National carrier Air Vanuatu operates regular services to Port Vila from Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Noumea and Nadi. Air Vanuatu also provides domestic services to a number of islands in Vanuatu. Other airlines operating to Vanuatu include Air Calin, Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways, Solomon Airlines, and Air Niugini.
Vanuatu's international ports of entry are Bauerfield Airport on Efate, and Pekoa on Espiritu Santo. The airports are situated 10 minutes from their island’s city centres, being Port Vila and Luganville respectively.
Other islands, such as Tanna and Pentecost, deal with domestic flights only, and as such, the airports are smaller and generally only have the basic amenities. On the remote islands, where access is generally limited, the 'airport' will consist of a grass landing stip and a small hut.
International departure tax in Vanuatu is 3,400 VT per person (over the age of 12) and is included in airfares.
A provincial departure tax of 200 VT applies for departures from, and is paid at, the following domestic airports:
- Bauerfield – Port Vila
- Siwo Airport – Emae
- Pele Airport – Tongoa
- Valesdir Airport – Epi
- Laman Bay Airport – Epi
- Pekoa Airport - Espiritu Santo
- Whitegrass Airport on Tanna.
Airport and Hotel Transfers
There are various licensed airport transfer companies who can provide pre-arranged transport to and from the airport. Vehicles are either 26-seat standard buses or luxury 10-seat mini coaches, and most have air-conditioning. Your hotel or resort may arrange transfers or ask for a luxury coach from the company of your choice to be available at the airport or hotel. The costs will vary depending on the arrangement and number of passengers but are similar to taxi fares. Check with your travel agent to confirm your transport arrangements or contact the transfer company of your choice, directly.
For more information, visit our section on Airport and Hotel transfers.
Banking and Currency
The Vanuatu currency is known as the Vatu. Although Australian dollars are accepted by many shops, restaurants and hotels in Vila, and a few in Luganville (Espiritu Santo), they are not readily accepted outside of these town centres or on outer islands. All major foreign currencies are exchangeable in Vanuatu for Vatu. Daily fluctuations in the exchange rate do occur, so it's best to plan ahead to ensure you get the best possible rate.
Banks found in Vanuatu are Westpac, ANZ, National Bank of Vanuatu and Bred Bank. Banking hours are as follows:
- ANZ – 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. ANZ have (ATMs) in Port Vila, Luganville and at Bauerfield International Airport.
- Bank South Pacific (BSP) – 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Visit www.bsp.com.vu for more information.
- National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) - 8.30am to 3.30pm, Monday to Thursday; Fridays to 4pm. The NBV Airport office is open for all arrivals and departures. There are NBV ATMs in Luganville, Port Vila and at the Port Vila Post Office.
- Bred Bank Ltd - Open Monday till Friday from 8.30 am to 3.30 PM (foreign exchange till 4.30PM) with an ATM outside the Port Vila branch.
There are currently more than 250 EFTPOS outlets around Port Vila and Luganville which accept the following cards – Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Amex, JCB & Plus card and Access International Debit Card.
Major credit cards Visa, MasterCard, and to a lesser extent, American Express and Diners Club are accepted at most major resorts and hotels and some restaurants and shops in Port Vila. Cash advances on Visa and Mastercard are available during bank hours.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted by the major banks and most of the larger resorts and hotels in Port Vila.
International and domestic cash transfers are available at Western Union branches, Vanuatu Post and Goodies in Port Vila (Opening hours: 8 am until 5.30-6.00 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 4.00 pm weekends and public holidays).
ATM facilities are available only in Port Vila, Efate & Santo. Other outer islands don’t have ATM facilities except Espiritu Santo and Port Vila and overseas travellers can use their credit cards.
New Caledonian visitors are advised to let their bank know that they will be travelling to Vanuatu so to increase their credit card withdrawing limit to 100,000 VT per week (50,000 VT per week is the limit restriction imposed by their bank).
Cash when travelling
Generally, it is handy to carry at least 500 VT to 2,000 VT with you to any activity as some cafes and tours don't have EFTPOS or credit card facilities. If travelling outside of Port Vila or Luganville, it is important to plan ahead and take plenty of Vatu with you. For remote areas, it is best to take coins and smaller-denomiantion notes.
Business and Shopping Hours
Business hours are usually 7:30am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday with ‘siesta’ from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Some shops close for lunch during siesta hours though supermarkets, banks, the post office and Chinese-owned shops remain open. Larger supermarkets remain open until 7.30pm.
Shops are open Saturday's until 6.00pm, while supermarkets are open until 7:30pm. Most shops are closed on Sundays, except on cruise ship days when shops in Port Vila are open. Chinese-owned shops remain open all weekend. Alcohol can not be bought in any shop or supermarket after 12:00pm on Saturday and all day Sunday.
The markets are generally open 24 hours, Monday till Saturday, however it is best to shop early in the morning when all the new, and fresh, produce has arrived. Markets have generally been closed on Sunday, however, some smaller ones are starting to open.
The cooler, drier season, and generally the best time to visit, is between May and October where the average daytime temperature is approximately 26°C.
The wetter and hotter season is between November and April where the average daytime temperature is approximately 29°C. During this time, the country is prone to cyclones, but being 'low' season it's a good time of year to take advantage of travel deals.
For the most current weather information and a forecast summary throughout all island provinces and capital Port Vila, visit the Vanuatu Meteorological Services website.
Light-weight casual clothing during the day is usually sufficient, year round. During the cooler season, long pants and a long-sleeve top may be required during the evening. In the wetter season, it is recommended that you bring a water-proof jacket.
Modest attire should be worn outside of public bathing areas and Port Vila, out of respect for local customs.
Vanuatu has two main telecommunication companies; Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) and Digicel. Both companies have stores in Port Vila and are open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm and Saturday, 8:00am to 11:00am.
The code for making international calls out of Vanuatu is 00, while for calls to Vanuatu, it is 678.
Apart from business use, landlines are become increasingly replaced due to the exceptionally high take up of mobile phones. There are public telephones at airports and post offices and phone cards can be purchased in local currency from the post office.
The following are the numbers for emergency services in Port Vila:
- Fire services: 22333
- Police: 22222. Emergency number Free Line 111
- Ambulance: 22100. Emergency number Free Line 112
- Promedical Ambulance: 25566. Emergency number Free Line 115
Vanuatu is on GSM digital and as such, roaming agreements exist with a few international mobile phone companies. Almost all of Vanuatu is covered, but in the more remote areas, reception can dip in and out, and one carrier could have better coverage in an area than the other.
If you'd prefer not to roam, both TVL and Digicel offer plans designed for tourists - TVL has a 'Smile SIM card' package (3,000 VT including 2,500 VT credit) and Digicel has a 'Digicel Tourist SIM' package (1,000 VT including 1,000 VT credit). Topping up is easy - most stores sell top-up cards and there are numerous street umbrellas who can top-up for you.
If you intended to travel throughout Vanuatu, it may be beneficial to invest in a Dual SIM mobile phone to ensure you have as complete coverage as you can.
In Port Vila and Luganville there are a number of cafes who offer Wi-Fi with a purchase of a drink or meal. Internet facilities are also available at some post offices. Most hotels and resorts also offer Wi-Fi to their guests, although at some, this is at an additional cost. While connection speeds are improving, expect to be accessing the internet at around 100KB per second on a good day.
On most outer islands, however, it won't be possible to get online. It is possible to purchase mobile internet from TVL or Digicel, but similar issues with reception do occur.
People over 15 may bring in:
- 250 cigarettes
- 2.25L of wine and 1.5L of other alcohol
- 250ml of eau de toilette
- 100ml of perfume
- Other items up to a value of 50,000 VT
The following must be declared:
- Plants, fruit and seeds
- Meat, poultry and dairy products
- Fish and shellfish
No firearms or ammunition may be brought into Vanuatu.
For more information related to duty-free and customs, visit the Vanuatu Customs & Inland Revenue website.
On the main street of Port Vila there are several duty-free shops selling electrical goods, gifts, perfume, CDs, cosmetics, liquor, wines, spirits and French crystal. For visitors you will need your passport and onward ticket to make a purchase, and the shop will deliver the goods to the airport or the main wharf for cruise ship passengers.
Electricity and Power
Three pin plugs (as found in Australia and New Zealand) are used predominately in hotels in Vanuatu although French two point plugs can be found in small resorts/bungalows. Foreign, two pin plug adapters are readily available in most hardware or Chinese stores in Port Vila and Luganville.
Town power is providied in Port Vila, Luganville, Lenakel and Lakatoro. A number of rural guest houses have their own generators or use solar power. In more remote areas it is either kerosense, solar lamps, torches or fire.
Embassies and Consulates
New Zealand High Commission
PO Box 161, Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone (678) 22 933 Fax (678) 22 518
Australian High Commission
PO Box 111, Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone (678) 22 777 Fax (678) 23 948
PO Box 60, Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone (678) 28 700
Fax (678) 22 695
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
PMB 071, Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone (678) 23 598
Fax (678) 23 730
Visas are not required from most countries including; all commonwealth countries, Belgium, Denmark, Eire, Fiji, France and its dominions, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. However you must have a valid, ongoing or return airline ticket and your passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay. This entitles you to a 30 day visitor visa. If you fall out of these countires, you will need to apply by fax and prepay you visa.
Extensions for up to four months are possible at Immigration in Port Vila or before your arrival.
Malaria is endemic in Vanuatu however visitors do not need vaccinations, although anti-malarial medication is recommended if you are travelling outside of Port Vila and Efate.
CAUTION: Most anti-malaria medication increases your risk of sunburn. Bring 15+ sun cream, even in winter. Hepatitis B and tuberculosis exists throughout the islands but should be of no concern to travellers if normal precautions are taken.
Hospitals, and several private English and French doctors can be found in Port Vila and Luganville, while small clinics and dispensaries with limited resources can be found throughout the outer islands. Serious injuries and medical conditions will require medical evacuation to more modern facilities in Australia, New Zealand or New Caledonia, so travel insurance is strongly recommended.
There are no dangerous animals or insects in Vanuatu.
Although Vanuatu is a safe destination, many tours and activities, especially in outer islands, fall under the 'adventure (dangerous) category'. Such activites can include parasailing, scuba diving, motorcycling and even trekking. It is strongly recommended that travel insurance be purchased before arrival in Vanuatu. However, be sure to check that the policy you ensure covers the adventure (dangerous) category, as well as ambulances and an emergency flight home.
There are over 120 distinct languages and many more dialects spoken in Vanuatu making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The national language of Vanuatu is Bislama (pidgin English) however English and French are also official, and commonly spoken languages.
For all postage, stamps, faxes and phone calls, Vanuatu Post Office is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm, 7:30am to 11:30am on Saturday and from 7.30am to 3:00pm on public holidays and cruise ship days. There is no street delivery service in Vanuatu, so addresses are either a PO Box or a Private Mail Bag.
Vanuatu Post also run the worlds only underwater post box located at Hideaway Island Resort (outside of Port Vila) and the worlds only volcanic oost box laocated at Mount Yasur on Tanna. Postcards can be purchased at the post office for 400 VT and can be sent anywhere in the world. Postcards for Tanna can either be bought in Port Vila, at Tanna's White Grass Airport or any of the resorts on Tanna.
For enquiries, phone (678) 22 000 or visit www.vanuatupost.vu.
Privately owned mini buses are the most common form of transport in Port Vila and run unspecified routes through municipal areas. Public mini buses have a red ‘B’ on their number plate. Buses also run in Luganville and northeast Malekula, and on Tanna island.
As they do not have a fixed route, just flag one down and advise the driver where you would like to go. Be aware that if the bus is full when you get on board or other passengers get onboard, you may be the last passenger to be dropped off. However if time permits, buses can be an interesting way to see the town.
Bus fares within the greater Port Vila area are 150 VT per trip, and start from 200 VT to villages or areas outside of town, and exact change in most cases is required, for payment.
Most islands have taxis which are marked by a red ‘T’ on their number plate and are usually 4WD open utilities. Taxis are plentiful in the capital of Port Vila but are more expensive than buses costing around 100 VT per kilometre, however can present a more affordable option if travelling in a group and you want to get to your destination via the most direct route. The cost can also be increased by the state of the road.
In Port Vila, there is a set price of 1,400 VT from the airport to down town, while to access other parts of Efate, utilities are licensed to carry passengers and can be found at the Port Vila market.
However, you should always negotiate a price with your driver before starting your journey.
Air Vanuatu is the only domestic airline to offer regular services between Vanuatu’s islands, with daily flights to most outer islands. Advance bookings are recommended during weekends and school holidays, especially on the popular flights to Santo and Tanna.
Each time you take a domestic flight you will have to pay a depature tax of 200 VT per person at the airport before depature. This tax is not included in the price of your ticket.
Inter-island cargo trading boats travel between Port Vila and the outer islands on a semi-regular basis. However, in many places it's easier to travel by speedboat (outboard-powered dinghies) as it's the only means of accessing that island.
Vanuatu Ferry and Vanuatu Cargo (+678 7326999 / 7762064 / 5526999) operates between Port Vila, Malekula, Ambrym, Santo and Tanna, while Big Sista (776 0660) operates a weekly service between Port Vila and Santo, stoping at Epi and Malekula along the way.
Rental car company offices are located at Port Vila’s international airport and in downtown Vila (Efate) and Luganville (Santo). Cars, 4WDs and vans are available for hire if you are aged 23 or over. Both international and national driving licences are accepted, as long as you have held your licence for at least one year. Scooters are also available for hire in Port Vila. The minimum rental age is 17 years, or you must possess an open car licence.
Note for Europa Car Rental: Driver must be at least 25years old to drive a rental car. If driver is 21-24years old, he/she needs to make a payment requirement before driving. Under 21years old, are not allow to drive.
Find out more information, as well as who to hire from, in our Car Rental section.
- Driving is on the right-hand side of the road (as in France) – always give way to traffic coming from the left
- The speed limit in Vila and Luganville is 50km/h, and 80km/h out of town
- Road conditions and signage outside of town centres can be rough, so take care. Watch for people or animals on the road, and ask for directions if in doubt
- If you are driving outside of town centre, be certain to check there is enough fuel in your tank, as petrol stations are restricted to urban areas.
The aircraft passengers MUST declare all the plant and animals products that they have their possessions to the Biosecurity Officers at the Airport. Failure to declare these products and passengers are being caught will result to the spot fine of the minimum of 35,000 vt or 400 $ US. For the passenger travelling on cruise boats, yachts and cargo boats they must not bring any food, plants and animals from the vessels ashore. Failure to comply with these rules are resulting into severe penalties.
Biosecurity Vanuatu MUST protect Vanuatu agriculture and environment against the introduction of foreign organisms. Therefore, Biosecurity laws are strictly enforced at the borders such as 1/ Artifacts need to be sprayed before taking them to the plane. 2/ Cooked food needed an information paper and a certificate from the office. For more information visit quarantine section.
Religion & Churches
The main denominations in Vanuatu are Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic (Sunday) and Seventh Day Adventists (Saturday). Visitors are welcome to attend church services which normally run between 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Sundays are generally a day of rest, and visitors will find many activities, services and shops unavailable on this day.
There is a 12.5% tax on accommodation, food and most products in Vanuatu, excluding market and local produce.
In accordance with Vanuatu custom neither tipping or bargaining are practised in Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is one hour ahead of AST (Australian Standard Time) and 11 hours ahead of GST (Greenwich Standard Time or UT). There is no daylight saving in summer. Sunrise is generally around 6am, while sunset is around 6pm.
Visa & Entry Requirements
For stays not exceeding 30 days, visas are not required by Nationals of the Commonwealth and EU countries as well as nationals of Fiji, Japan, Norway, Philippines, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and United States of America. However you must have a valid, ongoing or return airline ticket and your passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay.
For other nationalities, visas are obtainable from The Immigration Department.
For more information on visas, short and long term permit requirements and immigration, visit our section on immigration.
The Port Vila Vanuatu Tourism Information Centre is located at Pilioko House, situated on the main street in downtown Port Vila. The centre is open from 7:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings and public holidays from 7:30am to 12:00pm. On cruise ship days the centre is open from 8:00am to 2:00pm.
The Vanuatu Tourism Information Centre in Luganville, Santo is located next to the Apex Hotel in the Centre of Luganville. Information hours are from 7:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday and Saturday, 8:00am- 12:00pm. If a cruise ship falls on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the office is open from 8:00am to 2:00pm.
Vanuatu Public Holidays
January 1st - New Year's Day
February 21st - Father Lini Day
March 5th - Custom Chief's Day
May 1st - Labour Day
May 24th - Ascension Day
July 24th - Children's Day
July 30th - Independence Day
August 15th - Assumption Day
October 5th - Constitution Day
November 29th - Unity Day
December 25th - Christmas
December 26th - Family Day
With little industry or agriculture and no unusual water borne bugs, Vanuatu’s town water supply is very safe to drink. However, if you're intending to travel to the outer islands, it is recommended that you purchase bottled water in Port Vila or Luganville as supplies in the outer islands are limited.