The 5 best things to do in Vanuatu

written by Kate Gazzard November 14, 2022
The imposing figure of Mount Yasur in the distance.

That’s not relaxing on the beach or swimming in turquoise waters because…duh

We don’t need to write thousands of words on how awesome Vanuatu is for you to want to travel there – one glance at the island country’s turquoise waters, friendly people, and lush tropical rainforests is enough to have you on a plane asap.

But what do you do when you actually arrive?

We’re so glad you asked that question because not only does Vanuatu have extraordinary landscapes for you to marvel at, but it also has plenty of fascinating things to do from learning about indigenous communities to exploring the islands’ natural scenery (anyone down for a kayak trip?)

To help you plan out your trip (and so you don’t have to spend time searching on Google), we’ve put together a shortlist of the best things to do in Vanuatu.

1.      Learn about the Indigenous communities of Tanna

A local woman stringing up frangipani flower necklaces.

Nestled in the jungle-clad hills on Tanna Island lies a ‘kastom’ village – a cargo cult indigenous community that’s rejected modern life in favour of a more traditional lifestyle. Join your village hosts for a feast of traditional foods made fresh from their gardens such as coconut fish curry and laplap (a baked pudding consisting of yam, taro, banana, and coconut milk) and settle in for an afternoon of storytelling.


2.      Hike to the rim of Mount Yasur

The imposing figure of Mount Yasur overlooking an area of wilderness.

It’s not every day that you get an opportunity to climb up the side of an active volcano but in Vanuatu, Mt Yasur has been providing the ultimate challenge for avid hikers for decades. Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Old Man’ due to its age (it’s been erupting since before early settlers discovered Vanuatu), this dominant feature on Tanna Island’s skyline is truly a sight to behold.

Lace up your boots and make your way along the rutted rim of this volcano, stopping to feel the shaking ground beneath your feet and listening out for the iconic rumble that signals the best fireworks show of your life is about to start. Arrive at the crater’s rim and watch as the volcano bubbles and smokes its way through an eruption you’re going to remember forever.

3.      Kayak down the Rentapao River

The calm waters of Rentapao River.

If you thought swimming and snorkelling were the only ways you could experience Vanuatu’s marine landscapes, then let us introduce you to kayaking down the Rentapao River. Giving you an insight into this country’s diverse rainforest ecosystems, as well as a glimpse of village life, paddling down the Rentapao River in a kayak is one of the more peaceful yet exhilarating activities you can participate in.

Make your way past cascading waterfalls, navigate rock pools full of fascinating crustaceans, and ‘accidentally’ fall into the river to take a dip in the fresh, cool water. Try and find a better way to spend an afternoon. We’ll wait.

4.      Snorkel the waters around Nguna

Woman snorkelling in the turquoise waters around Vanuatu.

While there might be plenty to discover on land in Vanuatu, this country’s marine world is just as spectacular and just as easy to explore. Fasten your snorkel and slip into the water in the conservation area of the Nguna Islands and let your fascination grow as you encounter lots of brightly coloured tropical fish, the occasional turtle (if you’re lucky), and a whole reef system full of vibrant corals.

5.      Witness naghol, the land diving festival of Vanuatu

The wooden structure used for the land diving festival in Vanuatu.

Have you ticked off the world’s best bungee jumping spots but never stopped to consider where the adrenaline-pumping activity actually originated from? If the answer is yes, then your trip to Vanuatu during the country’s Naghol (land diving) Festival on Pentecost Island will undoubtedly open your eyes to the customs and story behind one of the world’s most exhilarating pastimes.

Practiced as part of a coming-of-age ritual for young men and as a blessing for upcoming harvests, this festival sees jumpers launch themselves off platforms 20-30 metres high. Occurring on Saturdays between April and June every year, witnessing this festival is an experience like no other – one that will surely stay with you long after the crowds have gone, and the last man has jumped. 


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