Vanuatu Travel Guide
A chain of islands of volcanic origin located east of Australia and North of New Zealand, Vanuatu is a popular getaway for citizens from the formerly mentioned countries. With war history, waterfalls, active volcanoes, and plenty of world-class beaches, there is something here for everyone.
Currency: Vanuatu Vanus
Languages: English, French, Creole, various indigenous languages
What To Do
Consider yourself an avid diver? Descending to the final resting place of the SS President Coolidge is a must do during your visit to Vanuatu. A luxury cruise ship converted into a troop transport vessel when the Second World War broke out, it met an unfortunate end on October 26th, 1942 when it unknowingly struck mines upon entering the harbour of Espiritu Santo.
Loss of life was minimal given the circumstances, but the mines dealt the ship a fatal blow, slipping into the deeper waters of the harbour just beyond the coral reef upon which the SS President Coolidge was initially beached.
This is among the best wreck dives in the world, but it is not for beginners – all who wish to descend into the cargo hold or the engine room should have training for these excursions before attempting the Coolidge. Otherwise, diving the outside of the wreck is awe-inspiring enough for novice divers.
Ever dream of swimming in a natural pool of aquamarine water surrounded by jungle vegetation? If so, you gotta check out the Mele Cascades. This attraction is one of the biggest visitor highlights in Vanuatu, as there are a series of tiered pools with waterfalls between them, with the one at the top being filled by a waterfall more than 100 feet high.
With cafe facilities on site complete with wi-fi, you won’t have to shirk all the comforts of civilization, but if you want to forsake them, you can still feel like you’ve left the world behind in this environment.
The Millennium Cave is another place which will impress those looking to sample the best tropical flavours Vanuatu has to offer. To access the cave, you’ll trek through the jungle for an hour, meeting birds and other wildlife along the way.
The cave is a chasm in the ground, entered using a combination of ladders, handholds, and ropes. Inside, you’ll wade through the cool fresh water while getting the chance to spot otherworldly formations and the bats which hang off them.
The best part of the whole experience occurs upon exit, where you’ll emerge into an open-air canyon of baby blue water, limestone canyon walls, and abundant green vegetation. After a fun spell of canyoning, your day will be over, but trust us, you’ll want to go again before leaving Vanuatu.
Willing to live a little dangerously in order to witness the spectacle of a lifetime? Book a guided climbing tour up Mount Yasur. As one of the most active volcanoes in the South Pacific, the lava bombs its crater spews makes for such spectacular pics, photography enthusiasts won’t be able to pass up this opportunity.
The night views here make a voyage up Mount Yasur’s slope a bucket list worthy excursion – however, know that with volcanoes comes things like sulphur gas emissions. As such, anyone with breathing difficulties is advised to avoid this activity.
Vanuatu has more than its share of gorgeous South Pacific beaches, but two of them deserve to be singled out for their beauty. Champagne Beach is one of them, as its white sand and clear water have landed in the travel media as one of the most beautiful in the world on more than a few occasions.
There is plenty of shade to hide from the midday sun – just be aware that cruise ships call on this place often. When the hordes come ashore, move along to lesser-known spot.
Port Olry Beach makes for a good alternate hang out, as not only is its sand just as stunning, but it also boasts excellent snorkelling not far from shore. With plenty of restaurants nearby, you won’t have to pack a lunch either. Many are known for serving up coconut crab, so be sure to order one if you are a fan of shellfish.
What to Eat
If you eat anything local in Vanuatu, make sure to seek out some Laplap during your visit. Made by mashing breadfruit or taro root into a dough and then adding it into an underground oven with coconut cream and meat (pork/beef/chicken/bat), it is a hearty meal you can often find in local eateries or cookouts.
Simboro is another meal you’ll find around the islands of Vanuatu. Composed of grated sweet potato, banana, taro, and/or flour which has been wrapped up in banana leaves and simmered in coconut milk, it is a beloved local comfort you simply must try.
Finally, having some Green Papaya Salad is a healthy meal which also happens to a be a local favourite here. With shredded green papaya, onions, coconut, and peanuts, it is a nice side which will complement the above meals well.