I have an online travel agency that specialises in arranging holidays to the South Pacific and north Queensland. While the heat and humidity can make some MS symptoms worse, the waters are calm and cooling and ‘island time’ can take away a lot of stress. The agency name is Small Guide Travel and we can offer Pacific Island destinations with disabled-friendly accommodation, tailor itineraries to suit and, because we have MS in common, offer a discount to fellow ‘travellers’.
While we can arrange holidays to Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands, I love Vanuatu. After living there for three years and going back regularly in the eight years since then I know the place (and the people) pretty well. The last three trips were the first ones where MS came into play and it’s funny how you start seeing things through different eyes – e.g. resorts with disabled facilities, room configurations, which ones don’t have stairs, how best to get about and what tours & activities to enjoy or avoid.
I honestly believe that we have better local knowledge than any other travel agency in Australia (and the best rates because we deal directly with the resorts). As an example, I doubt whether any other travel agent would be able to give you a comprehensive guide to the toilet facilities in Port Vila (as stated elsewhere, it gives people with MS a sense of security to know you haven’t far to go if the need arises!). Let’s take a stroll down the main street of Port Vila (and the harbour) from the Waterfront Bar & Grill to Moorings Hotel.
Waterfront Bar & Grill – the toilets in this casual harbour front bar & restaurant are to the right of the bar and up an incline with a few steps on the way. Not much room to swing a cat but chances are you won’t be travelling with one.
Café du Village – nice little French restaurant – the toilets are at the end of the bar on the right.
Grand Hotel & Casino – a few ‘posh’ options here – off the foyer near Crystal’s restaurant, at Jupiter’s Casino (also off the foyer) or the top floor for sweeping harbour views over Iririki Island Resort from the Hemisphere Bar (the lifts are just to the left on entering). I give this one three and a half stars.
The Port – opposite The Grand. The toilets are about halfway down on the right.
Chill Restaurant – the toilets are always clean but there are quite a few stairs. They do a great value lunch – choice of main courses with a glass of wine, beer or soft drink with a harbour view for $11, so could be worth the climb.
The Markets – these are public toilets and probably best avoided. They are mainly used my the ladies who tend to the markets – the markets are open 24 hours a day from Monday mornings to midday Saturday so they get a bit of a workout!
Au Peche Mignon (across the road from the markets, near Prouds) – one small unisex toilet just past the chokkie counter on the right. The name translates to ‘The Little Sin’ and you won’t find more tempting chocolates anywhere!
Jill’s Café – back across the road on the harbour side of the street. Haven’t tried the facilities here as Jill just moved from being the other side of the ANZ bank.
Alliance Française – there’s a bit of ‘no-man’s land’ between Jill’s and La Terrasse. If you find yourself on the other side of the road the little street between Pilioko House and the French Cultural Space will take you to Alliance Française. Nothing flash, but they won’t mind you dropping in. Say bonjour to Georges…
La Terrasse – a little French-owned café for al fresco coffee. Lesley won’t mind you just ducking in to use the bathroom, but it’s nothing flash. If you have another five minutes, hang on until La Tentation. I like the coffee at La Tentation more as well (the French like it bitter).
Nambawan Café – there are pay-for-use public toilets behind the Nambawan and are free if you have a receipt from the café, but same as above – you are almost at La Tentation. The free moonlight movies at the Nambawan could interest though!
The Beef House – formerly El Gecko and across the street behind the Olympic Café. You will need to ask for a key to the rest rooms at the bar. Just mentioning this because Goodie’s money exchange is next door, in case you change some money and find yourself caught short.
La Tentation – (in English, ‘The Temptation’ – and it could well be!) It’s a great place for a coffee, a snack, a meal or a pee. Four stars. Say hello to Nick!
Anchor Inn – a watering hole for the locals on the harbour side. Toilets are on the left before you hit the main deck.
Public Toilets – other side of the road and just down from Evergreen Tours – rarely open and there are so many other rewarding alternatives!!
Flaming Bull Steakhouse/Office Pub – good steakhouse and beer garden with bathrooms easy to access.
Chantilly’s on the Bay – a nice easy one as both ladies and gents are located on the ground floor with exterior entrance near the pool. Head past Fringe hair salon and through the lounge area to the right of Tilly’s restaurant and turn right.
Moorings – on entering, the bar area is to the left and Rumour’s nightclub to the right – go straight ahead and down a couple of steps for the bathrooms.
So, that’s a side of Port Vila most tourists don’t get to see – and what a relief!
Here are links to some of our Vanuatu websites:
General Information – www.VanuatuAtoZ.com
Honeymoons – www.HoneymoonVanuatu.com
Weddings – www.WeddingsVanuatu.com
Tours & Activities – www.GoVanuatu.com
Study Tours – www.StudyVanuatu.com
Gay Travel – www.GayVanuatu.com
Schoolies – www.SchooliesVanuatu.vu
To donate to MS Research, you can call 1800 CURE MS (1800 2873 67) or just click here.