This is a lowdown on our experiences and info for any one looking to travel to Vanuatu.
Prior to going over we could not get firm confirmation on what plugs Vanuatu used, I can say from our hotel and every point I saw were the same as Australia’s 3 Pin, 240v plugs.
Vanuatu is GMT +11 so that means when Australia has daylight savings time it is the same time, when Australia reverts back to normal AEST it is 1 hour in front.
Vanuatu uses the Vatu, which we were there the AUD was getting approx. 94.7VT. A few restaurants and shops accept the Australian dollars especially on ‘ship days’ – the days that cruise ships are in town. Usually when shops accept the AUD they use the rate of $1AUD = 100Vuv – so over time you actually lose out.
The Mele Waterfall AKA The Cascades, are amazing – some of the outlooks and views as the water winds its way down the mountain on the walk up, look photo-shopped. A lot of in town tour operators were charging quite a bit for this trip. It basically is a 10-15min ride in a local bus for 400VT each and then entry of 1000VT each for entry.
Hideaway Island is a tiny island located off Mele Beach ( a perfect afternoon stop after a morning at the Mele waterfall)
After a short boat ride from the Mele Beach (free) you arrive at the island, again entry fee was 1000VT each for day-trippers.
This was our first ever try at Snorkelling, Frankie had already told me he wasn’t very good at treading water, so I hired him a boogie board style bored with a glass window – only for him to cling onto. After an hour this became more of a hindrance and I went and got him a lifejacket from the dive shop on the island for free. To say he was fish-boy on the day is an understatement – he was out in the water looking at the reefs and fish for hours. The pinnacles of the day was the posting of our post card in the Under Water Post Office (http://www.hideaway.com.vu/postoffice.htm) along with Frankie’s spotting of ‘Nemo Fish in their Home!!”.
On the Island there is a hire shop letting you hire boards, snorkles and masks and selling the underwater post cards. Also available is a restaurant / bar under the shade for a night lunch too. The island also hosts the hideaway island resort.
Our first and only tour was to the “blue lagoon” near Eton Beach and the turtle sanctuary – this cost us 7000VT each for this – it was a 5 hour tour, including swim at the lagoon, light local fruit snacks, entry to both the lagoon and the turtle feeding sanctuary along with our driver and tour guide.
Local mini buses at the cheapest and easiest way of getting around Port Villa . They are basically group taxis, for in town travel it is only 150vt each, and it gets more expensive as your travel out. They usually only go as far out as the falls near the Village at Mele for 400vt each
We found taxis a) too expensive and b) useless when you compare to the buses
The Airport, while not primitive is basic, no air-conditioning, 2 or 3 passport control windows and one scanning point on departure
We flew Air Vanuatu both ways and I found them fun and friendly. The aircraft they operate for both legs was the B737-800. The inflight entertainment movie was set on a Vanuatu Promo loop, with radio stations available through headphones provided. Food wise was pretty basic with meals both ways having two options they were edible, just. I would love to fly with them again; they do heaps of internal Island hopping too, operation from the ATRs down to smaller aircraft.
We stayed at Mooring Hotel, which in on the edge of town allowing us to easily walk onto the town centre to the shops, cafes, restaurants and the casinos ☺.
Moorings has an onsite ‘nightclub’ which each time we looked didn’t have a single person in there, regardless we did not hear any of the music from our room. I would say the hotel was rated at the 4 star, despite tripadviser ripping pretty hard (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294144-d630936-Reviews-Moorings_Hotel-Port_Vila_Efate.html)
While in Vanuatu we caught the tail end of the Fiji Cyclone Dalphine. We experienced horizontal rain at 0200-0300 on the day of the Fiji floods, but other than that we didn’t get negatively effected. Remember this is the pacific so Cyclones are common.
Our pictures are located here : http://www.flickr.com/photos/wade85/sets/72157629764812981/