Vanuatu isn’t your run-of-the-mill tropical paradise. Sure, you could spend your time lying on deserted beaches or swinging in hammocks, but there are volcanoes to be hiked and reefs to be snorkelled, songs to be sung and dances to be… attempted. There’s plenty to dip your toe into – from cascades to hot springs to flourishing marine reserves – and the swimming spots are just the start. A welcome here is like a welcome home and well, come to Vanuatu and you’ll never want to leave.
The best time to visit Vanuatu’s southern islands is from May to October. This is generally the coolest, driest period of the year, with the cyclone season beginning in December. If you’re visiting the northern islands, the best time to visit is from July to September. Cyclones are most likely from mid–late December until early April.
When it comes to theft and personal crime, Vanuatu is a very safe place to visit. Travellers are advised to take precautions in Port Vila and avoid extravagant displays of wealth and walking alone at night.
Given Vanuatu’s geographical location, earthquakes and cyclones occur regularly and tsunamis do happen too.
Cyclone season lasts from November/December through till April/May but they can happen at any time. Local phone numbers are messaged and regularly updated when a cyclone moves into Vanuatu’s waters.
Port Vila has a tsunami warning system and travellers are advised to move to higher ground if there is a long tremor or warning sirens.
Travellers of all nationalities can apply for a visa on arrival in Vanuatu. This visa lasts a maximum of 30 days.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your country of origin. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
Tipping is not customary in Vanuatu though tipping loose change or rounding up the bill at a restaurant is always appreciated. A smile and ‘tank you tumas’ (thank you) should suffice. It’s worth nothing that bargaining in shops and markets is not part of the culture here either.
In Port Vila and Luganville there are a number of cafes and bars that offer free wi-fi. Most hotels and resorts will also offer wi-fi, either free or for a small fee. In the villages people tend to use their phones for internet access – if you’d like to be able to access the internet for the entire length of your trip then your best option is to purchase a local SIM with Digicel or TVL.
Some islands will be better suited to a particular carrier so if you are spending the majority of your time in one place, then it’s worth having a chat at the phone shop about which SIM is best for you.
If you’d like to use your mobile/cell phone in Vanuatu your best option is to purchase a local SIM card on arrival. The main villages on most islands generally have good 3G reception, while the larger islands including Efate and Santo have 4G reception. If you wish to use your own SIM then be sure to activate global roaming before departing your home country and check with your carrier for international fees.
The toilets in Vanuatu will vary depending on your itinerary. In hotels, flushable Western-style toilets are the norm, and the same applies for many bars and cafes. The situation will be a lot more basic on the smaller islands – don’t expect a flushing toilet.
Vanuatu’s unit of currency is the vatu (vt). Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
The tap water in Port Vila and Luganville is generally safe to drink. Outside of these areas, water will need to be treated. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and fill a reusable water bottle instead. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
Major credit cards are generally accepted at hotels, supermarkets and restaurants in the main touristed areas of Vanuatu like Port Vila and Luganville. Outside of these cities, as well as in smaller shops, it’s unlikely that credit cards will be accepted so make sure you have cash on you.
ATMs can be found in Port Vila and Luganville but outside of these cities the access is minimal. If you plan on leaving the main tourist areas for an extended period it’s important to be prepared with a good supply of vatu.
From May–October Port Vila sees average temperatures of 17–27°C (63–81°F) with an average rainfall of 105–135 mm (4.1–5.3 inches). The maximum average temperature increases to 30°C (86°F) over the summertime with over 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rainfall. The north sees similar temperature ranges but with a lot more rainfall. Keep in mind too that the humidity makes it feel much, much warmer than it necessarily is.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
For a current list of public holidays in X, including the movable dates noted above, go to:
Though same-sex sexual activity was legalised in Vanuatu in 2007, and those who identify differently are now protected under discrimination laws, same-sex marriage is still not recognised by the government. Public displays of affection are not common in Vanuatu, which is a conservative and very Christian country, so both LGBTQIA+ and heterosexual couples should display discretion in public.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Vanuatu, along with most of the South Pacific, does not have good facilities for travellers with disabilities. Public transport (where it exists) doesn’t tend to have ramp access, the footpaths are often damaged or non-existent, and travelling by boat between islands can be logistically complex. Some of the larger international resorts will have rooms equipped for those with limitations but this is not the norm. That said, the Ni-Vanuatu look after their elders and the disabled and will go out of their way to help travellers that are having issues.
As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Loose-fitting clothing is best to keep travellers cool throughout the year. Malaria is present on the islands, so long-sleeved shirts and light trousers are great for wearing at dusk and dawn when the mosquitos are about. It can get quite cool in the evenings during the winter (June, July, August), so it’s worth having a light jumper/sweater as well as a light raincoat for rain showers throughout the year.