Make the most of your visit to this island paradise, where it truly is still on the quintessential island time. A blend of Melanesian, British and French cultures, combined with stunning natural settings, offers a wide range of tourism experiences, but please bear in mind that the purpose of this site is to promote locally owned and run businesses who are members of VIBTA. In the outer islands various walking tours; village kastom experiences; kayaking and snorkelling trips can be arranged by your accommodation host. While this section provides information of some locally owned tours, there are tour options available on most outer islands. Additional information and bookings for these activities can be made through the VIBTA travel office, Vanuatu Travel Safaris in Port Vila.
Close to Port Vila, you can visit the Evergreen Cascades, a family owned establishment very popular with tourists and day visitors on cruise ships. The easily accessible cascade waterfalls are surrounded by beautiful rain forest and tropical flowers. A small but clean bush path up to the majestic falls themselves is ideal for a family excursion and there is a restaurant and bar where fresh local food and beverages are served. If swimming is your choice of activity for the day there are many beaches around Efate, and in particular outside of Port Vila, that can fill that need. There are magnificent swimming holes (known locally as blue lagoons) and Eton Beach on the eastern side of the island (about 30 minutes drive from Port Vila) is a popular spot for tourists. It is also very close to Blue Lagoon and Eton Village where a village tour can be arranged. On the western side of Efate, approximately 30 minutes drive from Port Vila at Havannah Eco Lodge, “Survivor Beach” is a lovely spot to finish a hot summers day. There are entrance fees for beach access paid to locals. Chief Roi Mata’s Domain is a beautiful, natural World Heritage site, about 20 minutes drive out of Port Vila. He is remembered today as a great leader who settled a long period of warfare peacefully. Recognising one of Vanuatu’s most famous chiefs, this Melanesian village site; high chief’s nasara (traditional meeting boundary); Fels Cave and Eretoka Island (Hat Island) - Chief Roi Mata’s burial site is a deep insight to the many ancient rituals and customs of this magnificent area and dynamic culture. A visit to Vanuatu’s first World Heritage site will assist the local Ni-Vanuatu.
Vanuatu and its unspoilt waters are a magnet for both the serious sports fisherman and the amateur fisherman alike. There are many fishing tours and charter options available in and around Port Vila from Game fishing to reef fishing. The following are a couple of local Ni-Vanuatu who operate just outside of Port Vila – by using one of these operators you know that your trip has the support of the locals and appropriate permissions obtained.
Havannah Eco Lodge is only a 25 minute drive from Port Vila, so makes it an ideal fishing or relaxing weekend getaway. Fishing charters in the warm deep seas attract different fish throughout the year from the delicious eating ‘Poulet’ to the majestic Blue, Black or Striped Marlin! You are guaranteed to have a major thrill experiencing the beautiful water conditions of Vanuatu. Night fishing is also available, subject to minimum numbers. The accommodation site is spread over 5 hectares of prime coastal area, this beautiful location includes self contained bungalows, a camping site and outdoor covered dining area. Lelepa Island Fishing Charters is locally owned and operated by Lelepa Islanders. The boys have been operating this business for a while which means they know their sea! They are experienced fisherman and can be chartered for local fishing competitions – of which there are many during the season (April – November). Lelepa Islands can also play host if you wish to stay overnight and make a weekend of fishing. Accommodation is provided by a traditional style bungalow.
Havannah Eco Lodge is only a 25 minute drive from Port Vila, so makes it an ideal fishing or relaxing weekend getaway. Fishing charters in the warm deep seas attract different fish throughout the year from the delicious eating ‘Poulet’ to the majestic Blue, Black or Striped Marlin! You are guaranteed to have a major thrill experiencing the beautiful water conditions of Vanuatu. Night fishing is also available, subject to minimum numbers.
The accommodation site is spread over 5 hectares of prime coastal area, this beautiful location includes self contained bungalows, a camping site and outdoor covered dining area.
Lelepa Island Fishing Charters is locally owned and operated by Lelepa Islanders. The boys have been operating this business for a while which means they know their sea! They are experienced fisherman and can be chartered for local fishing competitions – of which there are many during the season (April – November). Lelepa Islands can also play host if you wish to stay overnight and make a weekend of fishing. Accommodation is provided by a traditional style bungalow.
Marine Protected Area
A 40 minute drive around the west coast side of Efate takes you north to Emua wharf – this is the access point to Nguna, Pele and Kakula islands and one of the most accessible marine protected areas off the island of Pele and southern coast of Nguna. A visit to this turtle reserve is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Vanuatu. A day trip to the beautiful island of Pele can be arranged by the contact centre.
Drummond Bay, Epi is a popular site with locals and tourists alike. A visit to this marine protected area where you will see turtles and large clams will enhance your trip to Epi. If you are very lucky the resident dugong from Lamen Bay may just pay you a visit!
Cultural Village experiences
The Melanesians were the first people to settle in the beautiful islands of Vanuatu, almost 3000 years ago. An interesting indigenous culture still exists, in some cases influenced by the 74 years of British and French rule. Because Vanuatu is recognised as one of the most diverse countries in the world a visit to Vanuatu wouldn’t be complete without an authentic cultural experience.
In addition to the traditional kastom dance and cultural ceremonies, some cultural experiences offer an insight into preparation of local native foods; how to use herbs for medicine; basket and mat weaving. Be sure to ask for details of the cultural experience before making a booking.
The following is a list of some locally owned businesses offering this unique Vanuatu experience.
- Ekasup Cultural Village
- Epule Jungle River Tours
- Iarofa Cultural Village
- Taka Tours
- Tara Beach
- Secret Garden (Melanesian Feast)
Around Efate Island and Port Vila Tours
The diverse history of Vanuatu becomes all the more real as you travel around Efate with a dedicated tour specialists. A ‘Round Island Tour’ is one of the must do Vanuatu experiences to understand the diverse culture, the British and French influence and the real issues facing the Ni-Vanuatu today. Away from the capital you will be rewarded with lush tropical forest landscapes; sparkling lagoons and sandy beaches and gorgeous scenery.
Most Port Vila City Tours are ½ day tours where you get a brief overview of the culture and history of this dynamic capital city while visiting important monuments and sites. The best ‘Around Efate Island Tours’ are all day tours (6-7 hours) that usually include a swim, refreshments, lunch and all entrance fees for various cultural activities. Make sure you are clear about what your tour guide is offering on their tours before you confirm a booking. One of the best ways to experience Efate is to book a local tour guide who is a member of one of the Tourism Associations. Some very experienced professional, Ni-Vanuatu tour companies are:
- Bakro Tours
- Cultural Round Island Tour
- Evergreen Vanuatu
- Island Holidays
- Native Island Tours
- Tropical Island Tours
- Vanuatu Amazing Tours
- Vanuatu Discovery Tours
- Vanuatu Famous Tour
The other islands of the SHEFA Province
Nguna, Pele and Emau are easily accessible islands from Efate. A short ‘truck’ ride to Emua wharf and a quick boat trip is all that is needed to experience these beautiful islands. Not often visited are the Shepherd Islands, Emae, Epi and Lamen islands, access to these islands is becoming easier with local Ni-Vanuatu improving the standard of cultural and eco-tourism experiences. Emae has the magnificent Cooks Reef close by and is an amazing experience for snorkelling and diving, and being close to Epi, Emae can also host yachties during the season. Lamen Bay, northern Epi, offers a quiet sanctuary for yachties with beautiful beaches, amazing snorkelling and an abundant marine life. Anyone who wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town should make the effort to explore the magnificent, unspoilt islands of the Shefa province. There are many reasons to lure the traveller who doesn’t want to stray too far from their comfort zone - but is keen to experience the Vanuatu village life. See the Where to Stay page for more details of accommodation options on these islands.