Blue Water Dreaming
Port Vila to Luganville - A Wonderful Stopover at Malakula Island
At anchor in the quarantine area - 25 July 2013 - (17.44.304S - 168.18.616E)
We were in Port Vila by chance in 2010 when we crossed the Pacific. We were actually heading towards Luganville from Fiji but had to divert to Port Vila instead due to weather (you can read all about that dreadful trip in here). This time we came to Port Vila with the commitment to get to Luganville and fulfill Oscar's long dream of diving the S.S. President Coolidge wreck from WWII.
Yachting World mooring area
Visit their website here
In 2010 we joined the Port to Port Rally (Port Vila - Port Bundaberg) and the rally organizers took care of most of our needs in Port Vila. We didn't realize then how yachty friendly Port Vila is.
Quarantine came to our boat in the morning after our arrival and let us keep all our fresh produce as long as we don't remove it from the boat and use the quarantine bins for garbage disposal.
After that, Moses, from Yachting World came in his tender and guided us to one of their moorings.
The people at Yachting World is really nice, the moorings are excellent, they provide water, fuel, laundry services, quarantine garbage disposal, internet (not so good, better the Cyber Internet across the street from the open market), an excellent dinghy dock. The cost is very reasonable.
Immigration is just walking distance from the dinghy dock and Customs at a dinghy ride. We were also able to fill up our propane tanks, which is not possible in New Caledonia, so we have again a good supply of cooking gas.
We stayed 3 days in Port Vila and had a good time. In Noumea we found the restaurants expensive and not so good, so we gave up on eating out, but here we find it quite different, the price is good and so is the food.

We went to a dinner buffet and show in  'The Melanesian' resort, which we recommend if you are looking for a nice night out. During the show  men dressed in native costumes danced their traditional dance, they also did the 'kava' ceremony and invited everyone to try this drink. Having done so already in the Pacific, we decided to skip it this time and stick with our wine.   
Melanesian dinner and show
On another night we went in search of a 'coconut crab' dinner. We did find it but after having on our memories Suwarrow coconut crab feast, which included hunting the crabs (you can read about it in here) expectations were impossible to satisfy and understandable we didn't find anything special about this crab.
Sounds from Independence Day celebrations in the little village of Wintua could be heard from the boat, lots of music and political speaches. We guess that it doesn't matter where you go, politicians are all the same.
At a mooring in Port Vila - 25 to 29 July
At anchor in South West Bay - Malakuka Island - Independence day - 30 July 2013 - (16.28.94S - 167.26.50E)
After 3 days looking at weather forecast we decided we could leave towards Luganville in Santo with a  stop along the way in Malakula Island. This island has many nice anchorages in both the west and the east coast and we decided we would take the west coast route on the way up and the east coast on the way down. The forecasts were playing games with us, changing every day with the risk of blowing from the west, so we had to pay attention and be ready to change plans.

With that in mind we left Port Vila for an overnight trip.
On Vanuatu's independence day we arrived to South West Bay, at the south west tip of Malakula as its name indicates. The bay is magnificent, the coral formations amazing, very big fish were chasing their breakfast when we were coming in, the Tisri lagoon (a natural ocean fed, crystal clear lagoon) is beautiful and as a bonus the bay is protected from all winds but west/south west.
We would have stayed overnight in this wonderful place, however, weather reports were confirming the arrival of westerlies and even when forecasted as light winds we decided it would be safer to be in Luganville before the winds arrival. So, we departed from South West Bay at sunset. A dugong came to say goodbye to us as we were lifting the anchor.
The beautiful bay
Locals arriving for celebrations in the village
Dinghy around Tisri lagoon
We would have rather stayed, but by sunset we raise anchor and left
It was a very quiet and uneventful trip, motoring all the way in very calm seas. Very relaxing, good for a change. We arrived at the Aore Resort in Luganville, grabbed one of their moorings and sat to wait for the westerlies.