Making the outer island connection
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). But be prepared as there are many factors that can disrupt the service, for example heavy rain, cyclone or heavy wind etc.
The domestic timetable is always changing so check the latest version. Tickets for domestic flights are relatively easy to get except at Christmas time and around school holidays — domestic flights can be booked and paid through Air Vanuatu overseas offices, or connections to the outer island can be booked and paid through the Vanuatu Travel Safaris website when you book your island adventure.
Optional connections can be made via local freight and passenger ships but the schedules are irregular. Most of the ships in Vanuatu are cargo vessels with basic facilities for passengers. It can be an exciting experience island hopping by ship but you need to be patient. The main domestic shipping routes in Vanuatu are between Port Vila and Santo. In the central islands it is feasible to travel by ship. In northern and southern Vanuatu , ships are rare and you would be very lucky to find a convenient departure.
The island bungalows receive visitors once in a while and may not be as well equipped as you would expect in the bigger town centres. It is advisable to take enough cash in local currency, budget for a minimum 4000 VT per day for accommodation, food and island transport. Any tours on the islands are additional, and always try to have some 1000 Vatu notes because you may not always get change on local transport and in the small island stores.
It is advisable to have the following item(s) with you on any outer island experience:
- An up-to-date Air Vanuatu domestic timetable (handy for island hopping).
- Water bottle.
- Anti-malaria tablets.
- Mosquito net (these are usually provided by your host)
- Torch light and spare batteries.
- Antiseptic and antibiotic ointment or cream.
- Bath towel.
- A spare roll of Toilet paper.
- Snorkelling gear (only if you need it).
- Insect repellant
- Telecom Vanuatu or Digicel phone card if you have a mobile phone
There are various licensed airport transfer companies who can provide pre-arranged transport to and from the airport. Vehicles are either 26-seat standard buses or luxury 10-seat mini coaches, and most have air-conditioning. Your hotel or resort may arrange transfers or ask for a luxury coach from the company of your choice to be available at the airport or hotel. The costs will vary depending on the arrangement and number of passengers but are similar to taxi fares. Check with your travel agent to confirm your transport arrangements or contact the transfer company of your choice, directly.
Air Vanuatu is the national airline offering regular domestic and international flights between Port Vila, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Noumea, Santo, Nadi and Honiara. Air Vanuatu sales office in Port Vila open 7:30am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 11:30am Saturdays
Other airline operating to Vanuatu include Air Calin, Pacific Blue, Air Pacific and Air New Zealand
Bauerfield airport is the major port of entry for all international flights to Vanuatu. Air Vanuatu also operates all domestic flights to most of the islands of Vanuatu. All domestic flights depart from Port Vila. Book your flights well in advance for major destinations like Santo, Malekula and Tanna
Qantas Air Vanuatu Sales & Reservation Office:
Port Vila, Efate +678 23848
Noumea +687 286677
Australia 1300 780 737
Auckland, NZ +64 373 3435