Air Vanuatu is the international branch of the national airline. They fly to and from Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Nadi and Noumea.
Flights to and from Sydney leave 5 days a week - there is no service on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
Flights from Port Vila to Brisbane leave Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. Brisbane to Port Vila flights are on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Flights to and from Auckland are only on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Flights between Port VIla and Noumea are Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Port Vila to Nadi flights (and vice versa) are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
International: Air Vanuatu from Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Noumea and Nadi.
Air Caledonie from Noumea with connections from Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti.
Air Pacific from Nadi with connections from New Zealand, Japan and the U.S.A. Solomon Airlines from Honiara and Port Moresby.
Domestic: Vanair services all major islands in the country.
2500 vatu per person (except children under 12years old), payable in local currency
Vanuatu has a bus service like none other I have experienced. All busses are identified by the letter B on the number plate. You stand on the road side and hail a bus similar to hailing a taxi in US and tell the driver where you wish to go - the bus has no specified route and its first on first off basis of operation. So often you will get to have a trip around town before you disembark at your destination. The trip will cost you 100Vt (vatu local currency about $1.25 Au) tipping is not required. Bus drivers are sometimes shy usually because of limited English and on other occasions they will ask where you are from and tell you about life in Vanuatu. Prices for travel outside the town area need to negotiated and agreed upon before you get in the bus. Vanuatu taxi's are identified by the letter T on the number plate and are all independently owned, you are able to hail a taxi or pre arrange by phone directly with the driver to be picked up at a specified time. Charges for airport transfers are listed at the air port and cannot be changed. Generally charges vary depending on your destination most trips around town will cost 500Vt but as with busses negotiate the price before setting off on your ride. Buses and taxi's are a safe mode of transport but don't forget to collect your personal belongings before leaving.. Hire cars are available but only experienced drivers should attempt to drive on the roads outside the Capital most roads are coral and sustain extensive damage due to tropical rain, if driving in Vanuatu be extremely careful around villages as children play along the roadside and most locals tend to walk either on the road or very near and are particularly hard to see when wearing dark clothing at night - animals are also a hazard in these areas. There is a helicopter charter service for adventures to either other islands or just to get a birds eye view of the capital
One way of getting around Port Vila is the local 'buses'. They're actually vans, run or owned by locals. They are cheap & heaps of them. You just flag them down & they will take you anywhere you want, within the local area of course. It's a great way of supporting the locals & getting around.
There are also a few free ferries to some of the islands close to Port Vila, Iririki Island & Erakor Island.
It seems that tourist transport is Vanuatu's main industry. There is a lot of traffic for a small island that essentially only has 1 main road! Taxis are indentified by a T on the number plate. Busses (or mini vans to be more correct) have a B on their number plates. We found there is essentially no difference between the services provided by busses and taxis - they both take you where you want to go (including picking up and dropping off anywhere - there are no scheduled stops). The only difference is that busses are a fraction of the cost of taxis. Busses cost 100 Vatu (about $1.30 AUS) regardless of how far the trip is. Taxis cost a minimum of about 500 Vatu (about $7 AUS) for a trip into town, or 2000 ($28 AUS) Vatu for any trip that involves the airport.
We paid a crazy 5000 Vatu (about $70 AUS) for a taxi ride to The Cascades (waterfall). Although the cost covered the return trip (with the driver waiting for us and taking other fares in between) this would still have to rate as one of the world's most expensive fares on a cost per distance basis. The round trip was about 20km. Apparently we weren't ripped off - this is just the accepted going rate.
The other thing is that every taxi driver doubles as a tour guide. They all want you to take their special island tour. You soon get used to politefully declining.
So the bottom line is always take a bus over a taxi, if you can.
Getting around Port Vila and the island of Efate is easy.
There are buses everywhere (they are Hi-Ace type vans with a ?B? in front of the number plate). It costs 100 vatu to anywhere in town and 200 vatu to places like Hideaway Island and Mele Cascades.
You can hail from anywhere with the raise of a hand or an eyebrow and you may get the scenic route, depending on the other travellers? destinations.
Taxis (small cars with a ?T? before the number plate) are also plentiful and reasonably inexpensive. Ask for a price first as some of the meters may be dodgy.
You can also negotiate your own driver to take you around the island, there are organised tours that include lunch and cultural activities or you can hire you own car. There are offices for Budget, Avis, Hertz and Discount Rentals.
There is also a bloke that rents out motor scooter by the hour which is a fun way to see more of the island
The government-run Vanair runs more than 150 flights a week between 29 airstrips on 18 of the islands in the archepelago. They operate 4 20-seater planes, although they usually use 3-4 of the seats for baggage which obviously renders them useless for passangers.
Airfares are fairly inexpensive, and you can get great views of the islands since you aren't flying that high. They offer a bunch of discounts: If you have an international student card, make sure you bring it with you to the Vanair office when buying your tickets, since they give student discounts. :) They also offer 20% off the domestic airfare if you show an international ticket issued outside of Vanuatu. Finally, if you are planning on traveling to several islands, get a Vanuatu Pass which allows for travel to a number of different islands inside Vanuatu.
Although Anne and I have visited Vanuatu on several occasions in the past, our most recent visit was courtesy of P&O and the Pacific Sky cruise ship. This was a most enjoyable and hassle free way to travel around the Pacific Islands......except when we ran aground in New Caledonia and were stranded on a coral Island for 34 hours!!!!!
When considering the cost of airfares, arrival and departure taxes, accommodation, transfers, meals etc etc, a cruise proved the most cost effective, hassle free way to experience all that the South Pacific has to offer.
When travelling out to some of the smaller islands you can quite often take a water taxi. The boat ride to the Island is usually free, you simply stand on the beach and the boat comes over to collect you! Although the "Captain" is employed by the island you may wish to tip them a gold coin ($1 or $2) for their service however this is a personal choice.
The most common and inexpensive way to see Port Vila, Vanuatu, is by local bus!
These mini busses are common place and very convienient. There are no designated bus stops and you simply flag down a bus, tell the driver where you want to go and if he agrees that he is going near there, hop on!
Cost.... A rule of thumb, if you are going around town AUS$2.00, if you are going further afield AUS$2.00 per 10 minutes or HIRE THE BUS ALL DAY FOR AUS$50.00 for up to 4 passengers!
Getting a minibus is the cheapest way around Port Vila. It costs about half that of a taxi. Men just drive their mini bus' around town looking to give people a ride! 100vt will get you anywhere around the city(Vila).
We arrived in Vila via the Pacific Sky and after we had made it through the endless markets we were greeted with cars and vans - of all shapes and sizes! Some a little worse for wear. Each proudly owned by a smiling local. You can barter your price to be taken where ever you like. They will take you sight seeing, drop you off for a spot of shopping and then pick you up to take you back to the ship or where ever you want to go. We even left all our souvineers etc in the car while we went shopping and had no trouble with them being stolen. This mode of transport is not for the faint hearted though. Their driving is quite erratic and fast!!. Oddly enough I felt relatively safe........sort of!
Air Vanuatu is the national carrier for the island. We took the flight from Noumea to Port Vila.
The main international airport is Bauerfield, which is located just 10 min away from Port Vila.
Our arrival into the airport was welcomed by this colorful band of harmonious women singing in their native tongue.
They entertained the passengers while we waited to go through customs. Such a delight!
Air Vanuatu fly to and from Australia daily. The flights are cheaper if you get a deal for flights/accommodation.
The flights are good and they serve free alcohol and yummy meals on all flights.
When we arrived at the airport in Vanuatu they had a local band playing music for us too...what a great welcome to Vanuatu!!! :)
The local people use 4WDs to get around their island as much as they can (otherwise they walk or use the buses). When the locals need to go somewhere it seems they all pile into the back of a 4WD like one big happy family.
More Regions in Vanuatu