Snorkel in Paradise at Uri Marine Park Malekula, Malampa Province
When you dip your face into the sea at Uri Marine Park, colours will explode before your eyes. It surely is the real deal when it comes to snorkelling.
Uri is off the seriously remote tropical island of Malekula, and has a coral reef that would give anything in Queensland a run for its money. Best of all, there’s not another tourist in sight, so you can forget where you are, let go and float your worries away.
Expect to see giant clam shells on the sea floor and huge turtles glide past you surrounded by schools of exotic tropical fish, including translucent houndfish that look as though they’ve got straws for noses. If you're super lucky you might even see a majestic dugong swim past. The soft coral is an epic combination of purple, lime green, pink and tan. This is as good as it gets.
Once you have finished you snorkel, you'll be greeted by the locals kids, who’ll have come down for a swim and a chat after school. Nothing on here is touristy or flashy – accommodation comes in the form of basic bungalows constructed from bamboo. There’s no power and no fuss, but everything is idyllic and perfect. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, Uri Marine Park is your place.
- Watching the locals go about their daily village life
- Uri is off Malekula, which is culturally diverse – the different tribes all offers tours and walks, accompanied by plenty of stories
- Serious adventures off the beaten track take some organising. If your remote planning is not working, get on a flight and just go
Getting to Malekula takes a day or two. After your international flight, you’ll need to catch a domestic flight, a bus and boat.
Allow a bit of time for planning and organising. We recommend emailing Air Vanuatu for international flight and domestic bookings (you’ll get 20 per cent off the domestic flight this way) and ask about accommodation, too. If you want to make your flight bookings independently, message Santo Travel Centre, where someone can help you with your bungalow and transfers.
A full-day Uri Marine Park snorkelling tour, which also includes the chance to try some traditional weaving and walk through the jungle to an ancient banyan tree, costs about US$70.
If you can swim, you can snorkel. Take your time for the first few dips to get the hang of breathing through your ‘windpipe’, which is what the locals call the snorkel.