Australian dollars is widely accepted. There are ATM's located in town.
Bus is the cheapest form of travel and there are generally vans marked "b".
There are also taxis- always negotiate a price. The taxi drivers do wait for you at the destination.
For cruise travellers there are hundreds of buses and taxis waiting at the dock (this can be daunting if it is your first time), pick a driver and they will look after you. Do always negotiate and if you can go in a group in a mini-van it becomes cheaper. Also, remember this is a developing country, so be realistic when negotiating.
Tipping is not required, this is based on discretion.
If you are visiting local schools and villages, try to bring with you a bag of lollies for the kids, colouring books/ pencils, unwanted toys etc- the look on their faces is priceless. Elders do not encourage giving money to the little ones, as they want to let them know that they have to go to school and get a job to earn a living, so please refrain from giving money to the children, instead spoil them with attention, books, toys etc.
Experience culture & tradition at local village visits / tours...
1. Mele Cascades This is a must see natural attraction when visiting Port Vila. It is also the perfect attraction if you are visiting for a day on a cruise ship. The beautiful cascade waterfalls includes a scenic tropical rainforest walk leading to the impressive 35m cascades as you cross shallow river crossings (your feet will get wet). You can enjoy a swim and a relaxing cool off with the refreshing waters as you admire the breathtaking views from the lookout. There are a series of clear aquamarine pool terraces up the hillside. Click here for the website. Getting here: It is located 10km from Port Vila city centre. You can arrive by mini-bus (250 Vatu or $3 Aussie approx.) from your hotel or cruise ship terminal, taxi, self-drive (car hire), walk or a guided tour from Evergreen Tours. Notes: The walk is quite steep to the cascades and it is slippery with guide ropes that directs you to the top. There are toilet and change room facilities as well as a café-bar with free wi-fi at the entrance. Cost: 2000Vatu or $20pp- Adults & 1000Vatu or $10pp- Children
2. Vila Markets This is one experience for all your senses! These markets are opened 24 hours and there are all types of local vegetables and fruit, lobsters, crabs and other seafood, a freshly cooked eating area (around the corner in the same complex), hair braiding, art & craft stalls, fashion and much more.
They are negotiable in price and it is free entry. Getting here: Located in the city centre of Port Vila. Bus or taxi will get you here.
3. Hideaway Island This hidden paradise is offshore from Mele Beach and it features a haven for snorkellers and divers. There is a resort on the island selling lunch and non-guests can access the marine park until 4pm. There is also the world's only underwater post office too!
It is a quick boat ride from Port Vila . Do note that the island is mainly coral and not sandy so reef shoes are highly recommended. Click here for the website.
4. Ekasup Cultural Village
This is the perfect place to learn about the culture of Vanuatu. There are tours that get you here and include a walking tour. You will be welcomed by the Chief and villagers as they describe the culture and traditions as well as demonstrations including traditional dance and fire walks. There is plenty to see, do and experience. Click here for the website.
5. The Summit Gardens
These spectacular gardens offer breathtaking views from The Summit and include a large-scale garden of exhibits of huge rainforest trees, tropical shrubs, grassed areas, many varieties of flowers and trees, quirky statues and masonry, formal and informal displays and plenty more. It is truly a jewel and you can certainly see the labour of love here. There is a café located on site. Click here for the website. Getting here: It is poorly sign posted if you are arriving by car hire, and the road is extremely steep and winding that the buses cannot make it to the top of The Summit (they stop as high as they get and you need to walk the rest of the very steep road), taxi is the best form of arriving here.
Cost: Free - until it is fully repaired after it was ravaged by Cyclone Pam last year.
6. National Museum of Vanuatu
This is a wonderful museum in a soaring traditional building. It showcases a well-displayed collection of traditional artefacts, outrigger canoes, ceremonial headdresses, shell jewellery and examples of Lapita and Wusi pottery. There is also an interesting photographic display on the unearthing of Chief Roi Mata's burial site. There are 1hr guided tours available which include traditional instrument demonstration and sand drawing. Click here for the website.
7. Erakor Island
This is one of Port Vila's excellent resort islands and if you are visiting here for a day you will not be disappointed. There is a shallow white-sand beach awaiting you, making it perfect for beginner snorkelling. Kayaking, as well as other water activities, can also be enjoyed here. There is a 24 hour ferry leaving from the end of the road past Nasama Resort. Click here for the website.
8. Tanna Coffee Factory
If you love coffee then a visit to the Tanna Coffee Factory is a must! Watch the roaster at work and learn the story of Tanna coffee. Click here for the website.
9. Vanuatu Handicraft Market
There are more than 140 stalls jam-packed with traditional handicrafts, t-shirts, surf wear, jewellery and duty free goodies within a giant shed. It is the perfect one-stop souvenir shopping experience. There is money exchange and ATM on site, as well as cafes. Click here for the website.
10. Secret Garden
This is a must see attraction for garden enthusiasts. These botanic gardens help bring some of Vanuatu's island flora as well as its cultural uses to life. There is also a magic show held every Friday morning and a popular "Island Feast" on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Click here for the website.
11. The Blue Lagoon (Blue Hole)
This is one magical natural attraction that must be visited. The blue lagoon is an actual inlet from the ocean and is a mixture of fresh and salt water, it is also quite deep. The tranquilising luminescent blue calm waters are perfect for a relaxing swim. There is a swing rope leading into the water if you are brave enough as well as several sections to swim from place to place. It is truly a unique site. The modest fee goes to help the local villages and land owners.
Enjoy the tranquil beauty at the natural Blue Pool Lagoon...
12. Lololima Waterfall Cascades
Visiting these cascades can only be done by Atmosphere Vanautu Tours, as these waterfalls are located on private property with no public, taxi or bus access. You have the whole place to yourself (except for the friendly guides) as you explore the nature wonders of rainforest and waterfalls on this 'off the beaten track' attraction.
Swimming holes and waterfalls make the perfect activity to cool off the heat...
13. Iarofa Cultural Village
This is an amazing cultural experience as you explore the traditional practices and skills as well as witnessing custom dancing and fire-walk displays.
14. Buggy Adventures
This is the first Buggy Company in all of the South Pacific and it is one of the best ways to explore the wonders of Vanuatu! You will experience on and off road open buggy rides through rainforests, city centre, beaches and much more. You drive along on different roads, bush tracks, private property small tracks with spectacular breathtaking coastal views. There are different tours to take including ones where you stop at a beach for snorkelling, swimming and/or kayak experiences. Click here for the website.
15. Top Rock
This is true paradise as you snorkel through underwater coves, reef and rock pools, take a stroll through the village and admire the breathtaking views from the Lookout. Atmosphere Vanuatu Tours can take you here or you can make your own way to Top Rock. Click here for my article.
If you are a golf enthusiast then this is a must-do activity. The Port Vila Golf & Country Club offers the only 18 hole championship course in Vanuatu and the course provides a challenge to professionals and amateurs alike.
17. Hot Mineral Springs
Hot mineral springs are renowned in the South Pacific for their relaxing and therapeutic properties. There are hot mineral springs hidden in the North East of Efate where you can enjoy the natural thermal pool- do note it can get smelly (rotten egg smell) due to the sulphur.
Below is a list of trusted Tour companies which offer a wide range of tours. We usually go with Atmosphere Vanuatu Tours as we have used them in the past and have built up a great relationship with the guides.