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By No owner — last modified Oct 18, 2018 02:17 PM

 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: Port Vila offers good services for yachts. Port Vila Boatyard has haulout facilities, marine electricians and mechanics and cyclone certified moorings. Many spare parts can be found in Port Vila and Luganville or can easily be ordered and flown in from Australia, NZ or USA and brought in Duty and VAT free for visiting yachts.
  • For information on provisioning and other supplies, see Yachting Essentials.
  • 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.


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.

Main Ports

Ambrym: Olal/Nopul

Anatom Island (Aneityum): Anelcauhat

Banks Islands: Divers Bay, Ureparapara Island , Losalava, Gaua island , Milli Bay, Mota Lava Island , Sola * , Vureas Bay, Vanua Lava Island , Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island

Efate: Port Vila *

Epi Island: Lamen Bay

Espiritu Santo: Luganville *

Maewo Island: Asanvari Bay

Malekula Island: Port Sandwich , South West Bay

Tanna: Lenakel * , Port Resolution

* indicates port of entry

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 22, 2019 02:17 PM

Simon in the Vanuatu Gov offices has confirmed the following places to clear into Vanuatu:

Espiritu Santo: Luganville

Efate: Port Vila

Tanna: Lenakel

Banks Islands: Sola

His number is +678 774 7513 for contact.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 31, 2018 12:53 PM

Clearance into Vanuatu - reported by SY Golden Glow October 8th, 2018:

We cleared immigration at Port Resolution in August with no problem, but customs had to be done in Port Vila when we got there some weeks later (the officials in Tanna told us not to worry about the delay and officials in Port Vila also had no problem with that).
Friends who tried to clear Vanuatu immigration into Tanna EITHER in Lenakel or Port Resolution a few weeks ago however, were told it is no longer possible. There was a sign on the door in Lenakel saying go to Port Vila.
So folks, check the currrent status before you go. Stanley in Port Resolution May have the answer +678 68791

gemma ross
gemma ross says:
Oct 12, 2018 11:51 PM

Loltong Bay- North Western Pentecost

We visited Loltong Bay which is a very secure sand bottom reef anchorage for any winds from the east. Note that the buffeting winds around the very tall steep mountains does cause accelerated bullets from all directions which jolt on the chain but provided you have set the anchor well is still secure (we had 40 knot gusts). It is important to note where the reef is on all sides & how close you will be if the wind comes from a different direction to how you set the anchor. While most of the western coasts of Maewo & Pentecost are affected by the south east swell wrapping around in developed conditions, Loltong Bay & Asanvari on SW Maewo are are calm & swell free.

The family that run the Vatulo Yacht Club here on the left hand side of Loltong Bay are Matthew & Marie (Tel: +678 5344714) with their 5 adopted children. They were the kindest & most welcoming people we have met here in the friendliest country on earth! The rest of the village were equally friendly.

In Sept 2018 both Maewo & Pentecost received heavy unseasonal rain & the Yacht club collapsed. They used to offer yachties meals, a book swap, and tour bookings, but with no physical shelter for the club they have put all services on hold.

While we were there Marie created a wonderful meal for us out of the tiny hut next door over a fire in exchange for help fixing their sailing dingy. We encouraged them to still offer meals to yachties despite not having a permanent shelter, so anyone visiting here please support them. Maybe they will have rebuilt already by next 2019 season but if not, I am sure that any help would be very much appreciated in getting them back on their feet. Also, if anyone has a sailing dingy, the kids are eager to learn & race too!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 17, 2018 12:00 PM

Message from Vanuatu Yacht Services:
Good evening from Efate, Vanuatu. We would like to inform all visiting yachts small and large that the island of Ambae is currently off limits to visitors. ⚠️Please do not attempt to anchor anywhere along Ambae’s coastline as you will end up facing issues with the local authorities. ⚠️There is a current state of emergency on Ambae (due to volcanic activity) and all the people have been evacuated to the surrounding islands of Maewo and Santo. The police and army are tasked with looking after all property on the island and they do not want any visitors nosing around. 🌋🇻🇺👍 We hope the situation will eventually return to normal for the people who have been displaced. Anyone wishing to assist evacuees in the new settlement sites can contact us to find out how to do so.

Alan says:
Sep 05, 2018 11:38 PM

Port Dues
Port dues are now 8050 vatu for the first month.

gemma ross
gemma ross says:
Aug 24, 2018 12:33 AM

RE Shopping & the environment: while Vanuatu has banned single use plastic bags, drinking straws & takeaway containers, (which is fantastic) the markets & supermarkets still hand out the plastic mesh bags when you buy small sized vegetables. In the supermarket this was easy as we take our own cotton or mesh veggie bags with us anyway, at the market they are pre packaged but only tied not crimped so the vendors were more than happy to take the bags back & re-use them (as they have to pay for them)so we emptied them into our own bags. Also when trading, think about the items you are giving. Small packets of laundry powder & milk are very useful but as the remote islands have no means to dispose of their rubbish responsibly we saw the discarded wrappers of these items in particular just strewn about the villages. We saved practically EVERY single container onboard which would be suitable for decanting cooking oil, rice, coffee, laundry powder, etc & found that people would keep these to use again for something else as water & air tight seals are hard to come by!

gemma ross
gemma ross says:
Aug 20, 2018 01:57 PM

While in Port Villa 2018 we investigated the procedures for duty free alcohol intake in Villa, even though we would be clearing out of Sola in several weeks'/ months time. Customs said it can be done, but they have to physically come to the boat to "seal" the goods & the inter island cruising permit would have to be amended/ re-issued (in order for Luganville to check the goods). We would then have to get another new cruising permit in Luganville to check out of Sola. We decided not proceed.

Navigator1 says:
Nov 07, 2017 12:28 AM

Navigator 1 and several other yachts arrived at Erromango island in Vanuatu at Dillions Bay (or Williams Bay as the locals call it after John Williams). We all had clothes to give to Villagers, however we did ask the Chief (Jason Mete - Cell: 7767737) for a list of items that are required in most Villages throughout Vanuatu. This is a general request to any visiting Yachts to please bring products with them as donations. We didn't realise the extent of gear they needed.

Clothes: Mens, womens, childrens and babies. The latter two are important as adult clothes are easy to obtain from the likes of Australia.
Cooking items: Pots, spoons, cups, kitchen knives
Bush knives or Macheetes
Student books
Reading books
Childrens toys
Small solar lights or panels of any size
Fishing gear: lines, lures, hooks
School laptops
Milk, Milo, rice (25kg bags), sweets

Any of these items would be gratefully accepted and can help a great deal. Thankyou

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 17, 2017 04:44 PM

Posted on behalf of Jan Bochenski, SY Bold Spirit (UK)
Cruising the whole of Vanuatu, one can safely say there are more mechanical spare parts available in Luganville than Port Vila.
Best Marine Engineer is JT or John Turner available on: +678 7101766

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 17, 2015 03:43 PM

Re: Visit and feedback on land diving, Southern Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
By s/y honey (Australia)

We recently witnessed the phenomenal land diving on Southern Pentecost Island with a number of other yachties. The villages are quite poor in Vanuatu, and finding recovery from Cyclone Pam is challenging. We asked if the 10,000 vatu (about $125 Aud.) per person ticket to the land diving was helping the village and beyond. We were told by a local that the chief who collects this money does not use it to contribute to the health and education for the village, but uses it instead for personal gain.
We suggest asking the village people and the chiefs where fees are going before paying.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 07, 2014 12:29 PM

The Vanuatu Customs website is now working perfectly and all forms are available to download.

svSegue says:
Oct 07, 2014 10:44 AM

Regarding bringing crew into Vanuatu. This is NO PROBLEM. We read here that bonds might be payable equal to a flight home. Or that a return ticket was required. This is simply not the case. The process is very simple. Provide a letter to immigration in Port Vila stating that "John doe" is joining your yacht, and will be arriving on flight <insert flight details>, etc... Along with a copy of the crew's passport. Bring this to the immigration office in Port Vila and Vatu$6,000 ($60.00) and you're set. Dead easy. And the immigration folks are amazingly easy to work with. Love this country!

svSegue says:
Oct 07, 2014 10:35 AM

Hi, first comments here on noonsite.

First off, I'd like to comment on just how amazing a country Vanuatu is to visit by yacht. Without exception, every encounter with the myriad of officials we all must deal with entering countries have been outstandingly friendly, accommodating, polite -- and did I mention friendly??

A few comments to be helpful. On the Vanuatu Customs Website, there is a form to fill in for advance arrival. It doesn't work. Nor do any of the phone numbers. They're having some IT issues. Use the email address: for the required advance notification of arrival.

We stayed in touch with customs on our crossing from Fiji. We requested clearance for Port Resolution as is now required. Within 30 minutes of dropping the pick down -- we were boarded and cleared into Vanuatu by two of the friendliest government officials we've ever encountered! Yes, it did cost some extra money to clear-in to port resolution -- as opposed to Lenaki on the other side of the island -- but after experiencing the experience of traversing the two ports in the back of a 4x4, it's worth the expense!

Some other notes about Tamna. There are NO ATMs that will work with foreign cards. Full stop. None. You MAY be able to find OEM guest-house or other business on the other side of the island in Lenakel that MAY have enough cash in they're 'till to help you out, but DON'T count on it. Of coming from Fiji, go to the airport with your passport, and, most important, your customs paperwork -- and you can exchange whatever dollars you might have for Vanuatu Vatu. Clearing in at port resolution will cost v$10,000 ($100.00). Bring lots more V$ with you as everything will cost money. Going up the volcano, visiting custom villages, etc., all require vatu$. And every penny spent is worth it!

... More coming ...

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 22, 2017 07:40 PM

Feedback from Port Vila Boatyard re Mele Bay:
Mele Bay - Hideaway Island is not a safe anchorage. While it’s fine in good weather overnight or as a day anchorage, unless one gets very close to shore it’s actually too deep to anchor there, then if a westerly comes through a vessel will then get dangerously close to shore. Not a place to leave a vessel unattended. Beach Bar is great fun but they now do have a jet-ski operator there.
We actually rescued that large red catamaran from the beach a few years ago after it was washed ashore in the night when it was left unattended. Had it not been for the immediate assistance of Vanuatu Yacht Services and Marine Surveyors and Consultants with the help of the people of Mele village that we organised to help, the vessel would have been a total loss. I am concerned that the information presented on Noonsite regarding Mele bay being a safe anchorage will lead to another yacht being washed ashore there.

svpelican says:
Oct 03, 2014 10:56 PM

I recommend Mele Bay as an anchorage. It is much better holding than Port Vila and has good protection from SE if you tuck into the corner near the big red racing cat mooring. Beach bar has good food & entertainment. Port Vila market is only 15 mins away y public bus at 150 vatu. Quiet anchorage without all the jet skis.

svpelican says:
Oct 03, 2014 10:50 PM

Warning re unleaded fuel in Vanuatu. I recently returned from Vanuatu. In September Pacific Fuel, the supplier off most fuel in the country, managed to distribbute unleaded fuel that contained not 10% ethanol but 30%! This has resulted in damage to outboards that used it, including my tender's 8hp Mariner. Cruisers need to check their fuel before using any Pacific Fuel product. The company still distributed their faulty product rather than recalling it.

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Sep 30, 2014 09:25 AM

Posted on behalf of Anthony Swanston of s/v/Wild Fox
Port Vila Boatyard, Efate
Just a few words about this out of the way boatyard. It was taken over by Justin, a South African, about two years ago. They offer a full range of repair and caretaker services including cyclone certified moorings. The small repair job they did for me was carried out very expertly and at reasonable cost. All the employees are long serving. I watched them haul a catamaran and they had two divers in the water to ensure that everything was OK.

Efate is not somewhere you would automatically think of when getting work done but my experience demonstrates that it is a location that should be on your list.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 07, 2014 12:41 PM

Posted on behalf of Peter Wederell of Total Marine Solutions:
There’s a new boatyard being developed on Santo which should be operational early next year. It has a 60 ton travel lift and plans are to have a multihull haulout facility as well.

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