Where to stay
Most resorts on the main island of Éfaté are very family friendly, with excellent kids clubs and local ladies who are more than happy to act as babysitters. The resorts have all the usual facilities, and family activities are easy to organise. Of course, there is much less choice of accommodation on outer islands – on some of the less visited islands, basic huts may be the only option.
Resorts with kids’ clubs:
Circus @ Turtle Bay Resort
Come and relax by the beach while your children have a great time at the circus.
Turtle Bay Resort, Santo is offering circus workshops during the school holidays designed for children, beginners to advance. Skills taught will be juggling, acrobatics, pyramids, trapeze and aerial silks in a safe and fun environment. The workshops are facilitated by highly experienced and accomplished circus performers and tutors and run in five day blocks each morning and afternoon.
Turtle Bay Resort is the home of Lunar Circus Vanuatu. Lunar circus is well known throughout Australia for its popular circus programs. At Turtle Bay Resort, Santo, Matt and Patricia will incorporate circus to give their guests something quite unique. This initiative was born from their experience with parents that find holidays with children generally stressful as children need to be constantly amused. Their idea is to give families the opportunity to have a great holiday by providing kids with an activity that they will greatly enjoy and giving parents the opportunity to enjoy their holidays at their own time and leisure, without stress or guilt.
For more information visit the circus page on www.turtlebayresort.vu or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Le Lagon Resort
Set among 35 hectares of tropical gardens, with a view of crystal clear waters of Erakor Lagoon. Kids under 12 stay and eat free at the resort, and there is a complimentary ‘Kids Only’ club (link to paragraph about Le lagon kids club in feature stories) where the kids will have the time of their life. Child minding is also available for a nominal charge. There is a range of free activities available around the resort, including native arts and crafts, water sports, golf, tennis and organised games.
Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
Is one of the top resorts in Vanuatu and also boasts Vanuatu’s only international casino and two restaurants. Kids under 13 years stay free and eat free at breakfast and the kid’s buffet dinner. There is a free kid’s club and complimentary water sports and activities. Child minding is also available.
Poppy’s on the Lagoon
Poppy’s is located on the shores of Erakor Lagoon and a short walk from town. There are family-sized, self-contained bungalows set among the tropical gardens and a family swimming pool, kids videos, playground and cubbyhouse. They do not have a kids’ club but staff are on hand to baby sit day or night.
Food and Drink
Port Vila offers some of the most varied dining in the Pacific, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. There is excellent seafood to be enjoyed, as well as fine French cuisine. Western and Chinese style restaurants are also plentiful in Port Vila. Most resorts offer menus to suit any taste and children’s menus should please fussy kids.
Foreign cash, traveller’s cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, along with the local currency. Many shops are closed for “siesta” between 11:30am and 1:30pm, although restaurants, cafes, banks, supermarkets and post offices remain open. Suburban general stores usually open early and close late. Except for some supermarkets, speciality stores and some Chinese-run stores, most shops are closed on Sundays. Port Vila has a colourful market open every day except Sunday where fruit, vegetables, flowers and handicrafts are on display. Shopping here is a sheer delight, as no one will hassle you to buy anything.
Bauerfield International airport is a 10 minute drive north of Port Vila. A range of Duty Free items and souvenirs are available in the departure and arrival halls, and there is a café offering food and beverages. There is an ANZ ATM and a Bureau de Change in the Arrival Hall. Car hire, taxis, and tour operators are all available at the airport.
Transfers from Airport
Almost all the resorts on Éfaté offer transfers from the airport to your room. Taxis are also available outside the terminal.
Getting around for families
Metered taxis are plentiful in the main towns of Vanuatu, as are mini-buses. This is a cheap way of getting around although the diving skills of some of the locals are a bit dubious. Cars, 4WDs and jeeps can be hired in Port Vila and Luganville, with an Australian driver’s license. Éfaté has around 240km of sealed roads and Santo has 370km.
Many of the roads on the outer islands are off limits during the wet season. The best way to get between the main islands is to fly. The government-owned Vanair offers scheduled services to 29 destinations within the archipelago.
What to wear
Light clothing is sufficient any time of year in Vanuatu, although light jackets or jumpers are a good idea at night during the cooler months. Hats and sunscreen are a must, and rain gear is a good idea, particularly during the wet season. Clothing should not be too revealing in public.
The total population is approximately 173,000. Around 16% of the population live in Port Vila, while the second largest city is Luganville, on the island of Espirtu Santu. The majority of the population live in rural villages spread throughout the country.
Vanuatu is a predominately Christian nation, and Sunday church services are a lively affair of magnificent choral singing. Visitors are welcome at these services. Traditional animist beliefs are still held by many of the local Melanesian and Polynesian people and it is important to be sensitive to local culture when visiting villages. Always get permission before entering a village and do not take food or other items without asking first. Melanesian culture is rich in music and dance and stone and woodcarving a still commonly practiced arts.
Vanuatu has about 110 languages spread out among 170,000 inhabitants. It has the highest concentration of languages anywhere in the world. The three official languages in Vanuatu are a form of pidgin called Bislama, French and English.
Vanuatu is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Link to world time on our site. For time zones click here.
The local currency unit is the Vatu. $1AU is equal to approximately 80 vatu. For up to date currency conversion, click here.
As in most Melanesian cultures, tipping is not practiced in Vanuatu. A polite smile and a thankyou will suffice.
230 volts AC, Mainly three point-plugs in hotels.
No vaccinations are required to enter Vanuatu, although anti-malarial precautions are recommended if you intend to visit the outer islands. Bring insect repellent and mosquito coils to protect you from mosquitos. Drink plenty of water as the humidity can cause dehydration.
Water is untreated and not safe to drink. Always carry bottled water with you and make sure that ice is made from bottled water.
Passport and Visa Requirements
Australian’s don’t require a visa but need passports valid for at least four months from the date of arrival in Vanuatu.
HWK Travel Tips
On the days where the cruise ships are docked, prices tend to go up, especially at the markets. So if you know the ships are arriving it might be a good idea to save shopping for another day.
Many families expect that the price of meals to be cheaper than Australia but the costs is actually very similar. Try to have meals included in your package.
Hire a taxi for the day – this is an economical way to get around.
Click here for Things to See & Do in Vanuatu