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Welcome to Tanna, an island of cargo cults, coffee and black sand beaches — where kastom thrives under the smoking eye of Mt Yasur.

In 1774, the red glow from Mt Yasur drew Captain Cook to Tanna, a jungle-covered island in the southern Vanuatu archipelago. It’s a mysterious place, home to the world’s most accessible active volcano, the strange cargo cults of John Frum and Prince Phillip, herds of wild horses, and dozens of blue waterfalls, hidden deep in the Middlebush forest.

Don’t Miss

  • Driving across the Tanna ash plains
  • Climbing the smoking rim of Mt Yasur 
  • The traditional local kastom
  • Walking along the black sand at Louniel Beach
  • Snorkelling and diving the island’s fringe reefs
  • Swimming inside the Blue Cave 
  • Lounging in the hot springs at Port Resolution

How To Get There

You can fly to Tanna direct from Vanuatu’s capital of Port Vila. Flights from Port Vila to Tanna take around 45 minutes. From there, it’s a short drive from White Grass Airport to most of Tanna’s resorts.

Useful Tips

  • For warm weather and low chance of rain, it’s best to visit Tanna between June and October.
  • Book a guided Tanna island volcano tour when climbing Mt Yasur, and check any government safety warnings beforehand.
  • The best way to get around Tanna is to organise private transfers through your accommodation, but minibuses and local trucks also depart regularly from Lenakel. 

Things To Do & Top Attractions In Tanna 

Swim in Tanna’s Famous Blue Cave

The Blue Cave on Tanna is something from idle daydreams and desktop screensavers. It’s a hidden grotto, cut deep into the sea cliffs on the western side of the island. Visitors can only reach it by swimming along a secret sea passage. Inside is a curved rock cathedral, where light beams through a hole in the ceiling, illuminating an electric blue swimming hole (some say, Vanuatu’s best swimming hole). Nothing around but sparkling sunlight and the sound of jostling water. If you’re worried about swimming through the sea passage, just wait for low tide: you’ll be able to wade through without diving underwater.


VTO0049 Swim in Tanna


Climb the Bubbling Active Volcano, Mt Yasur

Vanuatu’s Mt Yasur is the most accessible active volcano in the world. The Tannese people can’t remember a time when it wasn’t rumbling away, spitting lava and ash into the air. The 10-minute crater rim hike is probably Tanna’s most iconic experience, especially at sunset, when the lava glows red and lights up the surrounding sky. You don’t need to be particularly fit: four-wheel drive  vehicles can park within 150 metres of the rim. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can also spend the day ash boarding down the slopes. There are no safety rails or viewing platforms at Mt Yasur, so it’s best to climb with an experienced local guide. Make sure to check local government warnings, too — they keep a close eye on Mt Yasur’s volcanic activity.


VTO0049 Hike with local guide


See the Giant Banyan Tree in Leitouapam

No-one really knows the age of Tanna’s Giant Banyan Tree. It was already ancient when Captain Cook landed on the island in 1774. The tree itself is massive: over 100-metres wide and 80-metres high, spreading whippy, Tarzan-like roots throughout the surrounding jungle. To reach the Giant Banyan Tree, just ask your hotel or guesthouse to arrange a tour to the village of Leitouapam. From there it’s a bumpy four-wheel drive journey through the dense jungle. The villagers of Leitouapam own the Giant Banyan Tree and charge a small entrance fee for visitors: 1500VUV per adult and 700VUV for each child. Children under four can visit for free.


VTO0049 See the Giant Banyan


Experience Traditional Melanesian Kastom

Kastom is a complicated phenomenon. It’s a Pijin word that covers traditional Melanesian religion, art and mysticism, passed down through oral history and local legend. It’s hard to find living, breathing kastom villages these days, but they still exist on Tanna. For visitors, this is a chance to experience Melanesian life the way it’s always been - and to see Vanuatu’s culture and traditions as they were before white settlement, mass tourism and the arrival of modern technology. In villages like Yakel, Ikunala and Imaio, there are no schools, shops, TV or internet, just an unbroken culture spanning back thousands of years. Travellers are welcome in Tanna’s kastom villages, but it’s always best to visit with a local guide.


VTO0049 Experience trad Melanesian kustom


Laze in the Hot Springs of Port Resolution

Port Resolution is where you’ll find Tanna’s whitest beaches, its bluest water, and most of the island’s best bungalows. It’s also the gateway to the ash plains of Mt Yasur. Yachts and cruise boats drop anchor off the coast here, and travellers spend their days lounging in the natural Iwea hot springs or snorkelling the marine sanctuary and coral reefs around Yewao Point. It’s a popular spot with surfers too: if you walk along the coastal track toward Yankaren Para, you’ll find some of the best surfing in Vanuatu, with deep swells and smooth, rolling breakers. There’s a truck that runs between Lenakel and Port Resolution on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, or you can organise a private charter in town.

 hot springs


Visit Local John Frum Villages 

A tiny island in the Pacific is probably not where you’d expect to see locals singing American battle hymns, running Old Glory (the flag of the USA) up the flagpole and marching barefoot with bamboo ‘rifles’ slung over their shoulders. Welcome to the strange ‘cargo cult’ of John Frum, an imaginary figure who’s believed to bring prosperity to Vanuatu in the form of airdrops and western technology. John Frum is sort of a spiritual hangover from the Second World War, when many American troops were stationed in the archipelago, bringing food, jeeps, radios and other modern luxuries. There are several John Frum villages on Tanna (Namakara is one of the more popular). Try to visit on Friday nights, when the big dances take place.

Sleep Among the Treetops 

Imagine waking up 20-feet above the ground, walking out onto your private tree-top verandah and seeing the summit of Mt Yasur, smoking in the early morning light. It’s just another morning at the Tanna Tree Top Lodge. This quirky bungalow accommodation sits inside the forest canopy, just 500m from the Mt Yasur park entrance. All the rooms run on solar power, and breakfast is free, but just be aware that there’s no hot water on the property (those morning showers are fresh). Still, the view is worth it. While other travellers have to organise four-wheel drive  transport to Mt Yasur, you’ve got the volcano right on your doorstep.




Snorkel and Dive the Island’s Fringe Reefs 

Tanna has some of the clearest water and best snorkelling in the Vanuatu archipelago, and it’s become a popular spot for divers and snorkellers. Fringe reefs surround the island, studded with deep rock pools, drop-offs and coral gardens, home to schools of fusiliers and drummer fish, green sea turtles, yellowfin tuna, mackerel, and even the occasional dugong. There are plenty of good dive sites, no matter your level of experience. Some of the best spots include the Blue Holes (a series of tunnels and sinkholes on the outer reef), The Fijian (a sailing wreck that sunk in 1916), and House Reef (a purpose-built jetty that attracts turtles, moray eels, reef sharks and blue spotted rays).




Walk the Black Sand Beaches of Louniel

Tanna’s beaches range from the sugar-white postcard variety to long stretches of black volcanic sand — a legacy of Mt Yasur, rumbling and smoking just nearby. There are several of these beaches scattered around the island, and some of them, like Lowakels Cove, have nearby bungalow accommodation. Louniel Beach is probably the most famous, sweeping for several kilometres along the northeast coast of the island. Iwaru Beach is also popular, fringed by jungle hinterland just south of Lenakel.