Are you looking for epic things to do in Vanuatu for your one week itinerary? We recently came back from a 10 day visit to Vanuatu and can’t recommend this island paradise enough.
We have a special connection with the Pacific Islands as we had our wedding in the Cook Islands. So when our friend suggested a trip overseas and found some return flights for a great price to Vanuatu we didn’t need any extra encouragement!
We are Jamie and Camille. A young(ish) (late 20’s) couple from Australia. Camille’s family moved from Denver, Colorado in the USA to Australia when she was 7 years old and she caught the travel bug at a young age.
Some of her fondest childhood memories are from her time spent in France with her grandparents. She went on to become a travel consultant enabling her to travel around the world on work trips.
Jamie was born and raised in Adelaide in a small surf suburb. He grew up looking forward to the next camping or surf trip away with friends and family. Once he met Camille (just after graduating high school) his passion for overseas travel started to grow.
As mentioned above, we celebrated our wedding in the beautiful Cook Islands a few years ago and have spent the last 3 years travelling our own country (Australia) doing the ‘big lap’ in our self converted Mercedes van.
Why Vanuatu should be on your Travel Bucket List
Vanuatu is made up of 84 islands, each offering endless things to do. Beautiful sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs, crystal clear blue water holes, volcanic landscapes and alluring sea caves all wait to be explored.
We loved the friendliness of the local people and the untouched beauty in the landscapes. The best thing about Vanuatu is that the people are so, so friendly. We have never seen such wide smiles.
The Ni-Vanuatu are very welcoming and accommodating. The children were always outside playing and having fun and they really seemed connected to the ocean.
We met a wonderful woman called Pamela who showed us around her local waterfall. The owners of the Blue Cave, Daniel and his wife were the most warm and generous hosts too! The Ni-Vanuatu people only gained independence in the 80’s and they are peaceful and happy people.
Our Epic Itinerary in Vanuatu: 10 Days in Paradise
We booked for 10 days in Vanuatu and visited 3 of the islands. Espiritu Santo was our first stop where we discovered several blue holes. These fresh water, spring fed swimming holes were fairy tale perfect and the ideal place to laze the day away.
We hired a car and drove through fields of coconut palms to Champagne beach, famous for the white sand that effervesces as you wade in the crystal clear water.
Our next island called Tanna is more remote and home to the world’s most accessible active volcano. There we snorkelled large natural aquariums full of anemone fish, sea snakes and beautifully colored hard corals.
Tanna is also home to the incredible Blue Cave, a hidden sea cave on the untouched Northern coastline of this small island.
Lastly we relaxed on Efate, wandered along Mele creek to get to the towering 35m cascades. Make sure to try and find the small cave behind the waterfall, it gives a great different perspective.
Next we hopped on a ferry to Hideaway island and even went inside the world’s only underwater post office!
Highlight of our Trip: The Blue Cave on Tanna Island
Standing inside the large cave and witnessing the streak of light rays coming through the natural hole in the ceiling and touching the sparkling azure water is simply amazing. Best of all, we had it to ourselves for 2 days.
Diving underwater and surfacing inside the Blue Cave was such an awesome feeling. A bit scary but so worth it! It is like opening the wardrobe door into Narnia and we sort of felt like real life mer-people!
Epic Things To Do in Vanuatu: 5 Must-Do Experiences
There are endless things to do in Vanuatu for those who love adventures and getting immersed in nature. Below are our top 5 must-do experiences:
1) Kayak or swim in one of the Blue Holes on Espiritu Santo. The water is filter fed through limestone and is not only crystal clear but has an uncanny aquamarine colour that’s surrounded by lush rainforest.
4) Visit the Blue Cave on Tanna Island. Just getting out to the cave by boat is an adventure and gives you the opportunity to see dolphins playing along your bow. We will never forget arriving at the side of a cliff by boat and climbing up a vertical ladder to get to our accommodation.
5) Go waterfall chasing on Efate Island. You can easily spend a day at Mele Cascades. Walking up stream you discover so many little pools and small waterfalls before arriving at the towering falls at the end.
Lush rainforest surrounds you the entire way and although it can be a busy spot, you should always be able to find a secluded pool to have to yourself.
Suggested 1 Week Itinerary in Vanuatu
We would definitely recommend doing a few islands. For a week we would suggest starting with 2 nights in Efate. This island is the busiest as the capital Port Vila is here.
Catch a flight to Tanna for the next 2 nights. A day tour can take you to the Volcano, then some hot springs on a black sand beach and to a beautiful local waterfall.
Snorkel in the blue holes dotting the reef on the eastern side of the island. There are even treehouse accommodations you can try out for something really unique.
Finish out the adventure with 3 nights on Santo to explore several of the Blue holes, dive the Coolidge or snorkel million dollar point. Then head up north to Champagne beach or Lonnoc beach.
A self drive gives you great flexibility to explore all over this island, but keep in mind they drive on the right side of the road.
What is the Food like in Vanuatu?
The food is fairly basic, consisting mainly of rice or Kumara chips (sweet potato) with beef, chicken or fish. Our favourite part was being able to pick mangoes, papaya or bananas straight from the trees. They grow wild everywhere and provide a delicious snack for everyone.
We also loved the markets. Each island offers something different at their markets. We found the local restaurants in the bigger towns to be the best value for money when eating out.
What you Need to Know before you Go
Vanuatu is not as cheap as we would have thought. You can expect prices similar to Australia particularly for going out to eat. You will also be charged an entry fee at every point of interest, including the Blue holes on Santo, any waterfall and climbing Mt Yasur the volcano.
The good news is that the majority of these fees go straight back to the small villages and communities surrounding these attractions.
Getting around on Santo is best by car as there are bigger distances to cover. In Tanna however, you really need to hire a driver as the roads can be very rough in areas and there aren’t any official car hire outlets.
In Efate you can take the public buses which are quite cheap and a great way to get everywhere. It is also perfectly legal to hitchhike and ride in the back of a Ute tray. In fact, it’s kind of a must in order to feel like a local.
It is a good idea to have cash in the local currency (Vatu). Many places take cards as well, but we found the best way was to change our money into Vatu at a currency exchange outlet in one of the main towns. Tipping is not customary in Vanuatu and can even be considered an insult.
Be aware if you are booking basic/cheap accommodation that you may not always have hot water, air-conditioning or some of the greater comforts we are used to. Almost every resort will have a restaurant but the more remote accommodations aren’t always well stocked with food.
To get a great price on our trip to Vanuatu we travelled in shoulder season (late November – early December). We experienced mainly good weather, but did have a cyclone scare towards the end of our trip.
It did mean there were hardly any other tourists around. The season you choose to travel is definitely something to keep in mind when booking a holiday to Vanuatu.
Thanks for reading our guide on epic things to do in Vanuatu for a one week itinerary. We hope you enjoy this friendly island paradise as much as we did!