Port Vila, Vanuatu

more popular tropical boltholes for this archipelago that
serves up raw beauty, French flavours and a tribe that worships
Prince Philip.


Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Why now?

Since influencers have named Bali their motherland, we’ve been
in search of a tropical hideaway that’s less, well, all over
everyone’s Instagram feeds. Tucked between Australia and Fiji,
Vanuatu is a cluster of 80 islands that are less well-coiffed but
decidedly more beautiful. Shell-strewn sand meets water bobbing
with rickety fishing boats, mangrove-dense forests reveal
freshwater pools (equipped with pre-strung swing ropes), cascading
waterfalls spill through bushy rainforests and active volcanoes
erupt in nightly shows that spew molten rock metres into the air.
Although the beaches beckon, it’s not really the destination for
lounging around and topping up your tan. There’s a rawness to the
island that suits active travellers. And having once been an
Anglo-French colony, there’s a thriving food culture that’s a
mishmash of french flair and local, exotic produce. Among piles of
tropical fruits at Port Vila’s dizzying market, you’ll also find
rotisserie chicken slung into just-baked baguettes, frog legs
topped with taro and escargots sold as snacks.

Don’t miss

The Blue Cave. Plenty of destinations market theirs as the best
and the boldest, but Vanuatu’s blows them all out of the, er,
water. Partly because reaching Port Vila’s Blue Cave requires
taking a blind leap of faith off a fishing boat to locate your
guide who’ll be somewhere on the horizon treading water. After a
deep, deep breath, you’ll emerge into a natural colosseum
surrounded by water so blindingly bright you’d wished you kept your
Ray-Bans on. Team it with an evening diving trip. Coral and exotic
fish take a back seat here, as eerie First World War shipwrecks can
be found teetering on the edge of reefs.

Who to bring with you

Someone who’s bored of beach clubs and bottle-serviced daybeds.
Vanuatu is as unpolished as it gets.

When to go

Thanks to its tropical climate, Port Vila is warm year-round.
Temperatures are at their most pleasurable (read: not scorching
hot) between April
and October.

Where to stay

Bed down in one of Iririki Island’s beachside
thatched bungalows – the water’s hypnotic, so be sure to wake up
early for a morning swim.

Most likely to bump into

Prince Philip. There’s an entire tribe that worships him after
their chief became convinced he was the descendant of a spiritual

Essentials to bring with you

This Tohum shell necklace will help
nail the lo-fi island look.

How to get there

Unless you’re coming from Oz – where there are four-weekly,
four-hour direct flights from most major cities – the journey is a
long one. Fly from London to Brisbane via Hong Kong, then to Port
Vila with Via Vanuatu. If you leave on the morning flight from
you’ll be on the beach by lunchtime.

Discover More
The Land of Sunshine: New South Wales, Australia