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Saturday, 8 September 2018

How to visit the underwater post office, Vanuatu

That's right, there's an underwater post office you can visit. You have to get a special postcard and swim out to it but it was a great experience to be swimming past all the fish. Definitely beats going up the road on a rainy day haha.

It's a novelty 'tourist' experience but a really funny trip advisor review summed it up as something along the lines of 'Yes, it's a gimmick but unless your postie has gills you'll probably love it' haha. Couldn't say it better myself. So if you want to visit then read on for all my tips on how to get there, how much it costs and what to take with you.

I love love love this fish's shocked expression haha.

So how can you visit?

Getting to the Harbour

First you need to get to the harbour at Hideaway Island. You can either get a taxi, a bus or hire a car and drive - all of the options would be safe. The road conditions are a little poor and there are no rules at all other than vehicles drive on the right hand side. That's right..no rules! Nothing! No one really drives fast though because of all the pot holes so I felt safe the whole time.

If you get a bus or taxi it will be around 250vt return for a tourist...this is more than the locals would pay but it was good for us because it took us straight there. The buses in Vanuatu are a little different from western buses: They're minivans with a 'B' at the front of the license plate and there are not set routes, people just get on and request their stop...eventually they will get there. It would be better to just go direct and pay the money since it's inexpensive.

When you arrive at the harbour the taxi will probably ask you how long you want to spend there so just be non-committal and ask them not to wait. There are taxis and buses who wait at the harbour to take people back to their hotels so you wont be stranded and it saves them charging you some extra cash.

Getting to the Island

At the harbour there's a large wooden jetty...but don't be fooled, the boat actually goes from a set of tiny steps that are just on the beach seemingly randomly about 20 metres to the right. We were stood on the jetty for about 15 minutes like lemons until we realised haha. The boat doesn't cost anything,  and just shuttles between the harbours continually. It took 5 minutes max to get there.

Once you arrive at the island you have to pay an island fee. It's 1250vt for day visitors and the only way round it is if you stay on the island...but it's tiny so I don't think it would be fun to do that for more than one night. We hired snorkels at the reception desk and bought ourselves a waterproof underwater post card which totalled roughly to about 500vt a person. You could also hire flippers but we didn't want to.

Next you walk down the beach to head to the post office. There are supposedly some changing rooms but we couldn't find them. There are some toilets though so you can still change if you need to.

Underwater Post

To get to the post office there are two floating markers that are easy enough to see and are not that far out, you just head across from the beach. We did not have reef shoes and this was a real problem because the beach is covered in old damaged reef from the Tsunami and it is so painful to step on. They do have reef shoes you can buy at the reception but it was our last day so we didn't want to buy something we wouldn't use again...and they weren't cheap.

It took me a long time to get into the water because it was very shallow for quite a long time and the broken reef was so difficult to circumnavigate. Eventually I could swim and I was relieved that I hand't injured myself. Even as I was struggling to get in the water I was surrounded by tens of fish who were so close so that helped distract me.

We visited when the tide was in so it was maybe a 4-5 metre dive to the post box (it's not the hut it's a tiny box next to that with a low down posthole). The hole was tiny so it was actually pretty difficult to get the postcard in but it was fun trying. I'd read online about it being harder when the tide was in but honestly I thought that meant harder for children only and thought I could manage it - NOPE haha. After maybe 8 attempts I gave up and eventually my partner managed to reach it - success! 

If you were with a family you would want to go in low-tide for sure. Otherwise I think high-tide was fine although it wasn't as easy as we had anticipated.

You could make a half day of it like we did by snorkelling in the sea for a while and then having lunch on the island. Later on when the tide became lower there were a lot more people visiting the post office but during high-tide we were the only ones in the sea which was really fun.

What to take

Either wear swimming gear underneath your clothes or change on the island. Take a towel with you and if you have it snorkels, fins and reef shoes. There aren't any lockers but we left our bags on the beach like everyone else was doing and it was fine. I took this waterproof action camera with me and then just took screenshots of the footage but you could take a camera with solid waterproof casing, just make sure it lasts further than 5 metres in case of high-tide.

What not to take

Don't take valuables since there's no were to store them.

I would massively recommend it because it was just such a fun novel experience.

Any questions you think I've not answered just post below and I'll be sure to respond.


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