Vanuatu Tours, Cruises & Excursions
Welkam! Vanuatu is unique as a South Pacific destination because of the varied, accessible and affordable tours, cruises and activities on offer. There are a number of excellent tour operators in Vila including Adventures in Paradise, Melanesian Tours, Evergreen Tours and Friendly Tours.
Go Vanuatu is a division of Tropical Holiday Deals (Australia) that specialises in tours and what to do in Vanuatu and can book any of the tours listed below. Other specialist Vanuatu websites in the Tropical Holiday Deals stable include Honeymoon Vanuatu, Study Vanuatu and Resort Weddings.
All prices are in vatu and the exchange rate is a bit over 80 vatu to the Australian dollar and 75 vatu to the New Zealand dollar.
- Tours include Discover Port Vila, Around the Island, Lelepa Island, Pele Island.
- Cultural Activities include Ekasup Cultural Village, Secret Garden, Melanesian Feasts.
- Waterfalls, Beaches, Snorkelling & Picnics include Lololima Cascades, Eton Beach, Hideaway Island, Starfish Beach.
- Cruises include Coongoola Cruise, Sailaway Cruise, Meridien Charters Sunset Cruise.
- Adventures include Abseiling, Diving, Game Fishing, Horse Riding, Mountain Biking, Bushwalking.
- Sports include Golf, tennis, squash, gymnasium, swimming, snorkelling.
To pre-book, or for more info, email email@example.com or phone 47197 after arrival.
This one’s not a tour because, well, seen one SIM card, seen them all – BUT – it is an inexpensive service that allows you to keep in touch with friends and family back home as well as being handy to phone a driver to pick you up after a day or night out. Just take your own mobile, slip in the Vanuatu SIM and you’re away. The cost is 2500 vatu for a week (AUD$30) and that includes 500 vatu of pre-paid calls.
Beach Gourmet Picnics
Want something special, romantic and memorable. You can order a casual picnic lunch or a romantic tablecloth setting for dinner or lunch with your own waiter/waitress. Menus can be tailored to suit (special wines at bottle shop prices etc) but, as an indication – return transfers, snorkel gear, reef shoes, double hammock, chilled bottled water, bottle of wine with trio of dips/crackers, seasoned chicken drumsticks, pizza loaf, salad, fresh fruit platter, cheesecake and rum balls/truffles – 16,000 vatu. You can also be dropped by seaplane or helicopter to a private beach for the day.
A special ‘get away from it all’ experience is Starfish Beach on Moso (Tranquility) Island. It is a private beach two coves down from where the Coongoola drops anchor for their beach BBQ. You get your own kayaks and guide (who will sleep on the next beach along in case you need something). Accommodation is in a large (6-man) tent with mattress, linen, pillows etc – there’s a BBQ (and wood) as well as a toilet (bucket flush) – very romantic with a good chance of dolphins, turtles and the beach faces the sunset. Included in the price is all food and beverage (steak, lobster, champagne, red/white wine, beer, soft drinks etc).
There are over 20 restaurants in and around Port Vila and you can ring Harry or Mike on 47197 to arrange drop offs and pick ups or just hop a local bus. There are a couple of special places for a romantic sunset dinner – Tilly’s is one of Vila’s best restaurants and a table for two with your own waiter can be set at the end of the jetty over the harbour. Sunset Bungalows has a great lagoon setting and your own area next to the water can be arranged here. And for a leisurely lunch you can’t go past Tamanu on the Beach… well, you can go past Tamanu but you’ll arrive at White Sands Country Club, which is nowhere near as special. Tamanu is 20 minutes from town and transfers can be arranged.
Port Vila Discovery Tour
It’s a good way to get your bearings and some local knowledge. Highlights include the scenic lookout, various resorts, duty free shops and supermarkets, University of South Pacific, the courthouse, local produce market, clothes market, Houses of Parliament, Bob’s Nakamal, Cultural Centre, banks, post office, Chinese shops, nice cafes for snacks or lunch and snorkelling spots other. There are a number of tour options including Adventures in Paradise and Melanesian Tours (you will already have met them if staying at Poppy’s, Mangoes or Tradewinds) or with Harry Atisson’s Friendly Tours (47 197).
The Real Vanuatu
Add a couple of hours and you can really discover Port Vila – it is called the ‘real’ Vanuatu because as well as the sights above in urban Port Vila, you get to visit a real village (not one set up for tourists) where admission is simply by a donation of rice and/or stationery and then to the Secret Garden to look at the rich history, culture, customs and traditions of Vanuatu. 4000 vatu per adult includes bus, driver, commentary, entrance fees (including village donation) and drinks. If guests prefer, substitute Secret Garden with a leisurely lunch at Tamanu on the Beach (own expense) and your driver will wait to return you to town when ready.
Ekasup Cultural Village
This award-winning tour takes you to the traditional custom and culture of village and jungle life including traditional medicine, hunting traps, fishing skills, food preparation and preservation, weaving, coconut tree climbing and history of cannibalism. Tours depart 2:00pm daily (except Sunday) and go for over two hours. Ekasup also has a Melanesian feast, with entertainment, every Friday night 5:00pm.
Lololima Cascades Honeymoon Picnic
Lololima is a delightful spot set in lush rainforest on private property owned by Montamartre Secondary School and Seminary. Pascal Guillet from Vanuatu Ecotours has permission to take people to the cascades and swimming holes and private picnics are available. Drop off is a guided tour with commentary and couples are left at this private part of paradise with a gourmet picnic including French champagne and soft drinks.
Ecotours began in November 2004 when Pascal Guillet left the French Embassy to follow his dream. A keen walker, mountain biker, tennis player and horse rider, he wanted to share his country of 12 years with people who have similar interests. Pascal offers over 30 safe itineraries for all levels of fitness (walking and bike riding) and has tours from one hour to a full day. Tours are tailor-made to suit participants, have excellent commentary and are available for groups of 2 to 14 people. Half day 3900 vatu per person.
Mele Cascades is Vanuatu’s most famous waterfall and is only 15 minutes from town. It is still a nice place to visit for a refreshing swim as well as the falls. You can do this tour independently by purchasing a ticket at Evergreen Tours at the airport end of town or from the entrance to the falls. Buses charge 200 vatu per adult each way and admission is 1000 vatu for adults. There are daily tours at 9:00am and 2:00pm and cost 2600 vatu per person.
The Edge Abseil Adventure
For those who want a bit of adventure and adrenalin with their waterfall, The Edge is a professional and friendly operation also based in the Evergreen tour office mentioned above.
Secret Garden (Mele)
This is a quirky ‘botanical gardens’ with flora (native plants including kava), fauna (coconut crabs, lizards, snakes) and lots of Vanuatu history and culture (including cannibalism). Tours run daily (depart 9:00am and return by 12:30pm) adults. Cold drinks and snacks provided. If doing independently, entrance is 750 vatu. There can be a few mossies here so take insect repellent.
While there are organised tours to Hideaway Island (including gear hire and lunch) you can also visit independently – 200 vatu each way per adult by bus and 500 vatu entry fee when arriving at the island. The Hideaway Island Snorkel Safari for example costs 2950 vatu for adults and 1475 for children (6 to 12 years) and includes pick up and return from/to your resort, Marine Sanctuary entrance fee, bag of fish food, a welcome soft drink, use of snorkelling gear and a guided ‘snorkelling safari’. The hire of snorkel gear isn’t cheap and may not be spanking new so take your own if possible. The variety if fish life in the marine sanctuary (close to shore) is amazing but the coral took a bit of a tumble in the last cyclone. There’s also the world’s only underwater post office and the snack bar is quite good.
This is a lovely spot – to do it yourself you’ll need to hire a car or bus with driver. It’s a lovely beach where freshwater runs into a sheltered bay for snorkelling and swimming. With tours BBQ lunch is provided with refreshments, morning and afternoon tea and ice is provided (BYO wine/beer). Melanesian Tours take a minimum of six people and leave at 9:30am to return 3:30pm.
Around the Island Tour
Probably the best way to travel around the island is with a bus and driver. There are a number of tours on offer and vary in price depending on how many on the tour and the activities included on the way. If you would like a personalised itinerary with a knowledgeable driver, email to pre-book info@GoVanuatu.com or phone 47 197 after arrival. An example of an itinerary – Eton Beach for a snorkel and swim, beach buffet lunch with drinks, WW2 museum and airstrip plus two plane wrecks, Undine Bay, beach afternoon tea, Havannah Harbour and Klem’s Hill lookout. From around 6000 vatu per person.
You can hire cars from a number of companies including Budget, Discount Rentals and Avis. We recommend Avis because Steve and Robyn have a good knowledge of the island and will take time to point you in the right direction. Driving is on the right hand side of the road (but you quickly pick that up). You will need a 4WD to go around the island but a compact car is fine for as far as Hideaway Island and Mele Cascades in one direction, to Tamanu on the Beach in another and to Pango the other (go slow through the village because of potholes). You can email us for a personal itinerary to suit things you like doing and a picnic can be arranged.
Both the Sea Horse Ranch (l’Hippocampus) and Club Hippique Aquatic Park (CHAP) are professional operators with rides for all levels. CHAP also has a horse drawn wagon for those not inclined to hop into the saddle. There are rainforest and beach rides with experienced guides and romantic sunset rides that end by the lagoon with a wine or beer. There are also private riding lessons (up to 2 per class).
The Coongoola is a 23m wooden sailing ketch that sails the calm waters of Havannah Harbour and takes you to Happy Tok Beach at Sun & Moon Bay, Moso Island (turtle conservation area and caves). A beach BBQ lunch is included as is morning and afternoon tea – snorkel, sunbathe, swim and maybe get to sail with dolphins. Pick up time from Vila is 8:15am, return around 5:00pm. The Coongoola is Vila’s most famous day cruise – she’s a stately old girl, looking slick with a recent re-varnish and she cuts through the calm waters as if she owns the place. Cruise includes morning tea, beach BBQ lunch, snorkel gear and return resort transfers. You can also sponsor a turtle for 5000 vatu and release him/her back to the sea (you get naming rights and a certificate).
Also on Havannah Harbour, this catamaran cruise sails to Hat Island and Turtle Reef and offers swimming, snorkelling, diving, fish feeding and a BBQ lunch. Peter and his crew are excellent local guides.
Meridien Sunset Cruise
What a nice way to end the day! Unwind before dinner with drinks and nibbles on this sunset cruise from Port Vila harbour on the good ship Caraid. Three drinks included in the price (and reasonable bar prices thereafter).
Lelepa Island Day Tour
It’s a bus ride to Havannah Harbour then a boat ride to Lelepa for snorkelling, swimming, caves, fish feeding etc with local people. Tour includes a BBQ lunch of chicken wings, steak (and fish if you catch one) with salad, bread and fruit. Tours run every day except Saturday (depart 8:45am, return 5:30pm).
Taloa Nguna Island Tour
Nguna is an unspoilt island north of Efate and Taloa is a Marine Protected Area offering fantastic snorkelling. Songbirds abound in the rainforest on the trek to the tree house and a BBQ lunch is provided. Overnight stays are possible in bungalow, guesthouse or hostel accommodation.
Diving with Nautilus
Peter and Leanne at Nautilus run a professional and friendly dive operation from Port Vila to a number of great reef and wreck sites. Introductory scuba dives are popular and rewarding and divers are invited to the weekly Nautilus BBQ.
Fishing with Nautilus
Vanuatu offers some of the best fishing in the South Pacific. Sports and game anglers pull in marlin, wahoo, dorado, yellowfin tuna, swordfish and a host of other fighting fish. Nautilus also offers reef and deep-sea game fishing with three boats and local drivers who know where the fish are biting.
You can also parasail over Port Vila Harbour for magnificent views and a bit of an adrenalin rush. Not available when the cruise ship is in.
It’s fast, it’s loud and it’s thrilling. If you like hooning about at high speed the Jet departs from the harbourfront behind the markets.
Tanna Island Volcano Safari
There are day trips to the volcano that include fights, transfers and lunch but you don’t get to see the volcano at its best by day – far better to stay overnight so you can take the volcano safari late afternoon to see the volcano go from dusk to dark when it is at its most spectacular. An overnight package including return airport transfers in Vila, 4WD transfers on Tanna, overnight at Friendly Bungalows with dinner and breakfast, volcano safari and volcano entrance fee can actually work out less expensive than the day tour – 19,000 vatu per person. There’s also the world’s only volcano post office if you want to send someone a ‘hotmail’ postcard.
Iririki Island Resort (Tuesday), Erakor Island Resort (Thursday), Le Lagon (Wednesday) and Le Meridien (Thursday) have traditional Melanesian feasts… an example is Le Meridien’s – the buffet is huge and entertainment includes the Futuna String Band, the Banks Dance Group and the Tatafu Group (dancers from Ekasup Village). Buffet may include island cabbage and kumura soup, a variety of salads, roast pork, chicken and vegies, beef curry in coconut milk, whole baked fish, tuluk (grated manioc with pork baked in lap-lap), taro with pumpkin, yam with tomato, steamed rice, banana rolls, coconut pie, sticky rice pudding, fresh fruit, pumpkin cake, banana cake with sweet tamarind. You can also go to Ekasup Cultural Village’s feast on Friday nights for a more traditional night out.
These are harbour tours in the little yellow boat (carries up to 16 people). There’s an inner-harbour half-hour cruise and an Efira Island snorkel tour. Departs from behind the markets.
The glass bottom boat takes you over two harbour reefs and moors for swimming, snorkelling and fish feeding Mon to Fri 9:00am and 2:00pm, Saturdays 2:00pm.
Golf At Mele
The course at Mele is in a lovely location next to the beach and is an excellent course. A 9-hole package is 3800 vatu and 18 holes 4800 vatu (includes transfers, buggy and club hire).
To pre-book, or for more info, email info@GoVanuatu.com or phone 47197 after arrival.