Rocky Ridge Bungalows are a new addition to the accommodation options on the island of Tanna, in southern Vanuatu. Built, owned, and operated by Tom and Margaret Naieu and family, the famous snorkelling of Tanna’s Blue Hole is accessed by walking in off Rocky Ridge’s shoreline. Tom and Margaret are welcoming hosts and speak excellent English; Margaret is as an English teacher. Situated near the little Presbyterian church at the edge of the beautiful village of Iwiak, there are two double thatch-roofed bungalows and a thatched-roofed family bungalow, beautiful tropical gardens (pictured above), umbrageous trees to sit in gazing over the reef and the ocean, and a small restaurant and bar which doubles as a communal living area from which to gaze at the sea.
Travellers to Tanna have until now had a choice between expensive expat-owned resorts and very basic ni-Vanuatu bungalows, with not much in between. Rocky Ridge has three key attractions which distinguish it from the many other bungalows:
- Its location. It is only a few kilometres from the charming little airport, which, since the roads are rough, is not an insignificant consideration, particularly for those making a short visit to the island, such as those wanting to see the active volcano, Mount Yasur, during a vacation to Vanuatu. It also features direct access to some of Vanuatu’s best accessible snorkelling. The Blue Hole is a deep pool which has developed in the reef outside Rocky Ridge, which provides world-class snorkelling within the safety of the reef, a rare opportunity for the inexperienced snorkeller. Because the Blue Hole is best accessed at certain tides, having it at your doorstep is a considerable advantage.
- Tom and Margaret’s hospitality, and their lovely kids. Tom learnt the accommodation business by working at the resort, and so understands better than most in Tanna, where tourism is just beginning to get serious, the needs of international travellers. It is rare to find an opportunity to get to know a ni-Vanuatu family, and — if you want — a whole village, with as few cultural stumbling blocks as is presented by these two warm and hard-working hosts. The village is especially lively during school holidays in January. Tom can take you on boat or vehicle tours of Tanna’s attractions, including Mount Yasur, the active volcano which is a key drawcard for visitors, or the world’s largest living organism (a giant banyan tree), the blue cave, and the traditional villages whose residents live strictly according to their traditions.
- Its neighbour, White Grass Ocean Resort, voted Vanuatu’s best outer island resort a couple of years ago. The resort welcomes visitors to its restaurant and bar, one of the most beautiful in Vanuatu, and the best on Tanna. And you can take the tours organised by the resort as well. The whole resort is reached by a few minutes’ walk along a sun-dappled path along the coast through the forest. (The visitors of the resort use the same footpath to reach the beach and to access the Blue Hole.) Essentially, for less than a third of the cost of staying at White Grass Ocean Resort, you can enjoy the same spectacular location, and eat at your choice of Tom and Margaret’s little restaurant, or at the more expensive drop-dead chic of the Resort’s restaurant. Indeed, if the resort is over-booked, its management puts the visitors up at Rocky Ridge Bungalows.