Vanuatu is a nature haven here on earth. This relatively untouched paradise is a worldwide favorite for its unique tropical climate and beautiful vistas that’s packed with affordable activities for families, friends, or the lone wanderer.
How to visit Vanuatu. There are five countries you can fly to Vanuatu from: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. There are cheap flights to Vanuatu available all-year round from Air Vanuatu airline, so book early before seats run out.
Now here’s a quick rundown for everyone who are traveling to Vanuatu for the first time:
Communicating. Tourism is a booming, yet relatively new business on many islands of Vanuatu and the locals may have little training and experience. Never hesitate to talk to your hosts and tell them about your preferences and what could be improved. They will usually try to meet any reasonable request.
Vanuatu climate. Vanuatu has a pleasant tropical maritime climate with a rainy season from November lasting until April. The Pacific Ocean moderates the variation in temperature and limits hot weather. Winds are light and variable during rainy season. For surfers, the winds are great from June to October.
Island bungalows of Vanuatu. These floating abodes are used as guesthouses in rural Vanuatu, locally owned and run by villages. They offer standard accommodation, meals and hospitable assistance to all travelers.
The rural locations in Vanuatu are still quite raw and undeveloped, therefore do not expect electricity, hot showers, telephones, internet, western food, or five-star service. Some places are remote, others are still in development, while others are resort-like. Of course, there are luxurious staycations in the island as well if you know where to look.
Traveling on a budget. There are cheap flights to Vanuatu that’s available for online booking, with 20 percent discount on domestic flights. Air Vanuatu has more international flights as well, so check that out.
It’s expensive for one person to contract a truck on the islands, typically about ten times the cost of a shared transport. It’ll be more cost-effective to wait for a ride. You might only find transport in the mornings when coming into town and afternoons when you want to return. If the distance isn’t that far, then try a leisurely walk. It can be an alternative and enjoyable mode of travel for you and your companions. Take a lot of pics while you’re at it.
Bargaining. Bargaining in markets is not a Melanesian custom, but tipping isn’t as well. Asking for a reduced rate at a guesthouse or a bungalow is acceptable since it’s different from haggling over a price of paw-paws in the Port Vila market house.
Unrealistic pricing may sometimes occur. For instance, a single accommodation in Santo or Vila costs as little as 1850 Vatu with pleasant, modern rooms, 24 hour electricity, hot & cold showers and pretty, modern toilets. A charge of more than 1500 Vatu per night for a simple grass hut in the village is very expensive, even if the beach is awesome. Bungalows are hardly fully booked and if you can explain to the leaser why their rates are unreasonable, then you should be able to get it at a lower price.
Going prepared. As with traveling to distant and potentially undeveloped areas, you may need the following items if ever you decided to stay in a far-away village in Vanuatu.
- Enough cash. Since ATM charges are exorbitant, try to get as much as you can in a single transaction. Budget at least 3000 Vatu a day for food, accommodation and island transport.
- Water bottle and purifying tablets (for extra peace of mind)
- Anti-malaria tablets (some areas)
- Antifungal cream/powder
- Sunscreen with SPF 50 or above
Enjoy your Vanuatu adventure!