Vanuatu - Profile
- Vanuatu, formerly called the New Hebrides, is an archipelago of 83 islands in the Western Pacific around 1,750 km east of Australia, lying at the end of a chain of volcanic peaks stretching southeast from Papua New Guinea.
- Espiritu Santo, Malekula, Efate, Erromango, Ambrym and Tanna are the main islands.
- With a unique blend of Melanesian (Ni-Vanuatu) tribal communities, Vanuatu has some of the world's rarest cultural festivals, rituals & events. Don't miss the death defying Pentecost Land Diving (nagol), theTanna Toka Dance which goes on for days, the mystical Rom dance of Ambrym Island of magic and fire, and Water Music custom festival performed by the women of Gaua Island.
- Left alone by the Europeans for longer than other parts of the Pacific, Vanuatu leapt into the modern age quickly, while remaining a place where the rich Melanesian culture is kept very much alive. It is the chance to experience a little of this fascinating culture that brings most sailors to this country which has been endowed with less cruising attractions than its neighbours.
- With the exception of the northern islands, the number of natural harbours is rather limited, with the notable exception of the main island Efate which has several attractive bays.
- One of the greatest attractions of the islands is a visit to the live volcano on Tanna or Ambrym, where one can ascend into the crater, the closest one can get to an active volcano safely anywhere in the world. Even sailing by these islands one can be treated to a spectacular firework display, especially at night.
- Getting work done: Limited services here. Port Vila has haulout facilities but cruisers advise that there are more mechanical spare parts available in Luganville than Port Vila. Marine electricians and mechanics are available and mostly knowledgeable. Spare parts can be easily ordered and flown in from Australia, NZ or USA.
- Fuel: One can order duty-free diesel fuel on clearing out both in Luganville and Port Vila.
- Provisioning: The outer islands have an increasing number of stores and shops, stocked with basic items. However nothing will compare with the facilities available in Port Vila or Luganville (the Bon Marche supermarket is good value with a French influence and many Australian & European brands). Many small island resorts are extremely helpful to yachts and one can arrange provisions as well as guides and tours through the local village chief. Cheap duty-free alcohol targeted at cruise ships can also be purchased on departure.
- Many villages receive little or no contact with the outside world other than through yachts. Cruisers have noted the increasing trend of villages to charge for activities or tours and even for trips around villages. If taking part in a tour or activity check to see if the community benefits from it. Be polite and say you would prefer to walk around a village yourself; all too often they will show you around for free anyway.
- Trading goods for local carvings and fresh produce is a major source of clothing, school supplies, and currency for these villagers. Carry second-hand clothing, notebooks, pencils and pens, fishing line and hooks, reading glasses, old magazines, etc. for bartering with locals.
- Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, hitting the capital of Port Vila on Efate, as an extremely destructive category 5 cyclone on the evening of 13 March, 2015. Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph, causing serious damage to infrastructure and leaving debris strewn across the island chain. It will take the Islands a long time to recover, see news items and reports adjacent as to how the cruising community can help.
The climate is semi-tropical. There are two distinct seasons. May to October is relatively cool and dry, while November to April is hot and humid. January to March are the rainy months. The cyclone season lasts from December until the end of March.
Vanuatu Meteorological Service
Weather forecasts, marine forecasts, tsunami and tidal information.
Information for long-term planning: Rocket Guides website.
A useful guide to South Pacific weather resources complied by a Noonsite contributor, Rory Garland.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.
Anatom Island (Aneityum): Anelcauhat
Efate: Port Vila *
Epi Island: Lamen Bay
Maewo Island: Asanvari Bay
* indicates port of entry