Warning: Dud photos ahead.
Leaving Espiritu Santo we flew to Port Vila where we were going to spend 24-hours before flying home to Sydney.
I’ll spare you the details but basically our day of sightseeing in Port Vila never happened because our Air Vanuatu flight was firstly delayed an hour and then another hour. As we were seated in the terminal I could quite clearly see there was no plane at the airport. I asked someone in a uniform if the plane might be flying in any time soon. She said the plane had been delayed in Noumea and should be arriving ‘soon’.
‘Soon’ is subject to interpretation and so it was a further two hours before we boarded. It was like stepping into a sauna as the air-conditioning wasn’t working. We taxied to the runway and sat and sat and sat going nowhere. The captain then told us there was a problem with the plane and they were trying to fix it before take-off. That’s a comfort. But alas, the problem couldn’t be fixed so it was back to the terminal to disembark and sit for another 30-minutes.
Back on the plane the ‘problem’ had been fixed but not the air-conditioning. I’ve never been so hot in all my life and I’m quite sure it must have been close to 50C (122F) in that cabin. So by the time we arrived in Port Vila the day was over but we wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway as the rain was unrelenting and had been for some time so the streets were flooded and getting around the city, now very difficult.
At the apartment where we were staying there was a consensus it was too miserable to go out and we should instead just order a pizza or two but that’s not a good way to see a city. So the manager of the apartments suggested the Waterfront and we are very glad he did because we had a fantastic night and it was so much better than sitting in an apartment and eating a takeaway.
Buses run up and down the roads of Port Vila all the time. As far as I could make out, there’s no timetable and no bus stops; you just stand out on the street and when a bus sees you it will stop. And traveling by bus is very inexpensive and will cost the equivalent of a dollar or two.
The Waterfront is positioned on the water directly opposite Iririki Island Resort. It’s a bar and grill with a lot of outdoor seating but on the night we were there, there was no chance of sitting outdoors. Due to the heavy rain, most people had deserted the town and so the restaurant was just about empty which was a shame because we had such a fun night.
The restaurant is very traditional and rustic in style with lots of timber and a large thatched roof. There are international flags hanging from the roof, a large bar area, a stage for live music and a dance floor. It was a very dark night and extremely dark inside the restaurant making photos very challenging. Apparently the Waterfront is one of the liveliest places to be in Port Vila but not when it’s raining cats and dogs.
Having eaten very little all day, (no trolley service on the flight), we wanted something very quickly so instantly ordered the garlic bread. Having been used to waiting fairly lengthy periods for food to arrive in Santo, we were pleasantly surprised by how quickly the garlic bread came from the kitchen. It was very hot and very buttery and we took no time to finish this loaf.
There is a children’s menu but Alfie becomes indignant if you even suggest that to him so he ordered from the ‘proper’ menu and chose the Salt and Pepper Calamari from the entree section. It arrived on such a large plate that the serving looked a little sparse but Alfie enjoyed his ‘proper’ meal.
Drew and Archie ordered the Thai Chicken with Thai-style noodles and peanut sauce. It wasn’t as genuinely Thai as they were expecting and at just over $30.00 it did seem fairly expensive.
Arabella ordered the penne pasta with spicy meatballs but was disappointed the meatballs were bland rather than spicy. Again, around $30.00 does seem a lot to pay for a bowl of pasta.
I ordered the beef curry that they say is their specialty. It came with homemade chutney and condiments and was served with jasmine rice. It pays to stick to the house specialty because I absolutely loved this curry. The curry had the right amount of heat and I loved the banana and fresh coconut sambal with its lovely texture and it was very refreshing and complimented the curry so well. The meat was extremely tender and the portion so generous I was unable to finish it – plenty of helpers around the table though.
But at the Waterfront it’s not just about the food as there’s fabulous live music. Polynesian people are very gifted with rhythm and musical talents. There was a musician and a singer performing that night and they harmonised beautifully. They performed a series of gospel songs and when they took a break I went and introduced myself. I said, ‘Hi, I’m Charlie from Sydney’, and the singer said, ‘And I’m Prince Philip’ and as he shook my hand I said, ‘I never thought I’d get the chance to meet you, Prince Philip’. We talked about gospel music and I told him my husband sings Elvis gospel songs and his favourite is How Great Thou Art.
When Prince Philip went back on stage he said, ‘Could the man who sings Elvis gospel songs please come up on stage’. So I pushed Drew out of his chair and soon he was up on stage and that’s pretty much where he stayed the rest of the night.
Meanwhile we left our table and sat up at the bar to watch the show. Prince Philip was very entertaining not only in the range of songs he performed but also with his dance moves and interaction with the audience.
If we had been staying in Vanuatu another night we would have been back to the Waterfront in a flash.
Verdict: So much fun.
Waterfront Bar and Grill: Kumul Highway, Port Vila, Vanuatu