Port Vila is the capital and sits in the picturesque Vila Bay. I splurged a little for my time here and stayed in an overwater villa at the Holiday Inn. There are plenty of excellent options available for the budget conscious traveller though. The Holiday Inn is a only a few minutes from the centre of town but it is one of the best resorts I have spent time at. Private beaches, golf course, sailing & kayaking – you name it, it is probably on offer here.
If it is within your budget, and you’re planning on spending a good proportion of your time at the resort then I can’t recommend the overwater villas highly enough. Walking off your balcony into the clear, fish filled waters is a great way to start the new day.
If you want to see more of what Efate Island has to offer, there are many day tours of the island that take in all there is on offer. These were relatively cheap and made for a great day out. Seeing the native flora & fauna and checking out the beach locations around the island was great. Playing with the massive (but harmless) spiders not so great.
The rainforests are great to explore. Logging was never an industry here and some of the trees are hundreds of years old and the majority of the rainforest remains untouched aside from the roads & paths. The beach stops along the way are picturesque and the water is always warm!
One thing I would absolutely recommend you make time for in your stay is a day trip to Tanna Island. The islands volcano, Mount Yasur is still very much active and with laid back safety measures you can get real close to the bubbling lava. This was a once in a lifetime experience but you will need to be at least moderately fit to make the trip. And, unlike myself, make sure you wear footwear suitable for climbing up mountains – it’s only 15 minutes or so but it’s hard work! There are great photo opportunities for those who are willing to risk their safety. I will never forget our guide showing me a boulder halfway up the volcano and telling me that it wasn’t there last week…
But it really is a once in a lifetime experience. The volcano erupts on a minor scale every 5 minutes or so and a bigger one every half hour – of course nature is unpredictable and I am certainly no expert! Even the flight to & from Tanna Island is breathtaking – particularly the return leg – flying back over the Island and over the ocean into the sunset.
A short bus ride from Port Vila (about 10km) are the Mele Cascades. A series of waterfalls winding through the rainforest. It is a scenic 15 minute walk from the base to the top waterfall and once you are over the halfway mark you will start to be really rewarded for your hard work. Make sure you allow for half a day to see the cascades and enjoy your time there, it isn’t a place I would rush through – my number 1 recommendation for the Port Vila area.
Just some helpful tips if you decide to visit:
Be sure to wear footwear that has some grip in the wet as some places are quite slippery.
The entry fee is about AU$25 per person, so it isn’t cheap, but the money goes back to the local community. And try to pick a time to visit following some rain – the cascades are far more enjoyable when there is a good flow of water! And of course, don’t forget your swimwear – the water isn’t tropical but it is refreshing after the walk up.