Fly here - The main carriers that fly into Vanuatu are: Air New Zealand, Air Vanuatu, Qantas, Virgin Airlines, Pacific Blue, Air Pacific, Air Calin
Port Vila - Is located on the most populated Island, Efate, and most likely is where you will arrive at. The majority of tourists stay on Efate but if you have time after discovering Efate then the outer Islands are a must.
Location - Vanuatu is only 2.5 hours flying time North East of Brisbane and 3.5 hours from Sydney, and 4 hours from Melbourne Australia. It's a little over 2 hours from Auckland, New Zealand. There are regular flights from New Zealand, Honiara, Australia, Noumea and Fiji. Located in the South Pacific Ocean the archipelago is some 1,750 km east of Australia, 500 km northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji and south of the Solomon Islands.
Visas - You must have a valid, ongoing or return airline ticket and your passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay. Most New Zealand and Australians and EU
Weather and climate - Tropical and warm all year round, but cooler and drier from May until October with an average daytime temp 26C. Hotter and wetter season from November until April with an average daytime temp 29C.
Clothing requirements - Light weight always and typically casual clothing. Smart travellers pack: open toe shoes, tee shirts, sarongs, loose dresses, skirts, shorts and shirts, umbrella or thin waterproof jacket, and one sweater
Shopping - Shopping in Vanuatu is okay with Port Vila offering plenty of shops to pick from.
Money - Vatu, also known as VT. Foreign cash, travellers cheques, credit cards are widely accepted in Port Vila, cash machines and banks like ANZ, Westpac and Bred and in Port Vila.
Tipping- Tipping and bargaining are not really practiced in Vanuatu.
Food - Most supermarket food will be bought from Au Bon Marche and it's about 15-25% moreexpensive than New Zealand and Australia. However it's a lot cheaper than you'll pay at the resort! If you are self catering at a holiday home rental then this is where to shop, but make sure you buy all your fresh local produce from the farmers market on the central waterfront of Port Vila. It is open every day except Sunday and provides an exciting opportunity to buy local crafts, fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, local made meals, shells, beads, necklaces and clothing.
Restaurants in Vanuatu include: seafood, French, Indian, Melanesian, Polynesian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. The local coconut crab is a must and so is the organic beef.
Total Population – Approx 222,000 over a land area of 12, 189 km2
Time Zone - GMT/UTC +11. There is no daylight saving in summer.
Communication - 3 official languages being: English, French and Bislama (pidgin English), plus 120 distinct languages and many more dialects throughout greater Vanuatu.
Religious views - Christian 83%, other 17%, no strong religious agendas or issues.
Medical - Visitors do not need vaccinations, but anti-malarial medication is recommended if you are travelling to islands outside of Efate. There are several private doctors and hospitals in the 2 town centres, Port Vila and Luganville.
Safety - Vanuatu is a safe country, there are no indigenous large mammals, poisonous snakes, or spiders, there are no dangerous animals and urban water is safe to drink. The locals are friendly and smile a lot. Crime rate is very low.
Police - The police are relaxed and unlike other countries are not out to raise revenue by issuing speeding tickets or fines, they seamlessly fit into society and appear when you need them to help you or resolve created issues. I wish the NZ and OZ police were like that!
Land transport - Taxi's are all over Port Vila. Local buses are actually small vans seating about 10 are cheaper, but you may not go directly to where you want to go. Rental car companies offer all types of vehicles for rent with similar prices to that of New Zealand and Australia. Driving yourself in Vanuatu is a lot of fun and gives you the freedom to explore as you choose. Cars travel on the right side of the road like the USA, but give way to traffic on their right as in Australia and New Zealand.
Electricity - 230V 50HzHz. Plugs work from New Zealand and Australia.
Geography - Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands. 14 have surface areas of more than 100 square kilometres, from largest to smallest. Most of the islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin, and have a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The nation's largest towns are the capital Port Vila, which is situated on Efate, and Luganville, on Espiritu Santo. The highest point in Vanuatu is Mount Tabwemasana, at 1879 m (6158 ft), on the island of Espiritu Santo. There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, including Yasur on the island of Tanna, one of the world's most accessible volcanoes, as well as several underwater ones.
Ecology - Vanuatu is recognized as a distinct terrestrial eco-region, known as the Vanuatu rain forests. Vanuatu is part of the Australasia eco-zone, which also includes neighbouring New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, as well as Australia, New Guinea, and New Zealand. Despite its tropical forests, Vanuatu has a limited number of plant and animal species. There are no indigenous large mammals, poisonous snakes, or spiders. The 19 species of native reptiles include the rare flowerpot snake, found only on Efate. There are 11 species of bat (3 unique to Vanuatu) and 61 species of land and water birds.
Economy - The economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65% of the population. Fishing, offshore financial services, and tourism with about 60,000 visitors in 2005), are other mainstays of the economy. Mineral deposits are negligible; the country has no known petroleum deposits. A small light industry sector caters to the local market. Tax revenues come mainly from import duties and a 12.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services.
Demographics - Most of the inhabitants of Vanuatu (98.5%) are native Melanesian, or Ni-Vanuatu, with the remainder of the population made up of Europeans, Asians and other Pacific islanders. Most of the population is rural, though Port Vila and Luganville have populations in the tens of thousands. A few of the islands are Polynesian outliers.