Port Vila Destination Guide
Tropical paradise doesn’t get much better than breathtaking Port Vila, Vanuatu. Whether you’re visiting on a cruise or flying in, this slice of heaven with its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters is an island getaway you won’t want to miss.
If you’re used to being pestered when visiting a market, the Vila Market will be a breath of fresh air. Wander through this vibrant waterfront marketplace at ease and without hassle while you browse through delicate handicrafts and pick up some souvenirs. If you’re feeling peckish, you won’t be able to resist the tropical fruit on display including coconuts, grapefruit and, depending on the season, passionfruit, mangoes and wild raspberries. Get your hair braided by one of the local women and embrace local “Ni Vanuatu” life.
You can’t visit Port Vila without experiencing its underwater delights and offshore activities. Go deep-sea snorkelling, watch sea turtles in their element and explore underwater caves. For those seeking an adrenalin boost, try jet-skiing and parasailing. For nature lovers and adventurers, the Mele Cascades, where visitors can abseil down a 50-metre waterfall, are an unmissable experience. If this sparks your interest, you might also be interested in zip-lining through the jungle.
To soak up Vanuatu’s cultural heritage, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre is worth a visit. It is considered one of the most important institutions in Port Vila as it houses not only Vanuatan artefacts, but keeps the nation’s history, protects its many customs and traditions, and encourages research and the development of the country.
Eat and Drink
Melanesian and Ni Vanuatu fare includes root vegetables like yams and taro, banana, sugarcane, fowls and seafood. Pigs are considered a special food item reserved for eating at important ceremonies and rituals. A favourite dish and one you will find local women cooking at the Vila Market is herb-coated fish accompanied with rice.
Locals drink kava, an alcoholic drink made from a pepper-like plant, and there are many kava bars in town. Port Vila also offers international cuisine with restaurants hosting Asian and European menus, and the country’s French colonial past is evident at some excellent eateries in town.
Where to Stay
Port Vila has a number of beach resorts ranging from family-friendly, mid-priced lodgings to more luxurious options, with the most exclusive choices located on the edge of Fatumaru Bay. Some of these waterfront accommodations include not just stunning water views but private beaches.
The great thing about Port Vila is that almost nothing is more than a few minutes away. Staying in the Fatumaru Bay area, for instance, puts you just an eight-minute drive from the airport and a two-minute walk to Port Vila town centre.
If you’re looking for souvenirs such as colourful sarongs or beaded jewellery, the Vila Market is the place to go. Vanuatu Handicraft Market on Wharf Road sells work by artisans from throughout Vanuatu, including pottery, wood carvings, paintings, mats and baskets.
Port Vila has duty-free shopping in the town centre, which is much more affordable than airport duty-fee prices. There are also a number of supermarkets in town where you can buy all your necessities.
Port Vila Like a Local
Ni Vanuatu people love to dance, it is considered a pivotal part of their culture. Most villages in Vanuatu have a dancing ground, called nasara, where families gather. It is a traditional belief that dancing brings wealth and success. Enjoy a boogie in Vanuatu and let the blessings come.