The Blue Lagoon, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu

Credit: Martin Valigursky from

Heading to Vanuatu on a tropical escape? From passports to visa requirements to the local language, customs, and etiquette, read our ultimate guide to help prepare for your trip.

Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, offers travellers a tropical getaway with stunning, serene landscapes. From Port Vila to the island of Pentecost, travellers should expect unique delicacies, thrilling experiences, and tranquil sandy beaches.

Whether you’re visiting Vanuatu for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches or one of its many other activities and attractions, it’s important to plan and prepare for your trip.

Read on for our guide for travelling to Vanuatu, including essential travel tips, the best times to travel, and so much more. Let’s begin with what you need to enter Vanuatu.

Jump to:

  1. Vanuatu entry requirements
    1. Passports
    2. Visa
    3. Covid-19
    4. Vaccines and health advice
  2. Travel tips
    1. Airport
    2. Language
    3. Money
    4. Power plugs and adaptors
    5. SIM cards
    6. Travel insurance
    7. Safety
  3. Vanuatu weather
  4. What to pack
  5. Transport
    1. Arriving
    2. Getting around
    3. Travelling between islands
  6. Culture and customs
    1. Cuisine
    2. Cultural experiences
    3. Etiquette
  7. Where to stay
    1. Port Vila
    2. Espiritu Santo
    3. Tanna
    4. Pentecost Island
  8. Things to do
  9. Best time to visit Vanuatu

Vanuatu entry requirements

Coconut palm tree plantation - Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Credit: Naiveangelde from

Before you depart for Vanuatu, let’s explore your passport's required validity, the type of visa you need to apply for, and further health information that will be essential for your trip, including COVID-19 testing requirements, vaccinations we recommend, and more.

Passport validity

Vanuatu immigration requires that all visitors have passports with up to six months of validity when arriving in the nation. 


Visa requirements

For travellers coming from Australia with an Australian passport, you’re eligible for a 120-day tourist visa, which is organised with Vanuatu immigration upon arrival. To quality, you should have a confirmed return ticket to your country of origin and confirmation of your accommodation to show before your visa is approved.

To secure a visa, you should also be free of any symptoms of serious illness, have the means to support yourself financially, and present no other reason to be barred from entering Vanuatu.


Covid-19 testing and vaccinations

The Covid-19 emergency has ended, and so have the restrictions that Vanuatu immigration required until 2023. Australian travellers do not need to test for Covid-19 before their trip or be fully vaccinated to enter the country. Vanuatu immigration, despite this, still strongly encourages people to be fully vaccinated ahead of arrival for their safety.

Many travellers also will be happy to know that masks are not required on flights or in Vanuatu. 


Vaccines and health advice

Those travelling to Vanuatu should prepare by receiving specific vaccines to protect themselves. Malaria is common in the northern part of Vanuatu, so it is recommended to bring anti-malaria medication. Many travellers should also speak to their accommodations to ensure they have insect-proof rooms and bungalows to avoid mosquitoes.

According to SmartTraveller, other health concerns to be aware of include Zika virus, rubella, mumps, measles, and chickenpox. Those travelling to Vanuatu are encouraged to ensure that their vaccinations are current before they fly to their destination.

Vanuatu, while beautiful and full of adventure, doesn’t always offer readily accessible medical facilities. Medical facilities are limited, so visitors are encouraged to prepare beforehand to know where clinics are located. 

Water is another health concern many travellers have when coming to Vanuatu. The tap water in Port Vila and Luganville is safe compared to rural areas, but cyclones and adverse weather impact water quality. To be safe, travellers are encouraged to drink boiled and bottled water while travelling around Vanuatu.


Travel tips for Vanuatu

Tourists in the off road car is going to the volcano Yasur, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Credit: ggfoto from

Vanuatu has plenty to explore, indulge in, and experience. However, we have a few tips to ensure you make the most of your holiday. For instance, many travellers would appreciate knowing that buying alcohol is difficult on the weekend, as it is illegal to sell alcohol between midday Saturday and Monday morning.

Travellers should also be mindful of their attire, as Vanuatu is more conservative than other nations. As a predominantly Christian nation, Vanuatu residents usually cover their shoulders and knees, and it’s recommended that travellers do the same while visiting. From getting around the airport to the language and essential money tips, let’s explore how to best plan ahead and make the most of your trip and travel around Vanuatu. 


Vanuatu has four main airports: Sara Airport, located on Pentecost Island; Bauerfield International Airport (Port Vila Airport), located in Port Vila; Santo-Pekoa International Airport, located in Espiritu Santo; and White Grass Airport, located on the island of Tanna. The most popular airport for arrivals from Australia is Port Vila Airport, but no matter where you arrive, you’ll have transport options to move onto your final destination.

The most common transport options for Port Vila airport includes taxis and shuttles. In some cases, hotels and resorts offer transport, so we recommend checking with your accommodation ahead of time.



Vanuatu’s languages are vast and diverse, but the good news for Australian travellers is that you should not encounter any difficulties speaking with locals. The official languages in the country are Bislama, French, and English. There are even over 100 indigenous languages in the country that people still speak in the villages.

To get the most out of your trip and engage with locals, we recommend learning a little Bislama or French before you depart. These small Bislama phrases will be helpful when you journey around Vanuatu, chat amongst the locals, or even attempt to traverse independently without a guide: 

  • Hello: Halo
  • How are you?: Olsem wanem? 
  • Yes: Yes or Si
  • No: No
  • Do you speak English?: Plis, yu save toktok ingish?
  • Please: Plis
  • Thank you: Tangkiu


Currency, ATMs, and payment methods

The currency in Vanuatu is Vatu, which all villages and cities accept. The currency exchange rate is currently between 75 and 78 Vatu per Australian dollar (AUD). Some establishments accept Australian dollars in Vanuatu, but only in more urban and densely populated locations like Port Vila and Luganville.

For those interested in using bank and credit cards, ask your bank if you can use your card in Vanuatu. Several local ATMs are available at the local banks in many towns, but most charge local ATM and currency conversion fees. As credit cards aren’t widely accepted, we recommend bringing Vatu in cash for your trip. In fact, many places only take cash and Vatu, so be sure to convert your Australia dollars to Vatu before you leave for your trip.

For those wondering if Vanuatu is expensive in comparison to Australia - the cost of food, accommodation and activities in Vanuatu is relatively on par with Australian costs, however that will be dependent on where you choose to stay and eat.  In the more touristy locations, you might spend more than expected. Some of these hot spots include resorts, restaurants, and attractions catering explicitly to tourists. Areas that are a bit more remote with less amenities for tourism are likely to be more budget-friendly. 

Wicker bags on sale in the local market, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Credit: ggfoto from

Power plugs and adaptors

Australian travellers will be excited to discover that Vanuatu has the same power plugs and outlets as Australia, which is a Type I plug with three flat pins in a triangular formation. Those travelling with Australian devices do not need to purchase any additional adaptors, but those travelling with plugs or devices from other countries require a travel adaptor. The standard voltage in Vanuatu is 220V, as compared to 230V in Australia. While some might worry about the voltage difference, the power plugs are relatively similar, and all of your devices should charge with ease in Vanuatu. 


SIM cards, WiFi, and mobile phone connectivity

Australian travellers have several options regarding their phones upon arriving in Vanuatu. Certain Australian providers offer international roaming, but some carriers charge much more than the cost of purchasing a local SIM card. Cost-effective plans are available from Vodafone or Digicel, the two leading Vanuatu phone providers that offer prepaid plans.

To purchase a SIM card, you can visit a kiosk in the Port Vila Airport upon arrival or go into a major city like Port Vila or Luganville. A Vanuatu SIM card and prepaid plan gives travellers access to a new Vanuatu number, internet, and the ability to call and text others. WiFi in Vanuatu is not too reliable, so it is recommended that travellers have a local SIM card to ensure connectivity. 


Travel insurance

Travellers coming to Vanuatu should consider getting travel insurance to cover the cost of any required medical treatment while on holiday, as well as any other issues that may arise with travel cancellations, delays and lost luggage. 

Vanuatu does not have extensive medical care, and it is expensive. While no one envisions medical care as part of their holiday, many benefit from purchasing an appropriate plan for traveller’s insurance just in case to prepare for their trip. 



Vanuatu, with its stunning beaches and beautiful landscapes, has a relatively low crime rate. However, visitors coming to Vanuatu during holidays should be mindful and careful, as crime tends to increase during peak travel periods (June and July). Smarttraveller recommends travelling in groups and avoid walking alone at night, especially in more isolated locations.

Earthquakes and tsunamis are possible in Vanuatu. Earthquakes are quite common due to the volcanic activity of the region. For those travelling around Vanuatu, sirens will be sounded to warn of potential tsunamis. If you encounter this during your trip, it is best to get to higher ground to avoid the danger.

Active volcanoes are common in Vanuatu and scattered around the islands. Travellers are able to visit some, including Mt. Yasur, but are encouraged to exercise caution around these stunning but dangerous attractions. 


Vanuatu weather and climate

Bungalow in the forest in Vanuatu.

Credit: ggfoto from

Vanuatu’s tropical climate appeals to many travellers, offering favourable temperatures and sunny days throughout the seasons. Across Vanuatu’s 83 islands, the climate tends to remain tropical, with a clear wet season from October to March and a dry season from April to September. The weather is typically warm to hot, with a better chance of rain from October to March, while April to September tends to be dry and slightly cooler with south-easterly winds.

The daily temperatures in Vanuatu range from 21 °C to 28 °C depending on the season, though temperatures reach as low as 19 °C and as high as 32 °C on any given day. The south-easterly winds from May to October don’t bring a chill to the island – in fact, the slightly cooler and less humid conditions make for a more comfortable holiday.

It’s good to know that there’s always a chance of rain in Vanuatu, so whenever you travel prepare for both rain and shine!


What to pack

A young couple cool off at Mystery Island, Vanuatu

Credit: pominoz1966 from

Packing for Vanuatu is relatively easy since the weather remains consistently warm throughout the year, so casual beachwear in lightweight materials will always be on your packing list. Depending on the type of vacation, you’ll want to pack a few specific items. For instance, those travelling to Vanuatu during the wetter months should bring waterproof clothing, quick-dry tops, shorts, dresses, and comfortable walking shoes with good grip in wet conditions. Those planning a more active holiday are encouraged to bring their activewear, running sneakers, and a backpack. For those snorkelling or swimming in Vanuatu, bring your swimwear, some loose-fitting beachwear, and some flip-flops. Towels are not usually needed, as they are usually provided at resorts and villas.

We also recommend bringing a hat, a day bag, sunglasses, and sunscreen – particularly as sunscreen is difficult to find on the island, and when it is available, it is usually expensive.

As with any trip, travellers packing for Vanuatu should also bring toiletries and any required medications, as they are often difficult to find and more expensive on the islands. As we discussed, mosquitoes are prominent in Vanuatu, so travellers are encouraged to bring mosquito repellent to protect themselves. 

Travellers should also bring a waterproof camera if they intend to snorkel or swim in the crystal-clear blue waters of Vanuatu’s bays. Phones and chargers are also recommended, and avid readers should pack an eBook or books for long days spent at the beach. Reusable water bottles are also recommended for those planning long excursions and adventures.


Transport in Vanuatu

To Port Orly - Espiritu Santo

Credit: lkonya from

Travelling around Vanuatu is different from other destinations in the South Pacific. Some will be surprised that the road conditions vary throughout Vanuatu’s islands. In fact, beyond Efate and Santo, most roads people encounter are only dirt tracks or roads where four-wheel drive is necessary. Let’s dive into some tips for travelling around Vanuatu, starting with your arrival.


Port Vila Airport offers a variety of transit options and easier access to the city, such as taxi, shuttle, and hotel-organised accommodation. There are also buses for public transportation if preferred. 


Getting around

There are a few options when travelling between destinations in Vanuatu, including ferries and banana boats, domestic flights, shuttle services, taxis, and local minivan buses.  We recommend talking to your hotel or guesthouse to hear their recommendations for the best way to reach your destination.

Bikes are a popular mode of transport for those in villages or larger cities like Port Vila or Luganville. Many residents and travellers enjoy riding bikes through the town, so this is a viable option if you seek a more active way to experience Vanuatu. 


Travelling between the islands

Planes and boats are the most common ways to travel between the islands.

For those travalling by plane, the main airports include Bauerfield International Airport, Santo-Pekoa International Airport, Sara Airport, and White Grass Airport.  Some flights only depart two to three times per week, so careful planning is essential.

Travellers who want to experience the sea breeze and take the scenic route can travel by boat, ferry and even cargo ships. The two main harbors in Vanuatu are located in Port Vila, and Luganville in Santo. Tickets for these ships are available at each of the wharfs in these cities and provide access to all inhabited islands.

For travel to smaller islands, banana boats are readily accessible, typically used to travel from Port Vila to the Havannah and Taleva Coasts or the Shepherd Islands. Fares can be purchased at the wharf in person. To ensure no delay in your itinerary, plan ahead and schedule transport when available.

Ready to go? Search for flights to Vanuatu now

Vanuatu culture and customs

Vanuatu local culture and customs

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The culture and customs of Vanuatu attract visitors from all around the world. The people of Vanuatu, known as the Ni-Vanuatu, are Melanesian, and some are even Polynesian in ancestry. Their culture is influenced heavily by Christianity, which is common among most residents. As a culture of small rural communities, Vanuatu offers a chance to participate in extraordinarily unique experiences, including ancient Melanesian practices in Ekasup Village, the Rom Dance in Fanla, and the Pentecost Land Diving Festival. 

Local cuisine

The local Vanuatu cuisine is full of exquisite flavours and delicacies exclusive to the islands. Some of the most common dishes that people will encounter in the markets include coconut fish curry, laplap, poulet fish, kava and more.

Coconut fish curry, typically found in food stands in cities like Port Vila, is a delicious meal made with fresh fish to have by the seaside.

Laplap, Vanuatu's national dish, consists of pounded yams, breadfruit, banana, taro paste with coconut cream and a piece of meat, like chicken, pork, or beef. After cooking in an underground oven wrapped in banana leaves, laplap is ready to enjoy.

Another local delicacy that visitors can try is tuluk. Tuluk consists of tapioca dough with a shredded pork filling wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. The consistency is similar to tamales.

Poulet fish is called such not only because of the island's French history but also because the indigenous snapper tastes like chicken.

And no trip to Vanuatu is complete without trying kava. A ceremonial beverage consumed on the island, Kava is a centuries-old medicinal and cultural drink made from the root of kava plant. 


Cultural experiences

Ambrym Fanla Rom Dance

Credit: Tourism Vanuatu

Vanuatu, with its various indigenous languages and rural villages, offers many cultural experiences for travellers to immerse themselves in. For instance, “Tam Tam”, or the drumming ritual, is a customary dance and song to honour weddings or funerals performed in villages around Vanuatu.

Another ceremony many want to experience for themselves is the Rom Dance in Fanla, one of the oldest villages on the island of Ambrym. In this ritual, 20 men in a ceremonial mass stomp, sing and laugh in celebration. Those visiting Pentecost Island may consider watching the Nagol Festival or the Pentecost Land Diving Festival.

The Nagol Festival occurs every Saturday from April to June on Pentecost, celebrating an ancient tradition of land diving. During this, men plummet to the ground from a thirty-metre timber tower with a vine wrapped around their feet. This ceremony is a must-see, as Pentecost is where bungee jumping was born!

Travellers coming to Vanuatu should set aside time to visit the Banks Islands Group in the far north of Vanuatu. Here, on Ra Island, travellers see men of the village put on black and white paint, mimic sea snakes, and dance with a local string band as they honour cultural references from both Vanuatu’s history and Christianity.  


Tips on etiquette

The Ni-Vanuatu people are friendly and welcoming to all visitors, but some common etiquette rules can help you. First, a typical greeting in Vanuatu consists of a handshake-like gesture called nasara, where you give a light touch to the other person’s extended hand while making eye contact.

The Ni-Vanuatu also dress conservatively, and travellers also should wear sleeves and skirts past their knees to respect the local culture. This modesty within their culture is seen away from the beach, where people dress to reflect their religion and cultural values.

Travellers can bring gifts, especially if staying at a location where hosts provide guidance and support. Exchanging gifts is done with both hands and a genuine smile to express gratitude. Similarly, receiving gifts with grace shows deep gratitude for the gift from the other person, which builds rapport.

Those travelling to Vanuatu can learn some of the native tongue. Knowing a little French helps, but why not try Bislama? Even a few phrases in Bislama go a long way in building rapport. 


Where to stay in Vanuatu

Port Vila is capital city of Vanuatu, Lies on the main island Efate

Credit: Marek from

Vanuatu is a vast nation with plenty of accommodation options, ranging from island bungalows to boutique resorts and villas. You can even find yourself sitting by the beach at a top-end luxury resort! With so many options, let’s explore accommodations by region, starting with Port Vila.


Port Vila 

Beds and private pool at a villa at Eratap Beach resort

Credit: Eratap Beach Resort

Port Vila, located in the Shefa province, is a favourite among travellers because of its variety of amenities, urban feel, and convenience. With its proximity to beautiful beaches, visitors enjoy days on the water followed by delicious dinners at the local markets in town.

Best budget-friendly accommodation: Anabru Pacific Lodge

Anabru Pacific Lodge offers affordable accommodations within a 5-minute drive of both Bauerfield International Airport and downtown Port Vila.

Best resort accommodation: Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Vila

Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Vila is a favourite among guests for its variety of amenities, proximity to Port Vila, and beautiful private beach lagoon. 

Best luxury accommodation: Eratap Beach Resort

Eratap Beach Resort is a top luxury accommodation beloved by travellers for its stunning views, the delicious menu at its private resort restaurant, and an array of excursions on offer, from fishing trips to visits to local islands. 


Espiritu Santo

Spacious room at Barrier Beach Resort

Credit: Barrier Beach Resort

Espiritu Santo, located in the Samna province, boasts stunning natural scenery, including hidden jewels of the Pacific. Many visitors visit this part of Vanuatu to enjoy its tranquillity, stunning views, and outstanding water activities. 

Best budget-friendly accommodation: Coral Sea Motel

Coral Sea Motel, located in Luganville, is close to city attractions like the SS President Coolidge and plenty of delicious food at the local markets and restaurants. 

Best resort accommodation: Aore Adventure Sports and Lodge

Aore Adventure Sports and Lodge offers private waterfront accommodations and plenty of amenities, including the world-famous Champagne Beach and Port Orly, and a private 200-meter white, sandy beach for guests to enjoy. 

Best luxury accommodation: Barrier Beach Resort

Barrier Beach Resort is only 20 minutes from Santo-Perkoa International Airport, offering a luxurious, relaxed atmosphere with spacious accommodations, white sandy beaches, and spa amenities. 



Exterior of eco-resort, Rockwater Resort on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Credit: Rockwater Resort Tanna

Tanna, home to the world’s largest, most accessible volcano, Mount Yasur, is known for its beautiful views and lush forests. Those travelling to Vanuatu choose Tanna for its uncharted paths, outdoor adventures, and picturesque natural landscapes.

Best budget-friendly accommodation: Alofa Beach Bungalow

Alofa Beach Bungalow offers a short ride to White Grass Airport and direct access to the beach. For those interested in the local culture, it’s only a ten-minute walk to the markets and shops of Lenakel Town.

Best resort accommodation: Tanna Adventure Bungalows

Tanna Adventure Bungalows are perfect for those seeking tropical black, sandy beaches and those who enjoy coffee. Adventure lovers also enjoy the resort’s proximity to Mt. Yasur Volcano and its “million-dollar views”. 

Best luxury accommodation: Rockwater Resort

As an adults-only eco-resort, Rockwater Resort offers stunning ocean views, private balconies, and ten-minute rides to the airport. Known as the “Santorini of the South Pacific,” Rockwater Resort is truly the epitome of luxury and relaxation.


Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island, located in the Penama province, is known for its magnificent waterfalls and rivers. While accommodation is more limited and rustic on Pentacost Island, it's the perfect area to stay for adventurous travellers who want to enjoy the thrills and views Vanuatu offers. 

Best budget-friendly accommodation: Nak Guesthouse

Nak Guesthouse offers guests comfortable accommodations and abundant outdoor activities, from hiking to exceptional views of Vanuatu’s lush landscapes. 

Best centrally-located accommodation: Toa Palms Bungalows

Toa Palms Bungalows offer a quiet, relaxing destination for exploring the Crater Lakes or visiting Devil’s Rock on the southern coast of the island.

Best accommodation with modern facilities: Tui Lodge

Tui Lodge offers close access to the highest point on the island, Mt. Lombenben, a semi-active volcano, and a chance to experience Vanuatu's vibrant natural wonders firsthand.


Things to do in Vanuatu

A woman snorkelling over a coral  reef off the coast of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

Credit: Tandem Stock from

Vanuatu, with so many diverse islands, experiences, attractions, and accommodations, offers plenty of activities for people of all ages and all kinds of travellers. 

Top Things to Do:

  • Visit Mt. Yasur
  • Explore Mystery Island
  • Experience Port Vila Market
  • Go snorkelling
  • Swim in a watering hole

These are just some of the many attractions that travellers choose from when they visit Vanuatu. 


Best time to visit Vanuatu

idyllic sand beach blue lagoon champagne coast Oceania

Credit: Katya Tsvetkova from

For those travelling to Vanuatu, there are certain times of the year to avoid and times that are best for specific activities. Generally, the best time to visit Vanuatu is during May, early June, and September, when there is a combination of great weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. 

However, it depends on your goals, planned itinerary, and destination. You can select when to travel to Vanuatu based on what you’d like to do, a particular month that suits your travel plans and where you desire to explore – read our comprehensive guide on the best time to visit Vanuatu to help you plan your trip. No matter your goals, Vanuatu offers a little for everyone to indulge in.

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