Shepherd group of islands
The Shepherd Islands are a group of populated volcanic islands north of Port Vila. Excellent views can be obtained of the islands from Air Vanuatu flights north of Port Vila. Tongoa and Emae are the main islands in the group.
Other islands include Tongariki, Buninga, Makira, Mataso, Ewosé, Faléa and Wot Rock.
Access to these islands is mainly by boats. Only two islands in the shepherds have airstrips and that is Emae and Tongoa. Alternatively, subject to arrangements visitors can travel to the shepherds via Air Vanuatu, that is to Emae or Tongoa then you can then travel by speedboat to the smaller islands —accommodation in the shepherds is in village homes, except Emae and Tongoa - there is no commercial guest house or bungalows on Mataso, Makira, Buninga and Tongariki, however arrangements for village homes are acceptable and visitors should bring their own food supplies, beverages and some extra tea, coffee, and sugar that can be left behind as a small gift.
Mataso Island is located 11 km south of Makira Island , in the Shepherd Island group. It was also known as "Two Hills" by early explorers. The island is composed of two steep sided rocks connected by a sandy isthmus. Mataso is inhabited by about 100 people who live in Na'asang village. The summit elevation is 494 m (Matah Alam).
Makira Island is located 8km SE of Nofo village on Emae. It is the central peak of a volcanic caldera. Emae and Mataso islands are the only remnants of the caldera rim. The caldera summit is Maunga Lasi on Emae Island . Most inhabitants live in Malakof village in the NW. The island has white sandy beaches in the north and NW. The summit of Makira Island is Saksak (297 m) in the SE.
Emae Island is located in the middle of the Shepherd Islands . The island has good views across to other islands, and is close to a popular dive site - Cook Reef. Emae Island is 11.3 km long and 3.5 km wide. Emae, a 15-20mins trip by plane from Port Vila and is worth seeing given its close proximity to Port Vila. There is a new Eco-Tourism Project that has started there and the place is as peaceful as anything. It still has that 'island' feel to it and lives up to the Vanuatu saying ' vanuatu , the timeless islands' or another time, another pace! The airstrip is on the SW side of the island. There are two old volcanic cones on the island. Maunga Lasi (644 m) is in the NE. It has deeply eroded gully on all sides. In the SW is Maunga Repu (Painga) 528 m. There is an anchorage at Nofo, where small boats can enter a gap in the fringing reef.
Tongariki is a small island of volcanic origin in the eastern Shepherd Islands . The island has no beaches or reefs. A number of small islands lie close to the south coast. The island is 3.8 km long and 1.7 km wide. The summit elevation is 521 m.
Buninga Island is located 2 km SW of Tongariki Island. The island is 1.5 km in diameter and heavily populated. The summit elevation is 216 m.
Tongoa is the largest island in the Shepherd Island group. It is heavily vegetated , and shows geothermal activity. There are numerous volcanic old cones on the island and has some black sand beaches , and the interior is densely forested. The island is named after the Tongoa plant which grows in the area. Megapode birds nest on the island. Tongoa has one guesthouse.