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Port Vila, Vanuatu

Port-Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu. It is situated on the island of Efate in the province of Shefa. Port-Vila is slowly growing but remains a small and laid-back capital. The city extends across the length of Vila Bay, with parks, markets, and restaurants trailing the waterfront. Host to Vanuatu's largest harbor and airport, Port-Vila is a popular destination for cruise ships and a base for tours and adventure activities across the island of Efate.

Efate is an island in the Pacific Ocean which is part of the Shefa Province in The Republic of Vanuatu. It is also known as Île Vate.

It may not look like it, but Port Vila is one of the most multi-cultural towns on Earth. Its 40,000 Melanesian inhabitants come from over a hundred language and cultural groups and bring those languages and cultures with them when... Read more

Port Vila, Vanuatu

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Port-Vila is the capital and largest city of Vanuatu. It is situated on the island of Efate in the province of Shefa. Port-Vila is slowly growing but remains a small and laid-back capital. The city extends across the length of Vila Bay, with parks, markets, and restaurants trailing the waterfront. Host to Vanuatu's largest harbor and airport, Port-Vila is a popular destination for cruise ships and a base for tours and adventure activities across the island of Efate.

Efate is an island in the Pacific Ocean which is part of the Shefa Province in The Republic of Vanuatu. It is also known as Île Vate.

It may not look like it, but Port Vila is one of the most multi-cultural towns on Earth. Its 40,000 Melanesian inhabitants come from over a hundred language and cultural groups and bring those languages and cultures with them when they come to settle in the capital. All retain links with their home islands: ask someone on the street where they're from, and you're almost sure to get an answer other than "Port Vila". In addition to the ni-Vanuatu population, there is an assortment of Australians, New Zealanders, Europeans, Chinese, Indians and other expatriate nationalities who call Port Vila home.

Life in Port Vila is expensive. There is no income or corporation tax here, so the government must earn money instead with taxes and duties on goods, which were expensive anyway because of high transport costs. As a Western visitor, you'll find the prices mildly high, but to locals they're horrific. As a result, there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction in the air, particularly among young people who can find nothing to do apart from sperem pablik rod (stand around on the highway). However, this dissatisfaction is seldom aimed directly at the foreigners who have helped to create the problem by turning Vila into a tax haven, and mostly the local people continue to smile, enjoy life, and welcome visitors warmly. They do still live on a beautiful tropical island, after all.

During World War II, Efate served an important role as a United States military base.

Climate

Port Vila is tropical, and at times very hot, but during the June-August cool season, the weather can be surprisingly chilly by tropical standards. During these months, pack a sweater and don't expect to spend all day in the pool.

Survivor

Efate was used as the location 3 seasons the reality game show, Survivor. The island was used for season 9 of the American edition of Survivor (titled Survivor: Vanuatu - Islands of Fire), season 2 of Australian Survivor (titled Australian Celebrity Survivor: Vanuatu) and season 6 of the French edition (titled Koh-Lanta: Vanuatu). Much of the Survivor: Vanuatu and Australian Celebrity Survivor were filmed approximately 30 minutes from Port Vila near Mangililu and Gideon’s Landing, the latter of which is now a commonly visited tourist attraction.


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Port Vila, Vanuatu: Port Information


Cruise ships anchor offshore, and travelers are transported ashore by tender boats.
Besides, your cruise ship may dock at the commercial pier situated approximately 3 miles from the heart of the city. Usually, shuttle service is provided.

Get around Port Vila, Vanuatu


By bus

In Port Vila, the buses are mini-buses with a B on the number plate. They largely traverse the main roads and take you wherever you want to go. There are no scheduled services and are perhaps best thought of as cheap, but shared taxis. Wave at one that looks like it's heading in the right direction, and tells the driver where you want to go. The driver will either nod, in which case climb on board, or (less commonly) explain apologetically that he's in a hurry to get somewhere else, in which case wait for the next bus. Buses will stop pretty much anywhere (don't pay too much attention to Bus Stop signs), but try to be responsible and avoid stopping them in hazardous places like blind corners. Buses flashing their hazard indicator lights, or which flick their lights at you as they pass, are not in service. Pay the driver as you get off (or earlier if the driver needs change). 

The buses are very friendly, cheap, and easy to use; the only downside is the risk of a long detour, depending on where the other passengers want to go. Buses are plentiful within the city and outside the city, you can usually arrange for a bus to meet you at a particular time. There are significantly fewer buses on the road on Sundays, although if you wait a while you can usually find a bus even at slow times, including fairly late in the evening.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful within Port Vila. Fare is calculated per taxi. Around Port Vila, taxis can be hailed for journeys. They are unmetered so you should agree on a price with the driver beforehand. For short journeys around town, expect to pay a few hundred vatus.

Unfortunately, Port Vila is oversupplied with public transport, and charging relatively high fares to tourists traveling from the wharf is often the only way taxis can sustain a living. At other times there is some scope for negotiating the price (if you're in a group and a taxi driver seems really desperate for your business, try asking for "bus fare") but do not expect to be able to barter it down too much. If the fare seems high for the distance, this is mainly because importing fuel and car parts, like many things, is expensive in Vanuatu.

What to see in Port Vila, Vanuatu


  • National Museum of Vanuatu. Specializes its exhibits relating to the culture and history of Vanuatu. 
  • Evergreen Cascades Waterfall (10 kilometers outside Port Vila). Stands at a height of 35 meters and is famous for the natural pools that make it perfect spots for swimming. There are independent guided tours that lead to the cascades.
  • Mele Island. A small resort islet known as Hideaway Island. Offers snorkeling and glass bottom boat tours. It is 15 minutes boat access from the capital. There is the world's first underwater post office, opened in 2003.

What to do in Port Vila, Vanuatu


  • Port-Vila Markets, Kumul Hwy (On the waterfront). Mon-Sat, until late. In the center of town, the Port-Vila markets are a colorful assortment of produce, selling all manner of fruits, vegetables, and foodstuffs. Women leave their local villages and come here to sell wares. Across the waterfront are more markets selling more appealing goods for tourists, including carvings, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. Prices are marked and sellers rarely pressure to buy. Like many elements of Vanuatu, the laid-back and quiet approach of daily life can be found even in the market's atmosphere. 

What to eat and drink in Port Vila, Vanuatu


Eat

Budget Meals
  • Mama's Market. The large market in the center of town has Vanuatu-style meals. The food stall workers have been trained in food safety. Typical meals consist of rice, vegetables, and a protein, often in curry or soy sauce. There are also vendors selling take-away tuluk (like a chewy dumpling or tamale filled with meat) and lap-lap (root crop and coconut milk baked pudding, often with meat.)
  • Chinese stores. Many of the Chinese stores around town sell quick snacks like banana bread, egg sandwiches, and hard-boiled eggs. Chew Store and Tebakor are good.
  • Chinese takeaway. There are several inexpensive Chinese takeaways and restaurants around town. They usually have rice and egg or meat dishes. The quality varies but is not so bad.

Restaurant Options
  • Many restaurants in Port Vila have lunch special costing. This can be a very good deal compared with dinner prices.
  • Spice This is Port Vila's best Indian restaurant. It is located near Au Bon Marche 2.
  • L'Houstalet Local French place with pizza, pasta, and other dishes. The flying fox dish is famous.
  • Chill This overlooks Iririki Island, above the Sea View takeaway by the Mama's Market. It has a good lunch special.
  • Jill's Cafe This is the best western-style breakfast place. They also have salads, burgers, and Mexican dishes.
  • The Brewery Australian-style dinners, craft beer, and a good pizza special once a week.

Drink

Alcohol is reasonably expensive in Port Vila. Shops and kava bars are not allowed to sell alcohol on Saturdays after noon, or on Sundays.

The suburbs of Vila also contain literally hundreds of kava bars. Some are little more than garden sheds; a colored lantern outside indicates that kava is on sale. Tourists are an unfamiliar sight in most kava bars but are usually made very welcome. Some larger kava bars also sell beer, soft drinks, tobacco, and local food items. Most bars open at sunset (though a couple are open 24 hours a day) and close two or three hours later when the kava bucket has run out. Kava is much less likely to disagree with you if taken on an empty stomach - go to the kava bar before dinner, not after. Down your shell in one go, suck on a sweet to remove the taste from your mouth, then sit back and enjoy the relaxing effect. See the main Vanuatu page for some other important "do's and "don't's around kava drinking.

Shopping in Port Vila, Vanuatu


Duty-free alcohol and cigarettes are cheap in Port Vila.

Safety in Port Vila, Vanuatu


As developing-country capitals go, Port Vila is extremely friendly and safe, but petty crime is on the rise, so take usual precautions. Lone women should take particular care. Wandering the streets at night is best avoided due to dogs, drunks, and muddy potholes.

The tap water is safe to drink.

The malaria risk in Port Vila itself is reckoned to be minimal, but do take precautions against malaria if venturing out of town.

Language spoken in Port Vila, Vanuatu


English, French, and Bislama are the official languages. 

LOCAL TIME

6:49 pm
August 25, 2019
Pacific/Efate

CURRENT WEATHER

21.79 °C / 71.222 °F
light rain
Mon

22.95 °C/73 °F
light rain
Tue

23.38 °C/74 °F
broken clouds
Wed

23.59 °C/74 °F
sky is clear
Thu

22.76 °C/73 °F
heavy intensity rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

VUV

1 USD = 0 VUV
1 EUR = 0 VUV
1 GBP = 0 VUV
1 AUD = 0 VUV
1 CAD = 0 VUV

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By Переход Артур, english translation: Hk kng - Own work.Data sources :Background map : NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM3 v.2) (public domain)Softwares used :NASA datas edited with 3DEM from Visualization Software LLCVectorized with InkscapeThe Gimp ;Creation Map Tutorial (in french) from Sting (thanks to him)Slight enhancement of features in this english version made possible by http://www.avisvanuatu.com/images/efate.jpgOthers :UTM map projectionWGS84 geodetic system, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://comm Mele, Port Vila, Vanuatu
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