Vanuatu itinerary: How to Spend 12 Days in Vanuatu


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What to do in Vanuatu? Where to stay in Tanna? What to see in Espiritu Santo?

How to spend twelve days in Vanuatu to see all the major sites?

I was backpacking Vanuatu in April, during the time, known as the land diving ritual. And spending 12 days in this South Pacific Island is just the perfect amount of time to get the taste of the Happiest Place in the World.

Find out how in my Vanuatu itinerary below.

🇻🇺 If you have been wondering “What is Anja’s favorite part of Vanuatu?”, you will find the answer hidden in the blog.

anja on Adventure

In a bit more than 1 week in Vanuatu, you will see all the major sites. From Efate to Tanna, to Pentecost and Espiritu Santo. From Yakel Kastom tribe to land diving ritual.

Inside this Vanuatu travel plan, you will find a perfect blend of culture and nature, sleep in tree houses, try tons of delicious food, hike an active volcano, dive among the shipwrecks, and see where bungee jumping comes from. All of it in less than 2 weeks in Vanuatu itinerary.

From perfect Champagne beach and blue holes to volcanic landscapes under Mount Yasur. This is the Vanuatu itinerary, I used when celebrating my birthday in Vanuatu.

This perfect Vanuatu itinerary will detail how to spend twelve days in Vanuatu, to make your trip memorable, cross off some bucket list items, and be full of exciting stories to tell.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Plan to spend at least a week in Vanuatu, but if time permits, reserve 10 days in Vanuatu to have enough time to include different islands in your Vanuatu itinerary.
  • Visit and feel the difference between islands Efate – more developed, touristic, and ‘Western’, Tanna – adventurous and cultural, Espiritu Santo – laid back, beach and tropical vibes.
  • Include must-do things; such as visiting the market in Port Vila, Mount Yasur volcano hike and kastom village visit on Tanna, swimming in Blue Holes, and snorkeling on Million Dollar Point on Santo.
  • Indulge in delicious food, a mixture of local produce and French cuisine.
  • If traveling to Vanuatu between April and June, don’t miss the opportunity to go on a Nagol or Land diving tour on Pentecost Island and witness the centuries-old tradition that inspired modern bungee jumping.

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1. Breakdown of 12-day Vanuatu itinerary

This is a semi-relaxed itinerary for Vanuatu. If you are the type of person who only enjoys spending time by the pool or on a beach, then this is not for you. The Vanuatu itinerary below offers active days and a steady pace to explore different Vanuatu islands.

It is the original itinerary for Vanuatu that I was supposed to follow. Due to some tour rescheduling and flight cancellations, my Vanuatu itinerary was modified accordingly.

The itinerary offers a combination of sightseeing days, day trips, and days to relax. There are days when you can add more activities or swap sightseeing days on the same island.

Following this Vanuatu travel plan, you will get enough time to learn about Vanuatu’s history, experience its culture, swim on different beaches, climb a volcano, and enjoy delicious food.

women at melanesian kastom tribe on Tanna island that I visited on my Vanuatu itinerary
Woman in Kastom tribe on Tanna Island.

For your first visit to Vanuatu, I would recommend doing a similar route as described below. And you can even do the suggested itinerary if you are only spending 10 days in Vanuatu.

You will see all the major Vanuatu bucket list items. But for the adventurers, you can add some more islands, like Ambrym, to your Vanuatu trip. 

I would recommend starting your itinerary on Efate Island and staying somewhere close to Port Vila (4 nights). If visiting between April and June, go on a day tour to Pentecost Island on one of those days. Then fly to Tanna Island (3 nights) and your last stop will be Espiritu Santo Island (4 nights). Fly out from Santo directly or via Efate.

SHORT VANUATU ITINERARY OVERVIEW:
Day 1: Arrival in Vanuatu and transfer to Port Vila
Day 2: Port Villa, Mele Cascades, and underwater Post office
Day 3: Day tour to Pentecost Island
Day 4: Tour around Efate island
Day 5: Fly to Tanna and transfer to Yasur volcano
Day 6: Kastom village
Day 7: Mount Yasur volcano tour
Day 8: Fly to Espiritu Santo and transfer to Luganville
Day 9: Luganville and Millenium cave
Day 10: Million dollar point and Blue holes
Day 11: Port Orly and Champagne Beach
Day 12: Espiritu Santo and departure

Here is how Vanuatu itinerary island hopping looks on a map!

Island hopping on Vanuatu itinerary

2. Best time to visit Vanuatu

The Vanuatu archipelago (formerly called the New Hebrides) consists of more than 80 islands forming an irregular Y shape on the Pacific Ring of Fire. They are in a similar latitude as Fiji, and thanks to the tropical climate, the weather is generally good to visit Vanuatu all year round.

There are two distinctive seasons in Vanuatu, dry season and wet season.

Choosing when to visit Vanuatu will depend on a personal preference, but prices and the number of tourists will be higher during the Australian school holidays.

Below are some general factors you should consider when planning your Vanuatu itinerary.

best time to visit vanuatu


The best time to visit Vanuatu is during the dry season between April and October. In these months the weather is warm and sunny, with minimal rainfall and less humidity.

Months from April to June are shoulder season months that offer a perfect balance of good weather and fewer crowds. This period is ideal for outdoor activities, water adventures, and are great for anyone wanting to experience the Nagol Land Diving Ritual. I visited Vanuatu in April.

July to September have a bit cooler temperatures and are great for anyone who wants to spend their Vanuatu holiday exploring the underwater worlds with diving or snorkeling. This is a peak tourist season, with higher prices and more crowds as it coincides with the Australian school holidays.

In October the temperatures start to rise but the month still offers good weather for outdoor activities. October marks the end of the dry season and sees fewer crowds.

November to March is “wet season”. This also happens to be the cyclone season in Vanuatu, although cyclones can happen at any time.

December to February are the quietest months with fewer tourists, while there might be more crowds during Christmas and New Year. Months from January to March are the wettest period with increased humidity and more frequent rain and cyclones.

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3. How to get to Vanuatu

There are two ways on how to get to Vanuatu islands, by plane or by cruise ship.

  • HOW TO GET TO VANUATU FROM AUSTRALIA
    The easiest way is to get to Vanuatu from Australia and the Pacific region. Vanuatu National Airline, Air Vanuatu, offers direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Brisbane. They fly to Port Villa on Efate Island and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. Check I want that flight since they usually have great fares to Vanuatu.

    I flew to Bauerfield International Airport (VLI) in Port Vila from Brisbane Airport and then continued my travels to Nadi in Fiji.

    You can also visit Vanuatu by going on a cruise or renting a yacht. A lot of cruise lines go to Vanuatu, from P&O, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises to Royal Caribbean Cruises, MCS Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

    When booking a cruise to Vanuatu, make sure you dock in Port Villa and preferably on Espiritu Santo Island. To visit the famous Champagne beach.
  • HOW TO GET TO VANUATU FROM USA
    The best way to travel to Vanuatu from the USA is by air by major international airlines, such as Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Fiji Airways, with layovers in cities like Auckland, Sydney, or Nadi.
  • HOW TO GET TO VANUATU FROM EUROPE
    The most optimal way to travel to Vanuatu from Europe is via Australia or New Zealand, with major airlines like Qantas, or Qatar. There are also some routes available to fly via Asia, like Singapore or Hong Kong, and then to Fiji and Vanuatu.
Port vila Market that I visited during my Vanuatu itinerary
Port Vila Market with locals selling their homegrown tropical fruit and vegetables.


4. How to save money when planning your Vanuatu itinerary

Do you want to travel more and spend less?

I have created a list of Vanuatu travel resources for you. This is a collection of the best travel resources when it comes to transportation, accommodation, travel insurance, and more.


All of these are products that I personally use and recommend to others.

Choosing the best travel resources from the beginning will save you time and money. Trust me, by using these travel resources, you will be able to travel further than you ever imagined.


5. Things to know before visiting Vanuatu

  • VANUATU VISA
    For visiting islands in the Vanuatu archipelago, you will need a tourist visa. For most countries, you can get a visa on arrival, with some exceptions.

    Find if you hold a passport of the country that gets Vanuatu tourist visa on arrival, or if you are the one that needs to apply for a visitors visa. Learn more about Vanuatu visa.
  • SAFETY: Cyclones, Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes
    Cyclone season in Vanuatu is from November to April. If there is a cyclone alert while there, follow the National Disaster Management Office and Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-Hazards Department advice.

    Vanuatu lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire so earthquakes occur regularly. Read the traveler safety guide on staying safe during an earthquake.

    Tsunamis often happens, after an earthquake. There is a tsunami warning system in Port Villa and Santo. In the event of warning sirens, leave everything behind, move to higher ground, and follow the local authorities’ advice.

    There are several active volcanoes in Vanuatu, and you will probably visit one of them, Mt. Yasur volcano on Tanna Island. Follow the advice of the local guide when visiting them and check the latest volcanic activity advice on Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-Hazards Department website. 
This Vanuatu itinerary will give you an idea of how to spend 12 days in Vanuatu. Visit different Vanuatu islands, Efate, Tanna, Efate and Pentecost, hike Mount Yasur volcano, see vanuatu bungee jumping, naghol or land diving, dive  on million dollar point and swim on champagne beach. Meet with kastom traditions and try local cuisine. Map included. 

| Travel itinerary | Vanuatu | Melanesia | Fiji | Pentecost 

#travelplan #itinerary #landdiving #mtyasur #travelitinerary #vanuatudiving
Erupting craters of Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna island.
  • VACCINATIONS
    There are no obligatory vaccinations for Vanuatu. There are recommended ones from the World Health Organisation (WHO) but consult your doctor before your visit.

    Recommended vaccines are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Have a look at the recommended Vanuatu vaccines here.
  • MALARIA, DENGUE and ZIKA
    Malaria, Dengue, and Zika all occur in Vanuatu.

    Malaria is more common in the northern regions, but the risk is present on all islands. Including the main island Efate and the capital Port Vila. High-risk months for malaria are from November to April, which are also the wettest months. Consult with your doctor about taking anti-malaria medication if you’re traveling to affected areas.

    Dengue and Zika virus can occur anywhere in Vanuatu. Peak transmission months are in the rainy season, from November to April.

    To prevent mosquito bites, use mosquito bite prevention measures:
    – ensure your accommodation has mosquito nets;
    – use an insect repellent with 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin;
    – wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) clothing and long sleeves at dusk and at night;
    apply sunscreen first followed by the repellent (preferably 20 minutes later).
  • MONEY
    Vanuatu’s currency is the Vanuatu Vatu (VUV or V). In Port Vila and some resorts, you can use credit cards but with a 5% surcharge. When withdrawing money from the ATM, take out as much as possible to ‘lower’ the withdrawal charges.

    If visiting other islands and going outside Port Vila, always bring enough cash with you. There are no ATMs on Tanna Island, some on Espiritu Santo, and more on Efate Island.

    There is no bargaining at markets and tipping is not necessary.

    Tourist attractions are located on privately owned lands (like in Fiji and Samoa) and you will need to pay an entrance fee to visit them.

    If you are flying between the islands, a 200 VUV departure tax must be paid in cash at the airport before boarding your domestic flight.
How to spend twelve days in Vanuatu. This is a perfect bucket list travel itinerary for anyone visiting Vanuatu islands, for the first time. Best travel itinerary for Vanuatu, that includes visiting Efate, Tanna and Mount Yasur volcano, kastom village, nagol land diving on Pentecost Island and beaches and blue holes on Easpiritu Santo. 

| Vanuatu itinerary | Vanuatu | Oceania | Vanuatu Travel guide | South Pacific

 #traveltips #itinerary #tanna #santo #pentecost #travelitinerary #travelplan
Departure tax sign on Vanuatu airport in English, French, and Bislama.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE
    Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your travel. Medical facilities are limited on the outer islands. If you get injured while hiking the volcano, or get ill because of the mosquito bite, chances are high you will need to get evacuated.

    Without travel insurance, this can be REALLY expensive. Buy one from your home country provider or find the best option with Safety Wing. In case you forgot, with Safety Wing you can get one when already abroad!
  • SAFETY TIPS
    Vanuatu is safe, even for solo female travelers, but it still doesn’t hurt to use common sense. Don’t flesh your valuables. Don’t walk alone after dark.
  • DRESS CODE
    Majority of the population is Christian. You should dress modestly, and wear clothes that cover shoulders and knees. Wearing a bikini on a beach is perfectly fine. Wear breathable, light clothing at dusk and down because of the mosquitos.

How to spend twelve days in Vanuatu. This is a perfect bucket list travel itinerary for anyone visiting Vanuatu islands, for the first time. Best travel itinerary for Vanuatu, that includes visiting Efate, Tanna and Mount Yasur volcano, kastom village, nagol land diving on Pentecost Island and beaches and blue holes on Easpiritu Santo. 

| Vanuatu itinerary | Vanuatu | Oceania | Vanuatu Travel guide | South Pacific

 #traveltips #itinerary #tanna #santo #pentecost #travelitinerary #travelplan
Visiting Melanesian Kastom Latapo village.


6. Twelve-day Vanuatu itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival to Vanuatu and transfer to Port Vila

Arrive in Vanuatu. Start your Vanuatu itinerary by flying into Vanuatu. You will most probably land at the Bauerfield International Airport on Efate Island. The airport is close to the capital Port Vila and easily accessible by public transport.

After clearing any formalities, take a moment to exchange some currency to Vanuatu Vatu or withdraw cash from the ATMs available. Just a small amount to have it ready for the bus or taxi. You can exchange the rest of it in a bank in Port Vila.

PRO TIP
If you plan to visit the outer islands and areas outside the main city, always carry some local currency on hand. They might not have ATMs or won’t accept Credit Cards.


My flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Port Vila, Vanuatu, should have arrived around 9 pm but it was delayed. Luckily I booked a private driver to pick me up before I landed. To be safe and stress-free which turned out to be an amazing decision.

Later on, I found out that one of the Vanuatu leaders passed away and was transported back to the country on the same plane I was on. So there were no taxi drivers, busses or other transport options at the airport.

Because of the repatriation ceremony, the usual 15-20 minute ride from the airport to Port Vila, took us a little bit more than an hour.

Technically this should not even count as a day in Vanuatu itinerary. But if your plane arrives early, you will have more time to explore Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila.

Where to stay in Port Vila, Efate Island:
The place where I stayed (Raynold’s Board and Lodge), close to Vanuatu National Museum, stopped renting rooms. Instead, look at some other accommodation options in Port Vila.
South Pacific Memories has cute bungalows, breakfast included in the price, free bikes and private parking;
• In Breakas Beach Resort you can swim in their infinity pool or on a private beach, indulge in great food, and stay only 5 min drive away from Port Vila;
• By booking Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Vila you will sleep in a beachfront resort with a private beach and outdoor swimming pool.

WANT MORE OPTIONS?
Visit this page to see all available Port Vila accommodations to book online.


Pin the one you like more!


DAY 2: Port Villa, Mele Cascades, and underwater Post office on Hideaway Island

Start your first official day in Vanuatu exploring the capital Port Vila and its surroundings.

I started my morning nowhere else than at the Port Vila Central Market. This is the largest market in Vanuatu, selling fresh fruits, vegetables, snacks, and traditional handicrafts.

The market is open every day. All day during weekdays and in the morning on Sundays.

If your accommodation is not serving breakfast, this is a great place to fill up your stomach.
I do not exaggerate telling you that I saw papayas bigger than my hand and had the most delicious avocados for breakfast.

I love markets because they are a perfect place to engage with friendly locals, sample fresh tropical fruits, and get a boost of dopamine from scents, smells, and sounds.


After the market catch a transport from Port Vila to Mele Cascades. The cost of the ride is acceptable VT300 (4 AUD/2,3 EUR), for a 10 km ride.

But the entrance fee to the evergreen Cascades Waterfall is a tourist rip-off. I’m more than happy to support local communities but VT2000 (25 AUD/15 EUR) is a bit too much.

I was really excited to see the 35-meter Evergreen Cascades Waterfall. I mean, I came all the way there to see it. But locals at my guesthouse were saying the price was too high, and not worth it. And I heard the same from tourists coming out from the Mele Cascades. 

So, I had the full intent to go inside and was there, but didn’t go inside.

It just didn’t feel right plus I didn’t have water shoes, and the place was crowded. Since there were people on organized tours to the Mele Cascades. I’m not regretting it since we have plenty of waterfalls in Slovenia.

How to spend twelve days in Vanuatu. This is a perfect bucket list travel itinerary for anyone visiting Vanuatu islands, for the first time. Best travel itinerary for Vanuatu, that includes visiting Efate, Tanna and Mount Yasur volcano, kastom village, nagol land diving on Pentecost Island and beaches and blue holes on Easpiritu Santo. 

| Vanuatu itinerary | Vanuatu | Oceania | Vanuatu Travel guide | South Pacific

 #traveltips #itinerary #tanna #santo #pentecost #travelitinerary #travelplan
Underwater Vanuatu Post office on Hideaway Island.

After your Mele Cascades adventure, head to Hideaway Island. Visiting Hideaway Island is one of the top things to do in Vanuatu.

Close to the shore of the island, you will find the only underwater post office in the world. The entrance fee is VT1500 (18 AUD/11,5 EUR) and you can send a postcard from it for VT400 (5 AUD/3 EUR).

Since I didn’t visit the Mele Cascades, I returned to Port Vila just in time to visit the Vanuatu National Museum. There is a VT1000 (13 AUD/8 EUR) entrance fee for an educational visit where you learn all about traditional Vanuatu sand drawings and instruments.

After your sightseeing day, have dinner in one of the resorts on the beachfront, or go to Iririki Island.

I had a homecooked dinner at the guesthouse, where the lady prepared a traditional Vanuatu dinner with pork, yam, and taro. It was delicious.


DAY 3: Nagol land diving Pentecost Island tour

If you want to experience something adventurous, historical, jaw-dropping, and traditional, go on Nagol Land diving tour. I can GUARANTEE you, you will not regret it!

Seeing Nagol (Nahgol, N’gol, Nangol, Nanggol) or land diving ritual was one of my bucket list activities and the main reason why I came to Vanuatu.

The day tour to Pentecost was supposed to be later on in my Vanuatu itinerary. But the weather did its thing. At first tour was canceled and later I got a spot to do it a few days earlier. 

DON’T FORGET
Pentecost Island day tours run from Port Vila. If this is also on your travel bucket list, be flexible with the rest of your Vanuatu itinerary.


I went to Pentecost with Air Taxi Vanuatu.

The tour lasts for 8 hours and it starts with a pick-up from your Port Vila hotel. From Port Vila airport, you fly in a small aircraft 200 km north to Pentecost Island. They run on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from April to June.

On Pentecost, the transfer is waiting to take you to one of the villages on the south of the island. There you are free to walk in the village.

The highlight of the tour is seeing young men jumping off the wooden tower with only lianas attached to their ankles, as part of the Naghol or Land diving ritual. Before you return to Port Vila on a scenic flight, you are served lunch in a village.

Tour is not the cheapest, VT53,000 (640 AUD/390 EUR) but it is worth every Dollar, Euro or Vanuatu vatu. An unforgettable lifetime experience.

If you will still have the energy to explore, go to Iririki Island, just off the coast of Port Vila. There are nice beaches to swim or just relax under the palm trees. I was having dinner with other tourists from the Pentecost Island tour.

You can read my Nagol Land diving tour review here or have a look what it was like.

DAY 4: Tour around Efate Island

Another day on the main island of Vanuatu.

If you are traveling to Vanuatu with a group or as a couple, you might consider renting a car. I didn’t want to spend another day in Port Vila or rent a car on my own, so I joined an Island tour with BBQ lunch.

We visited the Blue Lagoon and Eden on the River, the cultural village and the Turtle sanctuary. There were 4 people on the tour so it didn’t feel too crowded for my taste. Guide was speaking English and French.

Tour starts in Port Vila and from there you visit a cultural village. There you learn about the history, life, and customs of Ni-Van people. Stories about cannibalism, how they use spider webbing for fishing, hunting, knowing which fish are poisonous and more.

making fire with a wooden sticks
Making fire with wood.


Then we went to the Blue Lagoon where we had time to swim in crystal clear water. The day of the tour was a no-cruise ship day, so it was a bit quieter. After we went to Eden on the River.

Our final stop before going back was a small turtle sanctuary. Some people got to feed them and swim with them but I saw turtles in other places so was not participating in this activity.

Island tour is a good half-day tour to break up your day, and perfect if you don’t want to spend the whole day on the beach. Blue Lagoon was the highlight for me.

Tour was fine but I wasn’t that impressed, I would rate it 3.8 out of 5. Probably because I was still under a strong impression from the land diving tour the day before, which was a dream come true and one of my best days in Vanuatu.

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DAY 5: Fly to Tanna and transfer to Mount Yasur area

Today you are going to visit yet another island in the Vanuatu archipelago. Visiting Tanna and its main attraction Mount Yasur volcano was a second bucket list item on my Vanuatu itinerary.

The first one was Naghol land diving, the second one was the Yasur volcano tour and the third one was celebrating my birthday on Champagne beach.

Before you get to Tanna, plan to spend here at least 2-3 days. Mount Yasur is an active volcano and one of the world’s most accessible ones as well.

If the volcano is too active, or if the weather is bad the tour might get canceled. This happened to me but I planned ahead and was able to do a Volcano hike on my last day on Tanna Island.

Air Vanuatu plane between the islands
Air Vanuatu plane for flights between the islands.

Also, make sure you have enough cash with you since ATMs are very limited. Plus if you are staying in some of the bungalows overlooking Mt. Yasur, cash is the way to go and there might not have electricity or accept card payments. Bring snacks and warm clothes.

Direct flight from Port Vila to Tanna with Air Vanuatu only takes 40 minutes offering some amazing views during your flight. I’ve had a mid-day flight to Tanna Island White Grass Airport. I took a bus from Port Vila VT 150 (1,8 AUD/1,2 EUR) to the airport.


Now, the next part of Tanna itinerary will depend on where you will stay on the island.

Basically, Tanna is a small island and accommodation options are limited. If possible, book yours in advance! I haven’t and was struggling to book one last minute.

You will find resorts on the West side of the island, closer to the airport, and bungalows and tree houses on the East side of the island, around the Mount Yasur area. I was staying in the Mount Yasur area.

If you are staying in nicer and more modern accommodations on the West side, you can spend your afternoon snorkeling of visiting one of the blue holes. Great accommodation in that area is White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa offering complimentary Airport Transfers.

As mentioned earlier, I stayed in an accommodation with Mt. Yasur view. First, because it was easier to get on a tour, and second because I always wanted to stay in a treehouse and have a front-row view of the volcano. Service is basic, with limited WiFi and electricity. But the experience is genuine and one of a kind.

traa house on east tanna island overlooking mount yasur volcano
My treehouse accommodation on the East Side of Tanna Island overlooking Mount Yasur.

I have had my transport from the airport to the accommodation arranged with my hotel. I paid VT 4000 (48 AUD/31 EUR) from White Grass Airport on Tanna island to my Mt. Yasur view accommodation. The drive took us around two hours. It was raining heavily and the ‘roads’ were non-existent.

It was only me in the car and the driver/accommodation owner stopped at the store so I could buy snacks and water. Trust me, you will need both of those things so stack up!

The drive was first through the forest and a bit uphill, but then we started to descend.

Along the way, we stopped many times to see the ash plains of Mount Yasur and Tanna coastline. Seeing the black ash-filled landscape, the grounds shaking every now and then was surreal. It felt like landing on Mars.

ash plains under mount yasur volcano on Tanna island
Ash plains under Mount Yasur on Tanna Island.


The closer we were driving to the volcano, the scarier it looked. In some parts, we were able to see the smoke coming out of the ground. The smell of rotten eggs was getting stronger.

I was really impatient and too excited to go up. But the volcano was too active that day, and the weather was not nice, so all the tours were canceled. Hopefully tomorrow!

After I arrived at the Castle Tree House And Bungalow I got my very own tree house, with a view of the volcano. It was basic but super nice. The view was worth it. I also ordered some dinner and that was it for the night.

The night was cold, windy and it rained. I didn’t sleep very well, since I was admiring red lava at every volcano eruption. Magnificent to watch! And frightening. At every eruption, there was a ground shake that was felt even more high up on the tree.

Where to stay in Tanna:
White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa on the West Coast of Tanna is close to the airport and offers complimentary airport transfers. They have a private beach, free Wifi, a pool, a spa, and dining options.
Castle Tree House And Bungalow on the East Coast is where I stayed. It is surrounded by lush vegetation and has a homey, traditional feel with a free breakfast. They can help with organizing tours.

WANT MORE OPTIONS?
Visit this page to see all available Tanna accommodations to book online.

mount yasur view from tree house
Mount Yasur volcano view from my tree house.

DAY 6: Melanesian Kastom village

Full day for activities on Tanna Island. Choose between hot springs, going to the beach, ash boarding, visiting a kastom village, volcano tour …

It was pouring down with rain, so I was stuck at my accommodation. I was not the happiest since I was planning to do all sorts of activities. But, there was nothing I could do. You can’t fight Mother Nature.

The owner of the bungalows said that the tours to the volcano will (again) not operate today. Bad weather and high volcano activity level. Fingers crossed, I might do it tomorrow.

Luckily, it cleared up by midday so I could visit a kastom Latapo village close by and paid VT1500 (18 AUD/12 EUR). Bring cash!

Melanesian kastom village on tanna island in vanuatu
Child and his mom in Melanesian Kastom village on Tanna Island.

Most people visit the Yakel Tribe’s village on the other side of the island.

Yakel is also the tribe showcased in the Tanna movie, which I highly recommend watching. It displays kastom traditions on the island, there is (of course) a love story and Mount Yasur Volcano. You can say this is Vanuatu’s version of Romeo and Juliet.

Visiting Melanesian Kastom village in Vanuatu will be like stepping back in time.

You will be greeted by men, women, and kids wearing traditional clothes, lavalava skirts, nambas, and leaves. Then they will show you their custom traditions. How to use various leaves, how to make a lavalava skirt from hibiscus plants, how to make fire with sticks and dry wood.


You will also see them dancing and singing. Women and men individually and then together. A beautiful site, especially with the Mount Yasur volcano in the background. If you are lucky, they will invite you to come and dance with them.

Later they will show you plants they use for food (taro, yam, sweet potato), herbal medicines on-site, and trees surrounding them, including a huge banyan tree.

The Kastom village visit lasted for a couple of hours and it was well worth the visit.

Back in my accommodation I ordered some dinner and went to bed hoping I will be lucky enough to do the Mount Yasur hike tomorrow.

Pin those for a later read!


DAY 7: Mount Yasur volcano hike

Another day reserved for different activities on Tanna. Visiting hot springs, going to the beach, ash boarding, visiting a kastom village, volcano tour, black magic tour …

This was my last day on Tanna Island. It was drizzling but I was still happy when I found out that the volcano tours would operate today. Yes!

After a lovely lunch, I took a scenic walk through the jungle to get to the entrance of Mount Yasur Volcano Safari. Going through the jungle on ‘local paths’ it would be 15-20 minutes. I took the safer approach and chose the road. It took me around 50 minutes (15 minutes drive). 

This Vanuatu itinerary will give you an idea of how to spend 12 days in Vanuatu. Visit different Vanuatu islands, Efate, Tanna, Efate and Pentecost, hike Mount Yasur volcano, see vanuatu bungee jumping, naghol or land diving, dive on million dollar point and swim on champagne beach. Meet with kastom traditions and try local cuisine. Map included. | Travel itinerary | Vanuatu | Melanesia | Fiji | Pentecost #travelplan #itinerary #landdiving #mtyasur #travelitinerary #vanuatudiving
Looking at the Mount Yasur volcano crater.


Mount Yasur is one of the most easily accessible active volcanoes in the world. It is a 361 m (1184 ft) high volcano, with daily strombolian eruptions recorded since 1774, when it was discovered by Captain James Cook.

I decided to go on a twilight tour and paid VT8000 (96 AUD/62 EUR).

Volcano tour starts with a special ceremony. Then you are taken on a short jeep ride to the parking spot on the top. Here you can see another amazing location for a post office. After you have to do a moderate hike to the rim of the volcano.

post office at the top of mount yasur volcano


Going on a tour, following the rules of the local guides is paramount. With each eruption the grounds are shaking, there are no handrails to protect you from falling and you have to mind every step. Plus the ash and rotten eggs smell is not helping.

Views of the 400 m summit crater are spectacular and the surrounding area is magnificent. Fields and traces of dry lava fields and lush green jungle behind it. We stopped at the viewpoint and waited for the sunset.

The tour is filled with adrenaline. Standing on the volcano’s edge, with LOUD eruptions, HORRIBLE smell, ash everywhere you look and flying lava … I am not sure how safe this actually is. It is scary. It is exciting. It is raw. It’s nature. 

You can read a whole Mount Yasur volcano hike here with tips for visiting.

Below is one of the eruptions. You can see the sound (ash) wave before the ‘bam’.


I was happy to get the chance and climb an active volcano! But I was also happy to go down. I shouldn’t have to mention, that I was covered in ash! And I had a buzzing sound in my ears. If you have, bring sunglasses, earplugs and a face mask. Thank me later!

I asked my accommodation to pick me up after the end of the tour. It was pitch black dark and didn’t want to get lost. From the volcano tour to accommodation, I paid VT1500 (18 AUD/10 EUR).

Was Mount Yasur volcano tour worth it? Absolutely! No doubt about it! It is scary but unforgettable experience! An absolute must to include in Vanuatu itinerary.

VOLCANO HIKE TIPS
• There will be a lot of ash flying around and you will be covered in it.
• Bring warm clothes so that you won’t feel bad for them when covered in ash. Plus it gets cold at the top.
• Wear sturdy shoes. You are going to the top of an active volcano!
• If you are having asthma or breathing problems, bring a mask or something to cover your nose and mouth with. Did I mention the ash?
• I was wearing sunglasses because ash was everywhere and my eyes were all in tears trying to take it out.
• Bring a water pouch or a bag to protect your phone and camera from the ash.
• Explosions are LOUD so bring earplugs. I didn’t have them (no one told me) which resulted in a ringing and buzzing sound for the next few days.
• The rotten eggs smell is indescribable. At some eruptions almost makes you gag. So if you have, bring a scented mask or scented tissues.
• Don’t forget your headlamp or a torch.
• Have baby wipes to wash away the ash when getting back from the volcano.

DAY 8: Fly to Espiritu Santo and transfer to Luganville

Leave Tanna and fly to Espirito Santo, or Santo, the biggest island in Vanuatu.

This will be the last leg of your Vanuatu itinerary island hopping. Depending on the day, you might get a direct flight with Air Vanuatu from Tanna to Santo. If not, you will have to switch planes in Port Vila.

I started my day bright and early. First, for the transfer from Mt. Yasur to Tanna Airport. I paid VT2500 (30 AUD/20 EUR).

My direct flight to Santo was changed, so I had to fly to Efate first and then to Santo. All good, but that meant I had to pay departure tax twice. In Luganville, I got a taxi from the airport to my accommodation and had dinner in a local restaurant.

Where to stay on Espiritu Santo:
• I stayed at Deco Stop Lodge. At the time they had a dorm room, but since I was the only one there, it was like having a private room. They have a pool, and are a short 10-minute walk from Luganville. They also help you book tours and have bikes for rent available.
• Two other great places to stay in Luganville are The Espiritu and Hotel Santo Vanuatu.

🇻🇺 “What is Anja’s favorite part of Vanuatu?” I like seeing Pentecost, but in general, my favorite part of Vanuatu itinerary is Tanna.

WANT MORE OPTIONS?
Visit this page to see all available Santo accommodations to book online.

sign in Bislama in Deco Stop lodge in Santo island vanuatu
Sign in Bislama in Deco Stop Lodge on Santo Island, Vanuatu

DAY 9: Luganville and Millenium Cave adventure

Sign up for the Millennium cave tour. You will get wet but your day will be full of adventure and this might as well be the best thing to do in Santo. If you can, add it to your Vanuatu itinerary.

Money from the tour, VT7500 (90 AUD/57 EUR), goes back to the local villages you will see on the tour. So by going on it, you will actually help the local community.

I was hesitant to sign up for the tour at first. But contrary to what people were saying for the Mele Cascades, all the tourists and locals were raving about this one. So I decided to go.

It is fun, exciting, and adventurous. You need to be in a physical condition to do it as it is not a moderate hike.

You will be walking on slippery surfaces, ascending, descending, walking in cave and more. Harder and more exciting than the Narrows in Zion.

Wear shoes and clothes that can get wet (because they will). If you choose to bring a phone, wear a waterproof bag to protect it.

Pin those for a later read!

DAY 10: Million dollar point and Blue holes

Espiritu Santo is a mecca for divers, famous for diving the SS President Coolidge. If you are a diver, including Santo in your Vanuatu itinerary is a must.

Spend your day checking some must-do things in Santo. Like diving or snorkeling on Million Dollar Point and visiting Blue holes in the afternoon if you have some time and energy left.

I rented a bike for the day.

million dollar point
Sign at Million Dollar Point on Santo Island.


My first stop was Million Dollar Point, which is a must-visit in Santo. The entrance fee is VT500 or AU$5 if you pay in Australian dollars. I don’t dive but I do snorkel.

At Million Dollar Point, you can see where Americans dumped millions of dollars worth of equipment at the end of World War II.

All the ‘equipment’ is right off the shore. You can see tanks, tops, wheels … I didn’t feel comfortable looking at all of it, so I left rather quickly.

Million dollar point
Military equipment at Million Dollar Point.

I spend the afternoon cycling exploring and swimming in the Blue Holes. Blue holes are inland natural freshwater springs. They are blue oases in the middle of the tropical jungle, that get their color from the minerals, depth of the blue hole and water purity.

I visited three blue holes in Santo: Riri blue hole, Matevulu blue hole and Nanda blue hole or Jackie’s blue hole. There is a VT500 (6 AUD/4 EUR) entrance free for Riri and Matevulu and VT1000 (12 AUD/6 EUR) entrance fee for Nanda Blue Hole.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIP
Colors of the holes are insanely pure and the water is super clean. Let’s keep it that way! At some blue holes, there are showers to wash yourself BEFORE entering the blue hole. Make sure, you don’t use sunscreen, or repellent before jumping in! And if you absolutely have to, try to use natural brands.

My cycling day ended at Nanda Blue hole. I was just too exhausted to bike all the way back to Luganville. So I paid a local to drive me and a bike back to my accommodation.

blue hole in vanuatu
Blue Hole in Vanuatu.

DAY 11: Port Olry and Champagne Beach

Today you are going to spend a day relaxing on the North of Santo Island. Spend a day on a beach in Port Olry Beach and visit one of the best beaches in the world, Champagne Beach.

Champagne Beach got its name from the volcanic gasses coming through the sand, so it looks like the beach is bubbling. You can also feel the bubbles when walking on the sand. The scenery is just perfect for some stunning Vanuatu photos.

As with many beaches on other South Pacific Islands (Fiji, Samoa), there is a fee to enter.

Champagne Beach is privately owned and the fee is VT2000 (19 AUD/15 EUR) per vehicle, or VT500 (6 AUD/4 EUR) for walk-ins. You you stay in one of the accommodations on Champagne beach, the entrance is free.

With two other travelers, we rented a taxi for a day and paid VT4000 (48 AUD/31 EUR) each. It took us to all the sites on the East Coast, Blue Holes (the ones I visited yesterday), all the way up to Port Olry and Champagne Beach.

We spent the whole day on the beach. Snorkeled, swam in the blue ocean, played with local kids, and had lobster lunch at one of the local restaurants.

local kids on Port Olry
Local kids on Champagne Beach.

DAY 12: Espiritu Santo and departure

Time to say goodbye to Santo and Vanuatu. Depending on your International flight, you might have to take a flight to Port Vila first, so plan accordingly.

My flight to Port Vila was in the morning and my outbound flight from Port Vila to Fiji was in the evening. So I had a whole day to spend in Port Vila.

I visited Port Vila Market again, where I bought souvenirs and grabbed another delicious burger. All before my flight to another Island archipelago in the South Pacific where I spent the next 2 months.

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7. Final thoughts on How to spend 12 days in Vanuatu Itinerary

This Vanuatu itinerary is perfect for a first-time visitor to Vanuatu. It is a perfect combination of beaches, adventure, sightseeing, nature and history. You will have enough time to explore what different islands in the Vanuatu archipelago have to offer.

12 days in Vanuatu will be plenty of time for you to experience the vibe of different Vanuatu islands.

I am positive you will be amazed at how every island offers different adventures and activities. From Mount Yasur volcano hike on Tanna to Naghol land diving on Pentecost, snorkeling on Million dollar Point and Efate with capital Port Vila. It will be hard to choose your favorite one.

This itinerary for Vanuatu gives you enough time to visit some of the must-do places in Vanuatu, as it allows enough time to explore each island. Swimming in blue holes, learning about Melanesian Kastom culture, hiking an active volcano, and stepping back in time to see the origins of bungee jumping.

Melanesian Kastom village
Make sure to include Melanesian Kastom village on Tanna Island in your Vanuatu itinerary.

7. 1. Possible Vanuatu itinerary alternations

I would spend more time in Santo than in Efate. I would still advise you to book at least 3 days in Tanna, just to be sure that you can go up the Yasur volcano. If you are diving, spend more time on Santo. Make sure to do the dives at least 1 day before your flight. If visiting Vanuatu during the Naghol ritual, I would recommend going on a tour!

If you don’t have 12 days for Vanuatu travel and are wondering “How many days in Vanuatu is enough?” I would say, to have at least 1 week in Vanuatu, but if possible 10 days in Vanuatu would be perfect.

If you want to explore Vanuatu in 7 days, I would suggest visiting only two islands. Efate and eather Tanna or Santo. If you feel adventurous, you can perhaps book a Tanna volcano day tour. By spending 10 days in Vanuatu you can add 3 or even four islands to your Vanuatu itinerary or opt for a day tour to Pentecost Island.

Regardless of how many days you can include in your Vanuatu itinerary, make sure to enjoy every moment on the Melanesian Islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

Welcam,
Anja

8. BONUS: Vanuatu travel planning guide

8.1. Do I need travel insurance for Vanuatu?

YES
Enjoy peace of mind on your travels with a plan from SafetyWing. You can choose between monthly coverage or insurance for specific travel dates. They are one of the biggest names in the travel insurance world, and also give you the option to get insured while already abroad! Stay and be safe!

8.2. Do I need to book my accommodation in advance?

NO, BUT IT IS RECOMMENDED
Accommodation in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila and on the outer islands is limited. To avoid any unwanted stress, I would recommend booking places to stay in advance or before you arrive. Booking.com has a great feature on some stays, where you can reserve your room and cancel it for free if your plans change.

8.3. Will my phone work in Vanuatu?

MAYBE
It depends on your mobile provider and the plan you are on. There is WiFi in some hotels, but some basic accommodations do not have it. You can buy a local Sim card once there or travel carefree and buy an Airalo eSim before your travels.

8.4. Is it safe to rent a car in Vanuatu?

YES
Renting a car in Vanuatu is safe with some precautions. Check the rates at Discover Cars to make sure renting pays off. You will potentially only need a car on Efate and Espiritu Santo, to avoid paying for a taxi and have more freedom to explore.

8.5. Do I have to book tours in Vanuatu before I arrive?

SOME OF THEM
You can explore areas in Vanuatu without a tour, like Port Vila and Efate Island. You can also go snorkeling at Million Dollars Point and swim in Blue Holes on your own. For others, like Pentecost land diving tour, and Mount Yasur volcano hike, I would book a tour in advance. Viator offers more tours in Vanuatu than GetYourGuide (which I used to book airport transfer).


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🗨 FAQ related to Vanuatu Itinerary

What does the name Vanuatu mean?

The name “Vanuatu” is believed to have two possible origins.

One interpretation is that it’s derived from the Austronesian word “vanua,” which means “land” or “home.” The addition of the suffix “-tu” emphasizes the collective nature, making it “Our Land” or “Land of the People.”

Another interpretation suggests that “Vanuatu” could be a combination of two local Melanesian words, “vanua” and “tu,” which together convey the idea of “many islands.” Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific, and the name reflects its diverse archipelago made up of numerous islands.


How many days do I need to plan for my Vanuatu itinerary?

The ideal duration for a visit to Vanuatu can vary but in general I would recommend spending at least 1 week in Vanuatu. If you want to explore Vanuatu in 7 days, I would suggest visiting only two islands. Efate and eather Tanna or Santo. If you feel adventurous, you can perhaps book a Tanna volcano day tour.

If you have time, spend 10 days in Vanuatu to fully experience the diverse culture, natural beauty, and adventure opportunities on different islands.  By spending 10 days in Vanuatu you can visit 3 or even four islands or opt for a day tour to Pentecost Island.

For more Vanuatu travel tips, Vanuatu itinerary ideas and what to see in Vanuatu visit Anja On Adventure blog. 


Is Vanuatu worth visiting?

Yes, Vanuatu is an often overlooked Melanesian destination in the South Pacific Ocean and often considered a bucket list destination for its stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, diving sites, kastom cultural experiences, vibrant coral reefs, pristine beaches, active volcanoes, and lush rainforests. It is also worth mentioning that it is the 4th happiest nation in the world.

For Vanuatu itinerary ideas, Vanuatu cost of travel and more Vanuatu travel tips,, visit Anja On Adventure blog. Vanuatu itinerary


What is the best time to visit Vanuatu?

The best time to visit is between April to September.
This is Vanuatu’s dry season, with sunny days and less humidity. For diving, the best month are July-August. If you want to see a Land diving ritual, you should come from mid-April to mid-June. 

For more Vanuatu travel tips, Vanuatu itinerary ideas and what to see in Vanuatu visit Anja On Adventure travel blog.


Which islands should I include in Vanuatu itinerary?

Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of 83 islands. Here are some recommended bigger islands you should consider visiting. Efate (capital Port Vila), Tanna (Mount Yasur volcano, traditional villages, and Yakel Tribe), Espiritu Santo (Blue Holes, white-sand beaches, and World War II relics), Pentecost (land diving ceremonies), Ambrym.

For more on Anja On Adventure Vanuatu travel blog section.


About Anja On Adventure

anja on Adventure

Anja On Adventure is a travel blog, a collection of insider tips and information on destinations, that I visited as a solo female traveler, tour guide, teacher, yacht stewardess, and Survivor challenge tester.

Anja, is a thirty-something adventure-seeking, sun chasing, beach hopping, gin-loving, tropics enthusiast with a creative mind and sarcastic spirit, who loves coconut and mango but doesn’t like chocolate and sweets. I am passionate about all things travel, maps, and puzzles. Click here to learn more About me.

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