Vanuatu Transport, Pacific Islands

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Vanuatu Transport

Image Source: John Nicholls. Riri River, Espiritu Santo Island
Riri River, Espiritu Santo Island
John Nicholls
(johnnicholls@vanuatu.com.vu)

There are many travel options for guests to Vanuatu. You can choose to travel by air, water or land.

Air – Domestic flights are provided by Vanair which offers scheduled flights to 29 destinations within the archipelago. Unity Airlines and Air Club Vila offer the option of charter flights.

Departure tax is usually included in airfares.

Water – There are infrequent ferries operating from Port Vila and Espiritu Santo to the northern and southern islands. Boat charters are also available.

Road – Visitors can travel by bus, taxi or hire a car. Buses are frequent and as most do not have a fixed timetable, the best way to catch a bus is to flag one down and tell the driver where you would like to go.

There are many taxis which are all metered, but a fixed rate may be agreed upon.

Those who wish to travel by private car can hire one from operators in Port Vila. Most will have a range of vehicles including 4WD and jeeps.

Car & motorcycle – You can hire cars and 4WD vehicles in Vila and Luganville, and scooters in Vila. The minimum age for renting a car is 23; for a scooter it's 17, provided you hold a valid driving licence.

An International Driving Licence is not needed, however, you must have held your licence for at least a year. There's a speed limit of 50km/h in Vila and Luganville, but once out of town speed is dictated by road conditions (often pretty terrible). Vehicles drive on the right and seatbelts are not compulsory. Most roads are either compacted coral or dirt tracks.

Bus & taxi – Public minibuses with a red B fixed to their numberplates operate in Vila, Luganville, eastern Santo and eastern Malekula. They don't run fixed routes but zoom to their passengers' various destinations. Flag them down by the roadside.

Taxis in Vila and Luganville are mostly conventional sedans, while in rural areas they're 4WD trucks with a red T on their number plates. Charges depend on distance, but also on the state of the road. Ask your chosen driver for a price. It will be honest and reasonable. A short trip in Vila might cost 400Vt, but a day charter will cost between 8000Vt and 12, 000Vt. The local taxis meet each flight at bush airfields, but they may not be around on Sunday and public holidays in rural areas.

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