IS VANUATU SAFE FOR TOURISTS IN 2023?
If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a good chunk of your free time dreaming about exotic destinations, pristine beaches, and vibrant cultures. And what better place than Vanuatu for us Aussies? So if you’re in the midst of planning a visit to the breathtaking Vanuatu archipelago and wondering, Is Vanuatu safe for tourists?—rest assured, you’ve landed in the perfect spot.
After doing my own thorough research, I’m thrilled to spill the beans on some crucial safety tips to guarantee that your journey to this Pacific paradise is not just good but absolutely spectacular.
Personally, I embarked on a solo adventure to Vanuatu in 2023 and let me tell you, it was love at first sight. Whether it’s the enchanting blue holes or the captivating villages, this place is a gem, conveniently just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Australian east coast.
But as with any destination, solo travellers, in particular females, need to prepare for safety concerns.
So, grab a virtual piña colada, sit back, and let’s dive into everything you need to know to have a safe and memorable adventure in Vanuatu!
DO YOU HAVE THESE ITEMS FOR YOUR TRIP?
✔️ Flights: Book your flights on Skyscanner
➡️ Car rental: Rent your car on Discovercars
✔️ Travel insurance: I recommend World Nomads
➡️ Accommodations: Book your stay at booking.com
✔️ Activities: Arrange your adventure trips and tours
Is Vanuatu Safe For Tourists to Travel To?
When it comes to jetting off to a tropical paradise like Vanuatu, safety is often the first thing on any traveller’s mind.
So, is Vanuatu safe to travel to?
Let me put your mind at ease – yes, it is!
This picturesque Pacific nation is renowned for its warm and welcoming locals and low crime rates, making it a fantastic destination for tourists.
While no place on Earth is entirely without its risks, Vanuatu is generally considered safe for visitors.
Its laid-back atmosphere and genuine hospitality are part of what makes it such a wonderful place to explore.
On my trip, I felt very safe and found the locals to be very kind people who are always happy to help you out. Even when you run out of cash at a petrol station and couldn’t pay the bill… Yes, that happened to me and I am so thankful that the owner let me come back later with cash to pay.
Only once did I find myself unsafe. I was in Espiritu Santo staying in a marquee which is essentially a gigantic tent on the outside but a proper room and front door with modern amenities on the inside. One night, my neighbour was robbed (they only stole booze no cash or valuables) by someone who cut through the tent fabric.
It didn’t cross my mind that someone could easily enter my room and this made me quite uncomfortable, lucky it was my last night. Anyway long story short, I would avoid marquees that don’t have four proper walls in Vanuatu to be safe.
Is Vanuatu Safe to Get Around?
Vanuatu is generally safe to get around.
Whilst it is safe to get around, it’s not the easiest as public transport is very limited or non-existent.
The main modes of transport in Vanuatu include buses, taxis, rental cars and domestic flights between the islands, and these are typically safe for tourists. However, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind.
Firstly, road conditions can vary, especially on the more remote islands, so be extra careful if you’re renting a car and driving. Be prepared for some bumpy rides. I rented a car for a day on Espiritu Island which allowed me to get around to the major attractions quite quickly and safely.
If you’re an Aussie like me, you will need to be extra cautious as in Vanutatu they drive on the ride-hand side. And let me tell you, there are potholes and loose gravel everywhere making driving a little nerve-wracking.
You will find that locals tend to get around on the back of a pick-up truck, which is pretty crazy considering how bad the roads are.
I didn’t end up taking any taxis on my trip as all of my accommodation included free transfers to and from the airport which is pretty common in Vanuatu. If you do catch a taxi, prepare to pay similar prices to taxis in Australia and only ever use licensed providers.
The buses are not very efficient and don’t run to a schedule, but they are cheap. I would suggest asking your hotel or a local for advice on the bus as there isn’t much information online. What I can tell you is that you will identify a bus by the letter B on the number plate and they look more like vans than typical buses.
Safest Places To Stay In Vanuatu
Booking accommodation in Vanuatu can be tricky as there aren’t loads of options, especially budget-friendly options. Plus getting around the islands can be difficult, so picking a good location to stay is essential!
I travelled to Port Vila, Espiritu Santo, and Tanna Island so I have popped my accommodation recommendations below to help you book your stay.
As I was travelling solo in a country that can be a little tricky to get around it was essential that I opted for a good location and place where there were transport services available such as airport transfers and car hire.
I would highly recommend you spend a little more on accommodation that offers transport services, organised tours and equipment rentals such as bikes and kayaks as it will save you time and money in the end.
⭐ 7.8/10 (184 reviews)
I loved my stay at Breakas Beach Resort, it was a beautiful beachfront resort with wonderful bungalows.
Breakas is located just south of Port Vila on a 500m private beach. It’s a short drive to shops and restaurants although you won’t need to leave the resort as it has it all.
Free breaky is included plus there is a range of delicious Italian options for lunch and dinner.
The resort also offers daily activities including cooking classes, live music, fire dancing, and more.
You don’t need to go far to access some great snorkelling at Breakas. I spent the day exploring the reef located on the private beach and it was magical.
DISCOVER OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS IN PORT VILA
⭐ 9.2/10 (116 reviews)
Turtle Bay Lodge was my favourite stay in Vanuatu.
The owners were so lovely and accommodating, even when my flight was delayed and I didn’t arrive until midnight they still greeted me with a welcome drink!
It is a prime location for snorkelling in Turtle Bay, plus you can borrow their Kayak and head up to the blue holes.
During my stay, I was surprised by a free fire dance performance one evening which just added to my stay.
The food is wonderful, with a range of Italian and hearty pub meals.
I was even upgraded for free to the Deluxe Double Room which is priced at AUD 308 per night. But as mentioned earlier the Delexue Double Room isn’t the most secure as the walls are fabric.
DISCOVER OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS IN ESPIRITU SANTO
WHITEGRASS OCEAN RESORT
⭐ 8.4/10 (101 reviews)
On my visit to Tanna Island, I stayed at Whitegrass Ocean Resort due to the fantastic range of tours they had on offer including the Yasur Volcano tour and Blue Cave tour.
The resort was pretty expensive but due to the remoteness of the island, there aren’t many options.
The resort is a short walk to Blue Holes 1 & 2 which are some of the best snorkeling spots on Tanna. Or you can even snorkel right off the beach of the resort, just follow advice from the dive team as it can be dangerous.
Overall, I loved my stay at Whitegrass Ocean Resort, the staff were lovely, the food was divine (although very expensive) and the rooms were clean and comfortable.
➡️ Click here to book your stay at Whitegrass Ocean Resort Tanna
DISCOVER OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS IN TANNA
Is Vanuatu Safe At Night?
When I was in Vanuatu, I found that it was relatively safe at night.
That being said Vanuatu is best explored during the day. There isn’t much to do at night other than visit a few restaurants or a bar in Port Vila. If you’re going to the other islands you’re best just to stick to your resort at nighttime.
Like with any place, I made sure to exercise caution and follow some common-sense safety guidelines to ensure worry-free evenings, even around my accommodation.
Here are a few night-time safety precautions to take in Vanuatu.
Securing Accommodation: Lock your doors and windows when you’re out and asleep at night.
Moderating Alcohol: Like anywhere else, I knew that drinking a lot could make me more vulnerable. So, I made an effort to drink responsibly and remain aware of my surroundings.
Sticking to Reliable Transport: I was only out late at night when I was travelling from the islands and had a flight delay. I organised to be picked up by my accommodation and they were super flexible despite my flight landing at midnight. This is pretty common in Vanuatu and as there are only a few places to stay you will often be sharing the transfer with others who were on your flight. A taxi would be the next best option.
Keeping Valuables Secure: I didn’t flaunt valuable items like expensive jewellery, cameras, or electronics when I was out and about. Although I did have my laptop I could blog and didn’t run into any trouble.
Learning Local Customs: I took the time to familiarize myself with local customs and norms. Being respectful of the local culture helped me avoid any misunderstandings or potential issues.
Is Vanuatu Safe for Females?
When I was in Vanuatu as a solo female traveller in my 20s, I felt that the country was generally very safe and welcoming.
Like in many other places, common-sense precautions are essential.
I dressed modestly, especially respecting local customs, and avoided walking alone at night in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas.
You will stand out wearing ripped shorts and a tank as the local women tend to wear colourful traditional dresses that generally have t-shirt sleeves and go past the knee. So just keep this in mind and if in doubt cover up a little more. Plus it is very hot and you need to watch the sun!
I also chose accommodations with positive reviews and good reputations. Having a safe place to stay with staff who can help you book transfers, and tours and let you know about local customs made a world of difference during my stay. I suggest spending a little more for the added support, comfort and safety.
When it came to transport, I used services recommended by my accommodation including renting a car for a day. I also arranged all airport transfers through my accommodation which was a seamless experience.
Trusting my instincts is always a key practice when I travel; if something ever feels uncomfortable or unsafe, I remove myself from the situation.
Overall, Vanuatu was a very safe and enjoyable experience for me as a young solo female traveller!
10 Safety Tips For Travel To Vanuatu
To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, here are 10 of my essential safety tips to keep in mind.
1. Research the Destination
Before you go, familiarize yourself with Vanuatu’s geography, culture, and local laws. Landing on this blog is a great start! Knowing what to expect can help you stay safe and respectful during your trip.
2. Stay Hydrated & Sun Protected
The tropical climate can be hot and humid, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you’re out in the sun.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a bucket hat are your best friends. Protect your skin and eyes from the strong Pacific sun to avoid sunburn or worse.
3. Bring Cash
Vanuatu isn’t a modern society, they still heavily rely on cash. Major resorts will accept card payments however I found that most places outside of accommodation require cash.
If you are on the islands, don’t expect to be able to go to a nearby ATM to withdraw more money, usually, there is only 1 which is at the airport (that is if it’s working and not broken down).
I ran out of cash and this put me in a vulnerable position. Bring more than you think you need and spread it out throughout your bags to avoid losing it all if something happens.
4. Health Precautions
Visit your doctor before travelling to ensure you have the necessary vaccinations and medications for any potential health risks. Mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever are a risk, so bring insect repellent and wear appropriate clothing.
I needed a tetanus shot top-up and also opted to take anti-malarial meds during my trip as I get bitten very easily by mosquitos.
5. Accommodation Options
Choose accommodation that has good reviews, is in a safe and central location and offers services such as transport or organised tours.
6. Respect Local Culture
Vanuatu has a rich and well-preserved culture. Show respect by learning about local customs, asking permission before taking photos of people, and dressing modestly when visiting villages or cultural sites.
7. Secure Valuables
Keep your passport, money, and electronics secure in a hotel safe or a hidden pouch in your luggage. Avoid leaving valuables unattended on the beach or in rental cars.
8. Use Reputable Transport
Choose registered taxis or transportation services recommended by your accommodation. If you’re renting a car, make sure it’s in good condition and familiarize yourself with local driving laws.
9. Emergency Contacts
Save local emergency numbers in your phone, and carry a photocopy of your passport and travel insurance details. It’s always a good idea to have a plan in case of unexpected situations.
10. Travel Insurance
Speaking of insurance, get comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. It’s a safety net that can provide peace of mind during your travels.
I recommend World Nomads for affordable travel insurance.
FAQS: Is Vanuatu Safe For Tourists
Moving onto some commonly asked questions about Vanuatu’s safety.
Is it safe to walk around Vanuatu?
I felt safe walking around Vanuatu during my visit.
The local people are friendly and welcoming, and there’s a relaxed atmosphere on the islands.
That said, it’s wise to exercise standard safety precautions, especially in the city. Stick to well-lit streets, avoid poorly lit or deserted places after dark, and consider walking in groups if you’re exploring at night.
Which is better Vanuatu or Fiji?
This is a bit of a “Tropical Paradise Showdown,” isn’t it?
Well, the answer depends on what you like. Both Vanuatu and Fiji offer stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures, and fantastic opportunities for adventure.
Vanuatu has a more off-the-beaten-path feel, with fewer crowds, preserved culture and a focus on eco-tourism.
Fiji, on the other hand, is well-known for its luxurious resorts and more developed tourist infrastructure.
It’s ultimately a matter of personal taste – if you prefer a quieter, less touristy vibe, Vanuatu might be your jam.
But if you’re looking for more extensive resort options and a more established tourism industry, Fiji could be the way to go.
Is Vanuatu good for tourists?
Vanuatu is a hidden gem in the South Pacific that’s perfect for tourists seeking adventure, culture, and natural beauty.
The islands offer a range of activities, from exploring volcanoes and diving in crystal-clear waters to immersing yourself in local customs and traditions.
The welcoming locals make the experience even better, and the relatively low tourist numbers mean you can often enjoy the beauty of Vanuatu without the crowds.
Do Australians need a visa for Vanuatu?
No, Australians do not need a visa for short visits to Vanuatu.
As an Aussie traveller, it was very easy to plan my trip without worrying about visas.
However, it’s always a good idea to check the latest entry requirements and visa policies before your trip, just in case there have been any changes. I lean on Smart Traveller, an Australian Government-run website that provides up-to-date travel advice.
So is Vanuatu Safe For Travel In 2023?
So, is Vanuatu safe for travel in 2023?
Based on my personal experiences and the research I have done, I say yes, it remains a safe destination for travellers.
Of course, as with any journey, it’s crucial to stay informed, exercise caution, and follow the recommended safety guidelines.
Vanuatu offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality.
With proper planning, respect for local customs, and an awareness of your surroundings, you too can enjoy a memorable and safe adventure in this Pacific paradise.
So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to explore all that Vanuatu has to offer!