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Vanuatu isn’t just an idyllic collection of picture perfect tropical hideaways that promise relaxation, warm waters and golden sunshine, it also boasts an abundance of adventures to suit any intrepid soul. So, leave your shoes at the airport and the crowds behind and let’s make some memories to last a lifetime.


There’s a reason the South Pacific is home to so many travelling clichés. It’s because they’re true. There’s the crystal water, where flashing fish dart along sea beds strewn with coral. There’s the lush tangle of jungle, the roaring volcanos, the fresh fruit bursting with sweet juice. But Efate’s charm goes far beyond white-powder beaches. It’s the slow bloom of islander smiles where you’re welcomed like family. It’s the culture, exotic in its ritual, that seeps through the veins of everyday life. It’s the velvet nights with a blazing blanket of stars, untouched by light pollution. And Port Vila and Havannah Harbour resorts make the perfect base to explore it all on any of these unforgettable day trips.


Lelepa Island

For an island escape that’s perfect for all ages, you can’t go past a day trip to Lelepa Island. A mere 30-minute drive and 10-minute boat ride north-west of Port Vila, this 160-acre island of unspoilt rainforest is owned and operated by local islanders through Lelepa Island Tours. A perfect piece of paradise, it speaks of rustic simplicity with no electricity, cars or worries. The protected waters are like swimming in an aquarium, with warm, calm water ideal for all ages. Take to the water to feed the fish, and watch as your surroundings come alive with an astoundingly diverse range of species, or venture into the palm-fringed jungle, passing the wrecks of WWII aircraft, and learn about the medicinal properties of the plants. Hire a kayak and cruise around the island’s indigo periphery, or snooze in a hammock swaying in the salty breeze. Life doesn’t get any better than this.  


Six of the best Outer Island day trips from Efate.


Roi Mata

Delving into Vanuatu’s fascinating history is incomplete without a visit to Chief Roi Mata’s Domain. Registered as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cultural tour explores the legend of Chief Roi Mata, thought to be responsible for uniting Central Vanuatu. Join Roi Mata Cultural Tours to spend a day exploring three early 17th-century sites on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok. First stop is Roi Mata’s residence in Efate, where you’re treated to musical performances, theatrical re-enactments of the chief’s life and the mesmerising sand drawing kastom. Then, take a boat to Artok, also known as Hat Island due to its shape. Here you’ll visit Roi Mata’s burial site, where he was believed to be buried alongside his family and entourage (who, legend has it, were all still alive at the time!). Finally, travel to Lelepa Island to visit the Fels Cave, the haunting site of the chief’s death. Inside is rock art depicting humans and sea creatures, the earliest of which is thought to date from around 900 AD. 


Moso Island

To get up close and personal with turtles, a day trip to Moso Island’s Tranquillity Eco Resort is a bucket list item. A short 15-minute boat ride from Efate’s Havannah Harbour, the islanders pride themselves on their sustainability, with solar-powered lighting and rainfall harvested water. The beach huts, known as ‘fares’, are made from island timber, each facing a private beach. Tranquillity Island Dive and Eco Resort proudly run a voluntary Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Program, which has released more than 1,200 of the endangered species, all raised from hatchlings. Sanctuary visits are by appointment only. Snorkel straight off Moso’s beach or pull on a wetsuit with the island’s dive centre to explore the ‘bommies’ bursting with inquisitive fish. For non-swimmers, a trip across the reef in a clear-bottomed boat is a magical way to while away the hours. A bash through the jungle or a picnic on Sunset Beach, complete with secret caves begging to be explored, seals the deal for explorers of all ages. 


Six of the best Outer Island day trips from Efate.


Tanna Island

An overnight trip to the island of Tanna will remain etched in your memory for years to come. Just an hour’s flight from Efate, this rugged island remains relatively unmarked by Western influence and touching down at White Grass Airport is like stepping back in time. Boasting one of Vanuatu’s most iconic landmarks, take a dusk volcano tour to Mount Yasur to visit one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes. Walk through plains of ash to watch sprays of lava light up the cobalt night as the evening echoes with the growls of the ancient volcano. Standing on the soft crust of the volcano’s crest, gazing into the belly of the earth alive with writhing waves of magma, is simply unforgettable. If time allows, visit the island’s east coast Imaio cultural village. Enjoy enthralling insights into a heritage forged in fierce pride, before ducking to Port Resolution’s hot springs to taste local fare cooked directly in the spring’s boiling water. 


Six of the best Outer Island day trips from Efate.


Pentecost Island 

Ever wondered how someone first thought to invent bungy jumping? Wonder no more. Air Vanuatu operate day trips to the tiny island of Pentecost; a 50-minute plane ride from Port Vila. This is a natural playground of plunging waterfalls, extraordinary underground caves, pristine blue holes and the awe-inspiring ‘Naghol’ ritual where, between April and June, local young men prove their virility by diving headfirst off wooden towers with only a vine attached to their legs. Watch with uneasy anticipation as they leap into the unknown accompanied by the thundering chanting of the villagers. Tag along on a jungle walk, or enjoy a revealing glimpse into Vanuatu culture and tradition with the ‘kastom’ villages. The snorkelling is sublime here, but don’t expect luxury — this place is a haven for those that want to live like a local. 


Six of the best Outer Island day trips from Efate.


Pele Island

Pele Island is a 10-minute boat ride from Efate and offers an easy opportunity to be transported far from modern life. Enjoy the island welcome from the Ni-Vanuatu residents, whose wide smiles soothe many a troubled soul. Explore the four villages dotted near the sea and check out the epic snorkelling 100 metres offshore, made all the more spectacular thanks to a marine protection order that prohibits fishing. Stay the evening in a traditional bungalow, where a local will happily build you a campfire, and gaze at the night’s scattered constellations for the perfect end to an adventurous day on your Vanuatu family holiday.


Six of the best Outer Island day trips from Efate.