If you're looking for a friendly, reasonably priced place to stay in Port Vila that's handy to just about everything, then Kaiviti Motel could be the place for you.
It's located on the corner of Lini Highway and Bretagne Street. The area is known as 'Nambatu' in Bislama (Vanuatu's pidgin English language) or Number Two to English speakers (with Nambawan (Number One) being downtown, and Nambatri (Number Three) being towards the port).
Many ex-pat Australians and New Zealanders and a sprinkling of other nationalities working long term on aid and development projects in Vanuatu choose Kaiviti as their home away from home. Holiday makers also enjoy short breaks here.
Rooms at the front of the motel can be noisy from the road directly in front (busy by day but quiet by around 8pm) and the casino next door (open till 3am). However, on the second and third floors there are great views of the bay, particularly at sunset.
It is a pleasure to sit on the balcony in the morning eating breakfast taking in the gorgeous colours of the harbour while watching the world go by. These front rooms have air conditioning so you can close the windows and door to the balcony to keep out some of the noise. Many of the other rooms have just fans. It can be very humid and hot in summer here. Many upstairs apartments also have good views and are quieter.
The pool area with sun lounges is lovely for relaxing. There are great views over the harbour and across to a cruise ship berthed at the wharf if there's one in port, which happens frequently.
Kaiviti has a covered, open air cafe next to the pool that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but closes at around 8pm. The menu is not vast or exotic, and you should check what is available as some items on the menu are not always in stock.
There is always a special at night. The beef burgers (great value at 500 vatu for basic, to 900 vatu with the lot) and steak are recommended choices, as Vanuatu has a good beef industry that supplies the local market. There is free wi-fi in the restaurant area.
Several choices of other restaurants and cuisines are nearby. A barbecue area is also provided. Kaiviti is close to the very good supermarkets, Au Bon Marche and Leader Price, and other shops.
The office, cleaning and restaurant staff are all friendly and helpful, and speak good English. Some also speak French, catering for the many visitors from New Caledonia and France.
Activities and Transport
It is an easy ten minute downhill walk to the centre of town, unless it's raining hard or very hot and humid. Once there, you can go duty free shopping, have a massage, take a boat or helicopter ride or check out local tours.
Coming back is a little more challenging up the gradual but long hill. Buses, which are actually mini vans marked with a 'B' on their number plates, many in less than immaculate condition, can take you to the main part of town and beyond for 150 vatu or about $1.50.
Flag one down anywhere on the Lini Highway in front of Kaiviti, or the main road away from the waterfront, Dartois Street, or you can wait at a marked bus stop.
The Kaiviti has a laundry where you can wash and dry your laundry by buying 500 vatu tokens from reception. You can use the washing lines out the back if you prefer your washing sun dried, if it's not rainy.
For those who prefer not to drink the local tap water or buy bottled water (local brands are 100 vatu for 1.5 litres), you can fill up with rainwater from the tanks at the back for free.
The carpark is watched over by a security guard at night.
If you're not looking for glamour, but a welcoming, homy place to stay, you can find it at the Kaiviti Motel. Check out availability and rates here.