The islands of Vanuatu offer all the allures of a tropical getaway and a depth of ancient and unspoilt scenery to navigate. Stand on the brink of Yasar, an active volcano on Tanna Island, or visit Yakel, one of the many 'kastom' villages, where ancient Melanesian culture and traditions have been preserved against the impact of tourism. Swim with dugongs, turtles or sharks at Lemen Bay on Epi Island, and post a letter from the top of a volcano or the bottom of the sea.
Things to Do
Take a deep breath, then take the plunge — whether it’s trying kava at Solo's Melanesian feast, diving the world’s most accessible shipwreck, the World War II troopship President Coolidge, abseiling down a waterfall in the midst of the Mele Cascades or scaring your pants off at one of Vanuatu’s three vigorously active volcanoes, there is plenty to entice the intrepid. At the other end of the spectrum, you can laze with a long, cool drink aboard the MV Coongoola at anchor in a sandy cove.
Port Vila is one of the last 'free ports' in the Pacific, where 'duty free' really means 'free of duty', so there are bargains to be found at Fung Kuei's store, from electronics to fashion accessories. The best places to pick up handcrafts — sinister ceremonial masks, grim-looking weapons for your man-cave wall, or intriguing jewelry and ornaments — are the markets in the outer islands, but you'll find a fair selection of the best Vanuatu has to offer at Handkrafts Blong Vanuatu, or at World of Wonders. Nightlife and Entertainment For locals, Vanuatu nightlife consists of relaxing with a bowl of kava or five in your neighborhood nakamal. Every visitor should give it a go! But if you like it a little more happening than letting your lips go numb, try Trader Vic's or Voodoo, or any of the nightspots at the resorts in and around Port Vila, especially if a cruise ship is in town.
Restaurants and Dining
The advantage of being a former French colony is Vanuatu's residual flair for fine cuisine. Set Gallic panache loose on Pacific produce with Asian influences and you’re sure to get something pretty special. From the formal splendor and invigorating savors of Micheners or Vila Chaumières, through the funky informality of Chill and the delectable confections at Au Peche Mignon, to the interesting results of the War Horse Saloon's craft brewing efforts, Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila offers the visitor a voyage of culinary discovery.