An archipelago of islands located in the Pacific Islands, Vanuatu is surely the stuff of tropical holiday dreams. Most visitors arrive in Port Vila, the capital and largest city on the island. However, forget any preconceptions of skyscrapers or round the clock nightlife – Port Vila is really just a big country town. Don’t be surprised if your taxi stops suddenly and your driver starts having a chat out of the window, basically, everyone seems to be friends in Port Vila and no-one is in a hurry. Just smile, and enjoy it – you’ll be in love with the Port Vila approach to life in hours! While it is quiet, there’s still plenty to keep you occupied – here are our top 5 things to do.
1. The Blue Lagoon
Maybe not quite as Instagrammable as its big brother in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is still an awesome place to visit. As the name suggests, it is a lagoon where the water is startlingly blue. A rope swing hangs above it, enticing you to swing into the cyan blue waters! Once you’ve had a swim, the lagoon is surrounded by lots of green grass and a few picnic tables, so it is the perfect place to have lunch.
2. Drink Kava
If you’ve ever had kava in Fiji, you might be expecting a not-so-tasty drink with subtle after-effects – but don’t be fooled, Vanuatu’s kava is a whole different ballgame. Drunk by the cup at small local bars dotted all over Port Vila and the island of Efate, after a couple of minutes this drink (made from plant roots) turns your mouth numb while also turning you into a relaxed, giggling mess. Whatever you do, don’t try to keep up with the locals!
3. Lelepa Island
Vanuatu is a country of thousands of islands. While some of them are a plane ride away from Port Vila, others are much closer – such as gorgeous Lelepa Island. Despite being just a half hour boat ride from the mainland, it has its own distinct culture. Go on a tour with local guides and find out more about this, as well as touring a cannibals’ cave and doing some snorkeling in the crystal clear water.
4. Mele Cascades
One of the many beautiful natural sights near Port Vila is the beautiful Mele Cascades, another great lunch and swimming spot. Half the fun of getting to the Cascades is hailing a local bus to take you there. Note there is no centralized bus system in Port Vila, every bus is privately owned and operates more like a shared taxi than a bus. Just hail one wherever you see it, tell them where you’re going, and if it suits other passengers, you’re off! Mele Cascades is a very popular stop, so you should have no problems hitching a ride.
5. Go Snorkeling
Snorkeling is a pretty popular activity worldwide, but places rarely live up to the expectation that you’ll see tons of colorful fish and coral. Not true of Efate’s top snorkeling destinations! Dive off of your boat and into what seems like a tropic aquarium, which enough colorful fish and other sea life to leave you squealing with delight. A definite must do from Port Vila!