Things you need to know before you go.
Thanks to our helpful and efficient travel consultant Anne, we all have our accommodation
and flights sorted beautifully. If you are still working on that part
then we wish you all success in securing the deal that's right for you.
If you do not have transfers to your hotel or resort you will need to
catch a bus or taxi there and for this you would require a little local
cash. The currency is vatu and works out to about $1.20 to 100vatu or
in reverse about 83 vatu to the dollar. The Brisbane airport does not give
a very good rate so if you exchange there make it the absolute minimum.
The resorts will exchange your money and their rate is a little better
but the best place to go is Goodies near the El Gecko cafe downtown. See
the map for directions. On Sunday there is a 7/11 across the road that
also gives good rates of exchange.
There are only 2 banks you'll be familiar with in Port Vila. They are
the ANZ and the Westpac. You may not be able to get cash from a minor
bank or building society so be prepared with plenty of cash if you don't
bank with one of the above.
They do have 24hr ATMs at the bank but as before, building societies
and minor banks may not be linked.
Bring some antibacterial cream and bandaids as these can be expensive
here. If you get a tiny weeny scratch that you can barely see. Put the
cream on it immediately. This is the tropics and you must do this.
Add one hour to Brisbane time and allow some for what is known as Island
time which means that nobody is in hurry. It is not unusual to wait 30mins
or more for a shop assistant to find you a cardboard box to pack your
duty free treasure in so be patient and allow plenty of time.
Port Vila enjoys a daily siesta. This means that the shops are closed
in the middle of the day.
High heels will last about two milliseconds so consider this.
For swimming you will need a pair of reef shoes. You can buy these at
Anaconda or target in Australia and in Port Vila there are a number of
shops that sell them. Remember that you might be busting to get into the
water so perhaps being prepared ahead of time is a good thing.
Bring a mask and snorkel. They are expensive to hire and come in two sorts:-
crappy ones that don't fit and even crappier ones that don't fit. The
cost of hiring them once is about as much as you'll pay for a cheap set
in Australia. Don't be thinking that you won't need a mask because you
can forget all your ideas of snorkelling that you may have done in this
country. Nothing here compares to the underwater world you can wade into
from some of the beaches in Vanuatu. Fins are also a good idea. I went
without mine once and regretted it. So now I take dive boots, reef shoes,
fins, snorkel and mask.
Fung Kuey is the best priced duty free shop for alcohol. There are also
good fake designer shops around and some dodgy fake designer shops. These
things you'll discover for yourself. You can buy Tusker beer direct from
the brewery and you can buy Vanuatu organic beef in packs to bring home
as long as you arrange it in advance. The Centrepoint supermarket downtown
can help with this.
The locals are modest and it is inappropriate to go to town in brief clothes.
Around the resort togs and shorts are always the go. When the cruise ship
comes in the locals tend to keep a low profile as they are invaded by
loud tourists. So to enjoy the usual friendliness go to town when the
cruise ship is not in port.
Wine and Beer.
You can purchase this from the Au Bon Marche supermarket downtown and
at Nambatu but not between 12 noon on Saturday and Monday morning. Water,
however is cheaper from the supermarket than the resorts and can be purchased
at any time. Local water is quite safe to drink but does have a high mineral
content that can give you a belly ache until you get used to it.