Complete Travel Guide for Vanuatu
During our recent trip to Vanuatu, we collected our best tips and information and popped them all into one page for easy reference for you to quickly access all information for Vanuatu. Complete Travel Guide Vanuatu, you will find travel advice for families, couples or even solo travelers.
We are back in Vanuatu in October 2018 and will continue to update this page and links as we discover more. Vanuatu is an excellent destination for anyone looking to experience an authentic South Pacific Island that is overflowing with experiences for any level traveler looking for relaxation, culture, traditions, and fantastic island food.
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Information for Vanuatu
Vanuatu is a series of over 80 small islands making the Republic of Vanuatu located in the South Pacific. Located west of Fiji, Vanuatu is known for its stunning islands, authentic culture, active volcanoes and blue swimming holes.
Languages Spoken – English, French, Pidgin and various local dialects
Currency – Vatu
Currency Converter HERE
Population – 270,470
Capital City – Port Vila
Our Experience with Travel in Vanuatu
Our first trip to Vanuatu was as a family of three visiting with a mid-range budget exploring both Efate Island (their main island) and Tanna Island to experience Mt Yasur Volcano and authentic local villages. Travel around Vanuatu is easy and can be done within any budget ranging from minimal costs with catching local buses through to hiring a car and doing a DIY tour around Efate starting at Port Vila.
As a family, we found travel throughout Vanuatu affordable, easy, plus met several couples and single travelers who found the same. If you haven’t traveled abroad before, Vanuatu is a great starting point.
Food was great, plenty of accommodation choices for all budgets (see below) plus LOADS to see and do, even on their main island of Efate you can find plenty of activities to visit and experience and some great local spots to enjoy safe swimming.
We hired a car for convenience and highly recommend this for families traveling. For solo’s and couples, consider the many tours on offer or share car hire costs with others.
We loved Vanuatu and are looking forward to revisiting in 2018.
Costs of travel in Vanuatu
Depending on your budget and standards, travel costs in Vanuatu can vary greatly. When staying in luxury resorts price will be much higher than quality homestay style hotels or backpacking hostels. Port Vila is more affordable than Tanna Island especially with local transport and tour costs.
Supermarkets in Port Vila stocked a great variety of fresh food and groceries at prices slightly higher than USA and Australia. Alcohol is also available to purchase through the larger supermarkets and is a much more affordable option than buying through your hotel. At the local supermarket, we found we could buy three beers at the same cost to one through our resort.
Tours from Port Vila are better value for money. Walk around town checking out the best trips that suit or book at your hotel tour desk.
On the whole, Vanuatu is great value for money, easy to explore and a great place to experience an authentic Melanesian Culture. We highly recommend you consider one outer island visit as well as exploring the main island of Efate.
Find the right accommodation
The great thing about Vanuatu is you have a diverse range of accommodations to suit everyone. From 5-star accommodation resorts through to rustic bungalows on mountainsides, Vanuatu caters for everyone looking for their perfect vacation away from home.
We highly recommend checking Hotels Combined if you’re serious about finding the absolute best price for your stay. This booking engine compares multiple online booking engines to find you the best deal available. Hotels.com often has the best 0ffers, they tend to be non-refundable but Hotels.com has a cool stay 10 nights, get 1 free feature. Hotels Combined does check Hotels.com. If you like to book a long time in advance, reserving multiple hotels on a fully refundable basis, Booking.com is the one for you. Thank me later!!
Best time to visit
Anytime – Seriously though, it’s a tropical island where its always warm but their seasons are Wet or Dry. Heading there between November – April you could experience higher levels of rainfall, but when its sticky hot, rain can provide a refreshing cool off. May – October is the dryer months where the days are warm and sunny but nights are cooler without the need for air conditioning.
Tanna Island was cool during the day where we needed light tracksuits, shoes, and socks, at night, we utilised scarfs and jackets. We were there during July.
Landing at Bauerfield Airport Port Vila, you will immediately feel the laid-back island vibe with the airport being not much more than a small building. Once through Immigration and Customs, you arrive at local islanders singing and welcoming you to Port Vila. Be sure to find the local ATM if you need local dollars, and we recommend you purchase a local Digicel phone sim to keep roaming phone costs down. Digicel and Telecom are on offer, but Digicel has more extensive coverage around Vanuatu.
There are no metered cabs at Bauerfield Airport, but there are private, comfortable taxi’s with a set price of 2000 VAT per car ready and waiting for all international arrival flights. Minibuses are also available to hire for larger groups for the same set price. This price is set for any resort located within Port Vila, however, for accommodation further out, prices are available on enquiry.
Getting Around Vanuatu
Port Vila city is small enough for you to walk from one end to the other which makes for easy hassle-free transport. For a little fun, we discovered how to catch a bus (minivan) around town for 150 VT pp. Just jump on and get off at your location making it as cheap as chips to get from one side of Port Vila to the next. Everyone in Vanuatu speaks English and is more than willing to show you directions or explain where to jump off your bus.
Any further than Port Vila you will need to hire a van and driver to take you to attractions, just ensure you both agree on a price, time frame and distance first. We hired a 4×4 car for three days while in Port Vila and created a DIY driving tour to see all the major attractions filling up our days.
Food found at the markets in Port Vila is typical islander style. Fish cooked in rich coconut cream served with root crops – Tabioca, Taro, Wild Yams or Sweet Potatoe etc. With plenty of green fresh vegetables, there is no shortage of healthy side dishes to add to your plate. Market food was fresh and cheap being roughly 5 – 10 USD per serve. YUM
Restaurants were vast and plentiful ranging from Steak Houses to Asian through higher-end restaurants. Be sure to stop in a cafe/coffee shop and enjoy the local Vanuatu coffee and indulge in a French Pastry.
The “Must Do Attractions
We were quite surprised at how many quality attractions there were on Efate the main Island of Vanuatu and could have filled our full nine days in Vanuatu just checking them all out but here are our top six suggestions particularly for families
Port Vila Walking Tour
Wander around town and observe local life and business by visiting the main town market. Full of abundant fresh produce, Port Vila Market is by far the best-presented produce market we have seen in all our travels. Gorgeous palm tree weaved baskets are used for packaging local produce to buy. Don’t forget to seek out the local food stalls to experience and taste authentic local Vanuatu food. Purchase the local tropical Raspberries before leaving. So yummy!! Eat lunch and take a stroll around the bay all while enjoying the warm local sunshine.
The Blue Lagoon Swimming Hole was a highlight for our family to visit. Seeing the stunning blue hole water that is uniquely fresh water on low tide and salt water at high tide, was a magical place to enjoy. We loved it so much we went back and visited a second time. A great spot to enjoy a picnic lunch. No facilities available to buy food or drinks so bring everything you need. Easy to find via car, or make sure this spot is on your day tour list.
Not far out of town is this magical little place with beautiful cascading waterfalls and picnic areas to sit back and enjoy the tropical gardens and environment. Another great spot to bring lunch, but only snacks are available to purchase. Easy to get to with local buses or hired taxi’s
On the Opposite side of Port Vila was a small family run authentic Vanuatu Hot Spring. We spent several hours sitting in the mud pool chatting to the landowners then having a warm wash down in the pure underground springs they have channeled into pools. You hop from one to the other as the mud wears off and if you have ever wondered what its like to sit and enjoy an outdoor bath in paradise. Find this place!!. Located right next to the main highway, watch for signposts, and ask locals if you are getting closer
Hideaway Island allows day visitors to enjoy their little piece of paradise. Head over for a day of snorkeling and discovering the worlds only Underwater Post Office. Post an underwater postcard, explore beautiful tropical coral, kayak around the island or just order a cocktail or two and lounge around the beach on their sunbeds.
Shark and Turtle Feeding Bay
Yes, you can feed sharks and turtles in Vanuatu all from the safety of a beach. We stopped and enjoyed a lunch here with fire cooked chicken and fresh yummy salads. We were able to chat to guides on turtle hatching and feed some of the more mature residents with fresh pawpaw. If you are keen, you can swim with the turtles but not with the sharks.
Which Islands to Visit?
With several islands to visit it’s not an easy choice to decide where to focus your travels on. We spent our time on Efate and Tanna Island and plan to visit Espiritu Santo Island during our next stay soon.
Efate is the main island where you will arrive via Port Vila. Most of our suggestions above are based on Efate and with so much to see and do, you may be satisfied on focusing your travels on this one island.
We couldn’t go to Vanuatu without seeing Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna Island. With the promise of an active volcano erupting, while you walk along its rim was just too much to resist. We were so keen to go exploring Tanna Island while staying in a gorgeous rustic bamboo hut.
Tanna Island is remote and more untouched with authentic local villages and beautiful lush green landscape. Taking Kids? no problem, we show you how to prepare for Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna Island with kids.
Head to Pentecost Island during the months of April and June and each Saturday to witness Land Diving Ritual done by locals celebrating the Yam Harvest. Experience the ground vibrating with villagers stomping during the ritual as the local men prepare to jump from the man-made timber tower.
With its white sandy beaches, stunning blue holes, caves and world-class diving. Santo draws visitors each year to experience its beauty.
Heading to Vanuatu? We hope you have found our Complete Travel Guide Vanuatu full of information. Be sure to read more details on our Vanuatu travels before leaving.