How to get around in Vanuatu

Vanuatu has many islands on which you can stay, and our Vanuatu travel guide includes all options for transport.

The main island, Efate, has small local minivans that pick up and drop off around the island. Look for a ‘B’ fixed on the number plate and flag the driver down on the side of the road.

Tell him where you’re going and ask if he’s going that way. One of the quirks of this transport system is that there is no set bus route. The drop-off points are usually in the order of the people who got on, going directly to each person’s destination.

These trips cost 150vt (USD 1.30) per person. It’s best to have a small change to pay the driver.

Transport options from Port Vila airport to your accommodation

This Vanuatu Travel Guide will also help you with getting from the airport:

Once you arrive at the airport in Port Vila, there are two ways to do this:

Take a private taxi – Exit the arrivals hall and find a taxi driver just outside. The standard rate quoted from the airport to your accommodation on the main island is 3500vt (USD 30). You may be able to talk your way into a better price, but that all depends on how good your negotiating skills are.

You can book a private transfer here if you’d like to arrange a transfer before your arrival.

Take local transport – This is precisely what we did and it’s very easy and much more affordable. Exit the arrivals hall at the airport and wait just outside for one of the small local minivans with a ‘B’ on its number plate.

Flag the driver down when he comes past and tell him the address/road you’re going to. It’s worth just double-checking the price with him. Depending on your accommodation’s distance, he may charge you more than the standard 150vt. 

Our accommodation at the beautiful Nasama Resort was about 4km past the centre of Port Vila, located on Pango Road. We paid our driver 200vt each from the airport to our accommodation; he was happy. We were dropped off directly before our resort; it was super easy.

The local minivans are very frequent on the main island of Efate, so it doesn’t take much effort to get around using public transport.

Car hire Options – Vanuatu Travel Guide

Yes, you can also hire a car on the main island. Discover Cars offers the cheapest prices. As a rough guide, prices start from around USD 70 per day.

The island is relatively easy to drive around – but mind the potholes!

Driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Vanuatu. Renting a car can save you time exploring different beaches and reaching the islands’ highlights.

Vanuatu Travel Guide: Where to stay in Vanuatu?

Efate (main island) – There are many options for accommodation in Efate. Most travellers will book a resort with access to the beach and facilities such as a pool and restaurants and base themselves there.

We booked a beach-view studio apartment at Nasama Resort for our stay in Vanuatu, and it was perfect.

Vanuatu travel guide - Where to stay in Vanuatu
Vanuatu Travel Guide – Our beach-view studio self-contained apartment at Nasama Resort

A great feature of the apartment is that it was entirely self-contained, so we had our kitchen to cook meals. It was nice to cook breakfast and enjoy it with a coffee on our patio overlooking the beach each morning.

Alternatively, there is an on-site restaurant at the resort for those who don’t wish to cater for themselves.

Cafe Vila offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in a very comfortable setting.

Vanuatu travel guide nasama resort
Our infinity pool at Nasama Resort – Vanuatu Travel Guide

Our studio also included a flatscreen TV with A/C and a ceiling fan.

The location of our apartment was literally on the doorstep of a beautiful little beach with turquoise blue waters and an infinity pool, too. 

Vanuatu travel guide kitchen Nasama resort Vanuatu
Our fully self-contained kitchen at Nasama Resort

We want to return to Nasama Resort on our next visit to Vanuatu – we didn’t want to leave! 

CLICK HERE to check prices and availability for Nasama Resort. Let’s get back to our Vanuatu Travel Guide.

Budget accommodation in Port Vila

If you’re looking for budget yet decent accommodation in the centre of Port Vila, I’d recommend Room with a View. Check out the Moorings Hotel if you’ve got a little more in the budget; rooms from USD 80 per night.

RELATED POST: How to Visit Every Country in the Pacific – The Ultimate Guide

Where to Eat in our Vanuatu Travel Guide?

Aside from the delicious and affordable market food, there are a few great places to eat in Port Vila – I’ve mentioned them below:

L’Houstelet – a French restaurant that has been open for over 45 years. If you’re looking for some well-cooked French-style cuisine, don’t look further than this restaurant, located directly across from the main supermarket in the centre of Port Vila. We enjoyed a delicious beef fillet with pepper sauce here, which is highly recommended.

Cafe Vila – This restaurant is part of the Nasama Resort; however, everybody is welcome to dine here and enjoy their fresh menu. The fresh fish here is delicious. It’s less than a 10-minute drive from town; take a local minivan for 150 vt per person.

Chill Restaurant and Bar – Great views and fantastic food at this restaurant in the centre of Port Vila. It’s a little pricey but a memorable dining experience.

Central Markets

Don’t miss out on eating some of the best food on the island. Our Vanuatu Travel Guide would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about the cuisine. Located at the rear of the fresh central markets, you can find ‘mamas’ cooking home-cooked dishes.

Several different stalls are set up here, and you can choose who to dine with. Just sit at the comfortable tables – there are menus and prices. 

I ate a coconut fish curry, served with rice and tropical salad – the price was 500vt ($4.25).

It was delicious and a very generous portion. I’d highly recommend eating here for lunch during your stay. 

where to eat in vanuatu
My coconut fish curry from the market stalls. Delicious

You’ll also see ladies selling ‘ready meals’ in the markets for takeaway. The food is home-cooked and wholesome.

Different options were chicken with vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams and green water spinach), dried fish, and the national dish in Vanuatu, laplap. 

where to eat in vanuatu
The local ladies with home-cooked meals ready for take-away

Try the local food! – The Best Recommendation in our Vanuatu Travel Guide

Laplap is prepared by grating breadfruit, bananas and taro and making a vegetable paste. Coconut cream is added, and meat such as chicken, beef or pork is added.

It is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven. We purchased some chicken laplap from the markets to eat for lunch, later on, the price was 200vt.

The dish tastes like mashed vegetables and bananas with coconut cream added. It was tasty, yet a little bland. The serving size was huge, and we struggled to eat the entire meal.

RELATED POST – 7 Tips – How to find the best food when travelling

Vanuatu travel guide laplap vanuatu
The national dish of Vanuatu – laplap

We love self-catering when we travel

Eating out for every meal can be costly, so if you choose to book an apartment as we did, having access to a full kitchen is priceless. We cooked quite a few meals during our stay here.

Our portable coffee machine was our saviour! It’s hard to find a good coffee on the island, and if you do, you’ll be paying at least $5 for one. We always travel with our espresso machine and a bag of freshly ground coffee.

Things to do in Vanuatu

Vanuatu has some of the world’s best beaches and diving/snorkelling. Most guesthouses and hotels can organise daily excursions. However, I’d recommend saving yourself a lot of money and booking activities online.

Vanuatu Travel Guide – The cost

How much does stuff cost from the supermarket?

**Index of prices** Price shown in VUV/USD

  • 1.5L bottle of water 150vt / $1.30
  • Small NZ butter 220vt / $1.85
  • Canned tomatoes 160vt / $1.35
  • Baguette 60vt / $0.50
  • eggs (each) 40vt / 0.33c
  • 1 x small bottle Tusker beer 225vt / $1.90
  • Tinned tuna 100vt / $0.85c
  • 2min noodles 50vt / $0.42c
  • UHT milk 1L 150vt / $1.30
  • Bag spaghetti 500g from 150vt /  $1.30
  • Bottle of wine 870vt / $7.40

Cost of fresh produce from the fresh markets

**Index of prices** Price shown in VUV/USD

  • Bunch of 12 small bananas 200vt / $1.70
  • Small punnet of baby tomatoes 200vt / $1.70
  • Pineapple 100-250vt / $0.84c – $2.10
  • Eggplant (x3) 200vt / $1.70
  • Avocado from 60-200vt / $1.70
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes (sml bag) 200vt / $1.70

We picked up a few groceries at Au Bon Marche, a larger supermarket that is located next to the fresh central markets in Port Vila. It’s convenient to visit both at the same time.

After shopping for food, we caught a local bus to our resort from the front of the markets for 150vt per person. 

Popular Activities & Day Trips in Vanuatu

Vanuatu Travel Guide for the Best Beaches

What would our Vanuatu travel guide be without telling you about the best beaches to visit while you’re here?

Eton Beach – This is arguably the nicest beach on the main island of Efate. Expect white sand, palm trees and turquoise blue waters – just like you’ve seen in those travel magazines. The nearby reef cradles a natural pool where you can relax and watch small tropical fish swim around you.

Paradise Cove Beach – This beach is conveniently located near Port Vila. Bring your snorkel and enjoy fantastic swimming and snorkelling while you’re here. This is a beautiful beach in a lush setting.

Hideaway Beach – A popular place to come and enjoy a lazy day of swimming, snorkelling and relaxing. Unfortunately, we noticed that the coral reef has suffered heavily due to the number of visitors trampling over it. Yet, it was still teeming with beautiful tropical fish and underwater life. There is a beach restaurant where you can enjoy lunch or a cold beer. You can also hire snorkelling gear at reception for a fee.

Hideaway Island is also home to the world’s only underwater post office, so kids (and adults) can get a kick out of swimming underwater to send that postcard from paradise!

Note: You must pay an entrance fee of 1250vt or AUD 17 for adults.

Champagne Beach – A famous beach located on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. The beach is renowned for its shimmering crystal-clear waters and powdery white sands. See the bubbly water rising in the lagoon, caused by volcanic gas forcing the water to fizz through the rocks at low tide. This island receives many visitors on cruise boats from Australia.

Bokissa beach – Powder white sands, turquoise water and swaying palm trees. To the south of Espiritu Santo, Bokissa Island is an ideal place to escape and relax in paradise. Perfect for swimming, snorkelling and enjoying the warm tropical breezes of Vanuatu.

Other islands in Vanuatu worth visiting

Tanna Island is one of the most popular islands to visit in Vanuatu.

The biggest drawcard for visitors is to visit Mt Yasur Volcano. You can reserve simple accommodation in bungalows or a treehouse for incredible views of the volcano.

Vanuatu Travel Guide - Mt Yasur volcano
Mt Yasur volcano

Accommodation options in Tanna:

  • Castle Tree House & Bungalows–  Set in White Sands, Castle Tree House And Bungalow provides a garden. Featuring a shared kitchen, this property also welcomes guests with a restaurant, a water park and a terrace.
  • Friendly Beach – Friendly Beach offers luxurious beachfront accommodation in a remote location. Each beachfront has a large terrace with a hammock and lounge seat, providing views across the Pacific Ocean.
  • Rocky Ridge Bungalows– Set in Tanna Island, Rocky Ridge Bungalows offers accommodation with a balcony. This is an affordable accommodation for those travellers on a budget.

There are daily flights to Tanna with Air Vanuatu. Check availability, and the cheapest flights can be found on Skyscanner.

Espiritu Santo Island is famous for its fantastic beaches, range of basic or luxury accommodations, hiking, relaxing and scuba diving and snorkelling.

Accommodation options in Espiritu Santo:

Santo Seaside Villas– A great option with breakfast included in the rate. Clean and comfortable rooms and the staff are super friendly.

Beachfront Resort – A great mid-range option. Guests can enjoy a swimming pool, a restaurant and a bar on this property. Free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.

Turtle Bay Lodge – This is a beautiful property with excellent reviews, including breakfast and a waterfront location. If you’ve got the budget to stay here, with prices starting at around $100 per night, then book it!

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Things to remember about travel in Vanuatu

  • To visit many island beaches, hot springs, blue holes and caves, you’ll have to pay the landowners (in the form of entrance fees), so ensure you have some local currency or AUD.
  • Bring your snorkelling gear to save on hire fees.
  • Tap water is OK to drink
  • English and French are widely spoken here.
  • Use local (shared) transport and boats to get around to keep costs down.

And that’s our Vanuatu Travel Guide. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. 

Love to eat when you travel? After reading our Vanuatu travel guide, check out our post about 5 Foods you cannot miss in Vanuatu.

For more stories from our crazy adventure to visit every country in the world, read more about the time we got stranded in the Pacific – cancelled flights, lost luggage, and coronavirus.

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