Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu. The beauty of Port Vila puts other Oceanic capitals to shame. The city was built around Vila Bay, and the French atmosphere provided by cafes and rambling streets makes it a wonderfully romantic destination. The steep hillsides offer incredible views of the harbor and its islets, inlets and lagoons, and the friendly population quickly makes the capital feel like home.
Best Time to Visit
Thanks to Vanuatu’s beautiful tropical climate, the weather is generally good all year round, however conditions are at their best from April to October when temperatures are a comfortable 18°C to 28°C.
Top Places to Visit in Vanuatu
1. National Museum of Vanuatu
This excellent museum, in a soaring traditional building opposite the parliament, has a well-displayed collection of traditional artefacts such as tamtam (slit gongs or slit drums), outrigger canoes, ceremonial headdresses, shell jewellery and examples of Lapita and Wusi pottery. There’s an interesting photographic display on the unearthing of Chief Roi Mata’s burial site. One-hour guided tours include a traditional instrument demonstration and sand drawing.
2. Mele Cascades
This popular and photogenic swimming spot is 10km from Port Vila. A series of clear aquamarine pools terrace up the hillside, culminating in an impressive 35m waterfall flowing into a natural plunge pool. A slippery path with guide ropes directs you to the top. There are toilets, change rooms and a cafe-bar with free wi-fi at the entrance. Go out by local minibus (250VT), or take a guided tour with Evergreen.
3. Hideaway Island
Ten minutes away from the city is one of the world’s last remaining unspoiled island paradises. Hideaway Island is surrounded by crystal-clear azure waters, and thousands of fish swim among the colorful coral reefs. It is one of the country’s only marine sanctuaries and home to the world’s sole underwater post office.
4. Mangaliliu Village
Tours of the village leave from the capital every day, and visitors can hire local guides to take them through the magnificent jungles and rainforest. The villagers are happy to show travelers how they have relied on the forests to sustain their livelihoods for centuries, and visitors can relax on the pristine beaches, take cruises on outrigger canoes or learn how to fish in the traditional style.
One of the best times to visit the city is in June, when the streets of Port Vila erupt in celebrations for World Music Day. Professional and amateur musicians perform free concerts throughout the city, locals feast on traditional delicacies and the parties do not stop until the wee hours. Water sports are popular with both locals and visitors, and the coast of Port Vila offer many opportunities for marine fun. Ocean-walker tours combine Scuba diving and snorkeling, allowing visitors to explore the world of coral and tropical fish in their natural environment.