Banks and Torres Islands

banks island 3The Banks and Torres are Vanuatu's northernmost islands. Geographically, they reach north and west to the Solomon Islands.

As with all of Vanuatu, the main islands are volcanic in origin with active volcanoes on Gaua and Vanua Lava islands.

The Banks and Torres are made up of the following island groups.

Vanua Lava

Vanua Lava is the largest island of the Banks and Torres. There is plenty to experience, here in the northern islands of Vanuatu. Sola is the provincial town for the Banks and Torres Islands.

The northern tip of Ravenga island has a surf break onto the reef at high tide but it's not easy to access; you'll need a boat.

There are two island bungalows in the west; Nerr Bungalows at Vureas Bay and Malau Yacht Resort at Waterfall Bay, while there are four in Sola.

Mota Lava and Ra

Removed from the modern Vanuatu, Mota Lava and Ra islands are a pleasant island escape.

These islands are relatively small and most attractions are easy to walk to; explore white sand beaches and coral reefs around west Mota Lava and Ra or climb the massive rocks on Ra, or climb the Sleeping Mountain on Mota Lava. It's a short but steep climb, but you'll be rewarded with magnificent views.  There are beautiful island bungalows concentrated around west Mota Lava and Ra.

Things To Do

Activities and tours on Torres and Banks are eco and cultural orientated due to the nature of the island and people. You can walk around Mota Lava which would take about 2.5 hours along the truck road or about 3.5 hours through the bush, or you can hire a boat, put your feet up and try your luck fishing.

Nature walks and volcanoes

Vanua Lava has mountains, a volcano, crocodiles, reefs, rivers, waterfalls and tropical rainforests that you can visit and be mesmerised. A number of these walks have 'entry fees',  so enquire with your hotel or tour guide.

If you're based in Sola, you can go on excursions to Mt Sere Ama, an active volcano, the Selva River or Kwakea Island.

From rocks to white sandy beaches

Climb massive rocks on Ra - the two boulder piles offer great views, but you need to be a good and confident climber. The pay off after difficult climb, is relaxin on beautiful white sandy beaches.

Fishing

You can try traditional fishing on an outrigger canoe. Ask your bungalow owner and they will be able to organise one for you.

Banks Island Warriors

Getting there and getting around

Air Vanuatu flies to Vanua Lava three times a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday and to Mota Lava on Fridays and Mondays.

When leaving Vanua Lava, plan to be at the airport early. Generally, the pilot radios ahead from Santo and in some instances may decide to change the flight path and arrive ahead of time. Ensure that you confirm your ticket at least one day before departure.

Tourists with an international  Air Vanuatu ticket are entitled to a 20% discount on domestic flights

There is no regular shipping service to the Banks these days so don't plan on traveling by ship to or from Gaua.

To get the latest flight schedules, visit the Air Vanuatu website.

Speedboats between Mota Lava and Sola on Vanua Lava are frequent, almost daily. The 20km journey costs around 10,000 VT for the whole boat or about 1,000 VT per person, shared. It may be a rough ride if the trade winds are blowing.

Things you should know

Sola has a Post Office, a National Bank of Vanuatu, Police (and Immigration), Customs, TORBA Provincial Government, shops and guesthouses. The medical clinic is relatively good and the nurse is helpful.

Mobile phone communications arrived in Vanua Lava in 2010, with both Digicel and TVL providing coverage. The TVL tower is on Mota Lava and provides good coverage of east Vanua Lava. Digicel is on the hill above Sola and provides more limited coverage. There is currently no mobile phone coverage on west Vanua Lava.