA.
This gorgeous beach was white sand and glassy blue water, with heaps of colourful fish and coral that you can reach straight from the beach.
At the Riri River, the water was so clear and the trees were so green! A local man paddled us down the river in a very thin canoe. Very. thin. Keenan could barely fit his ass on it. Kat & Chris left at the same time but their local paddler was sprinting to the finish because there was a hole in their canoe haha. Whereas our local paddled nice and slow, so it was so relaxing and serene. The end of the river lead us to our next spot, the Riri Blue Hole.
Riri Blue Hole.
The Riri Blue Hole was so picture perfect. The water was so blue and it is surrounded by gorgeous trees. I think our local said it was 15-20 metres deep! There were two rope swings to swing into the pool… and yes I did attempt and I failed miserably.
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Most. Awesome. Waterfall. Ever. From the bottom to the top of the waterfall was about a 20-30 minute walk. Each photo below of the waterfall was located around each 10 minute interval. The water was so fresh and clear.
To get to Hideaway Island, we had to get on a little boat (pictured below) which cost us $13 per person (AUS). This was a small island covered in dead coral (must wear shoes!), with sun chairs, tables and a cute little cafe/restaurant. We were able to snorkel straight off the shore. The further you went out the better the coral got, but the best feature about this spot was definitely the abundance of different colourful fish!
Local village tour.
This tour lasted about 15 minutes and it was great to experience the culture of the island. Beware though, the beginning involves the villagers jumping out of the bush yelling and Keenan may or may not have dropped his guts and stood behind me, because we all thought it was serious haha (what kind of defence could I provide?!). The villagers went through their traditions and medicines and performed a cultural dance and music to finish.
Turtle bay was a great experience to get close and feed 200 year old turtles, although I didn’t realise before I went that the turtles aren’t actually wild, they’re enclosed within the beach (see the wall behind), which was very sad! The $25 payment included a traditional Vanuatu BBQ lunch and a viewing of the sharks as well, that were also enclosed.
You can’t go to Port Villa without visiting the duty-free shopping, which we saved for our last stop. It was so cheap that I got three 1L bottles of alcohol for $53. They were all around $18 each. So cheap considering it cost nearly $53 for one in Australia!
Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Mystery Island was a very little island, which you could do a full lap around the shore in ten minutes. We tanned on the beach and drank two coconuts that were only $3 each. We then came across this little shack where locals were taking people on tours in little engined boats. We paid $50 (AUS) to travel to five spots – a ship wreck, underwater cave, shark cove, an eagle ray/turtle site and the Nemo homes. Perfect opportunity for go-pro filming. Wow, it was definitely worth it. Although, make sure you take sunscreen because we got absolutely sizzled by the sun.
Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
Isle of pines is a very small island and the photos below are all in one central location that is a five minute walk from the jetty. The island was perfect for just swimming and relaxing on the beach. We snorkelled around the big rock island off the shore, seen in the photo below, where we saw a lot of turtles and colourful fish. In this spot you could also hire stand up paddle boards and kayaks.
After our swim we paid $30 for a whole lobster freshly caught and Keenan got snails as well because he’s adventurous like that. Let’s just say he was stuck on the toilet for the afternoon and I wasn’t hahaha. He said it was worth it.
Noumea, New Caledonia
Okay, this day could not have been more perfect. We booked a shore excursion ($200) through the cruise to take us to Amedee Island, which included a bus transfer, yacht ride over, a glass bottom boat tour at the island, a full on island buffet including seafood and wine, as well as cultural performances and demonstrations. This experience was so incredible. We saw at least ten turtles and ate so much delicious food at the buffet. We even fell asleep in our lounge chairs. The views were so picturesque, as you can see in the photos below. If you are on a tight budget, you can go over by a small water taxi, but they left at the same time as us and arrived about 1.5-2 hours later. Plus the waves were large in between Noumea and the island so it probably wouldn’t have been a good experience. Also, it didn’t include the extras like the food, transfers, performances and the glass bottom boat tour! This day was the perfect way to finish our island days before we headed home.
The next three days home was spent lounging around, drinking and celebrating my birthday! Will definitely continue cruising in the future as the value for the experience is indescribable.