The top ten things to do in Vanuatu from fearsome volcanoes and underwater wrecks to stunning beaches and authentic villages.


1. Mount Yasur Volcano: Remember the time you gawped at The Great Pyramids and thought ‘This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen?’ Prepare yourself for Mount Yasur on Tanna Island – it will usurp nearly everything that has come before. One of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes, Yasur spits lava high in the sky forming heart-stopping fireworks in the night-time sky.

Watch our video of Mount Yasur for a taster. Transfers can be organised through your hostel (we recommend Port Resolution).

2. SS Coolidge: Vanuatu is littered with some of the best wreck dives in the Pacific. Its jewel in the crown is the SS President Coolidge which attracts divers from all over the world. Taken down by mines in 1942, the liner now lies off the coast of Espiritu Santo (‘Santo’ for short). The depths are between 25 to 60 metres so you will need to be PADI qualified. We recommend Aore Adventures.

3. Millennium Cave Tour: A day of caving, canyoning, trekking and swimming, the Millennium Cave Tour on Santo is one of the most thrilling things to do in Vanuatu. Watch a video of our experience in Exploring the dark depths of Millennium Cave and book through Wrecks to Rainforest.

4. Mele Cascades: An easy walk followed by a slippery 10-minute trek across rivers and rock leads you to Mele Cascades, a small but mighty waterfall with a refreshing pool at the bottom (don’t miss the hidden cave!). A short drive from Port Vila, Mele can be reached by taxi or by negotiating with a bus driver who’ll take you there for a bit extra (technically, the 200 vatu standard fee only applies to journeys within Port Vila). If you have the budget, try abseiling down the waterfall!

5. Little Beach: We’re not even sure if this beach has an ‘official’ name. A five-minute walk from Port Resolution Yacht Club on the east side of Tanna Island, this stunning beach is completely secluded nearly all day, every day – just ask Port Resolution’s Werry to point the way. Read more about our time on Tanna in Untouched by tourism.

6. Matevulu Blue Hole: With beautiful blue water in a lovely serene setting, Matevulu is a 15-minute drive from Santo’s capital of Luganville. Once there, you can hire kayaks from nearby Oyster Island Resort and make the 45-minute crossing to the Blue Hole (or just prebook onto one of their tours). If you have snorkel gear, take it with you.

7. Mount Hope Waterfall: Float down a river that snakes its way to a gorgeous waterfall and enjoy a walk through a lush rainforest reminiscent of James Cameron’s Avatar. Book a tour through the nearby Oyster Island Resort, designed to give you an insight into the culture and customs of the area’s indigenous people.

8. Champagne Beach: Located on the northeast end of Santo, Champagne Beach is said to be one of the best in the South Pacific. With powdery white sands and colours straight from a brochure, this little gem will not disappoint. While it’s a popular tourist and cruise ship destination, it remains relatively uncrowded compared with its peers around the world.

9. The Summit Gardens: The largest tropical garden in the South Pacific, Summit comprises 11 gardens spread over 10 hectares of land. A 20-minute drive from Port Vila on Efate, the gardens offer unparalleled views of Vanuatu’s flora and fauna. Get there by taxi or bus, or book a package through The Summit Vanuatu.

10. Ekasup Village: While it does have a slightly contrived feel to it, the Ekasup Cultural Village Tour in Efate provides an interesting look at local Ni-Van life. You’ll hear about traditional customs including hunting and fishing the traditional way, and be treated to a show at the end of the tour. Book through Adventures in Paradise.

Lonely Planet Vanuatu & New Caledonia is a comprehensive guide to Vanuatu, ideal for those who want to explore the top things to do in Vanuatu as well as take the road less travelled.

Lead image: Dreamstime