Simon Kolz

A weblog by Simon Kolz

Exotic Islands Of Vanuatu, Fiji and Cook Islands?

Today Norm Goldman, Editor of and is honored to have as a guest, Ian Heydon, author, travel writer, award- winning comedy writer, artist and expert on Vanuatu, Fiji and Cook Islands

Ian is here to talk to us today about his expertise pertaining to these exotic islands.

Good day Ian and it is great to have you accept our invitation to participate in this interview!


Can you tell our readers something about yourself and your expertise pertaining to Vanuatu, Fiji and Cook Islands.


I first went to Fiji in 1993 and simply fell in love with the tropics, the warm, picture-postcard waters and the relaxed rhythm of life in general. I went back the following year and got my PADI Open Water Dive accreditation and, after another couple of trips realised I was working pretty much with a goal to travel more.

As I had a fairly successful career as a writer, I decided to see if I could write about travel and kill two birds with the one pen. In 1999, we took a family holiday to Vanuatu, where my wife Annie and I gave each other a Renewal of Vows’ ceremony as an anniversary gift.

I felt automatically at home in Vanuatu and, as luck would have it, Annie was offered a job teaching at Port Vila International School. We decided that it would be an adventure, especially for the kids (then aged 7 and 3). Our 12-month contract extended to three fantastic years, during which time I got to write a lot, including my travel book on Australia, The Small Guide to A Big Country.

After leaving Vanuatu I bought a travel agent’s licence to specialize in taking people, particularly honeymooners to this fascinating and rewarding part of the world. What I thought would be a hobby quickly became a business and in early 2004 I visited the Cook Islands and fell in love with another Pacific destination.

2004 also saw visits to New Caledonia, Fiji and three trips to Vanuatu. And I’m really excited about my first trip to Samoa this year. While I don’t have any actual publications on the Pacific islands, I have three comprehensive information websites, Vanuatu A to Z, Fiji A to Zand Cook Islands A to Z.


Could you tell our readers where these islands are located and an idea as to what differentiates one island from another from the point of view of topography, climate, and anything else you consider different?


For me, living in Australia, Vanuatu and Fiji are so accessible, being just a few hours away. Visiting the Cook Islands means a stopover in New Zealand, but it is still just two meals and two movies. For Americans, the Cook Islands and Fiji are more accessible than Vanuatu (requires a stop in Fiji to connect or to be taken as a side trip from Australia or New Zealand). The climate in all destinations is similar, tropical with no great range in temperatures but it can get very humid in the summer months. These months are traditionally wet but El Nino seems to have changed that. In the Cook Islands, when it rains, they call it liquid sunshine. The warm water temperatures mean swimming is possible all year round.

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