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Jump in the car: this is one day of your Vanuatu family holiday that you won’t forget in a hurry.


What to Expect

  • Discover crystal clear cascades, towering waterfalls and vibrant blue holes. 

  • Grab your snorkel and get up close and personal with Nemo at Back to Eden.

  • Devour the freshest of seafood with your toes in the sand over a long lunch.

Fast Facts

  • Time: 1 day

  • Distance: 125km

  • Transport: There are plenty of tours available. Alternatively, hire a car and make your own way around.

  • Nearest major city: Port Vila

  • Price: $


With tropical forest and picturesque coastline waiting around every corner, there’s a lot more to Efate than just Port Vila. The breathtaking attractions are all connected by a sealed ring road that reaches every corner of the island and everything is pretty close by so you can squeeze it in over a full day of exploring.

From Port Vila, head north for a refreshing start to the day at Mele Cascades. Pull your snorkel out at Back to Eden, before slowing things down with a long lunch. Head to Blue Lagoon in the afternoon and then soak up the sunshine at Eton Beach. While family road trips can bring back memories of poorly timed pit stops and echoes of ‘are we there yet’ from the back seat, Vanuatu road trips are a little different. With just two and a half hours in the car over the whole day, this island road trip is filled with exciting destinations to keep everyone happy. 

Plan for an early start and stock up on road trip snacks with fruit from the market or fresh bakery goods from Le Fournil De Vila. Just outside of Port Vila, you’ll find Tanna Coffee Roastery — caffeinate yourself with the best morning brew on the island to get you hyped up and ready for the day (you can also find Tanna Coffee at cafes throughout the island).

Mele Cascades

Head north-west towards Mele Bay, travelling through local villages full of tropical flowers and street art painted by the enigmatic artist Rone. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for chickens darting across the road! 

After 20 minutes you’ll reach Mele Cascades. These naturally formed pools are surrounded by dense jungle and a swim here is next level refreshing. Make your way up to the very top of the cascades, spurred on by the roaring sound of the waterfall in the background and the spray of the water on your face as you inch as close to the waterfall as you dare. Just remember to watch your step as you go, the rocks can be a bit slippery so use the rope railings to guide you. 

Back to Eden

A further 15 minutes or so along Mele Road, you’ll reach Back to Eden. What at first glance appears to be a simple beachfront restaurant also offers one of the best family-friendly snorkelling trips on Efate. Gentle waters make the snorkelling tour out to Nemo City. It's ideal for kids and, as its name suggests, you’ll spot plenty of clownfish darting in and out of a huge sea anemone. Visit vibrant coral gardens and a bed of iridescent giant clams too. If you’re lucky, you may also spot a sea turtle or two. They’re pretty friendly, so don’t be afraid to swim right up to them. 

Long Lunch

After exploring Mele Cascades and snorkelling at Back to Eden, you’ll have worked up quite an appetite. Towards the north, Havannah Harbour is home to plenty of excellent beachfront restaurants including Francesca’s Beach Club and Wahoo Bar, both of which serve up top-notch local seafood dishes paired with the freshest island produce. Why not treat yourself to the classic combination of champagne and oysters? Gideons Landing Restaurant at Havannah Eco Lodge is also close by if you’re after something a little more relaxed. This one’s a real score for the kids too, and the treehouse over the water is sure to keep them busy. Before leaving the north-western side of Efate, detour via Top Rock Lookout to check out one of the best views in Vanuatu. Hedged paths are your guide to the top where you’re welcomed by an open lookout perched on limestone cliffs above the calm waters below. Survey the horizon for Pele and Nguana islands and be sure to look down at the schools of fish swimming just below the cliffs.

Blue Lagoon

While your lunch is settling, make the trip across the island to one of the most well-known swimming spots in Vanuatu, Blue Lagoon. At just over an hour drive from Havannah Harbour, you’ll be ready to jump in that blue water and start exploring again. Blue Lagoon is one of the largest swimming holes on Efate at around 70 metres long, 30 metres wide and six metres deep. Unlike the blue holes on Santo, Blue Lagoon is close to the sea, so you’ll find it’s salty at high tide and filled with fresh water at low tide. Embrace your inner Tarzan and jump on the rope swing. If you plan on spending a bit of time here, rent a kayak and paddle your way from end to end. Or, if the morning’s activities have you plumb tuckered out, spend the time simply floating in the clear water or zoning out under a nearby tree. There’s also picnic tables, changing rooms and toilet facilities available at Blue Lagoon, which definitely come in handy on a family day out.

Eton Beach

With its white sand, calm turquoise waters and palm trees, make time to stop in at Eton Beach. This inlet is a few minutes up the road from Blue Lagoon and is the perfect spot to watch the late afternoon go by. Down the south end of the beach, the river flows out into the ocean, providing a safe spot for kids to play. The difference between the warm salt water and the refreshingly cool freshwater patches makes for an invigorating swim. If you’ve got time, Aelan Chocolate Makers is just outside of the main town. Chocolate lovers won’t be able to get enough of the 70% dark chocolate, made with Vanuatu cacao. 

Fancy a little refreshment before heading back to your hotel? Soak in the sunset at Banyan Tree Bar, just outside of Port Vila, where a mojito or two always goes down well. 

You can easily do this road trip in one day but, if you’ve got more time, there’s so much to see you could just as easily stretch it out to three or four days.