Each island in Torba offers its own adventure. Torba’s islands are relatively small so most attractions are easy to walk to—and it’s a little-known fact that Loh has the best white sand beaches in the whole of the archipelago (and the Loh-Linua lagoon is also home to rarely-seen giant seahorses)! Explore Mota Lava Sleeping Mountain and Rah’s famous Rock, take a leisurely hike across Vanua Lava or visit the sea cave on the west coast, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, take a boat to Ureparapara, Mota, Mere Lava, or to the Reef Islands—and make sure to bring your fishing line!). For the superadventurous, Gaua offers hikes of two or more days to Mount Garet, its volcanic lake and the tallest waterfall in the South Pacific, Siri waterfall. The kastom mo kalja of Torba is well-known throughout Vanuatu for its bright colours and unique stories. Make sure to do a Kastom tour of the Rock of Rah to get the full appreciation of the fascinating connection between ol man Rah and this incredible geological feature. And while on Rah, you absolutely must see the Snake Dance. On Gaua you can watch one of Vanuatu’s most famous cultural exports, water music.
There are no western-style hotels in Torba, but plenty of island bungalows, home stays, tours and activities. The Banks islands are home so some of the most luxurious island bungalows we’ve ever seen. All have been developed collaboratively by the local communities. In fact, all tourism businesses in Torba are all Ni-Vanuatu owned. This means that when you visit these islands you can be sure that your money is going back directly into directly to the community – Yumi stap sapotem ol turisim bisnis blong Yumi!
Go Off-Grid in Gaua
Gaua is the most popular of the Banks Islands. Known for its stunning landscapes with an active volcano, it’s brilliant for adventure seekers. From swimming beneath the highest waterfall in the south Pacific to catching an outrigger canoe to the base of a volcano, Gaua has a lot of natural beauty to boast about. At 120m tall, Siri Waterfall is nothing short of impressive. The journey to the waterfall takes you through dense forest and coconut plantations, and leads you across some tricky terrain, including shaky bridges and ladders forged from tree trunks. If heights aren’t your forte, you may find the journey a little difficult, but if you find the courage, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular sight.
Witness the water music ladies
Climb Mt Garet
Want a challenge? Trekking to the top of the active volcano on Mt Garet will take you through beautiful, untamed scenery. This walk can be undertaken over one, two or three days, taking in different sights and sounds with your guides as you hike, canoe and explore the area. Make sure you camp out at Victor’s Camp for the ultimate local experience. Victor is a jovial man full of stories, and, after cooking up a storm, will share ancient kastom rituals, and may sing a few songs too. It’s recommended that you do not set off on this journey if you aren’t accustomed to hiking, particularly in a tropical climate. Climbing Mt Garet is subject to natural conditions and safety is always a priority.
Stay at a local guesthouse There are 20 bungalows scattered throughout Torba province. Gaua boasts the only boutique bungalow in the region — Chez Maureen. Only 300m from the airport, Chez Maureen is easy to get to and perfectly positions you on the coast, ready to explore the island. With unrivalled views, a king-size bed, private terrace and an attentive host, basing yourself at Chez Maureen means you can get the most out of Gaua. Rah Paradise Bungalows is another more boutique option, and even has a luxuriously comfortable two-story bungalow with views over the sea to Mota Lava, Mota and Vanua Lava. Hosts Rachel and Yan’s island cooking is exceptional, and some say beats the dining options of Port Vila and Luganville’s hotels and resorts hands down!
Visit Loh Island’s Giant Cave
A shot stroll through the lush jungle from Loh’s largest village takes you to a massive cave used for centuries by the people of the island to shelter from natural disasters. Don’t forget to stop off at the beach for a cooling swim on the way back to the village, and marvel at how fine the sand is.
Everyone in Vanuatu knows about Nalot, Torba’s famous dessert dish made from pudding with coconut cream. But every cook in Torba has their own slightly different way of preparing it, so make sure to ask for it with every dinner.
The weather can change in an instant, so if you’re hiking up a mountain, or just out for the day, remember to take a raincoat, in case a storm hits. Some beaches on Gaua are stonier than you might expect (they’re not all soft, white sand!). The views are unparalleled, but you may prefer a stroll along the beach in a good pair of shoes. Some hill and mountain climbs in Torba require a good level of general fitness.
Getting to Torba
Air Vanuatu flies on a regular schedule to Gaua, Sola, Mota Lava and Linua. Call 20200 or email reservation@airvanuatu. vu. Unity Airlines offers charter flights for 3-day itineraries for 8 people for from Vt538,000 ex Vila including plane, all accommodation, meals and guides. Alternatively, add on a trip to one of Torba’s islands from Espiritu Santo for a lower price. Call Unity Airlines on 24475 Do you have a work trip to Torba coming up? Why not add on a few nights either side of your trip and create your very own Torba adventure?
This information brought to you by the Vanuatu Tourism Office – supporting domestic tourism since 1982.