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Vanuatu has just reopened to international visitors. Here’s what you need to know about a trip there.

In March 2020, I returned from a blissful few days in the turquoise waters of the South Pacific, mere days before Australia shut its borders to the outside world for two years.

Vanuatu was my last contact with the international community until 2022, and ever since, I've thought about it often. 

I consider myself an avid traveller, having spent all of my spare cash in my 20s on overseas adventures. But I'd always had my sights set on places like Greece and Mexico and places far, far away. Thanks to my tunnel vision, I'd never bothered to check out my own backyard. 

And boy, was I missing out.

Vanuatu is a leisurely 3.5 hour flight from Sydney (I went via Air Vanuatu, and they were fab), and holy wow was it beautiful. 

Here's everything you need to know about travelling there in 2022, and exactly what to pop on your bucket list. 

The COVID check-list. 

Vanuatu is open to international travellers as of today, July 1. 

To enter, you simply need to provide a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result from within 24 hours of departure or, if you've recently had COVID, a certificate of infection and recovery from within 28 days of departure.

Once in the country, there's no testing on arrival, however if you test positive while over there you'll need to isolate for seven days in a government designated facility, (this includes hotels and resorts that have been approved).

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If you are over 18, you must be fully vaccinated. 

For more info, the Vanuatu Tourism Office has you covered, here.

Ok, so where do I stay? 

I stayed in two different locations, both completely different.

Havannah Boat House sat nestled in the palm trees of Efate, the main island of Vanuatu. 

It was brand new when we checked in and is run by an Australian family with an impeccable eye for style. 

It was everything you could want in a tropical getaway; beautiful high ceilings, with open areas to laze and drink cocktails. 

Where we ate breakfast every morning. Image: Gemma Bath. 

A stunning pool with views over the water. Luxurious bedrooms with big open bathrooms that were modern but authentic at the same time. 

Beside the waterfront was a dining area where you could tuck into the fish of the day barefoot, and we spent our days getting massages and learning to weave baskets with the locals at The Making Place, which was a short stroll away on Havannah Boat House's grounds.

 My room at Havannah Boat House. Image: Gemma Bath.  

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It was bliss. And since spending a few days there in 2020, I've gotten engaged. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't looked into whether they do weddings... (spoiler: they do!).

Set up like a big private residence with central dining areas and room for up to 12 guests, it's the perfect place for family get-togethers or intimate events. 

The other place I stayed was on a tiny island off Santo in a place called Ratua Island Resort and Spa.

All 146 acres of the island belong to the resort, and it offered a barefoot eco-lodge experience that I can only explain with one word: tranquil. 

Ratua from above. Image: Vanuatu Tourism. 

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 'Monkey' my home on Ratua. Image: Gemma Bath. 

 I've never seen water like it. Image: Gemma Bath. 

I felt a million miles away from the world here, (in the best way). The 200-year old buildings that made up the accommodation were authentic and rustic, with their own private beach entrances. 

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It was unbelievably romantic. The kind of place where you lock yourself up with your lover for a week of snorkelling, massages and kava. 


What is there to do?

Get. In. The. Water. 

I've never seen anything like it; see-through turquoise water, and incredible colourful coral. During my snorkelling adventures, I found myself spotting dozens of electric blue starfish nestled amongst purple and orange sea-beds. 

The locals also had us on the lookout for dugongs, which are often seen in and around the islands. 

My own private snorkelling spot outside 'Monkey' on Ratua. Image: Gemma Bath. 

Blue holes are a must-do while you're there. They occur where pure freshwater flows underground from the mountains protruding up onto the surface and form a crystal blue oasis.  

They are all over, but I can personally recommend Matevulu Blue Hole, which was a popular lunch spot for locals to plonk themselves, but perfect for visitors to spend an afternoon socialising and swimming. 

Matevulu Blue Hole. Image: Gemma Bath. 

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 Malo Blue Hole. Image: Gemma Bath. 

From the moment I arrived in Vanuatu, the people were welcoming and kind. For a taste of Vanuatu culture, the Leweton Cultural Village was worth a visit. 

The village has been set up to accommodate visitors, so it is slightly 'touristy', but it didn't stop me loving the traditional warrior welcome dance or the women's water music show (where they slap the water with their hands and bodies to make sounds). 

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It was great to immerse myself in some culture at Leweton Cultural Village. Image: Gemma Bath.    

For something a bit different, I learnt to cook traditional tuluk at Papaya Loco cooking class, and it was such a lovely experience. 

Marcus was enthusiastic and passionate, and I still to this day make the rosewater infused watermelon treat he had us whip up for dessert. 

I love cooking, so I thoroughly enjoyed learning some local techniques. Image: Gemma Bath. 

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Final thoughts...

From learning to weave baskets, to waterfront massages, sunrise yoga and sunset serenades with traditional Polynesian style music; Vanuatu is the kind of place to unwind and relax.

It reminded me of somewhere like Fiji – but not quite as touristy – and I liked that. 

You could still find luxury, but it felt a little more untouched. More traditional. More authentic. 

Like, c'monnnnn. Pure bliss. Image: Gemma Bath. 

After two years in lockdown, Vanuatu is finally reopening its borders to tourists. For me, it's the perfect couple's getaway. I have also been floating the idea with my parents of a bit of a family-trip there in coming years – it truly has something for everyone.

Get your butt on that plane, I promise it's worth it. 

You can keep up to date with Gemma Bath's articles here, or follow her on Instagram,  @gembath.  

Gemma Bath travelled to Vanuatu as a guest of Vanuatu Tourism.

Feature image: Supplied by Gemma Bath. 

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