The Summit Vanuatu
The largest tropical gardens to be found in the South Pacific are at The Summit in Mele Bay, near the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila. The Summit has over a million square feet of gardens that are organized into 11 named sections. The design of each garden is inspired by famous tropical gardens around the world, with so many diverse species that the gardens are colorful throughout the year.
The Summit guides not only share information about the gardens, but about the way the plants are used in local village life and Vanuatu culture. The cuisine at the Summit CafÃ© is based on fresh locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons, presenting what is fresh and available that day. Menu items include pizza, salads, seafood, fruit, duck and homemade bread.
The Summit was originally opened as a business based on respect for the Vanuatu environment and employment of the Ni-Vanuatu people. The Summit maintains a sandalwood plantation of over 120,000 trees and contracts with local farmers to plant their own small plantations. Smaller orchards of fruits and nuts are also found on the 240 hectare estate. An on-site distillery uses these local harvests to produce their products.
The gift shop sells sandalwood products as well as health and beauty care products inspired by essential oils from the plants that grow in Vanuatu or on the Summit property. The gardens are open to the public seven days a week all throughout the year, except for Christmas and Good Friday. The guided tour takes approximately 45 minutes, after which the visitors are encouraged to enjoy the expansive views over Mele Bay.
The view from 200 meters above sea level includes coral reefs, villages, plantations and volcanic black-sand beaches. Visitors can also browse through a viewing room in the Distillery and watch the craftspeople as they create items such as candles and soaps.