Vanuatu Destinations

Read about some of our top places and things to see

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Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to diving Vanuatu than The Coolidge. Encircled by, and in common with, its Pacific Ocean neighbours Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomons, Vanuatu has rich coral reefs, a wealth of wrecks, and some great snorkelling too.

Diving Vanuatu’s Coral Reefs and Walls

Vanuatu is an island archipelago consisting of approximately 82 relatively small islands.  The main islands from largest to smallest are; Espiritu Santo (best known as the site of the SS President Coolidge); Malakula; Efate (home to the capital Port Vila); Erromango; Ambrym; and Tanna. The islands are volcanic in origin and as a consequence, Vanuatu’s shoreline is mostly rocky with fringing reefs and little continental shelf, dropping rapidly into the ocean depths. This gives rise to some exciting diving on reefs and walls, as well as some excellent snorkelling opportunities, particularly on Tanna.

Diving Vanuatu’s Wrecks

Vanuatu became independent as recently as 1980, being jointly administered by France and Britain, and named the New Hebrides prior to that. Being an allied territory, it supported a large American base during WW2, and we have them to thank for the wrecks of the SS President Coolidge, the USS Tucker and Million Dollar Point.

Diveplanit diving vanuatu efate hideaway island bonzer wreck jj39088

The country has a very welcoming population, indeed both major cities Port Vila, the capital, and Luganville on Espiritu Santo, host cruise liner passengers almost continuously. There are plenty of places to stay, from modest family-oriented resorts to luxurious Iririki Island Resort as well as dive and snorkel oriented resorts such as Hideaway Island. Vanuatu is also home to the only underwater post office in the world. (Seriously.)

Slightly north, and closer to Australia than Fiji, Vanuatu is just a 3-hour flight from Brisbane.

Getting There

We always promote flying the local flag, so Air Vanuatu has to be your first choice.

Air Vanuatu – fly the local carrier at the airport at Espiritu Santo diving Vanuatu by Diveplanit

Air Vanuatu has direct flights to Port Vila from Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland, and direct flights to Santo from Brisbane. But not every day.

There are also flights from Nadi and Suva (Fiji), Noumea (New Caledonia), and Honiara (Solomon Islands) – but mainly via Port Vila – if you were thinking of taking in some of the neighbouring islands; but again, not every day.

The overall feeling of Vanuatu is that it is very safe. The water is safe to drink everywhere. In Santo, thanks to the Japanese Hydro and diesel generators you can boil a kettle in a minute, though in Port Vila the advice was to ‘use only one electrical appliance at a time’. If there is air-con in your room you might be charged extra for it.

There are no dangerous snakes, spiders or insects other than the mozzies but because of the high humidity and the fact that you’ll be seeking cool shade during the day they’re very brazen and only the uninitiated will not be wearing insect repellent all day long. It goes without saying that the sunlight is strong even when the sun isn’t shining so wear reef-safe sunscreen.

Banking and Currency

Markets. Typically, in markets, using Vanuatu currency (the vatu) is preferred. Occasionally, in Port Vila, Australian dollars are accepted.

Shops, Restaurants & Bars. In Port Vila and Luganville, you’ll find many places accepting credit cards, particularly MasterCard and Visa (and to a lesser extent American Express), but not so in rural areas and the outer islands. A three to five percent credit card fee is often charged on top of the purchase price.

ATM facilities are available only in Port Vila and Luganville. There are no ATM facilities beyond Port Vila and Luganville.

Generally, it is handy to carry at least 500 VT to 2,000 VT with you to any activity as some cafes and tours don’t have EFTPOS or credit card facilities. If traveling outside of Port Vila or Luganville, it is important to plan ahead and take plenty of Vatu with you. For remote areas, it is best to take coins and smaller-denomination notes.

Banks found in Vanuatu are ANZ, National Bank of Vanuatu, and Bred Bank. Banking hours are as follows:

  • ANZ – 9 AM to 3.30 PM, Monday to Friday. ANZ has (ATMs) in Port Vila, Luganville, and at Bauerfield International Airport.
  • Bank South Pacific (BSP) – 8.30 AM to 4 PM, Monday to Friday. Visit for more information.
  • National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) – 8.30 AM to 3.30 PM, Monday to Thursday; Fridays to 4pm. The NBV Airport office is open for all arrivals and departures. There are NBV ATMs in Luganville, Port Vila and at the Port Vila Post Office.
  • Bred Bank Ltd – Open Monday till Friday from 8.30 am to 3.30 PM (foreign exchange till 4.30PM) with an ATM outside the Port Vila branch.
  • Wanfuteng Bank – Open Monday till Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (foreign exchange till 4:30 PM) with an ATM outside the Port Vila branch.


The cooler, drier season, and generally the best time to visit, is between May and October where the average daytime temperature is approximately 26°C. The wetter and hotter season is between November and April where the average daytime temperature is approximately 29°C.

For the most current weather information and a forecast summary throughout all island provinces and capital Port Vila, visit the Vanuatu Meteorological Services website.


Light-weight casual clothing during the day is usually sufficient, year round. During the cooler months, something warmer may be required during the evening. In the wetter months, bring a water-proof jacket. Modest attire should be worn outside of public bathing areas.


Vanuatu has two main telecommunication companies; Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) and Digicel. Both companies have stores in Port Vila and at Port Vila Airport.

Almost all of Vanuatu is covered, but in the more remote areas, reception can dip in and out, and one carrier could have better coverage in an area than the other. If you’d prefer not to roam, both TVL and Digicel offer plans designed for tourists, so it’s best to check with them upon your arrival in Vanuatu (and top ups are available throughout the islands). If you intend to travel to remote islands, it may be beneficial to invest in a Dual SIM mobile phone to ensure you have as complete coverage as you can.

The code for making international calls out of Vanuatu is 00, while for calls to Vanuatu, it is 678.

The following are the numbers for emergency services in Port Vila:

  • Fire services: 22333
  • Police: 22222. Emergency number Free Line 111
  • Ambulance: 22100. Emergency number Free Line 112
  • Promedical Ambulance: 25566. Emergency number Free Line 115
  • Mobile phone


In Port Vila and Luganville there are a number of cafes who offer Wi-Fi with a purchase of a drink or meal. Most hotels and resorts also offer Wi-Fi to their guests, although at some, this is at an additional cost. While connection speeds are improving, speeds may be slower than your home country. On some outer islands, it won’t be possible to get online even with a local sim card.

Electricity and Power

Three pin plugs (as found in Australia and New Zealand) are used predominately in hotels in Vanuatu, although French two-point plugs can be found in small resorts/bungalows.


There are over 120 distinct languages and many more dialects spoken in Vanuatu making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The national language of Vanuatu is Bislama (pidgin English) however English and French are also official, and commonly spoken languages.

Post Office

For all postage, stamps, faxes and phone calls, Vanuatu Post is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm, 7:30am to 11:30am on Saturday and from 7.30am to 3:00pm on public holidays and cruise ship days. There is no street delivery service in Vanuatu, so addresses are either a PO Box or a Private Mail Bag. For enquiries, phone (678) 22 000 or visit


The main denominations in Vanuatu are Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic (Sunday) and Seventh Day Adventists (Saturday). Visitors are welcome to attend church services which normally run between 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Sundays are generally a day of rest, and visitors will find many activities, services and shops unavailable on this day.


Vanuatu is one hour ahead of AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) and 11 hours ahead of GST (Greenwich Standard Time or UT). There is no daylight saving in summer.

Visitor Information

Port Vila Information Centre:  Vanuatu Tourism Office, First Floor, Tamarama Building, Lini Highway, Port Vila, VANUATU. Postal address:  Vanuatu Tourism Office, PO Box 209, Port Vila, VANUATU. Phone number: +678 22515.

Luganville Information Centre: next to the Apex Hotel. Open Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 4:30pm, and Saturday: 8:00am- 12:00pm. On weekend/public holiday cruise ship days: 8:00am to 2:00pm.

Hideaway sign in Bislama at Hideaway Island Resort at Port Vila diving Vanuatu by Diveplanit

Other essentials – beverages!!

Coffee – go local and asked for Tanna Coffee – i.e., as grown organically on the island of Tanna. It’s very smooth and it has not been over-roasted so there’s no bitterness. You can purchase it in a plunger or more often than not via espresso machine. ‘Long black’ and ‘flat white’ are part of the local vernacular so don’t be afraid to ask. Even in the rather unlikely looking kiosk in the domestic terminal I had one of the best long blacks I’ve had for a while.

Beer: locally brewed Tusker and Nambawan both suit the climate and not too strong.

Spirits & duty free: costs less in duty free shops in Vanuatu than Aussie duty-free shops. So unless you needing something particular, purchase in Vanuatu both on the way in and one the way home.

Here’s a link to the official Vanuatu Tourism website so you can discover what matters.

Other Activities

Around Port Vila, take to the hills and enjoy the exhilarating Zipline, or a stroll through tranquil gardens. On Espiritu Santo, take a trip north to explore the island and its famous Blue Holes and beaches, or explore the Millennium Cave.

On Tanna and Pentecost, there are two quite different options.

Volcanoes anyone? – On Tanna

Tanna is best known as the home to one of Vanuatu’s most popular tourist attractions, the Mount Yasur volcano. Considered one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes, Mt Yasur is just a one hour drive from Tanna’s White Grass Airport followed by a short 10-minute walk to the crater rim. There is also some of the best snorkelling in Vanuatu to be had on Tanna. Note: Tanna is a completely separate island to Efate and Espiritu Santo and you’ll need to plan this into your domestic flight schedule. It is possible to visit Tanna as a day trip from Efate.

Vine bungy jumping – On Pentecost

Pentecost Island has become famous throughout the world for the land diving ritual (Nagol or N’gol) which occurs every Saturday between April and June. The ritual, which influenced the invention of bungee jumping by Kiwi AJ Hackett, sees local men and boys as young as seven jump from a 20 – 30 metre high man-made tower with only a vine attached to their legs.  Note: Pentecost is a completely separate island to Efate and Espiritu Santo and you’ll need to plan this into your domestic flight schedule.

The main point to note when planning your trip to Vanuatu is that the main dive sites are on three separate islands which are flying distance apart. The SS President Coolidge and other great wrecks and reefs are on the island of Espiritu Santo.

Vanuatu Santo Allan Power SS Coolidge diver with gun overtaken by coral

Another area for diving is in and around Mele Bay on Efate, also home to the capital Port Vila, and the main, but not only, international airport. There are a few operators in each of these two locations, as well as plenty of accommodation.

Tanna is the third diving destination in Vanuatu, and has vibrant fringing reefs, blue holes, caves and a labyrinth of swim throughs!

White Grass Ocean Resort, Tanna, Vanuatu offers year round diving and snorkelling in crystal clear waters on pristine hard coral reefs