Your travel will be very dependent on Air Vanuatu domestic flights. The flights are quite reliable but some islands have only one or two flights a week and grass airstrips are the norm (only Santo, Tanna, Norsup on Malekula and Lonorro on Pentecost have tarmac).
Rain could disrupt the flights to some airstrip, maybe the grass is too long, the flight could be overbooked and there are other reasons for you missing your flight. Still, it is remarkable that Air Vanuatu's flights meet the schedule most of the time.
Air Transport —Air Vanuatu flies to the Banks group of islands three (3) days a week: Monday , Wednesday and Friday (November 2010). Tourists with a return Air Vanuatu ticket are entitled to a 20% discount , Tourist with a return ticket from another airlines get 10% discount. When leaving Gaua , plan to be at the airport early.
To the Torres group , there's only one flight a week —it lands at Linua , adjacent to Loh Island . At low tide you can wade across the estuary between Linua and Loh. When the water is high , people use canoes.
- An adult return fare to Gaua is 40025 Vatu from Port Vila or 19280 Vatu from Santo (May 2006);
- An adult return fare from to Sola is 41308 Vatu from Vila or 22070 Vatu from Santo (May 2006);
- An adult return fare to Mota Lava is 44345 Vatu from Port Vila or 22070 Vatu from Santo (May 2006);
The cost of flying to the Torres Islands is a big deterrent to travellers. If you skip Vila and start your travels in Santo , it's more affordable. An adult return fare to the Torres Islands is 47383 Vatu from Port Vila or 29405 Vatu from Santo (May 2006). When leaving Gaua , plan to be at the airport early. What happens is that the pilot radios ahead from Santo and may decide to change the routing.
The airfield at Sola (Vanua Lava) is somewhat unreliable. After rain , the grass strip becomes boggy , planes can not land and usually divert to Mota Lava. You would probably have to stay one night on Mota Lava and catch a speedboat to Sola on the next day , however try and confirm your ticket at least one day before departure to avoid disappointment and or delays
The airport on Mota Lava is about 12 km away , on the eastern end of the island. In 2009 the road was being upgraded and there was one transport truck. Walking takes two and a half hours. When you arrive at the airport you can usually share a ride with other passengers.
Sea transport —there is no regular shipping service to the Banks and Torres group these days and perhaps not a practical option for tourists so don't plan on traveling by ship to or from Gaua —these days , ships to the Banks and Torres Islands are rather infrequent. You might be lucky but it's not possible to plan ahead for travelling by ship. However when a ship does come , it may spend some days rounding the islands , offloading cargo and picking up copra.
Speedboats between Vanua Lava and Mota Lava are convenient , almost daily , and this makes it easy to visit both islands on the same trip. You can fly in to one island , make the crossing by speedboat and fly out from the other island. The cost of the 20km journey can be shared by the number of guest(s) or passengers. It may be a rough ride if the trade winds are blowing.
Land transport (Vanua Lava) —the Sola airport is about 4km by road northwest of Sola (about 30 minutes walk). There were three trucks on the island (May 2004) and you can count on at least one truck meeting the plane. An airport transfers is usually in the back of a truck and not a bus.
Getting around the Torres Islands — distances are short but it's difficult travelling around the Torres Islands . Outboard engines are limited and there's often a shortage of fuel.
For more details and to get the latest flight schedules , visit the Air Vanuatu website.