Vanuatu

Overview

An island paradise, only a couple of hours from the east coast of Australia.  Vanuatu is perfect for a family holiday, but it is also great for couples wanting a bit of romance, weddings and stressed out execs looking for a bit of peace and quiet.  The vibe here is very laid back, the locals smile a lot and the Portuguese, French and Polynesian cultural mix creates some wonderful culinary flavours.

This isn’t like an Asian beach holiday – not a lot of bars, nightlife or shopping.  But if you’re looking to relax, enjoy nature, love watersports and like a bit of French food, this is the spot for you.

Best Time To Go

April/May through to October is the most pleasant time to visit Vanuatu. Days are clear and warm and a light cardi at night may be required.  November to March is hot and humid and is the wet season so it’s not great for a beach holiday.  It is also cyclone season December/January. Swimming is good all year around with water temperature always between 22-28 degrees.

Best Bits

Eton Beach
Located on the east coast, about an hour drive from Port Vila.  This is a beautiful beach, although a bit on the shelly side, with crystal clear water and lots of rock pools, which are great for kids.  It is generally fairly quiet.

Blue Lagoon
A bit further up the road from Eton Beach, Blue Lagoon is a stunning blue water hole that you can go for a refreshing swim (the water is quite cold!).  It can be swarming with tourists at times, and they charge you to see the lagoon, even if you don’t want to go for a swim.

Mele Cascades Waterfall
These 50 metre falls are reached by a muddy, rocky, steep track and takes about 30 minutes to trek.  If this doesn’t appeal, there is a chain of rock pools close to the bottom of the walk that you can visit and see the lower reaches of the waterfall. If you do tackle the waterfall walk, you can abseil down when you get there.

Klems Hill
Enjoy a picnic by the cascading waterfalls and cool off in the many freshwater pools as you climb to the top of Klems Hill for the best view of Port Vila.

Snorkelling
Snorkelling is one of the best things to do in Vanuatu.  The water is warm and clear and the array of marine life amazing.  The whole cast of Finding Nemo lives off the shore of Vanuatu and the kids will be mesmerised.  If the little ones are too small for snorkelling take them on the Nemo glass-bottomed boat for a birds-eye view.

Diving
Vanuatu is a diver’s paradise – it is home to the SS “President Coolidge”, the largest wreck dive in the world.  Dive sites around the islands offer plunging cliffs, grottoes and overhangs plus huge caves and intricate tunnels.  Abundant coral and wildlife make this a dream location.

Tips & Tricks

Getting Around
Taxis in Vila and Luganville are mostly sedans, while in rural areas they’re 4WD trucks with a red T on their number plates. There are no meters in taxis – you will need to agree on a price, but there seems to be fairly set rates and you won’t get the price down too far.

Public minibuses with a red B fixed to their numberplates operate in Vila, Luganville, eastern Santo and eastern Malekula. Just flag them down and they will take you door to door (there are no set routes – it’s like a shared taxi).  You’ll probably share with a local or other tourists.  They are cheap and plentiful.

Hiring a car for the day is a good option that allows you to potter around the island at your own pace and have a good look around at all the attractions.  It is also a reasonably cost effective way to go as car and driver or a taxi will set you back around $150 or more for about 6 hours. Just remember they drive on the right hand side of the road here.

Money
The currency of Vanuatu is the Vatu.  There are several moneychangers, ATMs and banks available, the majority of which are in Port Vila.  There is an ANZ and a Westpac in Port Vila.

Tipping
There is no tipping or bargaining in Vanuatu as this is considered an insult.  A smile is tip enough.

Traveling with Kids
Vanuatu is perfect for families. The flight time is manageable from the east coast before the kids get too bored, the locals adore children and will spoil them rotten and just about every restaurant has a kids menu.  Most resorts cater to children in a major way and nearly all have kids clubs, making it an easy, enjoyable holiday.

Kids love watching the fish in the Port Vila harbour, the glass bottom boat tour is perfect for them and older kids will love adventure activities like parasailing and ziplining.  For families with younger ones, most hotels offer babysitting services and they are about the same price as in Australia.

Water
The local water supply is safe to drink and there is plenty of bottled water available.

Safety
This is a safe country to visit and petty theft is not a major problem.  However be diligent with your belongings and always use the hotel safe.

Sightseeing
Just about every square inch of Vanuatu is owned by someone, so absolutely nothing you visit will be free.  Every beach and natural attraction incurs an entrance fee, and some villages you need permission from the town chief before you can enter. Take plenty of cash with you on your sightseeing trips.

Download the full Vanuatu Destination Guide. Available from the right hand side of this page.

Check out our Vanuatu packages here.

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