Vanuatu is a tropical island of amazing contrasts, from Romantic Getaways or Family Resorts with great kids clubs to self contained apartments, or even remote village stays. Plus some of the world's best diving, fishing & water-sports, adventure cruises and you have a holiday to suit everyone.
There is so much to do in Vanuatu, and we can help you enjoy your holiday even more. Formerly known as the New Hebrides, the country was run (up until 1980 when it became independent) as a Condominium between Britain and France. Consequently there is a strong French influence evident in this beautiful country with most of the 220,000 inhabitants speaking both French and English as well as the national language Bislama, a form of Pidgin English.
Air Vanuatu Holidays is a joint venture between Air Vanuatu & Specialist Holidays. Specialist Holidays is a fully licensed travel agency with IATA accreditation, a member of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) and a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).
Specialist Holidays Pty Limited t/a Air Vanuatu Holidays,
Level 11, 815 George St, Sydney NSW 2007 Australia
ACN 134 691 580 Lic No: 2TA06577 Member: IATA, AFTA, TCF.
PORT VILA: What makes Port Vila unique compared to other Pacific Island towns is how close you are to all attractions, other resorts and activities. Located around a magnificent natural harbour offering stunning views of Iririki and Ifira Islands. It is Vanuatu's international gateway and remains the only town on the island. Cheap transport will take you anywhere within 15 minutes. Efate is the main island of Vanuatu, where the majority of commerce and tourism takes place.
ESPIRITU SANTO : Often called just Santo, is aprox 50 minute flight north of Vila and one of the worlds most sought after diving spots. The visibility, clarity and warm temperatures of the water, excellent marine life, fascinating shipwrecks with the liner President Coolidge amongst them. The debris and artifacts submerged in the aftermath of WWII make this a scuba heaven. For the less venturesome, powdery beaches, friendly locals, hidden waterfalls, spectacular tropical feel offer a beautiful isolation from the cares of the world. This was one of James Michener’s favourite places in the Pacific, it is special, take his word on that!
TANNA ISLAND : The fiery heart of this archipelago, as far as islands go, Tanna is an exciting place and one of the most southern islands of Vanuatu. If you dream of a magical adventure in the South Pacific go to the island of Tanna. It is primitive and dominated by an active volcano, a centuries old lifestyle and cargo cult. Said to be the most accessible active volcano in the world, Yasur growls steadily in the background day and night. The fauna is just as exciting offering visitors a chance to see Tanna's beautiful wild horses and excellent marine life, activities range from snorkeling to Turtle Reef, sea kayaks, mountain bikes, golf, tennis and custom village visits. Just 50 minutes by air from Port Vila, Tanna is rich in local tradition and is an island experience unlike any other in the Pacific. It is worth staying a few days and stand on the rim of Yasur Volcano in the evening when you can see the spectacular creation of the Earth exploding into a universe of stars!
Vanuatu has lots of choices for a "couples only escape". Choose from the larger full service resorts such as Iririki Island or Breakas Beach or small intimate boutique resorts such as Eraptap Beach Resort or The Havannah.
If you're looking for a unique wedding or honeymoon destination in the tropics where romance comes naturally, then Vanuatu could be just the place for you. Immerse yourselves in a romantic setting delightfully infused with Melanesian cultures and flavours. The hardest thing you will have to do when arranging your dream wedding is choose your romantic location. Picture yourselves on a stunning private beach under a beautiful archway decorated with exotic flowers. Arrive to a secluded lagoon side location by traditional canoe or stand at the foot of a cascading waterfall in the middle of a tropical forest. You will be touched by the call of the conch shell and a gorgeous pikinini (child) with a smile so big, waits to present you with a floral lei or scatter delightful flowers in your path. How could your wedding day be any more romantic than this?
Vanuatu is a very special destination for family holidays... The gentle and caring Ni-Vanuatu people always have a big smile for kids. Most resorts on the main island are very family friendly and the kids clubs are excellent. Activities for 3 to 12 year olds have a distinct cultural theme ranging from painting, dancing, basket weaving and pool activities to local excursions. The older children will find plenty to amuse them including free use of outrigger canoes, surf skis, catamarans and snorkeling gear.
Outside of the resort hotels it is totally safe to visit the local markets, waterfalls, cruise on the magnificent harbour or simply explore Port Vila. Getting around is easy! Metered taxis are plentiful in the main towns, as are mini buses which are a cheap way of getting around. Cars, 4WDs and jeeps can be hired in Port Vila and Luganville with an Australian driver's license. Here are some of our favourites.
Le Lagon Resort is Vanuatu's most popular family resort. Kids under 14 sharing a room with their parents always STAY, PLAY and EAT FREE. The All Inclusive program at Le Lagon Resort is popular with many families and offers excellent value for money. Naturally there's a special Kids Menu and Kids Buffet to tempt small appetites.
KIDS WILL LOVE: The Kids Only Club is complimentary, as an additional service sign up the kids up for daily activities to keep them busy such as Jewelery making, musical games, T-Shirt painting, excursions to botanical gardens, crazy crab racing, beach games and much more.
PARENTS WILL LOVE: The complimentary Kids Only Club allows parents to relax by the pool, enjoy the swim up bar or explore the local markets totally confident that their kids are safe and happy in the Kids Only Club, which is also open in the evening if you fancy a romantic dinner for two. Babysitting services are available for infants. There are a range of options including all meals, unlimited local beer, spirits, house wines and non-alcoholic beverages as well as a range of daily activities.
Iririki Snorkelers Cove Resort is a stunning 4-star, with lush tropical gardens, a private beach and great snorkeling in its surrounds. Only 8 minutes from Port Vila this is a hit with families of all sizes.
The contemporary Penthouse style apartments at Snorkelers Cove with deluxe pool view rooms stunning tri-level penthouses, all with spectacular ocean or pool views, kitchenettes and spa tubs on private balconies. Guests of all ages are welcome at Iririki Snorkelers Cove. Experience another reason as to why this is known as Vanuatu's most complete resort destination.
KIDS WILL LOVE: A 130 metre beach, volleyball net, complimentary use of non-motorised water sports including catamarans, kayaks and snorkelling gear, two tennis courts, three swimming pools, games room, gymnasium and organised activities.
PARENTS WILL LOVE: the use of Iririki island designed for adults and children over 12 years of age, Countless activities, 5 bars including a swim up bar, a handful of restaurants and a variety of cuisines. For those who want to relax and be pampered, Spa Frangipani is the ideal place. This was the first day spa in Vanuatu and offers a range of treatments including massage, facials, waxing, nails and a new Hot Rocks treatment to help loosen tight muscles, relieve stress & ease tension for the ultimate holiday indulgence.
With a population of approximately 220,000, Vanuatu boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This makes it one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. Most of the inhabitants of Vanuatu are native Melanesian, or Ni-Vanuatu, with the remainder made up of a mix of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders.
When Europeans arrived, a new language evolved. It's name, Bislama, derived from the Bech-der-mer (sea cucumber) traders who developed a form of pidgin English throughout the Pacific. It began as a simplified form of phonetic English, with Spanish, French and colloquialisms added for good measure. As with all languages, it soon took on a life of its own, borrowed then incorporated new words and evolved.
With no written language, story telling, songs and dances are of paramount importance. Art, in its many forms from body decorations and tattoos, to elaborate masks, hats and carvings are also a vital part of ritual celebrations and the social life of the village.
Local life revolves around a constant cycle of ritual events. Every aspect of a person's life is celebrated by extended families that number in the hundreds, filial relationships being remembered back in time through countless generations. Birth, circumcision and initiation, the achievement of status, marriage and death are a paramount feature of a community's social life. With so many relatives there seems always to be a significant ritual of some sort happening, or about to happen, somewhere in Vanuatu.
Port Vila is Vanuatu's only duty-free port and a shopper's delight with its colourful blend of French, English and Melanesian cultures. French perfume, champagne and patisseries can be found alongside souvenir outlets, jewellery and gift shops, and fashion wear including brightly coloured sarongs, and-printed t-shirts, board shorts and beachwear. Chinatown in Rue Carnot is a good place to look for bargains, with everything from Japanese stereos to straw hats and camping gear. To navigate your way around, pick up a free city map from the Information Centre on the main street at Pilioko House.
Traditional crafts & Souvenir can be purchased at Luganville Town on Santo with numerous small restaurants, coffee shops, a sports club, several dive shops, grocery and Chinese shops that sell everything from food products to Santo Souvenirs and Art. Souvenirs can also be purchased at the island resorts, bungalows and guesthouses. Luganville also has a crafts & souvenir shop at the Airport.
On the main street, there are several duty-free shops selling electrical goods, gifts, French perfume, CDs, cosmetics, liquor, wines, spirits and French crystal. For visitors you will need your passport and onward ticket to make a purchase and the shop will deliver the goods to the airport or main wharf for cruise ship passengers departing Vanuatu.
Foreign cash, travelers cheques and major international credit cards (Amex, Diners, JCB, MasterCard and Visa) are widely accepted. Bankcard is not accepted. Most shops close for siesta between 11:30am to 1:30pm. Eating places, banks, supermarkets and the post office do not observe this siesta time. 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 is the town centre operates everyday except Sunday for flowers, fruit, vegetables and handcrafts.
Vanuatu offers a good variety of eco tour products from discovering the hidden beauty of the fabulous flora and fauna in its natural environment, to learning about the history and cultural background of certain natural attractions, meeting local communities that are involved in environmental projects, gentle bush walking passing coconut plantations and historical sites, waterfall and cascade tours, mountain biking tours, river kayaking tours, jet boats, volcano and hot spring trips, bird watching at Vatthe Conservation on Santo, turtle tagging on Moso north of Efate and so much more!
If it's adventure you're after Vanuatu is for you. With hundreds of sightseeing and soft adventure tours on offer there's always plenty to see, do and experience in this amazing country.
Make the most of this South Pacific paradise with your choice of adventure tours and activities from kayaking trips, game fishing, scuba diving or sailing trips throughout the magnificent islands of Vanuatu. There's 83 islands and adventure waiting for you to enjoy on many of them. Vanuatu is one of the few places in the world where you can stand at the rim of an active volcano, an awe inspiring site many travel to Tanna Island to witness.
Adventure tours in Vanuatu are suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness and operators can tailor a trip to suit you. Visit a backstreet store where the best homemade jam in the South Pacific is made or a charter flight trip to a deserted island or abseiling down a waterfall. The choice is all yours!
No vaccinations are required but anti-malarial precautions are recommended for visits to the outer islands. Small clinics and dispensaries with limited resources can be found throughout the outer islands. Serious injuries and medical conditions will require medical evacuation to more modern facilities in Australia, New Zealand or New Caledonia, so travel insurance is strongly recommended.
There are no dangerous animals or insects in Vanuatu.
Some resorts use artesian water for bathing, but provide drinking water separately. If this is the case, visitors will be advised. Discuss vaccinations and risks with your doctor before you go.
The best time of year is April to October when temperatures range from 18-28 degrees Celsius. November and December are warm but not generally unpleasantly so... January to March can be considerable hotter, 26-34 degrees Celsius, often wet and prone to cyclones, but being low season it's also a good time of year to take advantage of travel deals.
Dress is always casual and comfortable. Vanuatu enjoys a tropical climate - especially noticeable in the hotter, humid summer months of November-March, so you will be able to travel light! That includes shirts with short sleeves, shorts, skirts, bathing suits, open-toed shoes, etc. Reef-walkers are great for protecting your feet if you are exploring exposed reefs at low tide. And don't forget sunscreen and a hat! Depending on where you are staying, you may like to bring some dressier (but lightweight!) clothes for the evening.
During the popular winter season (which is high season in Vanuatu), it is less humid and some travellers can even feel a little cool in the evening, so a lightweight jacket or sweater is handy. To avoid embarrassing and offending the local people, visitors should dress modestly when in town, keeping brief clothing for the beaches and resorts. If in doubt about what is acceptable, ask your resort or hotel. This is especially important if you visit a local village.