Discover the best things to do in Port Vila, Vanuatu, from off-road buggies and zip lining to the best snorkelling spots, we’ve got all the best ideas here.
I was born in Port Vila but I hadn’t been back since I was 5 years old! So I was determined to make the most of our visit and show the family what an awesome place I was from 🙂
We had an absolute BLAST! There are so many fun things to do here, and the natural beauty of Efate Island will blow you away.
Our days were pretty action-packed (we did all of the following activities in 4-5 days), but we also managed to have some chill time on the beach as well.
Everything is pretty close together and you won’t have to travel for more than around 40 minutes to get anywhere. Most places are closer than this. Getting around is easy too, with public buses, taxis and private tour buses readily available.
Are you ready to explore? Let’s dig in!
Expert Tip: Check the cruise schedule and try to avoid booking tours or activities on days when cruise ships are in.
Want to see more ? Check out my Instagram highlight from our Port Vila trip.
Blue Lagoon was my kids’ favourite place in the whole of Port Vila. We called in for an hour during our round-the-island tour and they begged to stay for the whole day.
You will be blown away by the bright turquoise water, fringed by shady trees.
But more importantly, you will have an insane amount of fun here. There are rope swings attached to the trees and several platforms from jumping off and swinging from.
The water is super deep, so no need to worry about diving off.
Expert Tip: There are no food outlets, so bring everything you need – water, snacks, picnic.
Getting here: Blue lagoon is around a 30-minute drive from Port Vila. You can take a public bus or taxi, or hire a car. It is also included in most round-the-island tours.
What to bring: Swimmers, towel, sunscreen, water, food.
Good to know: Entrance is $20 AUD per adult and $10 per child, so it is worth packing a picnic and coming for a half-day or longer to get your money’s worth.
Off Road Adventures
Off Road Adventures is another really fun way to spend a few hours in Port Vila, and highly recommended.
They offer two tours:
- 1 hour
- 2 hours (which includes a visit to Ekasup Cultural Village)
Both tours include a visit to the beautiful beach at Etmat Bay.
Their buggies are super-fun to drive and you head off first on the main road and then off-road to explore.
We opted for the 2-hour tour, and so our first stop was the excellent Ekasup Cultural Village (see below for details). We then headed to one of the most beautiful beaches in Efate – Etmat Bay.
This absolutely stunning bay was another place we could happily have spent a few hours.
Along the way there was time for some fun in the buggies and plenty of stunning views.
Expert Tip: You can also visit beautiful Etmat Bay as part of a Club Hippique horse riding tour (see below).
What to bring: Closed shoes, water bottle, swimmers, suncream, mosquito repellent, driving licence.
Getting here: Offroad Adventures HQ is just a 5-10 minute drive from town. They can arrange for a transfer from your hotel in town.
Good to know: Drivers need a full drivers licence. Cost is approx. $100 AUD per adult and $75 per child. Cost is based on 2 people per buggy (single riders incur extra charge).
Vanuatu Jungle Zipline
Feeling brave? Then head over to the Vanuatu Jungle Zipline.
This really fun zip lining tour has 7 ziplines (only 6 were operating when we visited) covering a total of 1.7 kilometres.
They increase in length and height as you progress, with the finale being a spectacular 300m over a canyon, with views of a beautiful waterfall, and out to sea overlooking Hideaway Island.
Once you’re finished the zipline (or if you are not brave enough to do it) take the short walk to the Skybridge. From here you can enjoy more panoramic views and watch your friends zipline from its 69m height.
Expert Tip: If you’ve always wanted to zip line but are scared of heights (like me!), this is a great one to have a go on. There is no climbing up high and no treetop platforms. I have always avoided ziplines, but I had a lot of fun here.
What to bring: Closed shoes, water bottle, suncream, insect repellent, GoPro.
Getting here: The Zipline is around a 30-minute drive from the centre of town. Transfers from town are included in the ticket price.
Good to know: The Zipline can be done morning or afternoon. Cost is $125 AUD per adult and $80 per child. Skybridge only is $15 per adult, $10 per child.
Vanuatu Jungle Zipline provide secure pouches to store your phone, valuables and camera. They also have lockers to store bags, and drinkable rainwater for filling up water bottles.
Hideaway Island, home to the world’s only underwater post office is just a short drive outside of Port Vila.
It’s a very laidback, rustic desert island experience on offer here.
You can hang out at the beach bar, chill out on a sun lounger, hire some snorkels and explore the reef, join a dive, or head out for a paddle on a kayak.
Don’t forget to buy a waterproof postcard and impress your friends with a postcard from the world’s only underwater post office!
Expert Tip: There is a restaurant and bar on the island. We preferred the food at the Beach Bar next to where you catch the ferry to the island.
Getting here: Take a public bus or taxi to the Beach Bar (approximately 15 minutes drive from the centre of town). The Hideaway Island ferry runs 24 hours a day and takes around 5 minutes to get across to the island.
What to bring: Swimmers, towels, snorkelling gear, water shoes (the beach has a lot of coral on it), underwater camera for post-box shots.
Good to know: The entrance fee for day trippers is around $20 AUD per adult and $10 per child. Snorkel hire is extra (so bring your own if you have them). The ferry crossing is free of charge and there is free WiFi on the island.
Lelepa Island Tour
This excellent day tour to Lelepa Island gives you not only some of the best snorkelling in Port Vila, but also a look into village life in Vanuatu.
Run by the Lelepa Island villagers, they will
- Open their village to you for the day
- Take you to two of their top snorkelling spots
- Teach you about their culture and village life
- Prepare a delicious lunch for you
- take you to a secret cave once used for cannibalism!
This is no ‘kastom village’, it’s real-life Vanuatu, and you’ll even be treated to a welcome song by the village children.
Getting here: To get to Lelepa, you drive approximately 30 minutes to Havannah harbour, then take a 15-minute boat ride to Lelepa. Transfers from your Port Vila accommodation are included.
What to bring: Swimmers, snorkels (they also have equipment you can borrow), towels, hand sanitiser (there was nowhere to wash your hands before eating), suncream, insect repellent, water bottles.
Good to know: It’s a long day – approximately 8.30am-5.30pm, but one of the best day tours in Port Vila.
Cutlural Village or “Kastom Village”
Visiting a kastom village is a great way to gain an insight into the traditional way of life in Vanuatu.
You’ll learn about the traditional methods of hunting and fishing, about local bush medicine and be treated to some cultural dances.
We visited two cultural villages in Port Vila: Ekasup and Pepeyo. Both had similar elements to them, but also unique characteristics, which we loved, and we were glad to have visited both.
The fire walking and musical band performance at Pepeyo were real highlights, while the presentation about traditional culture at Ekasup was a bit more thorough.
I would definitely recommend both of them.
Getting here: Ekasup village is just a 10-minute drive from the centre of Port Vila. We visited as part of our Offroad Adventures buggy tour, but you can ask your accommodation to help you book. Pepeyo is around a 15-minute drive from town. We visited as part of our round-the-island tour. Again, ask your accommodation or tour driver to arrange a visit.
What to bring: mosquito repellent (we got eaten alive at both places), suncream, water bottles.
Round the Island Tour
There’s more to Efate than Port Vila and it’s worth spending a day exploring the whole island to see all it has to offer.
You can hire a car to self-explore (World Car Rentals comes recommended) or book a tour with a local tour company.
We booked our Efate Day Tour with Sammy Niumataiwalu (Sammy was super helpful and also arranged all our airport transfers and our trip to Lelepa Island) Here are his details, plus some other recommendations:
Popular places to stop along the way around the island include:
- Blue Lagoon
- Eden on the River
- Eton Beach
- Pepeyo or Ekasup Cultural Village
- Top Rock
- WWII Relics Museum
You’ll also likely stop somewhere for lunch and afternoon tea (we had lunch at a local restaurant at Sara Beach and afternoon tea at Gideon’s Landing).
Expert Tip: Avoid tours that include the Turtle Sanctuary. This is not a ‘sanctuary’ but rather turtles in captivity for the amusement of tourists.
What to bring: Water bottles, snacks (there are limited shops and amenities once you leave Port Vila), swimmers, towels, suncream, insect repellent, snorkelling gear.
Fire Show at the Beach Bar
If you’re in Port Vila on a Friday evening, there’s only one place to be: the Vanuatu Beach Bar.
Why? Because they host the island’s best fire show.
Kicking off at around 7pm, you’ll be treated to a one-hour show of fantastic entertainment. There’s fire twirling, choreography and more, and everyone gets to join in at the end.
Expert Tip: Book ahead (it gets booked up) and plan to arrive around 5pm so you can enjoy dinner, drinks and sunset before the show kicks off.
Getting here: Take a public bus or taxi – it’s around a 15-minute drive from the centre of Port Vila. It’s a good idea to arrange for the driver to collect you at a pre-arranged time or get his phone number, as it’s a bit of a walk down a dark, bumpy road back to the main road.
What to bring: Cash for dinner, drinks and a contribution to the entertainers, camera, insect repellent.
I highly recommend bringing your own snorkelling gear to Vanuatu. There are plenty of snorkelling spots around the main island and the surrounding smaller islands.
Some popular snorkelling spots include:
- Top Rock
- Banana Bay Beach Club
- Tranquilitiy Island Eco Resort
- Lelepa Island
- Pele Island
- Hideaway Island
- Malo Blue Hole
- Eton Beach
- Back to Eden
Other things to do around Port Vila
Below is a selection of other fun activities in Port Vila that we didn’t have time to squeeze in. They all come recommended and are on our list for next time.
A 10-minute boat ride from Havannah Harbour is beautiful Pele Island. Day tours here offer a similar experience to our Lelepa Island tour detailed above. Any of the tour operators listed above should be able to arrange a tour for you.
Activities include snorkelling, visiting a local village and a BBQ lunch. You can also arrange to stay overnight in a local family-run bungalow if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track accommodation option.
Eden on the River
Eden on the River is a popular attraction for a family fun day of swimming. It offers swimming holes, walking trails, rainforest suspension bridges and mini-zip and an adventure playground.
There’s an onsite cafe and you can also buy a package that includes a BBQ lunch and guided tour.
Club Hippique is based at stunning Etmat Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Port Vila. The horse riding tours they offer include beach rides, tropical rainforest rides and sunset rides.
BBQ lunches are also on offer. They have over 50 horses and tours are suitable for beginners to experts.
Tranquility Island & Coongoola Day Cruise
The Coongoola Day Cruise takes you sailing for the day on board a 23-meter sailing ketch. The destination is Tranquility Island Resort, an eco and dive resort on Moso Island.
There are over 20 dive sites here and also a turtle sanctuary running a Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program.
You don’t need to do the Coongoola Day Cruise to visit here – you can also take a short boat ride from Havannah Harbour.
Banana Bay Beach Club
Just a 20-minute drive from Port Vila, Banana Bay Beach Club is a popular retreat for families. This sheltered spot has a beautiful swimming area and BBQ beach huts you can hire for a DIY BBQ lunch.
They also offer a light lunch menu and cold drinks. You can hire kayaks too. Message them via Facebook to book a BBQ beach hut.
These guided high-speed sea safaris on board the Zego sports craft look super fun. Tours leave from the centre of town in the harbour.
Their 60-minute tour circumnavigates Iririki Island, then cruises around the Island of Ifira, heading out into the bay towards Paradise Cove, then across the channel to Malapoa Point and past the Bay of Fatamura. They also offer a combo Zego & Quad bike tour.
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