Vanuatu versus Fiji. What’s the difference? That’s the question customers want to be answered when it comes to South Pacific holiday destinations.
Let’s start with the numbers. Vanuatu is made up of 80 islands with a population (last measured in 2017) of just over 276,000 people. Fiji tips the scales at 330 islands with a population of more than 900,000.
But is biggest better?
Hoot Holidays Vanuatu expert Nina Henderson says the island escape compares favourably in lots of ways against other South Pacific destinations.
“Customers, when they call about Vanuatu, are often seeking comparisons with Fiji,’’ Nina says.
“The big difference is that everything is so accessible in Vanuatu. Nothing is really too far away.
“Whereas if you are staying in Fiji, depending on traffic it’s between a one to two and half hour drive from the Coral Coast, depending on where you are staying, back to Nadi and you have to account for that when planning day trips and things to do.
“In Vanuatu everything is close. Travel times are sometimes no more than 15 minutes around Port Vila.”
Nina says customers also want to understand how Fiji and Vanuatu beaches differ.
“The hotels in Port Vila sit on the edge of a lagoon, which is fabulous for kayaking, rowing and stand up paddleboards,’’ she said.
“My favourite hotels would be Aore Island Resort and Warwick Le Legon. The lagoon near these hotels is calm, safe and beautiful.”
The other thing customers need to understand is that the locals from Vanuatu are much more reserved than Fijians, with different local customs.
“In Fiji, you get a big Bula welcome and staff will encourage you to take part in activities. The Fijian locals are often the centre of attention,” she says.
“In Vanuatu, you have to approach the locals and engage them. Don’t get me wrong, they are very friendly, but you will have to make the first move.’’
Nina also says that Vanuatu is also more popular for couples holidays than Fiji.
“In Vanuatu, it’s probably 50 - 50 when it comes to families and couples booking holidays. That’s because Vanuatu has many more options when it comes to adults-only resorts,” she says.
“In Fiji, up to 80 per cent of the bookings are for families and you need to consider that depending on what type of holiday you want.”
Prices for food and drinks at local restaurants in Vanuatu tend to be on par with what you would pay in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“The food in Vanuatu is incredibly good, and in town, with restaurants overlooking the water, it is pretty much like Sydney.”
“You can save money by shopping at the local supermarket and picking up some baguettes, some ham and making your own lunch. You don’t always have to eat out.”
Nina says transport is also cheap with the local bus from resorts into the centre of Port Vila costing $1.20.
She also encourages people who have had a tiny taste of Vanuatu on a cruise ship visit to come back soon.
“In one day, you only just touch the surface of what’s on offer in Vanuatu,’’ Nina says.
“Come back and book a six-night Hoot Holiday escape and discover the real Vanuatu. You won’t regret it.”
Vanuatu is a four-hour flight from Sydney. Visitors don’t need visas.