PORT OLRY – Where the Coconut Highway Ends
A coconut tree lined highway that ends with the aqua waters and white sand of a deserted tropical beach.
Technically, it’s not entirely deserted. No more than twenty metres further on from a coconut tree that I am watching sway in the breeze, there is a well fed cow taking a siesta under the shade of an impressively large banyan tree. I don’t mind sharing this paradise with a few cows who seem to be minding their own business.
This is what I imagine French Polynesia looked like before the luxury resorts moved in. The best thing about this place though, is that it’s only a three hour direct flight from Brisbane, and the inflated price tag and crowds that are usually associated with this kind of location is nowhere to be seen.
I am swaying in a hammock on a stunning stretch of beach at Port Olry on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. Little Miss nearly two is happily laying with me, which is highly unusual for her. I can’t be entirely sure if it’s the location or the ‘shut up’ biscuit she is eating. Don’t judge me, I’m on holidays and she can be a spirited child. The top quality lunch of coconut crab and locally grown salad that I have just enjoyed at Chez Louis Restaurant, has ensured that I am too full to move. The snorkelling gear will have to wait.
I have pre-booked accommodation 15 minutes down the road at Lonnoc Beach Bungalows (I’ll do a post on this fantastic place shortly) however, I note with interest that this restaurant has some simple, yet extremely appealing bungalows to stay in. I feel a tinge of regret when I spot this tree house bungalow no more than 30 metres from the calm waters edge.
Port Olry is a one hour drive from the main town of Luganville. There is only one main road so getting lost is not a problem. When the sealed road turns into a dirt road; you have reached your destination.
The village here is completely self-sufficient. The locals don’t have a choice; power has not reached this far down the island. They appear to manage perfectly fine by living the simple life, growing their own produce, and utilizing both solar and coconut oil generated electricity. The town has a school, a church and a couple of very small local shops with basic supplies.
Accommodation in the general area consists of simple family run bungalows that are lacking in luxury, but oozing in appeal. In fact, it’s the lack of luxuries that make this place so special. The bungalows have charming thatched roofs that do a sufficient job of keeping out the weather when an evening storm rolls in after a perfectly sunny day.
I thoroughly enjoy watching a few of these quick visiting storms from the front porch of my bungalow. I don’t think I’ll be heading back up that coconut lined highway any time soon.
Port Olry with Kids
Port Olry is a fantastic place to visit with kids!
The water is warm, clear and calm so it’s great for little ones who aren’t confident swimmers yet. There is plenty of sand to play around in and whilst the menu is limited in the couple of restaurants that are here, you can still get hot chips, smoothies and fruit so fussy eaters won’t go hungry.
For older kids, there is fantastic snorkelling. When it’s low tide, you can even walk across to some small islands for more snorkelling and exploring. If you have hired a ute to visit Port Olry, people are allowed to travel in the tray backs here. It’s not entirely safe of course. However, if you feel comfortable letting them, teenagers would love the freedom of travelling in the back.
They probably won’t like the lack of wifi available. Getting online here can be difficult. Some bungalows offer wifi for guests but it’s fairly unreliable.
Don’t be put off by the lack of luxuries. The bungalows have a bed, mosquito nets, protection from the weather, and toilets and showers. However, that is all you get. You can still take showers (cold), use a flushing toilet and wash your hands so hygiene is not an issue. You just don’t get luxuries such as TV, power points in the room, fridges, shampoo etc.
The simplicity of the bungalows are reflected in the price which makes travelling to Port Olry quite affordable for families.
If you really can’t do without the luxuries, you can always visit on a day trip whilst taking advantage of the accommodation options back up in the main town of Luganville.
Want to discover more awesome places for your next family getaway?
For more blog posts and information on my travels through Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, please check out this page: Vanuatu
For information on all of my destinations, check out this page: My travel destinations
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