Gourmet restaurants, top diving, world-class game fishing, a relaxed tropical lifestyle and the rich culture of Melanesia – these are only a few of the things that Vanuatu has to offer. Visit the secluded beaches, cascading waterfalls, jewel-like islands, deep-water anchorages, and Vanuatu’s capital, bustling little Port Vila. The island of Efate is this and so much more.
Port Vila is Vanuatu’s principal tourist destination, so there are dozens of tours, fabulous accommodation, island feasts, museums and quaint little back streets to explore. But don’t stop there. Go for some of the extreme sports such as abseiling, ziplining and parasailing, take treks, kayak or jet-ski over the ocean blue, walk, swim, hang out by the wharf, sit in a café, by a pool,or on a mountain. Then there’s the sheer delight of just being here, jumping on and off the buses, wandering through the markets eating exotic fruit, or even ground oven-baked lap-lap (doughy coconut mixture filled with meat or fish) and finding the rhythm of Vanuatu time.
Vanuatu comprises an archipelago of 83 islands. The majority of the population live on 14 main islands in the chain, the capital being Port Vila located on the third largest island of Efate (900 kms). The second largest town is Luganville on Espirito Santo (3956 kms). The majority of tourism and commerce happens on Efate. However, a vacation is not complete without a side trip to either the island of Santo to dive the Coolidge; or to Tanna to climb the live volcano; or to Pentecost to witness the famous land diving. A trip to the islands is magical and a world apart from Port Vila. If you are planning on staying on Efate, a trip around the island is a must. Efate is 138kms and with the new ring road paving completed, it has changed the driving time considerably. So hire a car or take an organized tour, as there is plenty to see and do as you drive around the island - from hot mineral springs to sparkling lagoons, The Blue Hole, turtles, waterfalls and sandy beaches with fantastic picnic spots, snorkeling, roadside World War II relics, and roadside stalls selling fresh produce.
Vanuatu is a lush, verdant, tropical land that has risen out of the sea on coral beds formed by volcanoes. There are rugged coral coastlines, sandy beaches, beautiful waterfalls, thick jungles, and blue lagoons. The population is not large with just over 200,000 ni-vanuatu locals in the country. There is also a large resident expat community in Port Vila and Santo.
Airports and Airlines
The International Airport on Efate is called Bauerfield and on Santo, Pekoa. Regular return flights are scheduled via Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands on Air Vanuatu, Virgin, Air Pacific, Solomon Air and Air Calin. With an international flight time of 2.5 hours from Brisbane to Vanuatu, it is often quicker to fly internationally than domestically. Auckland is also only a short 3 hour flight. Both of the international airports, Bauerfield and Pekoa are located only 10 minutes from the towns of Port Vila (Efate) and Luganville (Espirito Santo).
Air Vanuatu www.airvanuatu.com flights from Australia (Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne), New Caledonia (Noumea), Fiji (Nadi, Suva)
Virgin Australia www.virginaustralia.com flights from Australia (Brisbane)
Fiji Airways www.fijiairways.com flights from Fiji (Nadi,
Air Calin (New Caledonia) www.aircalin.com flights from New Caledonia (Noumea)
Currency and Exchange
The currency is called vatu and is tied to an international basket of currency. It hovers around 90-95 vatu to the AUD dollar. There are ATMs throughout Port Vila and Santo with Westpac, ANZ and the Bred Bank being well known with international tourists. There is an ATM at the Port Vila airport. Many of the shops in town will also accept Australian dollars. Taxis at the aiport (or anywhere) do not accept credit cards or foreign currency so make sure you exchange some money beforehand. The airport exchange rate is acceptable and the money changers (Goodies or Seven Eleven) in town or any of banks in town have good exchange rates. The banks are open from 9am to 3:30pm Mon-Fri, the money changers have regular extended hours.
Communication and Phones
Telecom Vanuatu Ltd (TVL) and Digicel have made great changes to the country in the last five years. You can buy a phone for as little as $25AUD dollars (at the airport or in the main Digicel and TVL shops in town) and a sim card and top up for as little as $5. Phone calls are inexpensive and rates to call internationally are very good. The country dialing code is +678.
The climate in Vanuatu is tropical. The cooler dryer months are generally June – November. The humid, wetter season being December – May. The average daytime temperature in the cooler season is 26 degrees and a light sweater or jacket for nighttime is recommended. In the hot season, the average temperature is 29 degrees with it rarely getting up to 33 degrees.
What to Bring
A light sweater or long pants, particularly for women, in the cooler season. In the wet season it can typically rain in short bursts in the late afternoons so a small umbrella or light wind cheater doesn’t hurt. If not, do not worry, it is warm outside so you dry very quickly. If you are into sports, snorkeling equipment, surfboards, good walking shoes or reef shoes, and a day backpack or beach bag is very useful. Bring your driver's license if you want to rent a car.
You must have a passport which is valid for six months prior to your arrival so if its time to renew do not expect a lenient immigration officer as they are very strict on this policy. Make sure you have enough blank pages in your passport and most importantly, you must have a return ticket (and you are carrying it with you) unless you are a resident of the country.
In Port Vila there are numerous vans that operate as private buses. They have a “B” on the license plate and do not have specific stops on a planned route. However, if you flag them down and inform them of your destination they will tell you if they are going that way. They are only 150 vatu ($1.50AUD) per person for a trip within the city centre. A trip to Cascades waterfall will likely cost double - 300 vatu per person. If you are travelling with a group, you can often find a bus/van driver to operate as your personal driver. Ask for his telephone number and you can call him to pick you up when you need to go somewhere. It makes it worth his while if there are more than 2 people to pick up. There are no buses in Tanna. You must rely on your resort to organize transportation for you. In Santo, there are a few buses.
Taxis in Port Vila are not metered and you will have to discuss the fare prior to getting into the taxi. There are some taxis in Santo as well but none on any other islands.
Vehicle Hire is common in Port Vila and Santo and you can hire from
- Budget +678 23170 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Avis +678 22570 email: email@example.com
- Discount Car Rental +678 24475 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hertz +678 25700
- World Car Rental +678 45656
There are a number of expatriate doctors and medical centres in Port Vila and Santo. You do not need special vaccinations but anti-malarial medication is recommended on the outer islands of Vanuatu. There are no stingers, crocodiles, or poisonous snakes on the islands.
- Emergency & Specialist Medical Centre - +678 22219
- The Medical Centre - +678 22826
- Tassiriki Health Centre - +678 23112
- Pro Medical Vanuatu- +678 25566 (Paramedic Service)
- Vanuatu Medical Laboratory - +678 7774111 (Blood Analysis)
The basic requirements to get married are:
- Lodge your application with the Vanuatu Government 28 days prior to your wedding.
- You must be in the country 3 days prior to your wedding date.
- You must have your passports with you.
- You must have one witness to prove your identity.
Need more information or to book your accommodation or a tour? Please contact us at email@example.com and we are happy to provide everything you need to set up the tours for your holiday. For more general information, check out the website of the Vanuatu Tourism Organization http://vanuatu.travel