There is great variation in Vanuatu's climate. The north is tropical, the south subtropical. The dry season runs from May to October, the wet season extends from November to April. Cyclones are a possibility during the wet season.
When to fly to Vanuatu
The dry season - May to October - is when most visitors arrive on cheap flights to Vanuatu. The weather is warm, with temperatures averaging around 23 degrees. The school holidays are also very, very busy times on Vanuatu. If you are planning to go hiking, the cold season (June-August) is most comfortable. Visit Pentecost Island between April and June if you wish to see the locals practise Naghol (land diving). This is done in hopes of guaranteeing their yam harvest. On Tanna, the Toka (the clan dance) is held between August and November.
The wet season is low season. Temperatures are hot and steamy and January is the rainiest month.
November and December are shoulder season months when the weather is warm but not too hot.
Getting around Vanuatu
Rental cars (including 4WDs) are readily available for hire at Bauerfield International Airport (on Efate) or in Port Vila. Taxis are plentiful too and most are metered. Some taxis will operate a fixed-fare per specific journey.
There are buses too. You simply flag them down at the side of the road.
Walking is a great way of getting around Port Vila.
Air Vanautu operates inter-island flights - Port Vila to Santo for example, or Port Vila to Tanna. There are charter airlines that include Unity Airlines (offer volcano tours to Mount Yasur) and Air Safaries (flies to the volcanos and offers tours to Tanna and Ambrym).
Boat service is provided by Fresh Cargo, Ifira Shipping Agencies and Toara Coastal Shipping. P&O Cruises also offers cruises around Vanuatu.
Vanuatu insider information
- In the waters off Santo lies the US President Coolidge, one of the best wreck dive sites in the world. Million Dollar Point is a few kilometres away. Here lie US Army equipment, bulldozed into the sea after the Second World War, rather than transported back to the USA. The name comes from the value of the equipment that was discarded. For night divers, the Henry Bonneaud lies on the edge of the Bokissa Island coral reef, just a few minutes from the Bokissa wharf.
- A visit to a Kava bar is a must-do while on Vanuatu. This derivative of the pepper tree family is a wonderful relaxant if a not quite delicious drink in its own right. The local beer is called Tusker, brewed in Port Vila.
- Get up close to a lava-spitting, smoke-belching volcano. Yasur is on Tanna Island. It's just a 10-minute walk up the cone. It's most spectacular at night, but keep your distance, tourists are at risk from the toxic gas and projectiles.
- Tipping is not customary in Vanuatu, and haggling is not done either.
- Mele Cascades is the most spectacular waterfall in Vanuatu. It's just 15 minutes from Port Vila.
- Just off Hideaway Island near Port Vila, is the world's only underwater post office. The post office is three metres under water about 50 metres off shore. The postcards - waterproof naturally - are collected by trained scuba divers from Vanuatu Post and forwarded to their destinations.