Crystal clear waters, pristine beaches, and friendly locals are just a few things that set Port Vila, Vanuatu apart as a destination on an Australia cruise. While it may not be as big of a name as other places on your bucket list, Port Vila offers cultural and natural experiences that you shouldn’t miss when you’re stopped on a Port Vila cruise.
Enjoy an informative afternoon at the National Museum of Vanuatu, where you can discover new tidbits of regional knowledge and culture dating back thousands of years. Go shopping for duty-free and affordable trinkets at the Port Vila Markets. When you venture beyond the wharf to the Mele Cascades or Hideaway Island, you’ll discover clear lagoons perfect for swimming, cascading waterfalls, and the world’s one and only underwater post office. The quirkiness of Port Vila is just part of what makes it an unforgettable stop on a Celebrity cruise.
Learn more than ever before about the history of the South Pacific islands and the culture and traditions of Vanuatu at the National Museum of Vanuatu. The Cultural Centre offers performances and displays that any visitors to Vila must experience to gain a full, nuanced understanding of this destination.
The Mele Cascades, a popular swimming and relaxation spot for travelers and locals alike, are less than 10 miles away from the center of town. Witness the 100-foot tall waterfall flowing into a cool natural swimming pool, and take a dip surrounded by rainforest.
Hope on a 24-hour ferry to Erakor Island, a resort island where a day pass can get you access to excellent kayaking and snorkeling as well as fine dining at the resort’s restaurant. Erakor Island is a great way to relax and enjoy Vila to its fullest without having to make too many logistical decisions.
This waterfront market offers a romantic, vibrant experience for tourists as well as a glimpse into local life. Vendors hawk their fresh seafood, produce, and handmade goods, including fabrics and billowing dresses. It’s open 24 hours for round-the-clock people watching.
This private resort island is undergoing a bit of a renaissance, where new features like spas and infinity pools bring a sense of luxury to the otherwise chill Vanuatu. While stopped on your Port Vila cruise, you can snorkel the crystal clear waters, then enjoy a massage at the spa for ultimate relaxation.
Close to the center of town, a trip to the Ekasup Cultural Village is a must to experience an authentic kastom village, where you’ll learn all about village life, traditional cuisine, and witness culturally significant dances and traditions native to the Vanuatu area.
Not far from Mele Beach is Hideaway Island, which is equal parts beachy and quirky. After all, it’s the home of the world’s only underwater post office. You can even send an underwater postcard back home. Snorkeling and swimming are must-do activities on Hideaway Island too.
Jill’s is the definition of unpretentious and no-frills, offering American diner classics like burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches at an ideal price point. Grab an iced coffee before a day of exploring, or sit down for comfort foods and a sweet milkshake on a hot afternoon.
Seafood, pizza, and pasta in a laid-back, family-friendly environment are what makes Chill live up to its name. Coconut crab, lobster, creamy fettuccine with shrimp, and entire plates of every kind of catch imaginable ensure you won’t leave hungry.
French and Pacific cuisine fuse together in the dishes at Au Faré. On Saturday nights, there are even fire dancing performances. Try the carpaccio or catch of the day marinated in delicious sauces. They also offer steak and other hearty entrees. Enjoy the waterfront views, and be sure to snag a table outside if the weather is nice.
Vanuatu was once a part of the Tongan Empire dating back to the 1300s. The islands were later called the “New Hebrides” by Europeans in the 1700s, where French and English colonizers took control of the area and switched hands multiple times. Vanuatu found independence after World War II. Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu and is an important port city. Christianity is the most commonly practiced religion in the area today. The city had to quickly rebuild after a tropical cyclone wreaked havoc to Port Vila in 2015, and today it is slowly growing in popularity as a tourist destination.
The main wharf tends to be surrounded by cargo or fishing boats, so be prepared that you won’t dock at a typical commercial terminal. It would take about half an hour or longer to get to the center of town, so taxis and buses often pick up passengers right from the wharf pathway.
Vila has a comprehensive local bus system, plus plenty of water taxis along Wharf Road. Taxis are pricier here because cruise ships coming into town tend to add a big jump in the population of the area. In general, unless you’re heading to Mele Cascades outside of the city, you should be able to get by on foot just fine.
The Port Vila cruise terminal area is known for its duty-free shopping, particularly at the local markets, where shoes and bags are sold at low prices. The Vanuatu Craft Market is another popular option for tourists who want to bring back locally made goods and support Vanuatuan artisans, particularly clothing makers, artists, and jewelry makers. The Australian dollar tends to go further when you’re duty-free shopping here.
The local currency is the Ni-Vanuatu Vatu, abbreviated as VT. Sometimes Australian dollars are also accepted in Vanuatu, and it is helpful to get some cash out from the ATM while you’re here. Many higher-end establishments at Port Vila accept credit cards. Tipping and haggling aren’t the norm here.