Things To Do In Vanuatu…

First of all, before we get into things to do in Vanuatu, let’s figure out where the heck it is. It is actually a group of eighty-three (83) islands in the South Pacific. On the island of Efate (the third largest island) is the capital city of Port VilaPort Vila, Vanuatu

Many people are surprised by the numerous things to do on this small island nation. In a moment we will discuss a few of the more interesting sights and activities. This archipelago is volcanic by nature, and about sixty-five (65) of the islands are inhabited.

Some Interesting Facts About this Area of the World

  • The population is about two hundred and seventy-six thousand (276,000) people
  • It was formerly known as the New Hebrides and its name changed to Vanuatu in 1980
  • In 1774 it was named by Captain Cook
  • Independence was gained from France and the United Kingdom in 1980
  • Espiritu Santo is the largest island
  • Ten (10) minutes from Port Vila is the international airport, Bauerfield
  • The original inhabitants of these islands were the Melanesian people
  • Cattle, agriculture, tourism, fishing, and offshore financial services are the primary industries
  • The official languages are French and English
  • A pidgin language which evolved from English is Bislama (the first language of many urban residents). With over one hundred (100) indigenous languages spoken throughout the archipelago, Vanuatu is considered to have the highest density of languages anywhere in the world.
  • There are three main cultural regions with differing values of wealth (In the South — grants of title with associated privileges; In the Center — traditional Melanesian cultural systems; in the North — pigs with rounded tusks are a symbol of wealth which is measured by how much you can give away)
  • The most populated urban areas are Lunganville and Port Vila
  • While ninety (90%) of the population is Melanesian, there are also people from Micronesia, Polynesia, China, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Most families cook their own food using hot stones or boiling. The diet consists mainly of fish, fruit, and root vegetables. There is very little, if any, fried food.
  • Regular flights to Vanuatu are available through Air Vanuatu, Aircalin, Air Pacific, Pacific Blue, and Quantas
  • One thing to keep in mind is that these folks value their siestas, so some establishments may be closed midday (between 1130am and 130pm).
  • You can pick up maps of the area from the Port Vila Vanuatu Tourism Office
  • The currency is the Vatu (VT) and is relatively stable and it is easy to exchange with other currencies at the main banks
  • The climate is warm and tropical. It is warm the entire year with summers being the hottest, but it seldom gets above ninety-five (95F) degrees (35°C). There are cooling breezes in the late afternoon into the early evening due to the east/southeast trade winds.

Now For Some Fun Stuff to Do

Let’s start this section off with a video which will give you a bird’s eye view of this island nation.

Now let’s get down to some specifics:

* Shopping — Because of the multi-cultural aspects of these islands (French, English and Melanesian cultures) you will find a fascinating blend of different types of products. In the main marketplace, as well as Chinatown, which is behind main street, you will find a lot of bargains. Also, another important aspect of this to which to pay attention is that Port Vila is one of the last remaining Duty Free Ports in the entire Pacific. You can find Pacific black pearls and other jewelry as well as plenty of fashion products, Swiss watches, sunglasses, spirits (including French Champagnes), and fragrances. You can save from twenty (20%) to thirty (30%) percent on average.

* The Blue Lagoons — the three (3) most popular blue lagoons are located on Santo: the Nanda Blue Hole, Matevulu Blue Hole, and Riri Blue Hole. This is a perfect way to escape from the tropical heat by taking a swim in these small lagoons in the jungle.

* Snorkel and Scuba Dive Among the Coral Reefs — surrounding many of these islands there is an underwater kingdom filled with all sorts of tropical fish and colorful reefs. There are dolphins, whales, sea snakes, dugongs, reef sharks, and green turtles in these waters. For conservation reasons, fishing is banned in certain areas.

* Some of the Best Beaches in the World — there are no shortage of beaches on which to take it easy and lay back from your other chosen, more strenuous activities. For some of the clearest ocean waters check out Port Olry on Santo. Lonnoc beach also on Santo is a great place as well.

* A Ride on an Outrigger Canoe — this is a traditional vessel which is carved out of a tree trunk. It is an amazing experience similar to being on a catamaran. The best way to do this is get to know a few of the locals who will be happy to take you for a boat ride.

* The Active Volcanoes on Ambrym — you really don’t want to miss this. Take a hike up to the volcanoes where at the top you will discover a huge bubbling lava lake where you can glance down to the center of the earth. This journey is not for the faint of heart as it is a two (2) day trek through jungle up a steep mountainside. But it is most definitely worth the effort.

* Visit a Cannibal Tribe in Malekula — now this is not your normal resort activity. This gives you a full glimpse into this unique culture. Now although this practice is not active any longer, the tribes will be glad to share their history and traditions and show you some old cannibal sites. In fact, on Rano Island you can view one of their “kitchens” with remnants of human bones and skulls scattered about. A French tourist was the last person eaten back in the late 1960’s.

* Naghol Land Diving — this is something simply amazing to see. During the Naghol Land Diving Festival men tie some vines to their legs and jump from a one hundred and fourteen (114) foot (35 meters) wooden tower with the objective of not dying when they hit the ground. This is all going on during tribal dances and chants. Actually modern bungee jumping was developed from this ancient ritual of land diving by A. J. Hackett.

* Check Out the Tiny Remote Islands — in addition to the eighty-three major islands there are thousands of islets to explore. Many of these are without roads or electricity. You will find the locals in a very happy and joyful spirit without any of the modern conveniences including TV. One island off the north coast of Malekula is Uripiv which has Ambrym’s volcanoes on one side and some of the best coral reefs on the other.

* Enjoy the Local Drink at a Nakamal — the local drink of Vanuatu is Kava. It is made from the roots of the Kava plant, and it does give your a slight buzz. It is served in Kava bars called Nakamals. Kava is the country’s largest export ahead of the production of copra (coconut oil).

* An Overnight Trip on a Cargo Ship — now this is not any sort of luxury ship experience by any means but it is a quite delightful and interesting experience. The entire cabin is outdoors and you sleep on the floor. But you get to hang out with locals, learn about their culture, tell stories, watch some volcanoes erupt, view the starlit sky, enjoy a few Tusker beers, and watch the flying fish emerging around sunrise.

* Fly Over the Islands — now to get a real bird’s eye view of this archipelago without spending a lot for private tour flights, take a domestic flight with Air Vanuatu which will cost around seventy ($70) USD. You get some great views while flying over to some of the other islands.

* Sample the Organic Avocados — grown in gardens (farms out in the jungle) these avocados are simply delicious, and you can purchase a basket of them for the price of a cup of coffee. They cost about fifteen (.15) cents USD each.

* Mount Hope Waterfall — plan on spending about half a day checking this place out. Take a boat ride down a river which is carved out of a gorge with limestone formations and overhanging trees and ferns through the dense island rain forest. At the waterfall you will have guides who will lead you through the very lush jungle.

* The Reef Vanuatu Zoological — this is a wildlife education and conservation center where you can view the local wildlife as well as hand feed baby turtles.

* Mele Cascades — this is one of the more popular sights as it is only twenty (20) minutes outside of Port Vila on Efate. The area is locally owned and run by locals with a restaurant, bar, and cafe.

* Freshwater Plantation — just a short boat ride from Santo on the island of Aore, you will find a working cocoa plantation. On this three hundred (300) acre property you will also find the Aore Island Bat Cave. You can make this a day trip or spend the night on the Plantation and do a little snorkeling and swimming in the Segund Channel.

* Underwater Post Office — this is the only underwater post office in the entire world. You purchase a waterproof postcard on land and then dive into the ocean to mail it. This is definitely not your everyday trip to your local postal service.

* Abseiling — for those who enjoy this type of adventure of gliding down a rock face of a mountain with a doubled rope around your body, this is a place you can do it.

Now this should give you a good flavor of some of the sights and cultural experiences around these islands. As you can tell, there is plenty to see and do.

 

So Why Visit Vanuatu? Vanuatu

There are many reasons to visit this most unusual part of the world, some of which I covered above. This is another part of the planet which is not overrun by tourists which makes it more of an enjoyable and less hectic experience. Most people who visit this area of the world are more drawn to New Caledonia and Fiji.

The friendly people here and the sheer beauty by which you are surrounded sets Vanuatu apart. The people take the time to chat with you, and readily share insights into their culture and traditions. The cultural ceremonies, such as fire walking, are something to see, as well as learning about the daily lives of the villagers in how they store food, how they hunt and fish, and their use of plant life.

Sailing, snorkeling, and diving are some of the best anywhere. You can explore many shipwrecks in these very clear waters as well the numerous marine life.

Some of the freshest food on the planet can be found here. Fresh produce combined with grass fed beef from their lush cattle country will satisfy every taste, whether meat lover or vegan.

You can have a great time here in several ways no matter how adventurous you are. Renting a car and driving around the main island of Efate is a fabulous experience. You will leave the vibrant activity around the harbor a d drive through flourishing pasture land and lush rain forests. You will be amazed to find extremely good restaurants in the middle of nowhere. Vanuatu is most definitely a hidden treasure which most folks know nothing about.

Enjoy your many travels around our most beautiful planet,

Joseph

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22 thoughts on “Things To Do In Vanuatu…”

  1. I have never heard of Vanuatu before but I love travelling and discovering new places I’ve never been to. I’d like to go there next year, best beaches in the world and organic avocados sound good. But don’t know if there isn’t any time of the year it is not good to go, like rain season or something. Many places in the world have some times when it’s better not to go there. I also wonder whether it’s safe to go to see the cannibal tribe. I like travelling on my own (with my boyfriend), not with a travel agency but my friends think some countries or areas you are better to go with an agency. 
    Anyway, the islands look beautiful and interesting and I’d love to go there on holiday.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments Lenka.  From all that I researched it is safe to check out the cannibal tribe as those days of that sort of activity are over.  But to feel more secure just check with their local visitor center and they will supply you with all the specific details.  From what I have learned Vanuatu overall is safe brom crime and theft.  But like in any town or city it pays to take precautuons. In Port Vila I would take taxis at night and not flash your money around and keep your doors locked to your rental car and hotel room.  

      Cyclone season in Vanuatu lasts from November until April where get a lot of rain, strong winds, and some flooding.   Here is a website to check out for more info on the weather there:       http://www.vmgd.gov.vu/vmgd/index.php

      Reply
  2. Congratulations for your article, The article about “Things To do Vanuatu” is great, you have a fantastic site. Your layout is easy to navigate with great images and easy to read text. I like your concept. Great idea. Your articles are well written and very concise with very useful information. I have bookmarked your site and thanks for giving the recommended information.

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    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your thoughful comments.  I appreciate them very much.  I look forward to sharing additional content going forward that is both interesting and useful.  All the very Best.

      Reply
  3. When I was looking for places to go to this vacation, a friend walked up to me and asked me where I was going to spend my holiday. I didn’t think that a place like vanuatu would come up. I needed some more information about the place and that is exactly what brought me here. I like this information a whole lot. It was very detailed and I can see that there is so much to do here. I will make sure I make my way here in this islands.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments Henderation.  They are much appreciated.  This is definitely a destination to check out.  Lots to see and do.  All the Best.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for this article! Finally someone posts a good and informative article about what to do in Vanuatu. Most websites just cover the surface, but you really went into the detail that enabled me to choose what options and build in mind the pros and cons of each, considering what me and my family like to do!

    One question, what is the best way to get there?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments and thoughts Eddie.  In the article I think I named the airports and what airlines fly there.  Dependent on from where you are originating you can get there with relative ease.  Lots of fun stuff to do there for all members of the family.  All the Best.

      Reply
  5. Hello

    An eclectic place and most of all I am impressed by the 83 islands as a whole and one can certainly do a lot of things in this small island nation.

    I am impressed by the 100 languages ​​spoken in the archipelago and would certainly envy their country at all times, coming from Greece with a very good climate.

    In your article you mention that you can enjoy more than ten places and activities definitely by my side I would choose scuba diving as my hobby and would definitely rent a car around Efate

    Continue the wonderful block

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comments and sharing you thoughts.  This is most definitely a fun place to check out.  You can get plenty of good scuba diving in there.  All the Best.

      Reply
  6. Ah, Vanuatu… It’s on my wish list since I was a kid! After reading your post, I want to visit even more. Too bad it’s a long flight from Europe…

    Thank you for providing all the information, Joseph, there were so many things I heard of for the first time. Who would have thought that there is an underwater post office?

    I can see myself swimming in one of The Blue Lagoons. I also love to dive, I have a PADI certificate, so I am sure I would enjoy diving among the coral reefs.

    You can actually visit a cannibal tribe? Wow! I am not sure if I would have the courage to do it. I guess I will find out once I actually visit…Have you?

    Since I love sailing, would you recommend to rent a boat and go around the islands?

    Reply
    • Thanks Katja for your thoughts and comments.  Renting a boat will be a fun experience to explore a few of the islands.  I’m not sure about checking out the cannibal tribe either.  I would have to think about that a bit.  Based on all your various interests you will have a fun time there.  All the Best.

      Reply
  7. Awesome!!

    It is great to know all about the beautiful place Vanuatu. The incorporation of the awesome video all with your full description describes the place from every angle. I really like it.

    Reply
  8. Wow, this is the first time I have heard of his place though the population is tiny it is interesting to see the many things which one can engage in. As far as the cannibal tribe is concern as for me I had rather not go because they may be wondering how I might taste LOL but this island is the best keep secret and will be interesting to visit.

    Reply
  9. Hi Joseph!

    I have never heared of Vanuatu before but it looks beautiful! The video showed everything you needed to know and loved watching it. Vanuatu will defenatly be on my list of places to visit.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply

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