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Pleasing Port Vila

In July 2006, Port Vila was declared the happiest place on Earth. Die-hard Disneyites may want to dispute this, but there’s no doubt that spending time in Vanuatu’s capital puts a smile on your dial.

Maybe it has something to do with Port Vila’s Pentecost Land Diving. After all, flinging yourself off a bridge with only vines tied around your ankles is guaranteed to generate more G force than any Disneyland rollercoaster. Or perhaps it’s theazure ocean surrounding Hideaway Island – the South Pacific waters so full of game fish that a catch is almost guaranteed. There’s also magic to be found in the great taxation advantages (aka duty-free shopping) lying at the end of Main Street, or at the World of Wonders, where you can support the local community by buying traditional handicraft. Shopping and charity combined – no wonder visiting Port Vila makes you feel so… what’s the word? Happy!

Port Vila’s Top 10

10. Vila Market Luscious island fruits and funny knickknacks can be purchased at low prices here.

5. Supreme Court Formerly jointly used by the Condominium, this grand pink pile sits on the hill upwind from the war memorial.

9. National Museum of Vanuatu A museum with indigenous displays, including photo and video re-enactments of legends.

4. Sacre Coeur Cathedral Unusually for a cathedral, this building is quite a modern Roman Catholic assembly house.

8. Independence Park The British and French announced the unique Condominium Rule at the historic grandstand in 1906 – the first and last time they agreed on anything.

3. Georges Pompidou Building It began life as a hospital in the French Quarter, but now houses a number of government departments.

7. Iririki Island Catch a free ferry across to this harbour island for a feed and a beer with a great view of Vila.

2. Ocean Blue Spend as long as you like trying your luck with the local marlin, sailfish, wahoo and dogtooth tuna.

6. French Residency An old colonial building that now houses the Department of Foreign Affairs.

1. Edge Abseiling Adventure Tour Try the 35m (115ft) descent into the rock pools via the Mele-Maat cascades. Just so you know: there’s no chance of staying dry!

Port Vila History

  • Sacred Coeur Cathedral – Roman Catholic is the predominant religion in the country and the cathedral holds true to it.
  • Supreme Court – It is previously the joint court of the condominium.
  • National Museum of Vanuatu – The museum has a plethora of ethnic and traditional artefacts and memorabilia, a great place to learn about the history and customs of Port Vila.
  • Independence Park – The marvellous antique grandstand stands amidst both the British and French flags.
  • French Residency – Obviously, this was the French quarter and it boasts old – world architecture.

Port Vila Art & Culture

  • Michoutouchkine & Pilioko Foundation Art Gallery – Displays of eclectic and exotic creations by two amazing artists famous for their masks.
  • Diana Tam Gallery – The original oil paintings and glassware from this Port Vila gallery are just remarkable.
  • Vanuatu Cultural Centre – You can learn about the Ni-Van culture.
  • Namo Nana Tradi (Cultural Village Experience) – Get a taste of Ni-Van culture such as rainmaking and kastom dancing as the tribal string band plays.
  • Ekasup Village – Meet and greet the Futunan Islanders as they showcase their lifestyle and traditions.

Port Vila Shopping

  • Port Vila Market – A vibrant market that is distinctly Vanuatu.
  • Proud’s – The collection of magnificent South Sea pearls and fine porcelain is simply to die for.
  • L’atelier – Shop for gorgeous handicrafts, wooden carvings and souvenirs here.
  • Nambawan Market and Cafe – A popular Port Vila spot for delectable snacks, ice cream and freshly squeezed juices.
  • World of Wonders/ACTIV Association – Sells local handicrafts and purses that support the cottage industry of Vanuatu.

Gay & Lesbian Port Vila

(There is no active "gay scene" in Port Vila)
  • Vila Chaumieres – A gay- and lesbian-friendly hotel.
  • Le Cafe du Village – This is the only place where you can get champagne and lobster for breakfast.
  • The Beach Bar – The best pizza in town, perfect with a chilled bottle of beer.
  • Wahoo Bar and Restaurant – A glass of wine with fresh seafood is perfect for a late night.
  • The Waterfront Bar and Grill – Enjoy a glass of superb wine as you take a bite of their delectable Tahitian fish salad.

Port Vila Outdoor

  • Iritiki Island – This tiny island near Port Vila is a perfect dive spot. The sunset here is unbelievable.
  • Coongoola Day Cruise – Takes you to dive at Tranquillity Island and go around the turtle sanctuary.
  • Ambrym Volcano – Visiting this volcanic island is surely an adventure.
  • Mele Cascades – You should not miss this breathtaking scenery. The waterfalls are just splendid.
  • Summit Garden – There is just so much to see: banded iguanas, coconut crabs and even a cannibal house.

Port Vila Sport

  • Try the longest and most enthralling zorb rides at Wet N Wild Zorbing.
  • Dive and send your mail in the only underwater post office in the world.
  • Go horseback riding around Port Vila through Club Hippique.
  • Ride a 4WD or all-terrain vehicle around the island for an adrenaline rush.
  • Snorkel and be amazed at the Hideaway Island Marine Reserve.
 

Port Vila Events

Test your stamina with a 1.6km (1mi) or 3.2km (2mi) marathon swim around Iririki Island for the Vanuatu Ocean Swim in June.

July in Vanuatu brings the Big Bay Cultural Festival, including a Melanesian feast, magic fire, string band, art and crafts.

Magic geeks and Potter buffs mob Ambryn’s Magic Festival in July, where you can also witness an interesting ‘yam ceremony’.

It costs one pig to get initiated at the Ruan Cultural Festival in July, but the cash equivalent will also suffice.

Every Saturday from April to June is the Land Diving or Nagol Festival. This 30m (98ft) jump was the true original – and the inspiration for bungees around the world.

When To Go

  • The dry season lasts from May to October, when the temperature stays around a balmy 23ºC (73ºF)
  • Winter (June to August) is a popular time to visit, as there is less humidity.
  • November to April is the wet season. Expect heat, humidity and heavy rain.

Getting Around

  • If you have a seaworthy vessel, you can sail right into Port Vila once you’ve arranged your clearances.
  • Scooters are a fun way to get around.
  • Taxis are abundant and cheap, with most found near the market and Iririki Wharf.

General Information

The capital city of Vanuatu is home to 40,000 people, which makes it by far the most important commercial hub in the South Pacific archipelago nation. Port Vila is on the island of Efate, in the province of Shefa, and first came into contact with outsiders in the very early 17th century when explorers from Spain and Portugal came ashore.

Ever since then, the archipelago of volcanic origin has been desirable because of exquisite natural beauty, splendid tropical weather and most recently, as a largely unregulated tax haven. Though the tourism industry lacks the clout and sophistication of other South Pacific destinations, Vanuatu welcomes tens of thousands of visitors every year. Most come through the capital city of Port Vila, whose population has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Beaches remain a principal draw of course but when in the city, visitors should make every effort to immerse themselves in the unique indigenous culture of Vanuatu.

Attractions & Activities

Attractions

  • Erakor Island
  • Leleka
  • Underwater Post Office
  • Beaches
  • Bluewater Island Resort Aquarium
  • Activities

  • South Pacific Cruises
  • Atmosphere Tours
  • Buggy Fun Rentals
  • Adventures in Paradise
  • Mele Cascades
  • Restaurant & Nightlife

    Restaurants

  • Harbour View
  • Wild Ginger
  • La Casa
  • Chill
  • Ambrosia
  • Nightlife

  • Seaside Maewo
  • Anchor Inn
  • Rumours
  • Trader Vic's
  • Office Pub
  • Climate

    Other than heavy rainfall between November and April, Port Vila has a climate typical of the South Pacific, with temperatures between 20°C and 30°C throughout the year.

    Port Vila On Wikipedia


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    The Stunning Vanuatu Islands

    Hotels in Port Vila

    32 hotels in Port Vila, VU

    1 Coconut Palms Resort

    3 stars
    3.7 / 5 17 reviews

    1515 Map

    Experience the comfortable accommodation blended with a warm hospitality and unsurpassed service at the Coconut Palms Resort Port Vila. GeneralThe conference facility provided by the hotel makes... More

    2 Anabru Pacific Lodge

    3 stars
    5.0 / 5 1 reviews

    Mon Seigneur Doucer Rue (Anaburu Area) Map

    Assuring comfortable accommodation and quality amenities, Anabru Pacific Lodge Port Vila welcomes travellers for an unforgettable holiday in Vanuatu. Located in the immediate surrounding is the... More

    3 Melanesian Hotel Port Vila

    3 stars
    4.3 / 5 4 reviews

    Lini Highway Map

    Experience the comfortable accommodation blended with a warm hospitality and impeccable service at the Melanesian Hotel Port Vila. GeneralGuests travelling on business purpose can make use of the... More

    4 The Grand Hotel and Casino

    4 stars
    3.9 / 5 16 reviews

    Lini Highway Map

    Grand Hotel & Casino Vanuatu is a waterfront hotel in the centre of Port Vila, close to Iririki Island Resort. It also has vicinity to Coral Gardens, Hideaway Island Marine Reserve, Wet N Wild... More

    5 Hideaway Island Resort & Marine Sanctuary

    3 stars
    4.6 / 5 5 reviews

    Hideaway Island Map

    Whether it is for a constant action or complete relaxation, this small coral atoll is a custodian of one of Vanuatu's only marine sanctuaries, ideal for a more relaxing holiday. GeneralFor guests... More

    6 Moorings Hotel Port Vila

    3 stars
    3.3 / 5 6 reviews

    Lini Highway Map

    Known for its ambience and elegance, Moorings Hotel Port Vila makes for an ideal accommodation spot in Port Vila for all types of travellers. GeneralDuring leisure, Moorings Hotel Port Vila can... More

    7 Paray Lodge

    3 stars
    Not yet reviewed

    Nambatu Map

    Only few meters from the centre of Port Vila, Paray Lodge provides free parking and free Wi-Fi access. Rooms are simply furnished and have either a private or shared bathroom. Each room comes with... More

    8 Sunset Bungalows Resort

    4 stars
    4.8 / 5 9 reviews

    Teouma Rd, 2nd Lagoon Map

    Sunset Bungalows Resort Port Vila Exclusive Adults Only situated over the lagoon frontage, offering outstanding comfort and services in a unique tropical setting. GeneralDuring leisure, make use... More

    9 Warwick Le Lagon Resort and Spa Vanuatu

    4 stars
    4.3 / 5 11 reviews

    Erakor Lagoon Map

    Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa Vanuatu invites vacationers to elegantly furnished accommodations set in a 75-acre tropical paradise bounded by the pristine waters of the Pacific Coast. While in Port... More

    10 Poppys On The Lagoon

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 1 reviews

    Cook Avenue Map

    Poppys On The Lagoon Vanuatu offers vacationers a tropical retreat with comfortable accommodations, gracious service and idyllic location amidst a lush garden setting. This family-owned Vanuatu... More