About Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a tropical island of amazing contrasts, from Romantic Getaways or Family Resorts with great kids clubs to self contained apartments, or even remote village stays. Plus some of the world's best diving, fishing & water-sports, adventure cruises and you have a holiday to suit everyone.

There is so much to do in Vanuatu, and we can help you enjoy your holiday even more. Formerly known as the New Hebrides, the country was run (up until 1980 when it became independent) as a Condominium between Britain and France. Consequently there is a strong French influence evident in this beautiful country with most of the 220,000 inhabitants speaking both French and English as well as the national language Bislama, a form of Pidgin English.

Back to Top

Celebrations

In all honesty, not every family celebration goes the way it's designed to. There can sometimes be tears, tantrums and even the occasional bust-up, but a destination event may help mask these undesirable outcomes!

We can't guarantee a trip to Vanuatu will stop your weird Uncle Alan from dancing at inopportune moments, or allow your in-laws to get along for the first time in their lives, but we do reckon you'll overlook these blips in favour of the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding you once you get here.

Any blues brewing in your brood will quickly be forgotten about once you encounter the gentle Ni-Vanuatu people, who are always eager to show you and your family a good time and welcome you to their home. The locals here especially love kids, so encourage your little ones to get friendly and give you some time out! Unfortunately you will have to reclaim responsibility of them at some stage, but there will be plenty of opportunities in Vanuatu for you to catch a few hours of solitude without tiny terrors tottering at your feet.

There are many family-friendly resorts here, perfect for family reunions and birthdays. Drop them off at a local kids' club for painting, dancing and pool activities, while the older members of your family choose from the range of options available to you at this island paradise. Snorkel, scuba dive, swim or simply lie back on a sun lounger and lap up those rays.

If you feel like venturing out at all, head to the Mele Cascade Waterfalls, take a cruise on the Port Vila harbour or just explore around the islands. There are many romantic locations here for you to propose, renew your vows or take that big (huge) leap into marriage, so get creative! Just remember to pack your togs alongside your come-hither frock.

Back to Top

Grown Up Getaways

If you're yearning for a break from the realities of home life, picking the kids up from school, cooking endless meals and packing lunchboxes, consider this.

Head to Vanuatu - without the kids - and treat yourself to a break from the stresses of your routine.

Everybody needs to get away sometimes, and the more beautiful the destination the better. That's why Vanuatu offers the perfect escape.

With warm, crystalline waters, secluded lagoons, luxurious resorts and the most dramatic sunsets you've ever seen, Vanuatu provides the ultimate formula for relaxation and rejuvenation.

It's also incredibly romantic. You'll find it hard not to fall in love with your partner all over again with a backdrop of palm trees whispering in the breeze, calm ocean gently lapping at the shore and the stirring call of a conch shell. Those dreamy slow-motion, movie moments you've only ever seen on the big screen? Those happen here - for real.

Stare into each other's eyes over a tasty beachfront Melanesian-inspired meal, sip on cocktails together by the pool and indulge in a sensuous couples' massage. Kids? What kids!

Enjoy escapes to private beaches, intimate islands and luxurious resorts, such as the The Havannah, Eraptap Beach, Mangoes Resort or Breakas Beach Resorts, to name just a few of your options.

There are plenty more romantic memories to be made in this island paradise, too. Head out on a stroll through the thick forest and stumble upon ethereal waterfalls, twinkling pools and delightful meadows.

Plunge into the ocean for a refreshing swim or a gentle kayak ride, or get your adrenalin pumping with a diving trip.

If you'd like a little help on how to make your holiday in Vanuatu extra special, get in touch. We'd love to share the secrets of this island nation with you.

Back to Top

Baby Steps

Got kids? Take a trip to Vanuatu and let them loose along the small islands, each with its own magic to be uncovered. Full of balmy breezes, gourmet food and with a relaxed laid-back beach vibe, you and your little ones are bound to love it here. Plus, even if your toddlers do play up, at least they'll be doing it in a beautiful setting!

One of Vanuatu's most special features is its warm and friendly culture. The Ni-Vanuatu people are exceptionally warm and caring, and won't hesitate to offer your little treasures a big smile and a kind word.

Take your babies on a trip to the local markets to take in the sights, sounds and aromas of the local culture, and pick up a few souvenirs while you're there to remind you of your trip when you're back home.

Another huge perk of travelling with tots in Vanuatu is that you can hire vehicles in Port Vila and Luganville with an Australian driver's licence, meaning you can load up a car with all your baby essentials and head to whether you want to go, whenever you want. Parents will know this is about as close to freedom as you can get when kids are this age, so embrace it!

Back to Top

Popular Regions

PORT VILA: What makes Port Vila unique compared to other Pacific Island towns is how close you are to all attractions, other resorts and activities. Located around a magnificent natural harbour offering stunning views of Iririki and Ifira Islands. It is Vanuatu's international gateway and remains the only town on the island. Cheap transport will take you anywhere within 15 minutes. Efate is the main island of Vanuatu, where the majority of commerce and tourism takes place.

ESPIRITU SANTO : Often called just Santo, is aprox 50 minute flight north of Vila and one of the worlds most sought after diving spots. The visibility, clarity and warm temperatures of the water, excellent marine life, fascinating shipwrecks with the liner President Coolidge amongst them. The debris and artifacts submerged in the aftermath of WWII make this a scuba heaven. For the less venturesome, powdery beaches, friendly locals, hidden waterfalls, spectacular tropical feel offer a beautiful isolation from the cares of the world. This was one of James Michener's favourite places in the Pacific, it is special, take his word on that!

TANNA ISLAND : The fiery heart of this archipelago, as far as islands go, Tanna is an exciting place and one of the most southern islands of Vanuatu. If you dream of a magical adventure in the South Pacific go to the island of Tanna. It is primitive and dominated by an active volcano, a centuries old lifestyle and cargo cult. Said to be the most accessible active volcano in the world, Yasur growls steadily in the background day and night. The fauna is just as exciting offering visitors a chance to see Tanna's beautiful wild horses and excellent marine life, activities range from snorkeling to Turtle Reef, sea kayaks, mountain bikes, golf, tennis and custom village visits. Just 50 minutes by air from Port Vila, Tanna is rich in local tradition and is an island experience unlike any other in the Pacific. It is worth staying a few days and stand on the rim of Yasur Volcano in the evening when you can see the spectacular creation of the Earth exploding into a universe of stars!

Back to Top

Family Favourites

Touch down in Vanuatu and the first thing you'll notice is how warmly you and your family are welcomed to this island paradise.

Smiles, laughter and the family spirit are what this nation is all about, making it the perfect destination for holidaymakers with kids.

Vanuatu is made up of several different islands, but many families head to Efate, which is home to the capital of Port Vila. Here, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy both natural beauty and a bustling metropolitan buzz!

Stroll through local markets discovering fresh produce and traditional crafts, dine out and try some of the local fare or wander the waterfront to your heart's content.

Head out on an adventure into the pleasant countryside, where tranquil walks will lead you to beautiful waterfalls and lagoons that the kids will love splashing around in.

You may even want to pack a picnic and hire a 4WD vehicle so you can hit the road yourselves and explore some of the island's off-the-beaten-track gems. You never know what you might find!

Cruising on the high seas is also fun for the whole family. Sit back and enjoy the view while the young ones are on the lookout for marine life like dolphins and turtles.

For even more excitement, make use of outrigger canoes, snorkelling gear and other equipment on hire from your resort to keep you occupied through the balmy days.

Day trips or overnight charters to other nearby islands also offer plenty of adventure and each destination is abundant with charm.

You also have your pick of the bunch when it comes to resorts, with on-site child-friendly facilities and minding services widely available.

Kids aged from 3 to 12 can enjoy cultural-themed kids' clubs, with activities like dancing, painting, basket weaving and swimming to keep them enriched and occupied while you indulge in some quality time for yourself. Talk about the perfect holiday!

Back to Top

People & Customs

With a population of approximately 220,000, Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. Most of the inhabitants of Vanuatu are native Melanesian, or Ni-Vanuatu, with the remainder made up of a mix of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders.

When Europeans arrived, a new language evolved. It's name, Bislama, derived from the Bech-der-mer (sea cucumber) traders who developed a form of pidgin English throughout the Pacific. It began as a simplified form of phonetic English, with Spanish, French and colloquialisms added for good measure. As with all languages, it soon took on a life of its own, borrowed then incorporated new words and evolved.

With no written language, story telling, songs and dances are of paramount importance. Art, in its many forms from body decorations and tattoos, to elaborate masks, hats and carvings are also a vital part of ritual celebrations and the social life of the village.

Local life revolves around a constant cycle of ritual events. Every aspect of a person's life is celebrated by extended families that number in the hundreds, filial relationships being remembered back in time through countless generations. Birth, circumcision and initiation, the achievement of status, marriage and death are a paramount feature of a community's social life. With so many relatives there seems always to be a significant ritual of some sort happening, or about to happen, somewhere in Vanuatu.

Back to Top

Shopping

Port Vila is Vanuatu's only duty-free port and a shopper's delight with its colourful blend of French, English and Melanesian cultures. French perfume, champagne and patisseries can be found alongside souvenir outlets, jewellery and gift shops, and fashion wear including brightly coloured sarongs, and-printed t-shirts, board shorts and beachwear. Chinatown in Rue Carnot is a good place to look for bargains, with everything from Japanese stereos to straw hats and camping gear. To navigate your way around, pick up a free city map from the Information Centre on the main street at Pilioko House.

Traditional crafts & Souvenir can be purchased at Luganville Town on Santo with numerous small restaurants, coffee shops, a sports club, several dive shops, grocery and Chinese shops that sell everything from food products to Santo Souvenirs and Art. Souvenirs can also be purchased at the island resorts, bungalows and guesthouses. Luganville also has a crafts & souvenir shop at the Airport.

On the main street, there are several duty-free shops selling electrical goods, gifts, French perfume, CDs, cosmetics, liquor, wines, spirits and French crystal. For visitors you will need your passport and onward ticket to make a purchase and the shop will deliver the goods to the airport or main wharf for cruise ship passengers departing Vanuatu.

Foreign cash, travelers cheques and major international credit cards (Amex, Diners, JCB, MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted. Bankcard is not accepted. Most shops close for siesta between 11:30am to 1:30pm. Eating places, banks, supermarkets and the post office do not observe this siesta time. Shops open on Saturday morning and some specialty shops and supermarkets open on Sunday morning. Suburban general stores open early and close late seven days a week. The colourful market is the town centre operates everyday except Sunday for flowers, fruit, vegetables and handcrafts.

Back to Top

Top Things To Do

Vanuatu offers a good variety of eco tour products from discovering the hidden beauty of the fabulous flora and fauna in its natural environment, to learning about the history and cultural background of certain natural attractions, meeting local communities that are involved in environmental projects, gentle bush walking passing coconut plantations and historical sites, waterfall and cascade tours, mountain biking tours, river kayaking tours, jet boats, volcano and hot spring trips, bird watching at Vatthe Conservation on Santo, turtle tagging on Moso north of Efate and so much more!

If it's adventure you're after Vanuatu is for you, With hundreds of sightseeing and soft adventure tours on offer there's always plenty to see, do and experience in this amazing country.

Make the most of this South Pacific paradise with your choice of adventure tours and activities from kayaking trips, game fishing, scuba diving or sailing trips throughout the magnificent islands of Vanuatu. There's 83 islands and adventure waiting for you to enjoy on many of them. Vanuatu is one of the few places in the world where you can stand at the rim of an active volcano, an awe inspiring site many travel to Tanna Island to witness.

Adventure tours in Vanuatu are suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness and operators can tailor a trip to suit you. Visit a backstreet store where the best homemade jam in the South Pacific is made or a charter flight trip to a deserted island or abseiling down a waterfall. The choice is all yours!

Back to Top

General Health

No vaccinations are required but anti-malarial precautions are recommended for visits to the outer islands. Small clinics and dispensaries with limited resources can be found throughout the outer islands. Serious injuries and medical conditions will require medical evacuation to more modern facilities in Australia, New Zealand or New Caledonia, so travel insurance is strongly recommended.

There are no dangerous animals or insects in Vanuatu.

Some resorts use artesian water for bathing, but provide drinking water separately. If this is the case, visitors will be advised. Discuss vaccinations and risks with your doctor before you go.

Back to Top

When To Go

The best time of year is April to October when temperatures range from 18-28 degrees Celsius. November and December are warm but not generally unpleasantly so... January to March can be considerable hotter, 26-34 degrees Celsius, often wet and prone to cyclones, but being low season it's also a good time of year to take advantage of travel deals.

Back to Top

What To Pack

Dress is always casual and comfortable. Vanuatu enjoys a tropical climate - especially noticeable in the hotter, humid summer months of November-March, so you will be able to travel light! That includes shirts with short sleeves, shorts, skirts, bathing suits, open-toed shoes, etc. Reef-walkers are great for protecting your feet if you are exploring exposed reefs at low tide. And don't forget sunscreen and a hat! Depending on where you are staying, you may like to bring some dressier (but lightweight!) clothes for the evening.

During the popular winter season (which is high season in Vanuatu), it is less humid and some travellers can even feel a little cool in the evening, so a lightweight jacket or sweater is handy. To avoid embarrassing and offending the local people, visitors should dress modestly when in town, keeping brief clothing for the beaches and resorts. If in doubt about what is acceptable, ask your resort or hotel. This is especially important if you visit a local village.

Back to Top

Teen Time

If your teens are pestering you for a holiday away or you're looking to expose them to a little bit of culture, the island nation of Vanuatu is a perfect destination for the whole family. It's known for its easy-breezy combination of relaxing beaches, stunning nature and adventure activities to keep even the fussiest offspring occupied all day long.

Vanuatu has 113 distinct languages and many different dialects, so if you want to soak up some culture while you travel, this is the perfect place for your family. It's one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, so be sure to take your teens along to some of the many events that happen here every year.

Water sports enthusiasts will also be spoilt for choice in Vanuatu. Whether it's an exhilarating jet ride or a more serene ocean kayak experience, there's plenty here for all age groups and abilities. For a truly unique experience bound to impress everyone from fishing-lover Dad to your stroppy sprogs, try helmet diving with Oceanwalker Vanuatu. This allows you to get up close and personal with the nation's beautiful coral and tropical fish without even getting your hair wet - perfect for your image-conscious little ladies.

Challenge the kids to a blokart race and experience the thrill of land sailing. You'll get a full safety demonstration before you set off, then it's no holds barred to find out who the fastest person in your family really is.

Treat your teens to a 4WD adventure virtually to the rim of the world's most accessible active volcano on the island of Tanna. It'll be a race as to who can get to the top first, be warned though I think the kids will win this one. The volcano really comes alive at night promising you a natural firework show that you'll remember forever.

Teens who love to be pampered can take time out at one of the many relaxing day spas in Vanuatu. Indulge in some mother-daughter bonding time while you get a massage or facial, or treat yourself to a full body scrub to reveal healthy, glowing skin you haven't seen since 1987. The locals won't know who's mother and who's daughter - or at least that's what they'll tell you!

Back to Top

Got the info you need? Ready to relax in Vanuatu?