Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port: What To Know And Best Things To Do

Come find out all you need to know about visiting the Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port so you can make the most out of your day.

No matter which cruise line you are traveling with I will let you know all about visiting including top tips, how to get around, the best shore excursions, and more for your visit!


Welcome to Vanuatu, and more specifically the island of Efate. Here is where you can find the Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port where tens of thousands of visitors arrive each year to explore this incredible country.

Cruise ships dock at Port Vila’s commercial pier, on Wharf Road, which is about three kilometers southwest away from the center of town. The port is a gateway to Vanuatu’s rich cultural heritage and the incredible island of Efate.

However if you only have one day is it really possible to explore the best of Port Vila, how do you get around, and what else do you need to know?

Lucky for you I have been there, made those mistakes, and learned my lessons which I will share with you. Whether you are keen to explore the beaches, some inland attractions, check out the jungle, or have a cultural experience there is something here for everyone.

So let’s get into all you need to know about exploring Cruise Port Vila Vanuatu so you can make the most out of your day. This includes why Port Vila is worth getting off the ship, top tips, things to do, getting around, and more!


swaying palm trees in an overgrown field in port vila
swaying palm trees in an overgrown field in port vila

Why Do Cruises Visit Port Vila

Cruise ships make Port Vila, the captivating capital of Vanuatu, a sought-after destination for both cruise lines and passengers. Here’s why Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port is a top choice:

1. Natural Beauty: Nestled on the picturesque island of Efate, Port Vila is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. From lush rainforests to cascading waterfalls, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters, this tropical paradise is a visual feast for cruise passengers seeking a slice of heaven.

2. Diverse Shore Excursions: Port Vila offers an array of shore excursions tailored to diverse interests. Whether you’re into snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking to waterfalls, exploring cultural villages, or ziplining through the jungle, there’s something for every adventurer to enjoy.

3. Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in Vanuatu’s rich and unique culture by visiting traditional villages, witnessing customary dances, and engaging with the friendly locals. The authenticity of these cultural experiences is a major attraction at Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port.

4. Adventure and Water Sports: Port Vila is an adventure playground with adrenaline-pumping activities like jet skiing, parasailing, and off-road buggy tours. Diving enthusiasts flock to the region for world-class sites, including the famous “SS President Coolidge” wreck.

5. Shopping and Souvenirs: Explore local markets and shops to find handicrafts, artwork, traditional textiles, and unique souvenirs that capture the essence of Vanuatu.

6. Culinary Delights: Indulge in the diverse culinary scene that blends Melanesian, French, and Asian influences. Savor local delicacies like fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and mouthwatering coconut-based dishes.

7. Scenic Beauty: Port Vila’s harbor is a sight to behold, surrounded by lush green hills. Enjoy scenic boat rides and harbor tours to admire this natural beauty from a unique perspective.

8. Friendly Locals: Vanuatu’s warm and welcoming hospitality is a highlight of any visit. Cruise passengers often forge memorable connections with locals eager to share their culture and traditions.

9. Ease of Access: Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port is well-equipped to handle cruise ships, featuring a modern terminal and passenger facilities that ensure a convenient and comfortable experience for all.

orange sunset with yachts lined up at port vila
orange sunset with yachts lined up at port vila
a beautiful sunset while departing vila vanuatu cruise port
a beautiful sunset while departing vila vanuatu cruise port
looking down at my watershoes while in front of rarru cascades in port vila
taking a refreshing dip at rarru cascades on our day at vila vanuatu cruise port

Top Tips For Cruisers In Port Vila

Now if you are a first-time visitor to the Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port here are some helpful tips so you can make the most out of your visit:

  • While major credit cards are accepted in many places, it’s advisable to have some local currency on hand. You can exchange money at banks, ATMs, or exchange bureaus. Having small bills is helpful for making purchases at local markets.
  • Vanuatu enjoys a tropical climate, so pack sunscreen with a high SPF, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. Lightweight, breathable clothing is a must, and consider bringing a light rain jacket in case of unexpected showers.
  • The warm, tropical climate can lead to dehydration. Carry a reusable water bottle and fill it up regularly to stay hydrated, especially if you’re active and exploring the island.
  • While you can explore Port Vila independently, booking shore excursions through your cruise line or reputable local operators can simplify the process and provide valuable insights from knowledgeable guides. Popular excursions include waterfall hikes, snorkeling tours, and cultural experiences.
  • Bargaining is not as common in Vanuatu as in some other destinations, but it’s acceptable in local markets. When haggling, be polite and respectful, and remember that the prices are often already reasonable.
  • English and Bislama are the primary languages spoken in Vanuatu, but locals appreciate it when visitors make an effort to learn a few basic phrases in Bislama. Simple greetings and expressions can go a long way in enhancing your interactions with locals.
  • Practice responsible tourism by respecting the marine environment. Don’t touch or disturb coral reefs, avoid littering, and steer clear of products made from endangered species.
  • Consider taking tours offered by local operators. These tours often provide a more authentic and intimate experience, allowing you to explore hidden gems and support the local economy.
  • Pay attention to the scheduled arrival and departure times of your cruise ship. Arrive back at the port well before the ship’s departure time to avoid being left behind.
  • Look for duty-free shopping opportunities at the port for items like alcohol, perfume, and luxury goods. These can be more affordable than onboard purchases.
waiting on the front of the ship while at port in vila vanuatu
waiting on the front of the ship while at port in vila vanuatu
the bows of the cruise ship starting to pull away from the port in port vila vanuatu
starting to pull away from the port after a busy day

Local Etiquette and Customs To Be Aware Of

Understanding and respecting the local etiquette and customs is not only a sign of courtesy but also a key to truly immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The people of this South Pacific paradise hold their traditions and community values dear, making it essential for visitors to approach their interactions with respect and cultural sensitivity.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling markets, participating in a traditional ceremony, or visiting a local village, being aware of these local customs will enhance your experience and foster positive connections with the warm and welcoming people of Port Vila

In Port Vila, as in the rest of Vanuatu, greetings are important. When you meet someone, offer a friendly “Bula!” or “Hello!” Handshakes are common, and a warm smile goes a long way in establishing rapport.

Elders hold a special place in Vanuatu’s society. Show respect to older individuals by using polite language and listening attentively when they speak.

Always ask for permission before taking photos of locals or their property. Some people may not be comfortable with photography, so it’s crucial to respect their privacy.

Kava is a traditional and symbolic drink in Vanuatu. If invited to participate in a kava ceremony, do so respectfully. Sit cross-legged and wait for your turn to receive the kava cup. Clap once before and after drinking, and express appreciation for the gesture.

When visiting villages or attending cultural events, dress modestly. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, swimwear, or short shorts in these settings.

Lastly, time in Vanuatu can be more flexible than in Western cultures, it’s still important to be punctual for tours or appointments out of respect for others’ time.

the sunset sky starting to change to pink hues while we cruise past small islands as we leave port vila vanuatu
the sunset sky starting to change to pink hues while we cruise past small islands as we leave port vila vanuatu

Getting Around Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port

No doubt Port Vila is a dream destination for cruise enthusiasts, offering an enticing mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventure. When your cruise ship docks at the Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port, you’ll want to make the most of your time exploring this tropical paradise.

One of the key aspects of your visit is figuring out how to get around Port Vila efficiently and comfortably.


Walking

Port Vila is a relatively compact city, making it perfect for exploring on foot.

The Vila Vanuatu cruise port is conveniently located within walking distance of the town center, where you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, markets, and attractions.

Stroll along the waterfront promenade to soak in the picturesque views of the harbor, or meander through the streets to discover the local culture and vibe of Port Vila.


Taxis

Taxis are a popular and readily available mode of transportation in Port Vila. You can easily flag down a taxi near the cruise port or book one through your cruise ship or local service providers.

Always make sure to agree on the fare with the driver before starting your journey, as taxis in Vanuatu may not always have meters.

locals waving while passing us on the road in a white truck in port vila vanuatu
locals waving while passing us on the road
walking down one of the roads in port vilas countryside
walking down one of the roads in port vilas countryside

Mini Buses

Look out for the colorful minibusses known as “buses” by the locals. These are a budget-friendly and authentic way to explore Port Vila and its surroundings.

They follow set routes and can be flagged down anywhere along their path. Mini-buses are an excellent option for reaching popular attractions such as the Mele Cascades Waterfall.


Rental Cars

For those who prefer the freedom to explore at their own pace, rental cars are available from various agencies in Port Vila.

Remember that traffic in Vanuatu drives on the right side of the road, and road conditions can vary. Be cautious, especially if you’re not accustomed to driving in this part of the world.


Tours and Excursions

To make the most of your limited time in Port Vila, consider booking organized tours and excursions through your cruise ship or local tour operators.

These guided adventures can take you to popular attractions, like the stunning Blue Lagoon or cultural villages, without the hassle of planning transportation.

If this sounds like something you would be interested reach out to the following tour operators:


Water Taxis

Since Port Vila is situated on a picturesque harbor, water taxis are a unique and convenient way to get around.

They can take you to nearby islands, beaches, and snorkeling spots, offering a scenic journey along the way.

stormy skies rolling over while looking over at port vila from our cruise ship
stormy skies rolling over while looking over at port vila from our cruise ship

Things To Do In Port Vila

When your cruise ship docks at Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port, you’ll find yourself at the gateway to a tropical paradise. Here are some of the must-do activities to make the most of your visit to Port Vila.


Explore Mele Cascades

Nestled within the heart of the lush Efate rainforest, Mele Cascades is a natural wonder that beckons with its emerald-green foliage and pristine waterfalls.

As you embark on the guided trek through this verdant paradise, knowledgeable local guides will share the secrets of the rainforest, highlighting unique plant species and wildlife that call it home.

The refreshing journey culminates in a series of cascading waterfalls, where you can take a dip in the cool, crystalline pools, surrounded by the serene sounds of nature.

Mele Cascades offers a tranquil escape, an opportunity to reconnect with the environment, and a chance to unwind in the midst of captivating natural beauty.


Discover the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular and beautiful attractions in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. It is a natural pool of clear blue water surrounded by lush greenery and coral reefs.

The Blue Lagoon is a great place to relax, swim, snorkel, or have fun with the rope swings and platforms. It is easily accessible by car, bus, bike, or tour from Port Vila, and is pretty affordable to enter.

If you are interested in visiting The Blue Lagoon your cruise ship should have it as a shore excursion available to book. Alternatively, you can wait until you arrive at Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port and join up with one of the taxi drivers offering tours around the island.

tourists swimming in the blue lagoon port vila
tourists swimming in the blue lagoon port vila

Visit Ekasup Cultural Village

A visit to Ekasup Cultural Village is a journey into the heart of Vanuatu’s living culture. This authentic village experience allows you to connect with the welcoming Ni-Vanuatu people and participate in their traditional way of life.

As you enter the village, friendly locals adorned in traditional attire greet you with warm smiles. Witness captivating customary dances that recount ancestral tales and rituals, and embrace the opportunity to try your hand at traditional crafts such as weaving and carving.

The highlight of the visit is undoubtedly the kava ceremony, where you can partake in this revered traditional drink and share in a moment of cultural exchange.

Ekasup Cultural Village provides a genuine and immersive insight into Vanuatu’s rich heritage, offering a chance to appreciate the deep-rooted traditions that continue to shape this unique island nation.

If you are interested in visiting Ekasup Cultural Village your cruise ship should have it as a shore excursion available to book.


Cruise Ship Markets

When your cruise ship docks at Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port, you’ll have the opportunity to explore unique markets set up right at the port, offering an array of goods and local handicrafts.

These cruise ship markets are designed to provide passengers with a convenient and culturally immersive shopping experience without venturing far from the ship.

walking through the market with stalls set up on each side while walking towards the ship. these are set up each time there is a ship at vila vanuatu cruise port
walking through the market while heading towards the ship at vila vanuatu cruise port

Relax on Hideaway Island

Hideaway Island, a short boat ride from Port Vila, is a secluded paradise where you can unwind and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Vanuatu.

The island is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, making it a snorkeler’s paradise. Don your mask and fins to explore vibrant coral gardens teeming with marine life.

For those seeking relaxation, the island’s pristine beaches are the perfect spot to soak up the sun and listen to the gentle lapping of waves.

Hideaway Island is also famous for its underwater post office, allowing you to send a unique postcard from the depths of the ocean, a memorable keepsake of your visit.


Jet Ski and Water Sports

Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port provides a gateway to a world of thrilling water sports adventures.

Jet skiing along the picturesque coastline offers an adrenaline rush and panoramic views of the island.

Parasailing takes you to new heights, allowing you to soar above the glistening waters.

Paddleboarding offers a more serene experience as you glide across the tranquil surface.

Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast or simply looking for an active way to explore the coastal beauty, the water sports options at the port cater to various preferences.


Rarru Cascades

Rarru Cascades, tucked away near Port Vila, Vanuatu’s lively capital, is a nature lover’s paradise.

Located just 15 kilometers from the city center along the Rentapao River, it’s the standout attraction among the river’s numerous waterfalls and rapids, cherished by tourists and locals alike.

Here, you’ll discover a serene oasis where the water is clear and refreshing, surrounded by lush greenery.

It’s a place for adventure, whether you’re into swimming, cliff jumping, water slides, or the thrill of swinging from a rope into the pristine pools. If relaxation is more your style, there’s a wooden platform with a stunning waterfall view, perfect for soaking in the natural beauty of Rarru Cascades.

a man jumping off a swing rope at rarru cascades in port vila
jumping off a swing rope at rarru cascades in port vila
appreciating the jungle views at rarru cascades on our tour while at vila vanuatu cruise port
appreciating the jungle views at rarru cascades on our tour while at vila vanuatu cruise port

Harbor Cruise

A harbor cruise in Port Vila provides a unique vantage point to appreciate the stunning scenery of the island. From the boat, you can take in the picturesque harbor views surrounded by lush green hills.

Harbor cruises often include opportunities for swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters, where you might encounter colorful marine life.

Some lucky travelers even get a chance to spot playful dolphins leaping alongside the boat.

The serene and leisurely pace of a harbor cruise offers a relaxed way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Port Vila and its coastal surroundings.


Full-Day Shore Excursions In Port Vila

If you are looking for a memorable way to spend your day in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, you will be spoilt for choice with the variety of shore excursions available.


Tranquility Island & Turtle Sanctuary

If you are looking for a shore excursion that combines fun, nature, and conservation, you might want to consider the Tranquility Island & Turtle Sanctuary tour.

This tour will take you to Moso Island, a small and pristine island off the coast of Efate, where you will enjoy a day of snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and learning about the endangered Hawksbill turtles.

The Turtle Sanctuary raises baby Hawksbill turtles until they are 12 months old, then tags and releases them into the wild.

You will get to see and interact with these adorable creatures, learn about their life cycle and threats, and even adopt or sponsor a turtle if you wish.

You will also get to tour the conservatory, where you will see how the staff care for the turtles and their environment.

After visiting the Turtle Sanctuary, you will have some free time to explore the island and enjoy its natural beauty.


Bridges Of Eden

This tour will take you to Eden on the River, a lush eco-paradise on the island of Efate, where you will navigate across a series of suspension bridges along the Retnapao River.

You will enjoy magnificent views of the rainforest and the river, as well as some fun and excitement along the way.

The circuit consists of four bridges that span between 23 to 52 meters long and range between 2 to 4 meters above the river.

As you cross the bridges, you will be amazed by the beauty of the surrounding nature. You will see a variety of plants and flowers, such as orchids, hibiscus, and ferns. You will also hear the sounds of birds and insects, such as parrots, kingfishers, and cicadas.


Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Come find out all you need to know about visiting the Vila Vanuatu Cruise Port so you can make the most out of your day. No matter which cruise line you are traveling with I will let you know all about visiting including top tips, how to get around, the best shore excursions, and more for your visit!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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