Tropical Paradise? Not.

P1000586Which kind of makes me sound incredibly ungrateful, or whingy.  It’s not that bad.  I enjoyed my time in Vanuatu, but I’m not doing the whole tropical island thing again, except under a few non-negotiable conditions.

Vanuatu, in case you don’t know, is a small Pacific Island cluster between New Caledonia and Fiji.  For various reasons I decided to take a short holiday there, much of the motivation being the novelty factor: I’d never been to the Caribbean, I’d never just vegged on a beach, I’d never done the whole tropical paradise thing.  

Good things first: Cheap, fresh tropical fruit.  Really friendly citizens who are interested in anything and everything, and love to converse.  Interesting knick-knacks.  Wonderful markets that sell aforementioned tropical fruit as well as an assortment of hot food.  Swimming pools.

But the not-so-good things: Rain.  Humidity.  Rain.  Having no hot water.  Rain.  Lousy exchange rates.  And more rain.

Humidity, well, duh.  It’s tropical.  No hot water, because their hot water boiler was ancient?  It was hot, so it wasn’t bad, but I have long hair, and washing and conditioning your hair in cold water is a pain.  But the real killer was the bad weather, and when it rains on a tropical island, you can’t really do anything.  And the exchange rate made some commodities deadly dear.

I can’t control the weather.  And I can get over the hot water boiler.  But this is what it comes down to: The next time I’m going to the tropics, I’m going with lots, and lots, and lots of money in my bank account, and no compunctions to spending it.  Coming from someone who can be a total cheapskate, this means it’ll be a long, long time before I do it again.

What are your experiences on a tropical island?

- Jean AAR

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6 Responses to “Tropical Paradise? Not.”

  1. Helen says:

    I lived on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands for 7 years between 1962 – 1969. I’m not going back unless there are some changes either. Number 1 – the grocery store, Pueblo, was horrendous. Filthy and anyone “born dere” would push ahead in line like you weren’t even there. Number 2 – rain water was kept in underground cellars called cisterns. This is just unsanitary. Number 3 – people were very racist and came onto a Rockefeller golf course and commenced firing. This was known as the Fountain Valley Massacre. On the positive side the weather was outstanding. Except for those pesky hurricanes. Island living. You gotta love it.

  2. Ann says:

    I’ve been to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Hawaii. I loved Bermuda and Hawaii but the Bahamas was just OK. Hawaii is my favorite. It is hot but you have the tropical breezes so it is not to bad. I would like there in a minute. Loved it!!!!

  3. LeeB. says:

    Have only been to Oahu but enjoyed the week of sunshine and warm temps one long ago February.

  4. Aloha! Indeed, having Western ammenities makes Paradiase … Paradise! Please don’t give up on the Pacific Islands yet. You can still find “island remoteness” within “affordable luxary” here in Hawaii. Most locals reside on Oahu but if you escape to a resort on another island, you will find your hot water, fresh towels, and few tourists on secluded beaches.

    I did laugh at your comment, “I’d never been to the Caribbean.” The Caribbean and South Pacific are two entirely different areas in locaton and culture. And the Caribbean is a significantly shorter flight!

  5. Jean Wan says:

    Helen – Thanks for putting things into perspective. Would things have changed since the 60s, since I know nothing about the US V.I.?

    Kim – My comment was general to the fact I have never been between the Tropics, which includes most areas generally consider tropical, such as the South Pacific, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. I actually live in New Zealand currently, so the Caribbean is considerably farther away than Vanuatu. But when I did live in Canada, I still never went to either Hawaii or the Caribbean, or Florida or California or the Mediterranean etc. Hot places. That’s all I’m saying.

  6. How silly of me to assume you were in North America. Of course it would be closer to you in New Zealand!

    Still would love for you to come to Hawaii! We’re flying your way next September for a Pan Pacific Barbershop convention.