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Vanuatu Travel Guide

The Republic of Vanuatu consumes a total of 860,000 square kilometres of land and is an oceanic island made up of a group of islands, in the South Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. There are around 200,000 folk living around Vanuatu who are mainly of Melanesian, Polynesian and French descent and Christian faith. The inhabitants speak mainly English, Bislama and French and money-wise make their trade from agriculture, tourism and finance trading with countries such as Japan, Australia, France, New Caledonia and the Netherlands.

The island of Vanuatu was once owned by both the French and the British, and by 1906, both countries agreed to a joint Anglo-French sovereignty. France and Britain managed the island until 1980, when Vanuatu at last became an independent state.

The island of Vanuatu is a divers paradise and with underwater visibility of 100 feet, coral reefs galore and colourful marine life it’s no wonder! The caverns and caves including the Blacksands Reef and Caves, is a divers dream, with a vast amount of small rays to be seen and at the Mele Reef there are plenty of WWII shipwrecks to explore. Other popular water sports are water skiing, snorkelling and windsurfing and are found throughout the islands. Walking enthusiasts though, can enjoy a bit of hiking round the regions rainforest, cloud forest and mountainous landscape of Gaua, Erromango, Santo and Ambrym, whilst horse riders can go on a hack or even take riding lessons at one of the islands’ horse riding schools.

Anyone wanting something a bit less physical though can go to the capital of Port Vila on the island of Forari, where there are a few golf courses to while away the day at, with plenty of nightlife and gambling joints to enjoy until the early hours. Port Vila by day also has a harbour and market to browse round and is the perfect place to book a trip to the external islands. Kumul Highway is the main strip in the town, which takes visitors to the waterfront and to areas including the Constitution Building and Cultural Centre. There is also the French Quarter for visitors to wander round, which has some beautiful grand houses with French louvered windows and nearby Chinatown, known as Hongkong Street, is an interesting area which is situated mostly around rue Carnot in the central Vila.

There’s many varieties of transport for visitors to use in Vanuatu, from hire cars including 4WDs and jeeps to taxis and minibuses. The buses have no schedule whatsoever but come by very often, so visitors just need to stick their hand out. Taxis are a bit expensive but as they are the only form of public transport available by night, they are pretty much a necessity. Visitors wanting to hire a car will find that the roads in the outer islands are closed in the wet season, mainly due to the amount of rain, but during the drier months are a good way to travel further a field. Island hoppers can get about by plane or boat, from places including Port Vila, with of course the boat option being much cheaper but also much slower, than by air. To actually get into Vanuatu, travellers will need to fly with either Aircalin or Air Vanuatu to reach the islands’ airport, which is situated at Bauerfield, only minutes away from the capital. People can also get here by cruise ship, which travels here twice a fortnight…very slowly! As the weather is warm all year round, the only time to avoid is when the short bouts of warm rain appear, which only get heavy around January.

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