By and large this pacific paradise is a safe and friendly destination, but there are a few Vanuatu travel tips that every visitor should know. As it’s located on the Pacific Rim of Fire, the region can be subject to extreme weather conditions.
Health services can also be limited, especially on the remote islands, and you should take out travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation. Meanwhile vaccination against Hepatitis A and B, along with typhoid fever, is recommended.
In general, the Vanuatu travel advice is to exercise common sense and general caution when it comes to personal safety and securing your valuables.
Vanuatu visas can be obtained on arrival, providing your stay is less than 30 days and you have evidence of a return or onward ticket. You will also need to ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned exit date. Meanwhile it’s worth checking any updated visa, currency and customs conditions, as they can be subject to change.
The Vatu is the official Vanuatu currency, but in Port Vila, Australian dollars are also accepted at some hotels, restaurants, and resorts. Credit cards can be used in the major tourism precincts, but you are best to carry local currency for use at market stalls and islands beyond Efate. For more on currency, visit the currency page.
Traditional Vanuatuan food uses readily available ingredients like root vegetables such as yams and potatoes, served with fish. The national dish is a baked delicacy called laplap that resembles a smoky potato-like cake, made from breadfruit, taro or yam, cooked in an underground oven with coconut cream, meat and spinach leaves, all wrapped in banana leaves. That may sound simple but it’s a true artistic endeavour to create, and is must-try at local markets.
Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu, nor is it customary. Instead a simple thank you and smile are the best way to express your appreciation. You could also consider offering an appropriate gift, as this fits well with custom and tradition. It’s worth noting bargaining is not standard practice, even at the market stalls.
Like Australia, Vanuatu’s electrical plugs and voltage are the three-pin, 220-240 volt variety, so there’s no need to buy an adaptor. While in theory that makes charging your camera and iPad a simple affair, some destinations like the more remote islands and villages may have a limited electricity supply that relies on generators or solar power.
Vanuatu boasts an incredible language range, with over 100 native languages spoken throughout the archipelago. Saying that, the official languages of Vanuatu are English, French and Bislama. Most ni-Vanuatu can speak English reasonably well as it’s taught in schools. However, remember to speak clearly, as these polite people may too embarrassed to admit if they don’t understand.
Vanuatu has three international airports, with the largest being Bauerfield near Port Vila on the island of Efate. This is by no means a flashy international airport, but is the point of arrival for most inbound flights from Australia. It’s also where you can catch a domestic flight to the region’s other islands, with daily connections to Tanna and Santo.