Inspiration South Pacific The Ultimate Guide to Vanuatu

The Ultimate Guide to Vanuatu

January 30, 2024
Aerial shot of Espiritu Santo, an island in Vanuatu.

Far from just another island idyll, Vanuatu offers a raw brand of beauty that gives it a distinct off-the-beaten track spirit compared to its South Pacific counterparts.

Vanuatu is one of the South Pacific’s unsung heroes. With its close proximity to Australia (it’s reachable in as little as three hours from Brisbane), volcanic beauty, refreshingly uncrowded paradise beaches, warm spirit and ancient culture, it’s the one to watch for an easy island escape.

Read on for everything you need to know about Vanuatu.

Efate, one of the islands in Vanuatu.
Efate, Vanuatu.

Where is Vanuatu?

Vanuatu is an archipelago of 80 islands off the northeast coast of Australia, between Fiji and New Caledonia. This South Pacific paradise is an excellent option for a short or even weekend break from Australia, as direct flights take as little as three hours from Brisbane.

What is Vanuatu like?

Compared to the popular Fiji, Vanuatu offers a more off-the-beaten-track, sprawling, jungle-like beauty. Between the towering volcanoes (including the world’s most accessible active volcano, Mt Yasur) and leafy emerald rainforest are traditional villages that still function, technology free, as they have done for hundreds of years. Beaches range from black and volcanic to powdery white, while coral reefs blossom off the shore.

What to do in Vanuatu

With their quintessential white-sand beaches and topaz waters, the islands of Vanuatu attract sunworshippers in search of that picture-perfect island experience. But behind the palm-fringed perfection is an adventurer’s wonderland, with swimming holes, waterfalls, hot springs, caves, shipwrecks to dive and volcanoes to trek.

Locals are proud to share Vanuatu culture (kastom). Learn of farming traditions and daily life at settlements like Yakel and Ekasup Cultural Village or enlist a guide to share the heart of Vanuatu. Become acquainted with the warmth of the island’s people at Port Vila’s Mamas Markets, where colourfully dressed local ladies sell locally grown and organic coconuts, pineapples and yams from overloaded stalls. Fire dancing, kava ceremonies and land diving (or Nangol, thought to be the inspiration behind bungee jumping) can also be witnessed.

What is the weather like in Vanuatu?

Looking for a quick escape from the Australian winter? Happily, that’s the perfect time to visit Vanuatu: in the dry season from April to September, you can expect warm, sunny days with minimal humidity.

There’s never really a ‘bad’ time to visit, as the islands enjoy year-round sunshine with the ocean a balmy 20 degrees, even in the winter months. The wet season is at its peak during summer (December through March), with short, sharp tropical showers in the remaining months.

Where to stay in Vanuatu

A benefit of Vanuatu remaining relatively untouched by tourism is its charming, boutiquey hotels: you won’t find any sprawling mega-resorts here. Instead, the likes of Tamanu on the Beach, The Havannah and Iririki Island Resort & Spa offer intimate settings with warm, genuine service that comes from the heart.
Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital on the island of Efate, is home to the highest concentration of luxury resorts. Espiritu Santo, the largest of the islands, also offers some beautiful options, like the architectural Barrier Beach Resort (you can fly in direct from Brisbane to Santo-Pekoa International Airport in Luganville).

Produced in collaboration with Brisbane Airport.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Getting Specific About the South Pacific: How to Choose Your Island.

About Rebecca Ellwood
An English girl in Melbourne, Rebecca's exploring and tasting her way around Australia and beyond – and she does love a little luxury (who doesn't, darling?)

phone-handsetmap-marker linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram