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Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a stunning South Pacific destination where luxury holidaymaking and adventure travel meld together into one unforgettable experience.


 

Kid in canoeVanuatu is a very special destination for a family holiday. You will come away with many wonderful memories. The Ni Vanuatu people are very gentle and caring with big wide smiles to warm your heart. The kids will warm to them quickly, enjoy doing activities with them and just being in their company.

Few holiday destinations in the world can match the magnificent beaches of Vanuatu, a chain of 83 islands in the South Pacific, and one of Australia’s closest neighbours.

In the local language, Vanuatu means “rising land,” a name derived from its ancient landscape of wild mountains and towering volcanic cones. Many of the islands are covered in dense rainforest and its celebrated beaches are wide, unspoiled and lapped by clear warm water harbouring rich coral reefs. Vanuatu is perfect as a quiet, ultra-relaxing escape or more active families can enjoy activities like diving, snorkelling, fishing, water-skiing, horse riding and exploring forests, mountains and genuine island culture.

Capital
Vanuatu’s capital is the harbour town of Port Vila, situated on the island of Éfaté. Port Vila has a population of about 30,000 and is a colourful, diverse city where French colonial, English and Asian influences mix with the traditional Melanesian culture.

Where is it and how do I get there?
The Republic of Vanuatu is located in the Souht Pacific. It is made up of “Y” shaped chain of 83 islands, covering about 860,000 square kilometres. Its nearest neighbours are New Caledonia and Fiji. 
Vanuatu is a quick two hour flight away from Brisbane. Air Vanuatu offers 6 flights a week from Sydney and 5 flights a week from Brisbane.

From Hours
Brisbane 2.5
Sydney 3.5
Melbourne 4

When to go, Weather
The cool season (April to October) is the ideal time to visit Vanuatu, although the tropical weather can be enjoyed all year round. Summer (November to March) is the wet season and brings with it high humidity and a greater chance of rain.

Average Temperature  
Cool Season (April to October) 19 – 26°C
Wet Season (November to March) 24 – 31°C

 

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:

Turtle Bay Resort, Santo, Vanuatu
Situated in Turtle Bay, half-way between the capital and Champagne beach and less than five minutes away from three magnificent blue holes, Turtle Bay Resort boasts 2 acres of gardens and 120 metres of waterfront. There are plenty of secluded areas in which to lose yourself and enjoy the island's natural environment. The north shore of the bay faces partially open sea with very good snorkelling and diving, whilst the south side faces the inner bay with calm, azure waters best suited for canoeing and swimming. We have an array of activities to suit every taste and fill every day with fun such as canoeing, cycling, snorkelling and our well known circus programs. All our rooms have ocean views and are spacious and tastefully decorated. Our restaurant menu has both gourmet and inexpensive choices and our bar provides regular entertainment to make sure that day or night, you are never bored. Whether you come with your family or alone, to relax, to play, or on a romantic getaway, we can offer you a truly unique and memorable holiday; you will never want to leave.

For more information visit www.turtlebayresort.vu or email stay@turtlebayresort.vu


Le Lagon Resort
Le Lagon - Kids in canoeSet 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.

CLICK HERE FOR EXCLUSIVE FAMILY ESCAPES IN VANUATU

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.

Shopping
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.

Vanuatu - VanairAirport
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.

Population
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 - Custom DanceCulture/Religion
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.

Language
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.

Time
Vanuatu is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Link to world time on our site.  For time zones click here.

Currency
The local currency unit is the Vatu. $1AU is equal to approximately 80 vatu. For up to date currency conversion, click here.
 
Tipping
As in most Melanesian cultures, tipping is not practiced in Vanuatu. A polite smile and a thankyou will suffice.

Electricity
230 volts AC, Mainly three point-plugs in hotels.

Health precautions
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.

Vanuatu - BeachTap water
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

 

FURTHER INFORMATION


Vanuatu Tourism Office
tel: (678) 22685 / 22813
email:  tourism@vanuatu.com.vu
website:  www.vanuatutourism.com

Air Vanuatu
tel: Freecall 1300 780 737
website:  www.airvanuatu.com

 

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