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Just 2.5 hours from Australia, Vanuatu’s Efate (where Port Vila is located) is the perfect destination for a mini-break escape.

What to Expect

  • Take to the seas aboard a sailboat to explore Havannah Harbour.

  • Sip on a refreshing coconut or down a local beer at a beachfront restaurant.

  • Explore local culture in a traditional village and browse the handicraft markets.

Fast Facts

  • Time: 3 days

  • Distance: 90km

  • Transport: Car, boat

  • Nearest major city: Port Vila, Efate

  • Price: $ $

While it’s easy to spend weeks exploring the many islands of Vanuatu, each with their individual charms and countless must-sees, sometimes time is a luxury you just don’t have. But even with just 72 hours to spare, you can get away from it all and experience a kaleidoscope of adventures and cultural experiences on Vanuatu’s Efate. 

Start from Port Vila and head north to Havannah Harbour before spending time on the water with a day trip on a sailboat and snorkelling with turtles off Lelepa Island. Soak in the atmosphere as you dine on fresh produce, explore local culture in traditional villages, visit the handicraft markets and enjoy the unique celebration of water music.

Whether your trip continues on or you have to bid farewell to island life come the end of Day Three, you’ll get a taste of the best Vanuatu has to offer. Perfect for a long weekend escape, it’s time to grab your bags, say goodbye to the daily grind and make the most of your three-day vacay.

Day One: Cruise Havannah Harbour — Time to Wash Your Worries Away


After breakfast at your resort or coffee and fresh fruit at Nambawan on the waterfront, make your way about 30 minutes north-west along Route to Mele until you reach Havannah Harbour. Jump aboard the Coongoola for a day spent on the water exploring the harbour and surrounding islands. This 23-metre long sailboat offers an excellent day trip, regardless of whether you’ve found your sea legs or not. Leaving the harbour in the morning, Coongoola will take you to coral sand beaches only accessible by boat. Spend a few hours exploring these private retreats, or just sit under a palm tree and soak up the sunshine. Enjoy a barbecue lunch on the beach and take a snorkelling safari to see if you can spot Vanuatu’s Big Five — turtles, clownfish, dolphins, dugongs and the reef fish. Before heading home, you’ll get to witness a feeding frenzy as tame fish are fed suitable leftovers from lunch. As the Coongoola heads back into the harbour, watch out for dolphins frolicking in the waves at the bow of the boat. The Cruise on Coongoola trip will have you back to Port Havannah around 3pm. Transfers back to your resort or to Port Vila can also be arranged.


Back in Havannah Harbour, take your time over a drink or two at one of the many beachfront bars. Before sunset, check into a villa at boutique resort, The Havannah Vanuatu. This romantic resort is perched right on the waterfront and is nestled between tropical gardens. Watch the sunset take over the sky with a cocktail-filled coconut in hand, all from the comfort of your private pool and cabana. Finish off the night with a dinner at The Point Restaurant and experience the unforgettable delights of dining beneath a million glittering stars. 

Day Two: Exploring Vanuatu’s Culture and Nature


After waking up to the sound of the waves in your villa or resort room, make the most of the morning and immerse yourself in the culture of the Ni-Vanuatu people. Being based on Efate means there’s several cultural experiences and tours available. One not to miss is Ekasup Cultural Village, less than 10-minutes south east of Port Vila. Discover ancient Melanesian traditions and get an insight into the traditional cultural and kastom of the Ni-Vanuatu people with a tour through the village. The Chief will share the varied aspects of village life, from farming to architecture and the history of cannibalism. Marvel at the ancient art of sand painting and be fascinated by the skill of the weavers as they make baskets, mats and everything in between. The younger members of the village will treat you to a dance performance too; make sure to get up and join in. Before the end of the tour, don’t miss the opportunity to try a sip of kava — a traditional drink made from the root of the kava shrub. 

Looking for more of a natural delight? Spend the morning at Mele Cascades. About 20 minutes from Port Vila, you’ll find natural pools of deep turquoise water surrounded by thick rainforest. Take a climb to the top of the cascades and marvel at the large waterfall that feeds the cascades. Don’t forget to bring your swimmers, the cascades make for a refreshing swim.


Slow the pace down a little with a long lunch at Francesca's Beach Club Bar and Restaurant in Havannah Harbour. Perched right on the waterfront, Francesca’s is both low key and has an essence of elegance about it. Francesca herself is renowned for her authentic Italian cuisine brought to life by the use of fresh local produce. If it’s a Sunday, stay a little longer to enjoy the live music that starts at 2pm. Francesca’s also provides guests with snorkels and fins to enjoy the nearby reef as you build up an appetite. 

If you’re after something a little more active, Back to Eden is another great option for a long lunch and also offers fantastic snorkelling right out the front of the restaurant. Situated in Mangaliliu, just a 35-minute drive from Port Vila's centre, Back to Eden combines romance with excitement. Before lunch, be sure to get involved in the snorkelling tour. Your guide will point out giant clams and plenty of clownfish as you explore the aptly named ‘Nemo City’. Expect to see quite a few friendly turtles on this tour, too. 

Day Three: A Trip to an Outer Island — Lelepa Island


Start the day early and fuel up with breakfast at Namabawan or one of the French bakeries in town. Then board the transfer bus to begin your day trip to Lelepa Island. Sitting two kilometres offshore from Port Havannah, both half-day and full-day tours are available through Lelepa Island Tours, with the full day tour undoubtedly being the most popular. There’s so much to explore on Lelepa Island; untouched beachfront, ancient caves, the local village and world-class snorkelling in the coral gardens. The historic caves on Lelepa showcase handprints and drawings that date back over 500 years. Get to know a little more about the ancient stories that accompany caves like this as your knowledgeable guide leads you through the 160-metre long passage. After a few hours snorkelling in this pristine paradise, spend a bit of time in the local village and nibble on some afternoon tea. Join in a few simple games with the local children who are always eager to play; their infectious laughter is something you won’t forget in a hurry. If it’s more your style, Lelepa Island Tours also offer fishing charters


On your final afternoon in Port Vila, visit the local handicraft markets to pick up a couple of mementoes. There are two main handicraft markets in the centre of Port Vila, both worth a visit. Port Vila Community Handicrafts is located just behind Independence Park and Haos Blong Handikraft is right on the seafront, both dedicated to promoting locally made products. Pick up an intricate wooden carving, a woven basket or hand-beaded necklace as a reminder of your time on Efate. Spend the sunset walking along the seafront in Port Vila, before ending your trip in style with a bottle of wine and a delicious Santo steak at Stonegrill restaurant.