Public minibuses run in eastern Santo, eastern Malekula, Vila and Luganville. They have a red 'B' fixed to their number plates so you'll be able to spot them easily and rather than take a fixed route, they'll take you straight to your chosen destination. They're easy to flag from the road so use them to your advantage no matter where you are.
You can hire a car in Vila and Luganville but you might want to opt for a handy 4WD instead, which you can get from the same car hire companies. The minimum age for renting a car is 23 with an international driving license. There are no laws regarding the wearing of seatbelts, but it's highly recommended that you buckle up.
Regular sedans act as taxi cabs both in Vila and Luganville. In other more rural areas you'll find they're 4WD trucks with a red 'T' on the number plate. A short trip in Vila should set you back no more than 400VT (vatu), but if you hire a driver for the day expect to pay between 8000VT and 12,000VT.
One of the best ways to get around Vanuatu. You can rent scooters for a reasonable price in Vila and the minimum age for hire is 17. It is essential that you hold a valid driving license and that you've had one for at least a year. Always ride with care as some roads are pretty dangerous and locals can drive recklessly.
The local currency unit in Vanuatu is the vatu. Traveller's cheques or cash can be easily converted when you arrive at the airport and can also be easily exchanged when it's time to leave. Goodies Money Exchange tends to have the best rate for cash and traveller's cheques, but shop around depending on where you are to find the best conversions.
Vanuatu is an abundant nation with diverse cultures and languages. There are several languages spoken in Vanuatu and 115 mother tongues, including Bislama, English and French. You can usually get away with speaking English in most areas, although it can never hurt to brush up on a few other basics. If you are heading to the big tourist destinations you will have no trouble speaking English.
There's a departure tax at Vanuatu's International Airport that tourists must adhere to. This costs 2500VT per person (children under 12 years old are exempt) and 400VT for the domestic Vanair service tax. Both of these charges are usually included in airfares, so check your tickets beforehand to make sure you don't get caught out!
The warmer months in Vanuatu run from November through until March and reach an average temperature of 28°C. This time can be wet and humid. Cooler months last from April to October and average around 23°C. The sea is good for swimming all year round with an incredibly luxurious temperature of between 22°C to 28°C.
You can get to Vanuatu direct from Auckland with Virgin. Flying into Vanuatu in just 3 hours is the fast way from New Zealand.
The local taxis tend to meet each flight at bush airfields in rural areas, except for on Sundays or public holidays when you may need to call ahead to guarantee your arrival is met. Once you get into a taxi, make sure to either have the meter turned on or agree upon a set fee depending on where you are headed.
Boat services are provided around Vanuatu by a range of companies, including Fresh Cargo, Ifira Shipping Agencies and also Toara Coastal Shipping. If you're looking for a longer cruise once you arrive, P&O Cruises are a good way to get around Vanuatu without the hassle of inter-island flights, car hire and hotel costs.
Air Vanautu operates a number of inter-island flights to get you around the archipelago. Port Vila to Santo, or Port Vila to Tanna are popular routes. Charter airline Unity Airlines and Air Safaris run volcano tours to Mount Yasur and also tours to Ambrym and Tanna. Inter-island flights may be pricey but they are ideal for those looking to explore as much of Vanuatu as possible.
After flying into Port Vila Airport you can take advantage of a few car hire options. From there you will be able to head to any of the myriad tourist destinations on the island or go straight to your hotel. Car hire may not be ideal for those looking to island-hop, but if you are more interested in comfort it's the best choice.
When you're in Vanuatu you simply have to visit a kava bar. As a member of the pepper tree family, kava doesn't have such a nice flavour but the locals drink it as a relaxant, so it's perfect after a long day of sightseeing. If a real drink is more your style, try the local Port Vila brew, Tusker.
Yasur, on Tanna Island, is a live belching and frothing volcano. It's also Vanuatu's most active volcano. It takes just 10 minutes to walk up the cone, and the side of the crater rim is considered safe. At night time the sight is breathtaking, but be wary: tourists are still at risk from deadly gases.
Just off Hideaway Island in a marine sanctuary close to Port Vila lies the world's first underwater post office. It sits three metres under the water, roughly 50 metres offshore. The postcards sent from here are all waterproof and are collected regularly by trained scuba divers from Vanuatu Post. Weird but incredibly interesting and definitely worth a look.
One of the most exciting ways to spend a morning in Port Vila is to visit the gushing Mele Cascades. With just your swimmers, a towel and your reef shoes (it can get slippery), find a spot that suits you and soak up the views as well as the water. Entrance fee is 1500VT per adult. There are toilets and picnic facilities onsite.
Once you've tried Flaming Bull's infamous eye fillet on mash you'll be hooked, which is why out of the multitude of restaurants in Vanuatu, this one's a favourite amongst locals and tourists. The organic beef comes from happy cows that graze around gorgeous coconut plantations. The live music from local bands is also a drawcard.
The salt and pepper calamari here makes a great snack as you play a game of pool or sip a delicious cocktail. The cocktails, so they say, are some of the best in Vanuatu. This spacious bar area is great for families and has some excellent food as well as a fun atmosphere. A great place for winding down.
Take a romantic stroll along the beach at sunset and make Tamanu your dining destination, as it's one of the most romantic restaurants in Vanuatu. Share the crumbed prawns or delicious fish carpaccio, or dip into the seafood green curry and finish with the passionfruit panna cotta. Tamanu is sheer bliss on the beach.
Providing great views over the harbour of Port Vila, this atmospheric, friendly restaurant is a good option for the whole family – and the food is good value too! If there is a game on, here is the place to watch it on the big screen with a fresh lime juice or a local beer. A chilled out venue that everyone can enjoy.
Melanesian nights are held regularly at major resorts and hotels, and as well as a host of delicious traditional food, you'll get to see special kastom dancing, participate in a kava drinking ceremony, croon and dance to impressive local string bands. Ask your hotel for details on their Melanesian nights when you arrive.
Providing all your sporting needs as well as an excellent hot and cold food menu, Anchor Inn is a reliable stop in the heart of Port Vila. It's a great place to watch the sunset and enjoy a drink as it's right on the water. You can also get your photo taken inside a giant beer bottle.
When it comes to making the most of nightlife in Vanuatu, visiting a casino is a must. At the ever popular Le Meridien you'll be flashing your cash in style while overlooking Erakor Lagoon. Port Villa's impressive international casino invites casual wear and is a great place to try your hand at slots or poker.
Where style meets casual with eye-boggling views, Hemisphere Bar at the very top of the Sebel Hotel makes for an excellent night out. Great for couples looking for romance as well as a place to dance and let loose. The views over Port Vila harbour are especially impressive at Sunset.
This marine sanctuary is a popular destination for a daytrip in Vanuatu. As well as visiting the exciting underwater post office you can spend hours in the sun catching rays, snorkel to your heart's content or check out the coral on the glass-bottom boat. Numerous tour companies will offer to pick you up from your hotel for this trip, but it's easy to arrange yourself. It's just a four-minute crossing there and back on the Hideaway Island ferry.
Start the morning bright and early with a visit to the stunning Mele Cascades and beat the crowds if you can. If you're looking for some romance, take a picnic and breakfast on the rocks before swimming in the falls. After a nice nap continue the romance with dinner at Tamanu on the Beach and then have a flutter in the Le Meridien Port Vila Resort and Casino.
This spacious 23-meter sailing ketch was most recently used in the TV Show Survivor, but there are no survival techniques necessary in this fabulous daytrip to visit secluded beaches and coves. Dive or snorkel, feed the fish or walk the crystal white sands and tuck into a beach BBQ before climbing back onboard what was previously a liveaboard in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. A must-do cruise when you're holidaying in Vanuatu.
If you don't fancy snorkeling or scuba diving but still want to see the fish on the bottom of the ocean, here's a way to do it all without getting your hair wet. The Oceanwalker Helmet Dive entails a short walk down a ramp, into three to four-metre water in a purpose-built ocean walk helmet. Discuss what you saw underwater over a traditional, delicious Melanesian night dinner.
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