Best things to do in Vanuatu! Volcanos, coral reefs, food, culture, and more! We list incredible experiences and answer your top questions.
*This article was written by Olivia McDonald*
So you’re headed to the tropical paradise of Vanuatu, where breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and endless adventures await. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adrenaline seeker, or a cultural enthusiast, Vanuatu will make for an unforgettable trip.
In this blog post, I will take you through the top 10 best things to do in Vanuatu.
These are the must-visit attractions and activities that will make your trip an unforgettable journey.
From exploring pristine beaches to immersing yourself in the local way of life, get ready for a fantastic adventure in the South Pacific.
So, grab your sunscreen, dig out your snorkel, and let’s dive into the wonders of Vanuatu!
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10 Best Things To Do In Vanuatu
Here are the 10 best things to do in Vanuatu for every traveler looking for a unique and unforgettable adventure!
1. Discover Tanna’s Blue Cave (One Of My Favorite Things To Do In Vanuatu!)
One of my absolute favorite things to do in Vanuatu was the blue cave tour on Tanna Island.
To get to Tanna Island, you will need to take an AirVanuatu flight from Port Vila, which takes around 40 minutes. I recommend staying on Tanna Island for 2 nights to leave enough time to explore the blue cave, Mt Yasur volcano, and the local villages.
When you’re in Tanna you will take a 30 – 40-minute boat ride to a hidden cave where you enter via swimming through an underwater entrance. When you pop up on the other side you will be amazed to see the sun pouring through the top of the cave and shining over the blue waters.
I stayed at Whitegrass Resort and they organized the tour for me. From what I hear that is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to do it.
2. Go Snorkeling Or Scuba Diving
Vanuatu is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving sites in the world.
When snorkeling in Vanuatu, you can expect to see a diverse range of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, rays, and even dolphins. The water in Vanuatu is generally very clear, allowing for excellent visibility when snorkeling.
Not to mention the warm water temperature in Vanuatu, typically ranging from 24-28°C (75-82°F). It truly is the perfect temperature for swimming and exploring the underwater world!
No matter what island you choose to visit in Vanuatu you will find some great snorkelling. Some of the best spots are Hideaway Island off Port Vila, Million Dollar Point of Espiritu Island, and Blue Holes 1 & 2 on Tanna Island.
3. Immerse Yourself In The Culture
Alright, let’s talk about cultural tours in Vanuatu! If you’re up for an immersive adventure that lets you dive deep into the vibrant local culture, then these tours are right up your alley.
Vanuatu is a place bursting with rich traditions and fascinating customs. And the best part? You can actually get up close and personal with the locals and experience their way of life firsthand.
One of the coolest things about these tours is that you’ll get to visit traditional villages. Picture yourself strolling through a village, surrounded by smiling faces and curious kids. You’ll learn about their customs, hear their stories, and witness age-old practices that have been passed down through generations. It’s an incredible opportunity to connect with the heartbeat of Vanuatu.
But there’s more! You’ll get to witness captivating traditional ceremonies and performances. From mesmerizing dances to heartfelt music, these cultural expressions will leave you in awe.
Oh, and the food! Can we talk about the food? These cultural tours often include a feast of local delicacies. You’ll taste flavors you’ve never experienced before. From grilled local seafood to unique root vegetables and exotic fruits, your taste buds are in for a ride.
But here’s a pro tip: come with an open mind and a willingness to learn. The locals are incredibly welcoming and love to share their knowledge and stories.
Ask questions, engage in conversations, and soak up all the cultural insights they’re willing to offer. You’ll walk away with a deeper appreciation for Vanuatu’s heritage and the beautiful diversity that exists in this world.
4. Stand On The Edge Of Yasur Volcano
The Yasur Volcano, located on the island of Tanna, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Often rated one of the best things to do in Vanuatu, hiking to the top of Mt Yasur to witness the spectacular display of molten lava shooting into the air is a thrilling yet rewarding experience.
The best time to take a tour is in the afternoon so that when the sun sets you can clearly see the lava beaming against the night sky.
I will be honest, I did chicken out of this tour after watching the Netflix documentary about the tragedy on White Island in New Zealand. Plus there was a volcanic eruption the day before at a neighboring island that I was able to witness (under a full moon I may add). If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is!
I would have been on edge the whole time, plus I read a few mixed reviews about how safe it really is, lava bombs can be fatal! If you are keen to do this tour make sure to do your own research and follow the instruction of local guides.
5. Explore The Mele Cascades
The Mele Cascades are a series of waterfalls located on Efate Island, the main island in Vanuatu.
The Mele Cascades are like a hidden gem, offering breathtaking waterfalls and lush greenery that’ll make you feel like you’re in paradise.
Only a 20-minute drive from town, it’s worth the visit if you can squeeze it into your itinerary!
First things first, you gotta hike your way up to those beautiful cascades. Don’t worry, the trail is well-maintained, but be prepared for a moderate challenge. Take your time and enjoy the stunning views along the way.
Once you’ve conquered the hike, take a refreshing swim in the waterfall pools.
Feeling hungry? No worries! Mele Cascades has designated picnic areas where you can chill out, have a picnic, and refuel. Pack some delicious treats or grab some local snacks from nearby vendors.
If you want to dive deeper into the Mele Cascades’ secrets, consider joining a guided tour. Local guides will take you on an informative journey, sharing fascinating insights about the plants, animals, and cultural significance of the area.
Grab your comfy walking shoes, throw in your swimwear, pack some towels, slather on that sunscreen, and don’t forget the bug repellent. Oh, and hydration is key, so bring plenty of drinking water to stay refreshed.
6. Attend The Naghol Land Diving Festival
The Naghol Land Diving Festival is a unique event held on Pentecost Island.
Held annually in April and May, the festival is a great way to experience unique local traditions.
It involves men jumping from tall wooden towers with vines tied to their ankles and it’s all about adrenaline, bravery, and tradition. Prepare for the heart-stopping moment when they reach the end of the vine and snap back just before they touch the earth. Trust me, your heart will be pounding as you watch them freefall through the air.
If you aren’t wanting to stay in Pentecost but just want to watch the land divers, you can arrange a day tour with AirTaxi that includes return flights, Naghol entry, and lunch.
7. Swim In The Blue Lagoon
Next on the top 10 best things to do in Vanuatu is a visit to the Blue Lagoon on Efate Island.
The stunning Blue Lagoon is a natural swimming hole with crystal-clear blue waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.
It’s a stunning place that will make take your breath away. If you’re feeling adventurous, bring your snorkeling gear. Get up close and personal with colorful fish, coral formations, and maybe even some sea turtles if you’re lucky. It’s like swimming in an aquarium.
And don’t worry about getting hangry because there are often vendors nearby selling delicious local treats. Grab a coconut or some freshly cut tropical fruits to snack on. It’s the perfect way to refuel while basking in the natural beauty around you.
To get to the blue lagoon I recommend arranging transport to the Blue Lagoon with your accommodation as they will provide the best value and the greatest flexibility.
8. Shop At Port Vila Markets
If you’re in Port Vila, a visit to the markets is a must.
Port Vila Markets is a vibrant local market selling fresh produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Enjoy a freshly cut coconut, some island papaya, pineapple, and bananas or why not grab some souvenirs to take back home?
The food stalls (eat-in or takeaway) are a great way to get a taste of the culture. The menu comprises local food with a choice of fish, steak, or chicken with three or four vegetables. Servings are large and the price is small at 500VT (about $4).
I recommend grabbing a bite to eat and then heading to the nearby bay for a cute picnic.
9. Relax On Santo Beaches
Vanuatu is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Santo island, in particular, boasts bright blue waters and white sandy beaches. The most spectacular beaches are without a doubt Port Orly and Champagne Beach.
Trust me, the beaches in Santo are on another level, and I’m from Australia.
Have a perfect beach day, enjoy the warm waters, soak in the sun, and take plenty of photos of the gorgeous scenery.
Pro Tip: Remember to bring cash! It is 2000VT for a vehicle or 500VT for pedestrians to enter.
Most natural attractions in Vanuatu charge an entry fee. This includes the blue Holes and Champagne Beach. The locals own the land and the fee is going towards the work they do to maintain the sites.
10. Dive Into The Nanda Blue Hole
Number 10 of the top 10 best things to do in Vanuatu is…the Nanda Blue Hole!
The Nanda Blue Hole on Espiritu Santo Island is another beautiful swimming hole with captivating blue water.
On Santo, there are 3 main blue holes, all within close proximity of each other. They are Nanda, Riri, and Metavulu, my favorite being Nanda blue hole.
The Santo blue holes are a lot bluer than the ones in Efate, if you were to pick one I would definitely visit the ones on Santo.
It is pretty incredible, the water is surprisingly a lot cooler than the beaches!
Visiting Nanda Blue was one of the highlights of my trip to Vanuatu, it was seriously so spectacular. There are loads of fish in the blue hole so make sure to take your snorkel! And of course, your camera so you can share the stunning beauty with your friends and family back home!
FAQs: Vanuatu Travel
Below I have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about Vanuatu travel.
What Is Vanuatu Most Known For?
Vanuatu is well known for its pristine beaches, vibrant culture, and rugged natural wonders.
Dive into the vibrant marine life and explore stunning coral reefs, perfect for snorkeling and diving adventures.
Seeking thrills? Don’t miss the chance to witness the active volcano of Mount Yasur, it will leave you breathless. Want to experience a different way of life? Immerse yourself in the local culture by taking part in traditional ceremonies and rituals.
And when it’s time to unwind, relax by some of the most beautiful beaches and water holes.
This remarkable destination offers a perfect blend of relaxation, culture, and adventure.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Vanuatu?
The best time to visit Vanuatu is during the dry season, from May to October. During this time, the weather is generally sunny, with less rainfall and lower humidity.
The temperatures, range from 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F), making it ideal for plenty of outdoor activities and exploring the islands.
This season is also popular for snorkeling and diving, as the visibility underwater is excellent.
However, it’s worth noting that Vanuatu can be visited year-round, and even during the wet season (November to April), the rainfall is usually short, with intense showers. Just be prepared for occasional tropical storms and higher humidity if you visit during the wet season.
I visited Vanuatu in mid-April and the weather was mostly sunny with an occasional shower around lunchtime or during the evening. It was however very humid, so I basically lived in the water! I would suggest waiting until May or June to avoid the heat.
Which Is Better Vanuatu Or Fiji?
Comparing Vanuatu Vs Fiji is like comparing apples to oranges.
Vanuatu is known for its rugged natural beauty, think volcanoes, lush rainforests, and coral reefs, making it a popular destination for adventure seekers. Vanuatu also has a unique and well-preserved culture.
On the other hand, Fiji is known for its gorgeous beaches and luxurious resorts. It’s a popular spot for honeymooners and those seeking a relaxing holiday in paradise.
If you’re looking for a luxurious and relaxing beach vacation, Fiji may be the better choice. But if you’re interested in adventure and exploring a unique culture, Vanuatu would be my recommendation!
Ultimately, whether Fiji or Vanuatu is better for you depends on your personal preferences, and at the end of the day, I don’t think you can’t go wrong with either one!
Final Thoughts On The Best Things To Do In Vanuatu
Vanuatu is amazing and has a lot to offer. Its beautiful and rugged landscape is sure to take your breath away. Have you been to Vanuatu? What would you like to see most?
About The Author: Olivia is an accomplished Australian travel blogger and a Campaign Manager at Flight Centre Travel Group. She is currently based in Brisbane, where she balances her full-time career with her passion for travelling the world. Olivia created her blog, Defining Decade, as a platform to empower young women to make the most of their 20s and build a fulfilling life through travel. She firmly believes that your 20s are the perfect time to explore, make unforgettable memories, and discover who you truly are, and what better way than through travel!
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