Vanuatu is a verdant, and lush tropical nation in the South Pacific Ocean made up of roughly 80 islands and stretch 1,399 kilometers. There are rugged coral coastlines, white sandy beaches, beautiful waterfalls, thick rainforests blue lagoons and Botanical Gardens. There is approxmately 252,000 Ni-Vanuatu locals and a large expat community living in Port Vila and Santo.
Port Vila is Vanuatu’s principal tourist destination and a vacation is not complete without a side trip to either island of Espirito Santo to dive the coolidge; or to Tanna to climb the volcano,that puts on a spectacular show at night; or to Pentecost to wittness the famous land diving. A trip around the island is magical and a world apart from Port Vila. If you are planning on staying on Efate, a trip around the island is a must, the stunning landscape and people going about their daily business is a world away, being 138 kms around the entire island there is an array of things to stop and see.
There is gourmet resturants, markets selling fresh produce, all in a relaxed tropical lifestyle of rich Melaniesian culture, there is secluded beaches, extreme sports, world class fishing, Botanical Gardens and Museums just to mention a few.
The climate in Vanuatu is tropical. The cooler dryer months are generally June – November. The humid, wet season being December – May. The average daytime temperature about 26 degrees and a in the hot season, the average temperature is 31 degrees with it rarely gets above 33 degrees.
What to Bring
The weather in Vanuatu is very tropical the rainy seasons have heavy, short bursts of rain, usually late afternoons. Long pants and a light jumper/cardigan especially for the women in the cooler months could be an advantage. Do you plan on doing a little walking or hiking while you are here, then pack a windcheater and portable umbrella. Additional footwear is a good option for the adventurous types, a washing machine for your convenience is available to utilize should you require such. A drivers’ license is a handy tool if you intend on hiring a car.
You must have a valid passport for at least six months prior to arrival, and you must have a returning ticket in your possession, Do not expect the Immigration officers to be lenient, they have a very strict policy with this regard. Don’t run the gauntlet obtain a new passport you still have enough time and carry your return ticket, unless you are a resident.
Currency and Exchange
The currency in Vanuatu is called vatu and is tied to an international basket of currency. There are ATMs throughout Port Vila and Santo with ANZ, Bred Bank, and Westpac being well known amongst International Tourists. Many stores in town will accept Australian dollars however to avoid disappointment check before you shop.
The airport exchange rate is acceptable it’s always handy to exchange a small amount if your intentions are to use the services of taxis at the airport or anywhere for that matter credit cards and foreign currencies will not be accepted by the drivers. Once in town the money changers at Goodies, Seven Eleven or any bank have good exchange rates. For your convenience the banking hours are from 9am to 3.30pm Monday – Friday. Money changers do have extended hours and opening on weekends.
Bislama, English and French.
There are numerous vans in Port Vila that operate as private buses. They have a “B” displayed on the license plate there are no specific bus route, pick up and drop of. However if you flag them down and inform them of your destination and they are going your way you pay 150vt (approx. $1.50 AUD)and sit down and enjoy the experience. That price fare enables you to get a round town if you are wanting to travel to the Cascade Waterfall this is likely to cost double (300vt – approx. $3.00 AUD) all prices are per person.
A bus/van driver can operate as your personal driver if there are more than 2 passengers to make it worth his while to take you on tours or if you would like to go somewhere he will be glad to assist.
Taxis in Port Vila are not metered so you will have to discuss the fare prior to hopping in the Taxi.
A few Taxis operate in Santo none are available on outer Islands. There are no buses on Tanna Island that should be arranged prior to leaving.
Communication and Phones.
With the great changes to telecommunications in the past five years you can obtain a phone for as little as $25AUD dollars at the airport or downtown at TVL (Telecom Vanuatu) next to the Post Office or Digicel in the town center. A dual sim card is now available so be sure to ask for one when purchasing your phone. You can top up for a little as 5,000vt ($5AUD). International rates are excellent and local calls are inexpensive. The country Dialing code is oo11+678+ local/international number.
If you are purchasing coral, shells, tree fern carvings in Vanuatu to take home, you may need an export permit. Check with the Department of Environment (Tel: (678) 25 302). Customs in your own country may require a fumigation certificate on items such as mats, grass skirts and wooden carvings; otherwise they may confiscate these goods.
Contact quarantine at the Department of Agriculture for information Tel: (678) 23 130)
You will need special vaccinations such as anti-malaria medication when visiting the outer islands of Vanuatu. There are no crocodiles, stingers or poisonous snakes in Vanuatu or on the outer islands.
Expatriot medical staff is on hand should you require their services. A list of a few important phone numbers you may need during your vacation.
The Medical Center – +678 22826
Emergency & Specialist medical Center – +678 22219
Pro Medical Vanuatu (Emergency Paramedics) – +67825566
Vanuatu Medical Laboratory – +678 7774111 (Blood Analysis)
Tassiriki Health center – +678 2311