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). 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.
The domestic timetable is always changing so check the latest version. Tickets for domestic flights are easy to get except at Christmas time and around school holidays — domestic flights can be booked and paid through Air Vanuatu overseas offices. In fact, you can do everything over the phone with a credit card and when you arrive in Vanuatu you should not need to visit the Air Vanuatu offices in Vila or Santo. That's much easier than before! We also provide you with a list of travel agents and tour operators in this travel guide to support you with your travel arrangements.
Optional connection can be made via local ships and, in general, they have little to recommend. It's difficult to track them down, passing ships are infrequent on many islands and most of them don't run to any schedule. It's not like the developed world; there are no passenger ferries with scheduled services —sometimes, you can spend days on an island waiting for a ship and then it might arrive in the middle of the night. Most of the ships in Vanuatu are cargo vessels with little space and primitive facilities for passengers. Sure, it can be nice 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 well equipped. It helps to bring enough cash (in local currency, budget for a minimum 3000 VT per day for accommodation, food and island transport. Airfares and departure tax are extra. Always have some 1000 Vatu notes because you might not get change on local transport and in small island stores.
The following item(s) would be neccessary:
- An up-to-date Air Vanuatu domestic timetable (handy for island hopping).
- Water bottle.
- Anti-malaria tablets (some islands/areas).
- Torch light.
- Spare batteries. Alkaline batteries for digital devices are rarely available on the islands
- Antiseptic ointment or cream (take good care of cuts and scratches).
- Antifungal powder or cream.
- Bath towel (usually provided).
- Toilet paper (usually provided).
- Snorkelling gear (only if you need it)
- Telecom Vanuatu phone card.
- Digicel Vanuatu has a pretty decent mobile phone coverage on the islands and you should be able to buy a prepaid SIM in Port Vila or Luganville.
You'll be traveling in the tropics so there are too many details to cover here. If this is your first time to travel unescorted off the beaten track then — this is where you will need this travel guide book to serve as your passport in your travel to explore our outer islands.