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Reviewed 19 March 2012

We have just returned from an 8-day honeymoon at Eratap, and I am compelled to write about the experience immediately, in the hope that in doing so, I might prolong the feeling of bliss that enveloped us from our arrival to the moment we left...

Having chosen to go to Vanuatu simply because of the amazing reviews of this resort, it was with a little trepidation that we boarded our late evening flight from Sydney and made our way there. We were met by the smiling and delightful Robert with a minivan at Port Vila airport, and the transfer was smooth and easy (unlike the dirt road, but we were in capable hands!)

We had decided quite late to add another night to our stay, and thus arrive late Saturday instead of Sunday. With typical efficiency and simplicity, this request was accommodated and we were given a beautiful 3-bedroom villa for that night, to be transferred to the Honeymoon vill the next day. We awoke Sunday to perfect blue skies and a gorgeous beach, and wide smiles of welcome (real ones- not those stuck-on ones you get in so many such resorts) and breakfasted handsomely in the pretty restaurant on by the water.

Our transfer to the honeymoon villa (number 11) was handled with ease and we were delighted by the accommodation. The villas at Eratap are simply but beautifully built and furnished with authentic local materials. There is no glitz and glamour, but clean and simple lines with plenty of space. Each villa has an amazing beach-front location, and ours had a private slice of beach and a plunge-pool, together with an open pavilion for lazing or dining right at the water's edge.

The bed was very comfortable, and the bedroom airconditioned- a necessity in the warm and humid wet season. The unit was a little noisy in the bedroom, but very efficient, and could be switched off for quieter sleeping once the room was a comfortable temperature. The living areas are beautifully furnished and have TV and DVD facilities, along with a very amusing and entertaining gecko population who indulge in reptilian territorial disputes every evening!

The restaurant caters all day for lazy breakfasts, long lunches and languorous dinners by the beach. The food was very good- easily Sydney restaurant standard, and varied enough to make a week go by without culinary boredom. The breakfast is so generous that lunch can easily be bypassed in favour of an early cocktail and dinner when you feel like uncurling from the daybed long enough to saunter up there in Vanuatu time i.e. in a relaaaaxed manner...

The staff at Eratap are a big part of the experience- I have travelled all over the world, and can say I have never come across such genuinely pleasant and friendly people. I never felt in any way uncomfortable in asking for anything, and all requests are met with a ubiquitous smile and a reply of "Welcam".

In terms of things to do - there are plenty, or you can do nothing at all and enjoy the peace that comes along with really leaving it all behind. If you feel like an adventure, the volcano on Tanna Island is not to be missed. Do make sure you go with the "Safari" tour though, as the pilot takes you right to the very base of the volcano and lands the aircraft right on the ash-plain. Although it gets the adrenalin going, it thankfully avoids a 3+ hour return road trip from the airport on the island. And if you see the road- you'll get what I mean... This trip also includes a walk to a local Tanna village and immersion in the true "kustam" of the people- well worth it, and very beautiful.

Or you could just snorkel and say hi to the fishes and float over the coral, or take a trip to the little Castaway Island just off the resort. A driver will take you there on a small boat and leave you alone for a few hours with a picnic lunch to snorkel, swim and more sleep if you want! Be certain to ask for the private dinner on the beach outside the villa, where you can watch the sun set as dinner is brought to you.

Things to bring include: a pair of reef shoes- the coral is very sharp on the beaches, although if you don't have any, the resort will provide them-, a decent insect repellant, and lots of sunscreen. Perhaps take advantage of the duty free and bring some wine or champagne if you want to take advantage of drinks in your villa's beach-side pavilion, although these can easily be provided by room-service if you prefer.

I can't say much more except that this is a truly lovely place: low-key, quiet, friendly, well run, and with a peace and happiness that cannot be manufactured but must come naturally.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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15  Thank moonwolf242
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2012

After enjoying a number of very busy (and exhausting) travelling family holidays, we were determined to go somewhere where we could just relax and unwind, but which would also cater to a very busy teenager. Eratap Resort exceeded all our expectations in every way. We were lucky enough to enjoy 10 nights at this amazing location and we quickly felt at home and got into a wonderful routine of sleep, eat, swim, spa treatment, snorkel, kayaking, lunch, swim, afternoon sleep, dinner, etc
A lot of the magic of this place is attributable to Tony & Louisa who's created this paradise from a jungle covered beach front lot only 5 years ago. Along with their wonderful manager - Pascalle and amazing staff - you quickly feel welcome and at home.
We had a two bedroom villa and the amazing location, the quality of the villa and inclusions, made for a very comfortable stay. We particularly loved the beach front pavilion with two lounge chairs. Just the place to sleep, read or contemplate the beauty.
We also enjoyed the Spa and tried to have a treatment every day. Every treatment was divine and well worth the modest cost.
Do not miss the daily activities. We particularly enjoyed the tour to Eratap village and the kayaking trip over to the old Eratap village island that was abandoned following a cyclone in 1960. My son and I did a fishing trip with Mac as well. The kayaks are available anytime and we enjoyed looking for new and interesting snorkelling locations. Really, the snorkelling right of the beach each main office/restaurant was superb and my teenage son and I enjoyed many wonderful hours exploring the coral reef and the tropical fish.
The meals were outstanding. We thought that after 10 days we would be looking for a change. Absolutely not. The quality and selection of the Breakfasts was amazing and we will never forget the taste of the fruit. No matter where you come from, you will never taste such delicious, sweet fruit as in Vanuatu. Lunches were great too with a wide selection, and the dinners were the highlight of the day. Fresh fish daily, caught by the local boys, and all creatively and expertly prepared.
We cannot recommend Eratap highly enough and are hoping that we can return very soon!

Room Tip: Every villa is perfectly located.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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5  Thank GoldCoastDazza61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2012

Well my husband and myself have just returned from 8 nights at Eratap. Everything you have read about this resort is exactly what we experienced. Amazing! Yes its a bumpy road in, yes the food is at western prices, yes it is 'expensive'. I suggest if you want a 5* experience then you will be happy to pay out every cent. Having gone to Thailand five different times I made some assumptions that this experience may be similar. How very wrong I was!! Not even a close comparison.

Got picked up from the airport by Steven who was holding a sign at arrivals in Port Vila. After a nice cool water in the Ute and a 20-30min ride we were there! Tony was there to greet us and took us through the details of our stay some maps of the area. We got a delicious drink on arrival. I could hardly listen to Tony as I was stunned by how beautiful the resort was.

Villas
We stayed in the one bedroom villa 3. Loved the privacy, the views the space. We had wifi in the room and the TV now has cable so was able to play on the net and watch TV at night time. I did read about the fridge in an earlier review and yes if you stock it full with drinks (as we did) then you will need to leave the door open to allow the fridge to cool properly. Was hardly an issue and not surprising given how humid it was. Loved laying out on the deck chairs and sitting on the chairs on the beach watching the sunset each night. Was sooooo private. Bed was huge and my husband lived under the outdoor shower after his daily activities.
I also read about some of the reviews about villa 1 not being so private and very close to the restaurant so was a bit nervous that we would get this villa. Whilst we were there they were extending the fence to block more of villa from the restaurant and eliminate people wandering across the front lawn (well that's what it looked like). It certainly was still very private and the noise from the restaurant so minimal that you wouldn't even notice anyway.

Food
Who ever said the food was less than delicious needs a serious head check. Breakfast was simple and as you would expect. Muffins were the best so make sure you get one every morning. Flies are an issue (I have a passionate hate for them at the best of times) so always tried to sit under the fans which tended to kept them at bay. Some-times they have tables out on the lawn bit which provides a slightly better view but it tended to allow the flies easier access to annoying me so tried to avoid this. (clearly not a resort thing purely a personal thing!).
Dinners were fabulous, we also worked out way through the menu and had room service on two occasions but the rest was at the restaurant. We ended up spending around $100 a day on food and drink (that includes two cocktails and 3-4 beers) with entrees and mains. So given we were little piggies I found that more than reasonable. If you don't drink and need entrees then your looking at $15-30 per main. Worth every cent. If you want Thailand prices I suggest you go to Thailand. We also had an update to our bill every morning so we knew how much we were spending along the way.
We caught the shuttle into town on a couple of occasions and stocked up on fizzy drinks and snack food. Was 80c for a coke zero at the supermarket (one by the markets) verses $3 everywhere else including the resort. As we tend to drink a fair amount of fizzy drink seemed to be the better option for us. Chips and snack food from the supermarket was a bit soggy given the humidity and a few things were out of date so maybe just give things a quick expiry date check before going through check out.

Pools/Grounds.
Spent a fair amount of time at the pool, and mostly with no one else around! was great. Pools are clean, tidy and gardens and views are beautiful. I loved spending time here, I felt like I was the only one at the resort. Anyone else that did come and go were just keen to hang out quietly floating in the water or just have a quiet read. You can ring through to the bar and they will bring you a drink to the pool if you so wish.
Made lots of use of the Kayaks and snorkelling facilities. First time snorkelling and got addicted! Just make sure you go out at high tide as everyone recommends. The hubby decided that 'low tide would be fine' and I ended up getting dragged across the coral whilst getting out to deeper water. So trust the locals. Get a boat out to deeper water if it is low tide. Plenty to see and do.
We also hired a car from Avis for 24 hours and drove around the island and stopped at a few places, one beach charged $18 per person which scared us a little bit but most other places charged $3 per person. The cascades was $15 per person but not sure if the prices had been inflated as a cruise ship was in town. Anyway not like we are not used to being ripped off in Australia so we were more than happy to pay for the experience. Its one of those things you have to do. We were pretty much the only people on the road and it is beautiful! We are from New Zealand originally and Vanuatu gave NZ a run for its money. It is well worth it and even through they drive on the other side of the road was easy enough. All the locals were pretty patient with our confused state at intersections.

If you have the money spend it at this resort. We will be back. We have travelled all over the world and this place was pretty spectacular. Tony and his team have truly created a dream.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank CherieClenick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2012

Had a great and very relaxing time at Eratap. Staff great and very friendly. Food great and ocation awesome. Bit of a bumpy ride in but well worth it.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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Thank acook111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2012

Stayed here with wife and 2 children 10 & 12 in January in a 2 bedroom villa for 8 nights. Tripadvisor was a factor in us choosing to go here and we would agree wholeheartedly with the overwhelmingly positive comments you can read.

The water bottle that you are given on collection from the airport by the Eratap driver seemed to be a bit superfluous when reading the reviews but it really is an excellent touch. The trip to the resort is fun and a little adventure in itself. The greeting at the resort as your bags are taken to your villa is the beginning of your relaxation.

Villas – Large enough for the 4 of us with a great view. Room servicing was excellent. Only 2 things to be aware of here is that the bedroom joining the living area does not have a wall all the way to the top of villa – so if you are expecting to put the kids in bed and watch a movie then you’ll probably be keeping them awake. Having said that for us this was not really an issue as by the end of the day getting into the comfy bed was a better option. The other issue is a very small fridge which didn’t seem to work in its little cupboard. You need to keep the cupboard door open for it to be able to “breathe” and keep anything vaguely cold. For a 2 or 3 night stay this is not really a problem but if you stay longer (like we did) you will want to use the fridge a little.

Location – you are off the beaten track which is great. Virtually no noise other than the water and the gentle melodies from the ipod at the pool. Be aware villa 1 is closest to the restaurant/meeting place and seemed to get a little more noisy and less private.

The Resort offers a daily bus into town and back . Take the opportunity to use it and have a look around Port Vila. This allows you 2 hours to wander around the markets and along the main street. You may also want to pick up a few supplies at the local supermarket.

For a longer trip around the island have one of the locals to take you on a tour in their mini bus/taxi. Pascalle arranged this for us at short notice. The driver/taxi owner will happily wait for you as you do what you want to do and it works out at a fair price. We drove around to a couple of places and for 6 hours of time we paid A$100 which we thought was good value. As an aside, Hideaway Island was worth a day visit for those into snorkelling. Tony very kindly gave us a bag of “yesterdays” bread to take with us when he heard where we were going. Make sure you do the same and snorkel to the back left float just off Hideaway, get in the water and hold out a piece of bread with your fingertips. The fish (big and small) eat out of your hands and swim around you in groups – very interactive for adults and kids. We also went to the Mele Cascades. No OH&S rules here. The kids enjoyed jumping into the rock pools and sliding down the rocks. But, take old swimmers/shorts. The sliding/exploring can leave your swimmers with a few holes…. great fun though.

Activities – the daily activities at the resort kept our kids (and occasionally Mum and Dad) busy for a few hours each day. This is not your normal kids club. There is no Xbox and the rules are just common sense. This was a great thing for our kids as they got to experience things that are simply not possible in Australia. For example, the trip to the local Eratap village involved riding in the back tray of the Ute. Then there was making various local weapons from branches, building bonfires and traps. The castaway island afternoon led my son to decide that for his next Birthday present he needed only one thing to be able to do everything – a machete... they also made some new friends whilst doing this and they actually knew their real names... and nobody got hurt. Well, unless you count some scrapes and bruises from trying to climb a coconut palm …..very funny to watch our children try!

A number of evenings during our week started off with some sort of grown up activity such as Kava Tasting, Wine Tasting, Local Dance Group, etc...

SPA – Good value. Relaxing. Mum and Daughter in particular enjoyed especially when it was part of the kids daily activities. Our daughter had a mini manicure which she thought was great.

People – Both locals and the staff are amazing. Constantly laughing and smiling. Always a greeting and always happy to have a chat. All of the resort staff are a credit to themselves, their village (which we felt privileged enough to be able to visit) and to Tony and Louisa (the resort owners).

Food – we were glad we did not do the meal deal. It isn’t that the resort is trying to rip you off. It is just that, for us anyway, we don’t think we would have been able to eat everything that you would have needed to for you to feel like you got value. Plus the cost is no different to pay-as-you-go. If you are concerned about potential cost then you are given a daily tally of your previous day’s expenditure for you to check and authorise so you will always know where you stand.

For us though the breakfast was plenty. We would start with a fruit plate and then have something hot such as the simple but eggscellent scrambled on toast and we would gratefully grab a muffin for morning tea. We barely needed to go near the lunch menu whilst we were there but preferred to gather a few easy to grab snacks on a trip into Port Vila and save ourselves up for our evening meal. The dinners were excellent with a daily special which we were often tempted by. The chef is flexible and if you need to adjust a meal or size then just ask. Nothing is too much trouble and your table is always ready.

The pool was well maintained and very warm (naturally heated by the regular sunny days). Some of the pool furniture is showing its age but I note that Tony has stated elsewhere that this is on the list for updating. The pool is long enough to do laps and we often had a drink and/or snack by the pool which was easy to do by using the poolside phone and calling through to reception.

I found it interesting that, even though there were at least 13 children staying in various villas whilst we were there (about half the villas had families staying), you would not have realised.

If you want to explore snorkeling or the local beaches, then I suggest that you take one of the boats with your Eratap guide out to any spot or piece of open water that you/they suggest (all at no additional cost). This is a definite selling point. We used it on a number of occasions. Call reception. Get in Boat. Trust local knowledge. Snorkel. Easy.

On other related notes (and nothing to do with Eratap but you should be aware): We tried to arrange a trip exploring some of the area outside Eratap with Off Road Adventures. I booked and advised the company that I would pay in Vatu when we arrived. we received an email confirmation. However, when we called to confirm pick up time, I was told that I had been bumped. The reason seemed to be that a cruise ship was in town AND the new booking was paying in AUD. The Vatu price is cheaper than the AUD price. Thus Off Road Adventures were getting more in AUD from the new booking than from me. I was not happy and very unimpressed.

On the money side, Tripadvisor reviewers are correct in that Goodies offer the best exchange rates. They are also correct in that tipping is not expected – nor is bartering. The price at the markets is the price. However, I was told that the price might be higher on the day/s that a cruise ship is in town. Hence we specifically went into Port Villa on a non cruise ship day.

We settled our final bill at Eratap using Vatu and AUD. The rate we got at Eratap was competitive. Also note that you can leave a tip if you want. This can be person specific or to the staff as a whole. One of the drivers told us that 43 of the staff are from Eratap village. It is great to know that the locals are benefiting from this resort.

Another tip I got from TripAdvisor was to ensure that you pack simple medical supplies. i.e. pack your paracetamol, band aids, anti-septic cream, anti-histamines, etc. Vanuatu is a small country and thus having access to some of these items may be tricky. The Resort has plenty of Aeroguard on hand and some sunscreen supplies.

Overall – would we go back again – definitely. If you are looking for a super relaxing, doing not too much, snorkelling off the beach type break away from everything then stay here for the week. If you are looking for a base from which to explore then this is not really the place. The point of coming to Eratap is to spend time here. If you are the exploring type, then it might be an idea to stay at a more central location for a few days first but we reckon you should make this your last stop before you get back to the rat race...

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
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21  Thank Essexboy999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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