Uduna on Nguna
The island of Nguna is one of several outer islands on the north coast of the main Island of Efate in the SHEFA Province of Vanuatu. With two extinct volcanos, 11 villages and surrounded by crystal clear blue waters, it has been on my “Must See” list for a while. As first glance, it may come across as quite difficult and complicated to get there, but it is surprisingly not. After waiting for 15 minutes in the car park (on the left hand side) of Manples, Port Vila (pronounced “man place”), we were picked up by a very nice bus driver called Jack, who just happened to be from Nguna. The 40 minute drive to Emua Wharf went quickly with Jack pointing out the local attractions, history and customs of the area on the way. Once at Emau Wharf, Jack was even nice enough to point out our boat driver, who would be taking us to Uduna Cove Beach Bungalows in Taloa Village.
On arrival at Uduna Bungalows we were greeted by Emma, who showed us our very brightly coloured, custom style bungalows and explained where the best places for snorkeling were, where the local village was, arranged our tour to the volcano for the following day as well as organised dinner for us. Our afternoon encompassed, what your ideal tropical holiday would consist of – we snorkeled, we sun baked, we relaxed, read our books under the trees and in the evening strolled along the beach to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen.
Emma and her family had prepared a phenomenal feast for dinner, consisting of local organic produce (kakai) including lap lap (fried grated manioc (cassava), wild cabbage (similar to spinach), kumala (sweet potato) and various salads. They even made a camp fire for us where we went after dinner to recover from our food coma, but unfortunately we had forgotten our marshmallows (So don’t forget your marshmallows) – no matter how much you eat, you can always make space for Marshmallows!
The following morning after an early dip in the ocean and a breakfast full of fresh fruit, we headed off to hike the extinct volcano 472m above sea level. Our guide, Daniel, met us at the first village in Malaliu and guided us through the following two villages (Mere and Rewoka) and all the way to top. On the way, Daniel told us custom stories about the area and pointed out local foods. It was a fair walk (3hr return) from Uduna Bangalow, but it was well worth it. On top of the volcano, we could see most of the Shepherd Islands including Mataso, Emae, Tongariki and Tongo as well as Pele and Emao, and it is said on a clear day, Epi and Malakula can be seen as well. After a mere 15 minutes walk to to get back down, we were greeted with fresh fruit, coconuts and lime juice provided by Daniel and his family in Rewoka Village.
Daniel let us make our own way back down the hill to Uduna Bungalow where we went for a well-deserved snorkel on the coral reef and finished off with a beautifully prepared meal for lunch. As easy as it was to get to Uduna, we first said our farewells, and headed back to Port Vila. Jack even met us at the Emau Wharf and took us back to where we wanted to go in Vila.
It was a wonderful weekend trip and I couldn’t speak more highly of Emma and her family at Uduna Bungalow, Daniel and his tour to the volcano as well as Jack who took us to and from Emau Wharf safe and sound. I only wish I could have stayed longer…
- When waiting at Manples (Au bon Marche), there is no sign as to where you should stand. Just ask someone at the petrol station and they will direct you to where the buses will pick you up. Given island time, how long you will wait is unknown, but if you have around 5 people, a bus driver will be more willing to pick you up and take you to where you want to go.
- If you like your bus driver, get their contact details and see if he would be interested in picking you up from Emau Wharf. Please, ensure you arrange an appropriate time and if changes occur inform them.
- Be respectful of the Ni-Vanuatu culture. If walking through the village, women should wear a skirt/dress/sarong that is knee length. If going swimming women should be a bit more conservative, if in doubt wear a t-shirt and shorts.
- Accommodation: 3,000 Vatu per person, per night (breakfast included)
- Meals: 500 Vatu each (lunch and dinner)
- Bus: 500 Vatu each way (Manples, Port Vila – Emau Wharf)
- Boat: 500 Vatu each way (Emau Wharf – Uduna Bungalow, Talou, Nguna Island)
- Volcano Tour: 1,500 Vatu per person
Post and photos courtesy of Sarah Graham; Marine Biodiversity Project Officer with Shefa Tourism.