Planning your Holiday
Vanuatu activities focus on its rich culture and the dense tropical rainforests. Some of the major highlights include visiting a traditional kastom village, making a tour to the ancient grave of Vanuatu's last paramount chief to understand a little about the ancient way of life, or climbing Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island, the world's most accessible active volcano. There is only one National Park in Vanuatu: the historical WWII dumping ground of Million Dollar Point on Santo.
Hiking in Vanuatu
Vanuatu remains a raw country to explore and there are only a couple of hiking trails that are set up specifically with tourists in mind . Of these, the Cascade Waterfalls on Efate Island is a worthwhile trip although its only a short and easy hike to the beautiful waterfall. On Espiritu Santo, the Millenium Cave tour on the south cost is a more challenging hike and you get to see some great caves as well and there are two Conservation Reserves on the island with rich biodiversity and walking trails: Vatthe on the north coast and the more accessible Loru on the east coast both have great bird watching. For extreme overnight hiking, organised trips can be made to explore the utterly remote west coast of Santo which has no roads. Otherwise, find a local guide in any kastom village and they'll lead you on an intimate exploration of one of the village bush trails winding through the tropical rainforest - resorts can also help organise guides for bush walking.
Coral Quays Resort, Luganville, Santo A$ 169 - 200
Turtle Bay Resort, East Coast, Santo A$ 105 - 150 per couple / dorm A$ 40
Volcanoes in Vanuatu
Probably the best known site in Vanuatu is Mt Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island and the best way to experience this eerie environment is to climb the summit at dawn or dusk to witness the fiery volcanic explosions. All resorts arrange their own 4WD tours to the volcano - the walk to the summit from the volcano car park is about 30-minutes and although fairly steep its a very easy climb. There are half a dozen other active Volcanoes in Vanuatu with Ambryn off Espiritu Santo being the largest and releasing a constant bellow of ash and Lopevi Volcano near Epi (north of Efate) despite being relatively small in size is extremely impressive rising out from the sea.
Sunrise Bungalows, Tanna Island A$ 50 - 60
Historical Sites in Vanuatu
The most famous historical site in Vanuatu is the World Heritage listed Roi Mata Domain, the last paramount tribal king in Vanuatu who died in the 17th Century. The site covers three separate regions on the north side of Efate Island and including the offshore Lelepa Island: the chief's residence, place of death and mass burial site, with the later being the most visted.
The Havannah, Port Vila A$ 470 - 720
Espiritu Santo played a small role in the Battle of the Pacific during WWII, and although not officially invaded, a notable American base was established near Luganville Town. What remains today are the abandoned support vehicles at Million Dollar Point which were dumped into the sea to prevent salvaging from the locals. the SS President Coolidge wreck in Luganville passage which is often touted as the most accessible wreck dive in the world, as well as several Japanese war planes that attempted an ambush on the American base and were shot down in the rainforest.
Hotel Santo, Luganville, Santo A$ 110 - 175
Golf in Vanuatu
Vanuatu has only one 18-hole golf course of notable mention being the flat Royal Golf Course on the outskirts of Port Vila and taking in the vistas and ocean views of Mele Bay. Green fees are around A$30 and there is club hire and caddies but no carts. A couple of resorts have basic pitch and put courses including Le Lagon (12 holes) and Holiday Inn (9 holes) but these are really for beginners and casual golfers only.
Benjor Beach Club, Efate Island A$ 170 - 280
Shopping in Vanuatu
Shopping in Vanuatu is pretty limited although in Port Vila you'll find a few handicraft and boutique clothes shops. If you're after souvenirs to take back home then head to the curio market in the Waterfront Park. The town's local produce market is a great place to see what the locals grow in their farms and to sample some of the local dishes at one of the peripheral canteens - it's also a great place to mingle. There's a smaller market at Luganville Town on Espiritu Santo which is also worth a visit.