This information site is courtesy of Small Guide Travel, the specialists in holiday and honeymoon travel to the Pacific.
Vanuatu Tours & Activities
One of the fantastic things about a Vanuatu holiday or honeymoon is that everything is so accessible. From Port Vila you can experience a whole range of excellent tours and activities.
Many of the larger travel agencies encourage you to pre-book your tours with them prior to leaving home. We do things a little differently. Because we have lived and worked in Vanuatu, we have a very realistic understanding of how things work there. As an underdeveloped country things don’t always go according to plan - it’s all part of the ‘island charm’ but it can be disconcerting if you’re not used to the casual way things may unfold. Sometimes things are just better handled “on the ground”.and that’s why we leave the finer details of the actual booking of your smaller tours up to you or your resort. Overnight tours are a completely different kettle of coconuts and require a bit of local knowledge and pre planning. We would love to help you here - just e-mail us and with no stress at all, you’ll be just like those kids – having a ball!
Here’s an overview of a few things we recommend and get great feedback on.
Everyone raves about this little company – excellent value, great experiences and run by a terrific operator/guide, Pascal Guillet. We first met Pascal a couple of weeks before he set up the company in 2004 and he is just as enthusiastic as he was then. He has more than 40 bush walks as well as mountain biking and lagoon/river kayaking safaris. One we love is the Lololima Cascades – a gentle bush walk to your own rainforest, waterfall and swimming hole. We suggest you take this early in your stay because you may want to book another tour with Pascal once you have met him and his ni-Vanuatu guides. The tours are so good we’ve given Pascal his own page here.
We love this one, too. She’s an old timber ketch that seems to fit perfectly within the laid-back pace of Vanuatu. It’s a full day out – you will be picked up from your resort and transferred to Havannah Harbour to board the boat. Included in the cruise is a visit to the turtle sanctuary on Moso (Tranquillity Island), a Beach BBQ lunch, snorkelling, morning and afternoon tea. If the wind is right you will return under sail and chances are you will have dolphins playing off the bow at least one way (they’ve been there the last three times we’ve been out).
EKASUP CULTURAL VILLAGE
This is a very professional little set up only about 10 minutes from Port Vila (you will be collected from your resort). While obviously set up for tourists it is a great way to have fun while learning about traditional Melanesian culture and village life – the local food, medicines, dancing and hunting methods (like how to catch a fish with a spider’s web). Local men, women and children participate and apart from a great experience for you it means that the fascinating traditional culture is being passed down the generations.
MERIDIEN CHARTERS SUNSET CRUISE
What a delightful way to end the day or begin an evening. The two-hour cruise on Port Vila Harbour lets guests enjoy the view of Port Vila from the water and the sunset, which can be spectacular. Included in the cruise price are nibbles and three drinks (additional dinks are at bar prices). Meridien Charters also runs a terrific half-day snorkel cruise from Port Vila Harbour.
HIDEAWAY ISLAND MARINE SANCTUARY
Hideaway Island is 15 minutes from Port Vila (then five minutes on the ferry). The snorkelling from the beach is terrific (take your own gear or hire when you pay the entry fee). You can also buy a bag of fish food if you want the fish to come to you. There’s a bar and good little restaurant for snacks or lunch and the sanctuary is home to the world’s only underwater post office (snorkel down and send a waterproof postcard). There are organised tours but it’s an easy one to do independently.
MELE CASCADES WATERFALL
Allow around 90 minutes to a couple of hours to enjoy this famous attraction. It’s an easy walk up to the falls and there are a number of swimming holes on the way back down. There are organised tours with Evergreen Tours that include transfers and refreshments in the Riverside Garden or you can do this independently by hopping a bus from town and paying the entry fee on arrival. Mele is about 15 minutes from Port Vila.
ADRENALIN & ADVENTURE WITH THE EDGE
If you want to see Mele Cascades from a different perspective The Edge offers abseiling down the waterfall – face-first or traditional. All safety gear is included as are refreshments. Edge Adventure has its own page here.
NEPTUNE GLASS-BOTTOM BOAT
This is a gentle way to have a look at some of the diverse marine life in Port Vila Harbour. There are two sites for snorkelling from the boat or glass viewing for those who don’t want to get wet. Trips depart from the harbour front near the markets and morning/afternoon tea is included.
The seaplane is based at Iririki Island Resort but can also pick up from other resorts that have beach or jetty access. Their slogan is “Your Imagination is Our Destination”. As well as a variety of ‘flight-seeing’ options (10, 20, 40 & 60 minute flights) there are a number of specialised tours including a drop off and pick up to a private island beach for a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ style picnic, fly and dine choices and a ‘Flight of Fire’ volcano scenic tour.
The helicopter operates from a platform in the harbour with the office next to the Nambawan Cafe. This is also a great way to see the scenic beauty of Vanuatu. Apart from the fun of ‘flight-seeing’ you can be dropped to a secluded island for a champagne picnic, have a VIP transfer from the airport to your resort or have a dramatic arrival to some of Vanuatu’s restaurants (e.g. The Havannah or Tamanu on the Beach). The chopper is also available for aerial photography and real estate inspections.
OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE GUIDED BUGGY TOURS
Pop in and see Eddie and Lana to book some off-road thrills to beaches and parts of the island others don’t get to see. The buggies are suitable for two people (can swap the driving along the way) and there are a number of options including their most popular drive yourself tour to Turtle Bay . Tours can be tailored to be relaxing and scenic or wild and muddy. If you like the second option, hope for a bit of rain!
In Vila, the wonderful folk at Big Blue will look after you with all your diving needs, and will even give you a free introductory scuba dive lesson. Mike, the owner really knows his stuff as do the great staff and can help you with great reef and wreck dives for in and around Port Vila. Serious divers should put a side trip to Santo on the ‘must do’ list for dives like Million Dollar Point and the SS Coolidge. On Santo we recommend Allan Power Dive or Santo Island Dive & Fishing (Mal and Tony).
Head on down to the Waterside Bar and Grill and you will see all the big beautiful fishing boats moored along the sea wall. Sit back and have a beer and watch them pull in their haul at the end of a long day. If you want to tick one of your bucket list, cruise on out with the professionals and they will show you how its done.
Go for a magnificent Parasail over the Port Vila Harbour and enjoy the crystal clear waters of the harbour and the slow pace of Port Vila from a different angle. Your heart may race a little (OK, a lot I confess) when you start off, but the ride is absolutely majestic! Say hi to our good friends Helen and Bruce, they are sure to look after you.
SEA KAYAKING & SNORKELLING
The gorgeous fun loving girls at Kayaking Vanuatu know how to show you a good time! Paddle out over the crystal blue waters of Mele Bay in your glass bottomed kayak to a delightful little coral atoll, then pop on your snorkel and flippers (supplied) and go on an underwater adventure, all under the watchful eye and expert assistance of your local guides. Kayaking Vanuatu has a variety of tours available. Check out more about them here.
OVERNIGHT TANNA ISLAND
Tanna island is home to Mt Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano and we recommend at least one night to experience its awesome display (there are day tours but it is more spectacular at night.) There are also great village and cultural experiences. This tour is best booked by us.
PENTECOST LAND DIVE (NAGHOL)
The Pentecost Land Dive is not a tourist attraction but part of the annual yam harvest festival on the island of Pentecost. Day trips can be taken on Saturdays in April, May and June can be arranged to witness this death defying and intriguing ritual. Email us if you wish to book as part of your Vanuatu experience as places can be limited.
LOTUS DAY SPA
It’s not exactly a ‘tour’ but if you would like some pampering, Jinny and Margie at the heavenly Lotus Health & Beauty will make sure you are treated like royalty! They have a terrific range of massages and treatments including hot-stone, Reiki and reflexology. Read about Lotus here.
JUST GETTING OUT AND ABOUT!
To get out and explore the island you can hire a car (we offer our guests a discount with Hertz), take an organised tour around the island or hire your own bus and driver.
While there are organised tours to Hideaway Island Marine Sanctuary, The Secret Garden and Mele Cascades, you can do these independently by flagging down a local bus driver.
For more info, current prices and specials on these tours and accommodation/flight packages, email us.