Welcome to Vanuatu!
Vanuatu, an archipelago nation of 83 islands dotted across a marine wonderland of natural beauty, enjoys a traditional life rather removed from the western world.
Relax on pristine beaches and take a dip in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean or be enticed by serene swimming holes amongst lush jungles. Visit friendly neighbouring villages and embrace the culture of their community life. Vanuatu is a natural paradise ready to be explored.
The island of Efate, home to the capital Port Vila, features varied landscapes of rugged coastlines, vast countryside, impressive waterfalls, stunning sandy bays and lagoons. Port Vila is set around a natural harbour and offers a range of exciting activities such as ziplining, hiking and snorkelling. Connect with the friendly locals by watching a cultural show, sampling fresh produce or purchasing handcrafted souvenirs at the local markets.
Tanna exudes traditional Melanesian culture (Kastom) and is known as the island of adventure. This charming island is teeming with a diverse range of spectacular sites around every corner. The iconic Mt Yasur is the world’s most accessible active volcano and is an impressive site to behold. A snorkelling adventure to the hidden grotto of the Blue Cave is a truly breathtaking experience and not to be missed. Marvel at the giant Banyan Tree, take in the “Kastom” at local villages, and explore hot springs and secluded beaches.
Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's largest Island, is renowned for its world-class diving, spectacular blue swimming holes, fine white sandy beaches and lush jungles. Experience adventure, history, Melanesian culture and bare-foot-luxury on this extraordinary island. A diver’s paradise, explore various wreck sites including the legendary SS President Coolidge. Sip some bubbles on Champagne Beach or take a hike through dense jungle and cool off in the iridescent blue swim holes.
When to visit
Vanuatu enjoys endless sunshine year-round thanks to its sub-tropical climate. Mild temperatures and clear blue skies are typical throughout the year and swimming is also pleasant with sea temperatures varying between 22-28°C.
- The Winter season, April to September, is a cooler, drier period with an average temperature of 26°C. It is generally a popular time to travel, especially for Australians escaping the colder winter season.
- The Summer season, November to March, can be hot, wet and humid with an average temperature of 28°C. These months are part of the tropical cyclone season however, most resorts are located in the southern region of Vanuatu which benefits from less extreme climate conditions and generally experiences less rain and humidity. December-January can be quite busy due to the extended Summer holidays in Australia & New Zealand.
- The currency in Vanuatu is Vatu. $1AUD equates to approximately 80 Vatu.
- Most resorts accept major credit cards. ATM’s and foreign exchange services are available in Port Vila and Luganville.
- Tipping is not required and goes against local tradition, as does bargaining. A simple smile or “thank you” is sufficient.
- The electricity plugs are similar to Australia & New Zealand, running on 230V three-pronged plugs
- Light-weight casual clothing during the day is recommended. During the cooler months a cardigan or jacket may be required during the evening. Pack a water-proof jacket if travelling in the wetter months.
- Vanuatu’s town water supply is safe to drink however, if intending to travel to the outer islands bottled water is recommended. Bottled water should ideally be purchased in Port Vila or Luganville as supplies in the outer islands are limited.
- There are over 120 distinct languages and many more dialects spoken in Vanuatu however the three ‘official’ languages are English, French & Bislama. Bislama is ‘pidgin English’ with a few French words.
Australian passport holders do not currently require a visa for a stay as a tourist of up to 30 days but must hold a passport with six months validity from date of entry to Vanuatu. A confirmed on-ward or returned ticket is also required as well as sufficient funds. If you are a non-Australian passport holder, please check your visa requirements with the appropriate Embassy or Consular office.
Air Vanuatu is the national airline and operates domestic flights throughout the islands. The main routes connecting Port Vila with Santo & Tanna utilise comfortable ATR-72 aircraft. Beyond these routes, flights are operated by smaller aircraft with no assigned seating, and land on grass runways with no airport facilities.
Banana boats are regularly used to travel from larger to smaller islands. For longer journeys, time permitting, a trip on one of the boats of cargo vessels offers a different perspective, viewing a range of landscapes and experiencing a different side of Vanuatu culture.
In Port Vila, the buses are mini vans which seat approximately 10 people. There is an ample amount within the city and the license plates start with a “B”. Buses are used by locals, but considered to be very friendly, cheap and easy to use by tourists. Luganville has comparatively fewer buses but there are many taxis available which are reasonable in price.
Taxis are plentiful within Port Vila. The licence plates start with a “T” and fare is calculated per taxi so in some cases, with a small group it is cheaper to take a taxi rather than a bus.
Why we love it!
Mount Yasur is an active volcano on the island of Tanna where you can stand at the crater’s edge and watch as the lava dances like fireworks across the sky. Access to the 400 metre wide rim of the crater is by foot but local guides run volcano tours and can drive you close enough to feel the heat.
Whatever island you find yourself on, getting into the water with your snorkel is a must. Some of the highlights include the islands off Efate – Lelepa, Tranquillity, Pele and Hideaway Island. There are also glass bottom boats and cruises to help you get closer to the marine life.
Relax on the beach, by the pool, at a blue hole, or by the ocean in a waterfront restaurant. When you’re in Vanuatu, you can put yourself on Aelan time and enjoy not having to be anywhere other than right where you are. With so much to keep you busy, make sure to schedule some time to unwind.
These naturally formed pools are surrounded by dense jungle and a swim here is next-level refreshing. Make your way up to the very top of the cascades, spurred on by the roaring sound of the waterfall and the spray of the water on your face as you inch as close to the waterfall as you dare.
Each island centre has it own central marketplace, where fresh fruit and vegetables are sold. Agriculture is the mainstay of many local families and they bring their produce into the markets each day. The mamas spend their time gossiping and laughing. You will feel part of the scene when you visit.
House Blong Handikraft market is the place to go for genuine handmade island goods. Take in the vibes at the busy market as the ladies laugh and chat away while working. All the money you spend here goes straight back to Vanuatu’s villages and helps keep the island economy going.
With tropical rainforest and picturesque coastline waiting around every corner, you’ll need to set aside a full day to explore all the island’s breathtaking attractions. Whether you want to lunch at a local village, snorkel at Havannah Eco Lodge or swim at Eton Beach, getting there is easy – as everything is connected by a sealed ring road.
Nobody knows how old the Giant Banyan really is, as it was already ancient when Captain Cook landed on Tanna in 1774. But it’s an amazing sight, 80 metres high and over 100 metres wide, surrounded by dangling roots that snake out into the surrounding jungle. Join a 4WD tour from Lenakel to the little village of Leitouapam – around 10 minutes away – where you’ll meet the Tannese locals who own the Giant Banyan.
The Ni-Vanuatu people are a little shy at first, but always quick to flash a smile. Make the first move and the cheekiness and laughter will burst into life. The local children – or pikininis – are curious and fearless. Just watch them triple somersault into a blue hole without a second’s thought. And once you get talking to the mamas, they’ll be only too happy to share their life experiences. If you can learn even a few words of the local language, it’s always appreciated.