Best place to stay in Vanuatu – best area for couples, families and honeymoon
The Vanuatu Archipelago is one of the most underrated groups of the Pacific Ocean Islands.
With its rich culture, diverse nature and numerous active volcanoes to gawk at, it no doubt deserves more recognition and hype.
But you already know this, don’t you? That’s why you are here. With 83 islands to choose from, it can be a bit of a headache deciding exactly where to stay in Vanuatu.
In this post, we have organised a map highlighting the locations that would be ideal to book your holiday.
We have done this thinking about the kind of experience you are looking for: family break, couples getaway, maybe even a honeymoon and, of course, great islands with unique experiences.
And you know the best? It’s all updated, no old stuff around.
In this guide you will see
- 1 Best area to stay in Vanuatu
- 2 Where to stay in Vanuatu for couples
- 3 Best place to stay in Vanuatu for families
- 4 Best place to stay in Vanuatu for a honeymoon or wedding
- 5 Most dramatic island to stay in Vanuatu (and it’s still a secret)
- 6 Best area to stay in Vanuatu for beaches
- 7 Best resorts in Vanuatu for scuba diving
You can read also
Before starting your trip I suggest checking out the Daily Post for the latest country news and the Smart Traveller website for any medical recommendation
Best area to stay in Vanuatu
Vanuatu is an archipelago of just 83 islands of which 56 inhabited and a total population of around 200,000 people.
In many of these islands, life is at it used to be 100 years ago, except with maybe a TV or internet signal (although very unlikely).
And this is the beauty of Vanuatu, especially if you are looking for a relaxed place to disconnect from the busy world.
There are of course “busy” parts of Vanuatu where you can still have all of the western world’s facilities.
Here is a map that highlights the most famous destinations and a few more suggestions
Although the country is about 1300km long there are really 3 areas where you can book your accommodation.
Efate Island and around (easy access, all you need)
Efate is the island where you will find the capital Port Vila, together with the International Airport where you will most likely arrive, right in the center of the country.
The Port Vila area, on the west coast, has the highest concentration of hotels and resorts.
Surprisingly enough, Port Vila, even being the capital, is actually a nice place to hang around.
The water in the area is beautiful and there are plenty of beautiful beaches in Efate Island where you can spend your day.
You can even rent a car for a day and drive all around the island (~120km). It’s a great experience by itself.
Facing Port Vila is Iririki Island. There is only one resort on this island, fully dedicated to weddings and honeymoons. An idyllic place to spend those magic days.
Moso Island, facing the north coast of Efate, is a great spot for couples that want some privacy and possibly some snorkeling and diving (more on this later).
Espiritu Santo and the North (getaway experience)
The north is more isolated and ideal for anyone looking for a getaway experience.
Espiritu Santo, or just Santo (as referred locally), is the biggest island not only in the north but in the whole country, and it is the only one with some tourist infrastructure.
There are a few hotels and resorts but not as many options as around Port Villa and Efate Island.
The easiest way to go to Santo is with a domestic flight from Port Vila. Organize it from overseas, cheaper than when you are already in the country.
Santo has also one of the highest-rated beaches in the world, Port Olry, up in the north.
If you are in Vanuatu from April to June then you should experience the land diving, the precursor to bungee jumping, in Pentecoste Island (there are no accommodations there, you need to stay in Santo or Port Vila).
Tanna Island and the south (the power of nature)
There are a few islands in the south however only Tanna has a few resorts where you can stay overnight.
The main reason is that Tanna Island has the most accessible active volcano in the world.
Set yourself on the island and organise your trekking day to explore a unique place in the world
If you stay in Tanna for 2 or more days you can snorkel in the blue hole or do some trekking to visit the world biggest banyan tree (I always ask myself who takes the measures, let’s say it’s most definitely a giant one LOL)
Where to stay in Vanuatu for couples
Vanuatu has some of the most romantic islands you will find this side of the Pacific.
The beautiful beaches, clean water and numerous resorts ensure that it will be a wonderful bae-cation.
There are 2 islands in particular whose locations, features and amenities make them perfectly suited for travelling couples. Below is more on them and what they have to offer.
Moso Island (relaxation and snorkeling)
Moso Island is relatively untouched by the rest of the world and has maintained a very calm and relaxing air about it.
This is ideal if you want a quieter laid back vacation as opposed to the hustle and bustle of major tourist hubs on the archipelago.
One of the best things about this island is the water. The mesmerizing blue oceans are perfect for water activities as couples. You could go swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, diving and whatever else your heart desires.
In addition to all the fun you will be having in the water, you could diversify your itinerary a little with something new and exciting like saving turtles. Or at the very least learn and watch it done at Tassiriki village.
Tranquility Island Resort basically has the word relaxation built into its name and that is exactly what this picturesque tropical paradise has to offer (see photos here).
With the full board meal package, private beach access and bar, you and your beau will get to truly enjoy yourselves in one of Vanuatu’s most beautiful islands.
Check availability at Tranquility Island
Espiritu Santo (romantic, isolated, activities)
If you want somewhere remote and isolated then Espiritu Santo would be the ideal place to go as a couple.
Also known as Santo Island, this part of Vanuatu is ideal if you want a perfect balance between indoor and outdoor fun for your romantic trip.
So what is there to do here other than bumming on the beach all day?
The answer is simple; a whole lot of things.
While still on the beach, you could try out some water sports in which case you have options like surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and much more. You could also take a boat ride to one of the numerous tinier surrounding islands for a day of exploration.
Something else you cannot afford to leave without doing is taking a dip in one of the area’s blue holes. These are naturally occurring swimming pools flanked by magnificent gorges and vegetation. Two of the most popular in this case are Matevulu Blue Hole and Riri Blue Hole.
Finally, it would be a crime to leave without visiting some of the Espiritu Santo’s museums. Here, you have options like the Museums SPWWII Museum Development Office and the Millennium Cave which is an open-air museum.
There is romance in the air at Turtle Bay Lodge with it beautiful views of the bay (see photos here) and the tropical paradise-themed rooms.
The hotel offers amenities like free Wi-Fi and a swimming pool. You also have access to organized activities like kayaking and snorkeling should you get tired of snoozing and beach bumming.
Check availability at Turtle Bay
Best place to stay in Vanuatu for families
Vanuatu is generally a very child-friendly country. There isn’t too much of a wild night scene that it would be inappropriate to have them around.
There are numerous activities to try and sites to visit. In short, there will be no dull moments during the trip.
Port Vila stands out as the ideal place for families on the entire archipelago.
Port Vila (all you need for any kid)
Port Villa has everything you need, from easy access to the airport and child-friendly accommodations to beaches and proximity to the capital for some shopping fun.
Do not expect Port Villa as a real western city. With its 40,000 inhabitants scattered on a very wide area, you get more of a town feel than a busy city.
In addition to all the beach bumming and restaurant hopping, you could plan a visit to the National Museum of Vanuatu.
This unique structure is home to some of the most beautiful pieces of traditional art.
In short, it is a true nod to the native’s rich history and would be a great way to take in the Island’s culture for a wholesome trip.
You could also plan a fun day out as a family on one of the many parks and playgrounds.
Independence Park is particularly popular not only for the awesome green space and proximity to other attractions but also for its cultural and historical significance.
So plan a fun picnic there and kill two birds with one stone as you also get to appreciate Vanuatu’s culture and history between locals.
Finally, when travelling as a family in Port Vila it would be a great idea to stop by at the Rainbow Botanical Gardens.
This place will blow your mind and those of your little ones as well. It is a peaceful spot full of beautiful flowers and natural paths to explore.
Pacific Lagoon Apartments are ideal for families that want an intimate and self-service experience.
The fully furnished apartment (see photos here) features a well-equipped kitchenette, a formal dining area and a living space for you guys to just hang out.
You also get access to an outdoor pool and the beach for some outdoor family fun.
Best place to stay in Vanuatu for a honeymoon or wedding
Island weddings are truly magical. There is something about vowing to love someone for the rest of your life while your toes are in the sand, the ocean breeze is in your hair and beautiful blue waters form your backdrop.
One Vanuatu island breaths life to this dream in the best way possible.
Also known as the Island of Romance, Iririki Island is a popular destination for honeymoons and weddings.
Iririki Island (also called the ‘Island of Romance’)
Iririki Island is technically more of a resort island than a simple residential island.
The privately-owned property ensures that you get all the seclusion and privacy that you need to make your big day truly special.
The resort is actually specially designed to cater to these specific needs. They facilitate everything from the catering and guest accommodation to the setup of the actual venue.
They also offer packages for other related events including honeymoons where weddings were held elsewhere, proposals, vow renewal and anniversaries.
Another great thing is that it is just a ferry ride away from Port Vila and its night scene (do not expect a crazy one though).
So if you want to have a bachelor or bachelorette party all you have to do is sail over. The best part is that there is no fixed time for the ferry and it runs 24 hours a day.
With its luxury facilities and beautiful panoramic views (see photos here), it is no wonder that Iririki Island Resort and Spa is such a hit with couples whether for weddings, baecations or honeymoons.
You have your pick of serviced apartments and self-contained suits offering privacy and luxury for the perfect honeymoon.
You also have access to activities like water sports and organized dining to make your magical holiday truly memorable.
Most dramatic island to stay in Vanuatu (and it’s still a secret)
Vanuatu is famous for having numerous active volcanoes both on land and in the water.
However, none is more notorious than Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, one of the most dramatic and beautiful of the country.
Tanna Island (world’s largest active volcano)
Standing as the world’s largest active volcano, Mount Yasur on Tanna Island is definitely something that belongs on every adventure seeker’s bucket list.
The volcano experiences frequent explosions and you can get to watch as it happens.
All you have to do is to book yourself a tour, take a 4×4 trip in the evening to the crater and experience the lava firework as it becomes dark. You will truly appreciate the fiery wonder of mother nature.
What other adventures are available on the island?
The Blue Cave is an amazing wonder of nature you get to access only in low tide. In high tide, you would need to dive underwater. Almost impossible to find unless you have a guide. The colour of the water is so blue that you really wonder how this can be possible.
If you are into snorkelling then you should go to the Blue Hole 1, easy and free to access. There is a second Blue Hole, however, it’s harder to reach.
Divers will also have the possibility to have some fun with the Volcano Island Divers that will take you to explore shipwrecks and other unique sites.
A trip to Tanna would not be complete without experiencing Sulphur Bay, at the base of the Mount Yasur volcano. Here you can soak in the hot water as you admire the beautiful landscape in front of you.
The water can be really muddy, and this part of the all-nature experience. There is an entrance fee to pay to the village.
Looking for accommodations in Tanna? The White Grass Ocean Resort & Spa is in a perfect position, meters away from the Blue Hole (lovely snorkeling) and with the Volcano Island Divers in-house.
The bungalows are spacious, clean and with an incredible view (see photos here). It’s the perfect place to sit, relax and enjoy the nature and adventures of Tanna Island.
Best area to stay in Vanuatu for beaches
Vanuatu is an archipelago so virtually every spot is ripe with beaches for you to have fun on.
Efate Island (highest concentration of beaches)
Efate Island stands out with the highest concentration of organized beaches. This means beaches that are not just pretty but also offer visitors access to important amenities whether it is changing rooms, eateries or even lifeguards.
Most of the island’s beaches are found on the southwest end and are attached to private resorts. These make them safe, clean and easy to access if you happen to be staying in any one of those resorts.
There are also some public beach options including Eton Beach and Emaal Friendly Beach which has a park attached if you want to relax and have some fun away from the water.
Finally, you could try the Blue Lagoon. Strictly speaking, this is not exactly a beach. It is more like a blue hole with natural swimming pools that make for a very unique and fun experience.
So once you are done building sandcastles, chasing the waves and working up a tan it is a spot you should definitely visit.
The best way to see the island is to rent a car and drive around it. Efate is not a big island and the full circumference of about 120km can be covered in a day.
Looking for accommodation?
Vanuatu Beachfront Apartments are located on Efate Island’s Porta Vila neighborhood.
The beautiful air-conditioned apartments (see photos here) are a great option for the active traveller with access to rental equipment such as kayaks, paddleboards and bikes.
It is also right on the water for those days you just want to bum out under the sun.
Check availability at the Apartments
Port Olry in Santo (a unique although remote place)
Another great spot for beach lovers is Port Olry. This hidden beach is located on the North-east tip of Santo and is one of the island’s best-kept secrets.
It is a great place if you want a non-crowded beach to have a calm and relaxing day out.
Stay there for a few days to experience paradise.
The Chez Louis hotel stays in theme with Port Olry’s secluded vibe. The huts are clean and spacious (see photos here). It may look a bit spartan, however, consider you are in a very secluded spot of Vanuatu.
When you are not in your room, in the water or enjoying the bar, you could just chill out on the terrace and take in the quiet beauty all around you.
Check availability at Chez Louis
Best resorts in Vanuatu for scuba diving
If you want to truly appreciate Vanuatu’s marine life then Hideaway Island is a place you should visit or book accommodation at.
Hideaway Island (marine sanctuary)
Located on Mele Bay off Port Vila on Efate Island, this spot offers you the best vantage point from which to explore the region’s underwater wonders.
It is a Marine Sanctuary where you will find coral reefs, unique marine life and a post office. Yep, you read that right. The Mele Bay Underwater Post Office is truly something unique that you will have to see to believe.
It is, as the name suggests, a post office under the sea and this one stands out from others all over the world as the very first of its kind.
Another great thing is that the 18 dive sites around Hideway Island can be reached in less than 15 minutes, so no much time wasted on boat transfers.
And, if you are travelling with a partner that is not diving then you will be happy to know that in most of these sites people can do great snorkeling too.
Hideaway Island Resort is the perfect base of operation for scuba diving enthusiasts. It is right next to a marine sanctuary with underwater treasures just waiting to be explored.
The resort itself features spacious suites with great views of the surrounding ocean (see photos here).
Here you will get useful amenities like free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool and an outdoor lounge area.
Check availability at the Hideaway
Another great diving spot in Vanuatu is the SS President Coolidge in Santo Island.
This is the shipwreck of a luxurious passenger steamship turned warship that met its end after striking a coral reef decades ago.
It is a more challenging dive but definitely worth it.
Photo credits on a few photos in this post This article was written with the collaboration of our Travel Expert Maurice