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Vanuatu Travel Information


Vanuatu (Vanuatu means 'Land Eternal') is a "Y"-shaped chain of 83 islands 800km west of Nadi (Fiji). The islands range from towering volcanic cones to others covered in dense rainforest to others which are raised coral islands with wide beaches and deep natural harbours. The Ni-Vanuatu people are a peaceful, loving, gentle race, (Vanuatu was recently voted the World's Happiest Country) who enjoy life's simpler pleasures in a country of unique and diverse customs and culture. The Ni Vanuatu have populated the islands for centuries and with more than 115 distinctly different cultures and languages still thriving, Vanuatu is recognised as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. There are small communities of French, British, Australian, New Zealand, Vietnamese, Chinese and other Pacific Islands people living in harmony with the Ni Vanuatu. Until 1980 Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was jointly administered by France and Great Britain as a 'Condominium'.

Efate Map

Port Vila

For a small town with no traffic lights, there are a surprising number of fine cafes, restaurants, & bars in Port Vila. Local markets are on during the week, where you can find inexpensive souvenirs & fresh food at unbeatable prices. Don't forget to pick up your duty free as Port Vila is a stopover on many major cruise lines, the shopping is not to be missed. Back to top

Business Hours

Offices are generally open from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Shops from 8:00 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm, Monday to Friday and 8:00 to Noon on Saturday.

Banks from 8:00 to 3:00 pm Monday to Friday.

Post Office from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday

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The local currency is Vatu (roughly 80 to 1 Australian $ - click here for currency converter) there are several banks with ATMs located in Port Vila, including ANZ, Westpac., National Bank of Vanuatu, and Bred Bank. There are also ATMs at the airport, in the supermarkets and in the main street in town. Australian dollars are accepted at many shops and restaurants in Port Vila, but nowhere else. Credit cards similarly are accepted at major shops and restaurants in town only and should not be relied on in outlying, rural areas. Back to top


Neither tipping and bargaining are practiced. A smile and a 'thank you' is tip enough. Mind you, the prices at the souvenir markets do rise on days when cruise ships are in dock, so it's best to put off the shopping for a day if you know one is in town.Back to top

Other Islands

Take some time while you're here to visit a few of the islands of Vanuatu.

Espiritu Santo is home to the SS Coolidge, ranked amongst the world's best wreck dives - just a short flight from Port Vila. Home to a rich military history, you can get up close and personal with World War II artifacts - but take your time; you can spend weeks here and still not see all the dive sites on the island.

Tanna is home to Yasur volcano, an active volcano popular with tourists because it is so easily accessible.

Pentecost Island is famous for its land jumping ceremony of Nagol, practiced as a fertility rite at certain times of the year. Book your excursion early as tours fill up quickly.

Click here for more on the other islands of Vanuatu.Back to top


Summer is from November to March, and with an average temperature is 28°C, it can be hot, wet and humid. The best time of year is April / May to October when temperatures range from 18 to 28 degrees Celsius. Light weight casual clothing plus a sweater is usually sufficient. November and December are warm but not generally unpleasantly so.Back to top


All major hotels have regular entertainment and there are several night clubs open till late. There is gambling at Palms Casino (Le Meridien Resort), Club 21 (Melanesian Resort) and at Club Vanuatu. In the evenings men drink kava at local kava bars (nakamals) or Nakamals. Regular Melanesian cultural shows are available.Back to top


Kava is not an alcoholic drink. It is a non-addictive natural intoxicant, the only legal narcotic in world. If you have travelled to Fiji and tried kava there, be aware that Vanuatu kava is considered the strongest in the world. Kava looks (and tastes) like muddy brown water. If you would like to try kava, there are plenty of places in Port Vila to try it or witness a kava ceremony - ask at reception for suggestions.

Kava is legal to bring into Australia & most other countries (up to 2 kg), but it must be declared to Australian quarantine on arrival. Back to top


Foreign cash, traveller's cheques and major international credit cards (Amex, Diners, JCB, MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted. Most shops close for 'siesta' FROM 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Restaurants, cafes, banks, supermarkets and the post office do not observe siesta. 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 in the town centre operates every day except Sundays for flowers, fruit, vegetables and handicrafts. Back to top

Departure Tax

Departure tax at the International Airport is VUV 2,500 per person over the age of 12 years and VUV 400 for domestic Vanair Service tax. Both these passenger service charges are included in airfares.

A separate domestic departure fee has also recently been launched which charges visitors and locals 200 vt from any Shefa and Sanma Province domestic airport. This is applied to every leg where a passenger departs from the following domestic airports: Bauerfield • Port Vila, Siwo Airport • Emae, Pele Airport • Tongoa, Valesdir Airport • Epi, Laman Bay Airport • Epi, Pekoa Airport • Espiritu Santo. The 200 vt is paid separately as it is not included in passenger tickets. Back to top

Tourism Levy

The Tourism Levy is 100 vatu [approx A$1.10] per room night and is an initiative of the Vanuatu Tourism Associations which ask Vanuatuan businesses to collect it on their behalf to be used to help promote Vanuatu as the destination in the Pacific region.

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Mele Bay, Port Vila, VANUATU
Mobile + 678 7746 386
Phone / Fax +678 29015


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