Located in the South Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu is situated southwest of North America and is approximately 11 hours by plane from LA. A spectacular volcanic archipelago made up of 80 islands which stretch for more than 800 miles, Vanuatu is a popular vacation destination known for its lush tropical gardens, brilliant blue waters, pristine beaches, natural wonders, fantastic food, friendly locals and ancient culture. The islands also offer underwater caverns, colourful coral reefs and incredible shipwrecks to dive.
The landscapes of Vanuatu range from dense jungle to natural harbours and offer a combination of smaller coral islands and soft white sand beaches as far as the eye can see. The main island of Efate is home to the national capital, Port Vila, which is also the region’s main tourist hub. There are plenty of beachside resorts to relax in, however Vanuatu’s rainforest is ideal for eco-tours such as hiking, kayaking and even deep sea fishing as well as exploring the ancient active volcano of Mt Yasur.
With a name that roughly translates to mean ‘land eternal’, Vanuatu is also a land of contrasts. There aren’t many places on earth where you can jump from a blue hole teeming with coral and tropical fish into a 4WD to see an active volcano belching lava above you. However it’s these contrasts that make Vanuatu a destination worth exploring. While the lure of the beachfront resorts is too great for any visitor to deny, your vacation can still feature plenty of unique and interesting traditional and adventurous experiences.
The smiling locals of Vanuatu immediately make you question why we live life in such a rush. Regardless of whether you’re staying at one of the creature-comfort resorts or have opted for a more authentic experience in thatched-roof accommodation, you’ll quickly adjust to ‘island time’ and slip right in to the Vanuatu state of mind. The balmy scented breezes and treasure trove of unforgettable experiences earns Vanuatu a special place in the hearts of visitors the world over.
Whether you’re working on your tan on one of the picture-perfect beaches, exploring the pounding waterfalls, discovering the extraordinary ceremonies of this ancient living culture or diving luxury liner and WWII shipwrecks in the crystal clear waters, Vanuatu is sure to offer something to please.
On the main island of Efate, the centre buzzes with commercial and tourist trade. The compact island is great for driving and new roads provide easy access to the many cliffs, islets and bays. In fact, Efate is home to two of the best deep-water anchorages including Vila Bay and the developing Havannah Harbour. As you drive along the coast, you’ll pass cattle stations, rocky inlets and sprawling coconut plantations. Be sure to stop at one of the roadside stalls to sample the local produce and take part in the time-honoured tradition of the ‘honesty box’ as payment.
Located on the southeast coast, Santo is home to Vanuatu’s second-largest settlement Luganville and is also where you’ll find plenty of island resort escapes. The southwest of Santo his home to the highest mountains in Vanuatu including Mt Tabwemasana (6,164 ft), Mt Kotamtam (5,731 ft), Mt Tawaloala (5,715 ft) and Santo Peak (5,590 ft). These mountains tumble abruptly into the sea on one side and are shrouded in thick woodland on the other, however in amongst the woods are tiny villages home to roughly 5,000 people.
Of course the beachfront resorts are a far cry from woodland huts and are the perfect way to soak up island life without missing out on any of the modern day trappings. They’re also the ideal base from which to explore the remaining treasures of the island including the unbelievable pink Champagne Beach, colourful coral reefs, exploration caves and the amazing SS Coolidge, the best diving shipwreck in the world. History buffs can’t ignore Vanuatu’s fascinating past, steeped in WWII history, including the amazing Million Dollar Point, the site where huge amounts of American military equipment was dumped at the end of WWII.