Frequently asked Questions- About Vanuatu
When is the best time to go?
Although there isn’t a bad time to visit Vanuatu, the best time to visit is from May to September when the weather is warm and sunny but less humid and therefore more comfortable. February and the earlier months of the year tend of offer the best deals as the tourist trade is a little slower.
What's the overall Climate?
The climate is tropical, with the heaviest rainfall and humidity through November to February. The maximum temperature is around 28° to 30°C. The water temperature is pleasant all year round.
Is getting to SANTO easy?
Santo is approximately 2.5 hours by plane from Brisbane, Australia, making getting here very easy. Other international flights arrive in Port Vila on the island of Efate, with taxis and shuttle transfers available to mainland resorts. There are also transfer options for Espiritu Santo and Tanna Island.
How do I get around Santo?
Getting around Vanuatu is easy thanks to taxis and bus services which offer cheap transport on a frequent but not timetabled schedule. Taxis are everywhere with some offering fixed rates or commonly, comparable rates to the buses. Mini buses can be flagged down and identified by the letter 'B' next to the front licence plate.
Can I hire a car in Santo?
Car hire is available in Santo and recommended for venturing out to Champagne Beach and Port Orly. However, it is a lot cheaper by jumping on a taxi or bus to closer locations. These are much more affordable options.
Is santo a good destination to take children?
Santo is the perfect holiday destination for families with children young and old. The local people are very genuine and caring and the short flight from Australia is attractive for those travelling which children, however there are not as many resorts with kids clubs or child-friendly facilities. There are however a number of self-catering accommodation options which are ideal for families and tend to be smaller, more unique properties.
Are things expensive once I arrive in Vanuatu?
While Vanuatu isn’t considered expensive it’s also not considered as ‘cheap’. Australian visitors can expect to pay similar prices for food and drink as they would back home. One benefit of Vanuatu is the great range of self-catering accommodation and the number of markets and supermarkets (in the main street of Port Vila) which can save you money on dining out.
Is there any special clothing or equipment I should take?
If you plan on exploring the crystal clear waters and colourful coral reefs of beautiful Vanuatu we recommend bringing some reef shoes to protect your feet from potentially sharp coral.
Do they have ATMs and can I use my credit card?
Most resorts accept major credit cards and ATMs are available in the main street of Luganville. There are also money exchange services on the main street, with ANZ, Westpac and the National Bank of Vanuatu available 8.30am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday. AMEX is no longer accepted for payment
Do I need to tip in Vanuatu?
No. Tipping or bargaining is not the norm here, with a smile or a simple 'thank you' considered tip enough. However, if you do feel like tipping for excellent or 'above and beyond' service then please do so.
Are there any restrictions on buying alcohol in Vanuatu and what's the beer like?
Yes. On Sundays and most public holidays, you will be unable to purchase alcohol unless you are eating in a bar or restaurant. There is a wide variety of Australian, New Zealand and European imported beers but the local drop, Tusker, is very good and less expensive as there is a hefty import duty.
Do I need a passport and visa?
All international travellers require a passport to enter Vanuatu and it must be valid for at least six months after your return to your country of origin. Most visitors who intend to stay for less than 30 days do not require a visa. It is a traveller's responsibility to have all documentation in order prior to departure.
Can I use my phone and internet?
Most Vanuatu resorts offer internet access including WiFi which you can connect to on your own device. Vanuatu has worldwide satellite communications, 24 hour telephone, fax, email and web access with phone, telex and fax at the post office and resorts and an Internet café on the main street. In order to use your own mobile phone in Vanuatu you will need to check with your network provider for your roaming status before travelling.
Can I use my normal electrical plugs in Vanuatu?
Yes. Similar to Australia and New Zealand, Vanuatu runs on 230V, three-pronged plugs while some resorts have 110V for electric shavers.
Do I need travel insurance?
Even if you’re not travelling too far from home, you should always take out travel insurance especially when you’re travelling overseas. Even if you’re in good health and won’t be taking part in any adventurous activities, you’ll still need cover against accident, illness or injury. You’ll also be covered for acts of nature, lost or stolen luggage and in the event you are unable to travel, so it’s well worth your peace of mind.
Are There any chemists in town?
There is one chemist on the main street – 'Uncle Bills'. It stocks most things you will get at home but is more expensive because everything has to be imported.
is there A quick remedy for coral cuts?
If you get a scratch or graze (and it can happen without you knowing while snorkelling – it’s only when the air hits do you realise), nature’s cure is to squeeze lemon or lime onto the wound. The best stuff to cleanse the wound is Hydrogen Peroxide (if it doesn’t fizz, it’s not infected), followed by an anti-bacterial cream and cover with a dressing. And it's a good idea to take a small first aid kit to be on the safe side. Include Panadol/Panadeine, Berocca, Hydrogen Peroxide for coral cuts, Bandaids and Imodium/Buscopan for possible tummy upsets, sunscreen and insect repellent.
What about Duty-Free?
The inbound duty is two litres of spirits and 2.25 litres of wine (3 bottles) and 200 cigarettes (or equivalent). You can buy duty free beer and spirits on arrival.
What's that sweet fragrant flower?
Frangipanis are delightfully scented white flowers with yellow centres (and occasionally pink). The name comes from the Marquis Frangipani of Rome, who invented a perfume for scenting gloves in the 16th century. Just a bit of trivia…
How hot can it get?
Just a reminder that Vanuatu is in the tropics and while it never gets really ‘hot’ it can certainly feel it because of the humidity. Temperatures range pretty much year round between 23°C and 30°C and the water is always warm. When going on an outing or an activity like a round of golf, take a bottle of water and wear sun protection.
Where can I go horse riding?
Santo Horse Adventures and Ratua Island Resort & Spa offer horse riding in Santo.
Shall I take some Imodium?
Many travellers to the tropics get mild tummy upsets. This may not be the fault of the tropics as much as a change of time zone and diet and the body doesn’t like it (who has a full cooked breakfast every day and that extra few drinks every night at home?) While there are natural remedies like lots of water, packing Imodium or similar to take with you may come in handy.
What's the Kava like?
Vanuatu kava is more potent than other places in the Pacific and is readily available – the packet stuff is even okay to take home. Or you can join the locals over a few shells at the kava bars or Nakamals. These are the dimly lit places you find kava. In Santo, Roy’s Nakamal is popular with expatriates, some of whom are real characters – they will make you welcome.
What are the main languages spoken?
There are three ‘official’ languages in Vanuatu – English, French and Bislama. Bislama is ‘pidgin English’ with a few French words.
To say thank you in Bislama, “tank yu” or “tank yu tumas” which means “thanks a lot” (thank you too much).
Should I take Malaria tablets?
Malaria tablets aren’t necessary for a Vanuatu holiday but insect repellent might be handy for comfort. Doctors will tell you that Vanuatu is a ‘malaria country’ but these days that’s only on the outer islands, not in Port Vila or Luganville.
Is Nudity allowed?
Vanuatu is a modest, Christian country and nudity is a no-no.
What's the office hours?
Touristy businesses, banks and supermarkets stay open all day but government offices like to retain the tradition of siesta and close from 11:30am to 1:30pm.
What if I lose my Passport?
Your passport should have six months validity from your arrival date. If you lose you your passport the Australian High Commission’s number is +678 22 777 and the New Zealand High Commission is +678 22 933.
Does Qantas codeshare with Air Vanuatu?
Yes, Qantas does code-share with Air Vanuatu in case you are wondering why you had a Qantas ticket but found yourself aboard the NF flight. The Air Vanuatu plane is serviced once a week by Qantas maintenance in Brisbane.
Can I buy Reef Shoes in Vila?
Very handy for walking on reefs (preventing coral cuts or urchin spikes) and waterfalls, which can be slippery. They’re not expensive and you can buy them in Port Vila and/or Luganville for 12-15AUD. Or you can just bring your own.
Where can I get Taxi fares?
Taxi rates are displayed at a board in the International Airport when you arrive in Santo. You can choose either a bus or taxi to transport you to your next destination, and buses are usually cheaper than taxis. Taxis have a ‘T’ in front of the number plate. Buses have a ‘B’ in front of the number plate and are plentiful – they also drop door-to-door for 150 VT around town.
What's the Time Zone like?
In non-daylight saving time Vanuatu is an hour ahead of east coast Australia and is on the same time zone as the states that have daylight saving during that time. New Zealand is normally two hours ahead of Vanuatu
Any umbrellas around when it rains?
of course there is. It can rain in Vanuatu and most resorts will have a colourful umbrella in your room or at reception for loan. If not, they cost less than $10 at the Chinese stores. In fact, these stores have an amazing array of stuff from hot dim sims to cold rat traps!
Does a price include tax?
There is a 12.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on all goods and services. This is usually included in the quoted price.
Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is safe to drink but if you are worried, bottled water is readily available. Whatever you decide, the important thing in the tropics is to drink plenty of it to stay hydrated. There is a high calcium content in Port Vila water so you may get white specks in your tea or the shower rose can become clogged (a paper clip sorts that out).