Wow, who would have thought that such a small island could provide so many unique, breathtaking, incredible experiences! Vanuatu must be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to great family holidays. There are just so many things that the whole family can do together and that everyone in the family will love and enjoy. We’ve picked out some of the best ones for you; and if you don’t have enough time to try them all, there is always next year!
If you fancy a family day out with some easy exercise, amazing views and something new to conquer, try Vanuatu Jungle Zipline. Ziplining is available for children as young as four, who at this age are excited by a new group sport. The teens and adults love the thrill and challenge and even some young at heart grandparents are keen. It is something all three generations can have a go at together. Views all the way down to the reef below, the gentle speeds, the heart-pumping heights and the lush jungle make for a great family adventure in this pristine spot located at The Summit in Mele Bay. Tours leave twice daily from town at 10am and 1pm and are three hours in duration. Book on www.vanuatujunglezipline.com or call 5550423.
It is not always easy finding an adventure activity that doesn’t cost the earth but still keeps everyone entertained and happy, especially the kids! A great choice is to take them kayaking and stand up paddle boarding (SUPing). Island Time Kayaking & SUPs, based at the Bay of Islands on Espiritu Santo’s east coast, not only offers half price tours for kids, but also offers families a choice of DIY paddling adventures (ie hire it yourself) so you won’t break the bank. There are blue holes, rivers, islands and reef to explore and best of all, the lagoon where their kayak base is located is sheltered from the wind and the waves (very safe to paddle). Hire prices for SUPs and kayaks start from as little as 800vt/hr. They also offer budget boat tours to nearby islands for families. www.islandtimekayaking.net Ph. 7779723.
Ideal for families with young children from infants upwards, join the custom built semi-submersible vessel Reef Explorer and see Port Vila’s waters from below in the viewing room located in the keel of the boat. The boat moors off Iririki Island where you can feed the tropical fish – they will eat out of your hand! Keep your eyes open as sometimes there are turtles and dugongs along with all the many other varieties of coral and tropical fish.
The tour departs from Café Du Village (next to the Grand Hotel) twice a day at 10.30am
and 2.00pm, the trip lasts for one and a half hours. The water temperature ranges from 24 to 28 degrees and is very clear. You can see Parrotfish, Butterflyfish, Clownfish (Nemo), Moorish Idols, Triggerfish, Humbugs, Seahorses, Damsels, and many more eating out of your hand. And don’t forget all the different varieties of coral.
The tour is a past winner of the Vanuatu Tourism Awards and suitable for all ages.
For the older kids, (from 8yo up) the Sea Doo Sea Scooter Snorkeling Safari tour takes your snorkel experience to the next level. Enjoy a guided snorkeling tour, exploring the underwater world of Port Vila. Just grasp the handles of the sea scooter, push the button and you will be gliding effortlessly through the crystal waters. En route to the lovely snorkel location, enjoy the stunning scenery and pristine water views of Iririki and Ifira Islands and the wider Vila bay. After dropping anchor at the sheltered snorkel spot, you will be given a brief demonstration and safety briefing, fitted with a life vest, and then handed your own Sea Doo Sea Scooter. The tour explores the stunning reefs and coral bommies as you follow the tour leader, who will be in the water with you at all times. No prior experience required.
Vanuatu Ecotours team love hosting children, offering tours that combine a mix of new experiences, a challenge or two, and some good old-fashioned fun.
The half-day kayaking tour on the Rentapao River, a scenic 20-minute drive from Port Vila, fits that bill perfectly and is the most popular family tour. It is a peaceful paddle, surrounded by lush tropical forest, and a chance to experience daily life for the villagers who live along its shores. Double kayaks are available for the kids (or parents!) who don’t want to paddle too much, and kids under five are free.
The tour ends with a swim in the Rentapao’s cool waters – the Tarzan rope is a favorite with kids, swinging off a grand old tree into the river. There is an option to extend the tour by heading further upriver to the Rentapao cascades for a picnic lunch and more swimming. Vanuatu Ecotours are offering a special ‘Double Kayak’ deal until the end of March 2019 – anyone who books both the Rentapao river kayak tour and the Mele sea kayak tour, receives 10% discount on both tours. Bookings can be made through [email protected] or call us 540 3506.
Aore Island abounds with everything-tropical such as hidden immaculate beaches and coral reefs teaming with life, but also surprises like relics from the American presence during the Second World War, and big, big caves. Catch the free five-minute boat ride from San Michel, a short taxi ride from Luganville, and join the daily Bat Cave and cocoa plantation tour at Freshwater Plantation. It is easy, non-strenuous and suitable for kids from one to eighty eight. Most times of the year there are baby ducks and goats to be handled and chickens roam free on the 300 acres.
There is tennis, volleyball, and other games happening for kids on the sprawling lawns around the plantation house. The snorkeling on the reef is stunning and the azure blue waters off the jetty abound with fish and sea life. Lunch is served every day at the barefoot bar and restaurant and includes an extensive kids menu.
The only part of Freshwater Plantation that seems to be adults only is the day spa, where parents can enjoy massages and manicure/pedicure while the kids roam free, following the example of the plantation staff’s well behaved pikininis. For those who book early, there is a 2 bedroom family bungalow on the plantation at budget rates for 4 day stays or more. Available upon request. [email protected] or visit www.freshwater.vu
Dolphins, turtles, wooden ships, idyllic deserted beaches, the Coongoola Day Cruise has it all! This is a fantastic tour no matter what your age, but it is absolutely great for families with children of all ages. If you think it may be hard to keep your children entertained while on a boat, think again. The Coongoola Day Cruise is perfectly designed for a day out in the islands that has a little bit of everything. You will board the beautiful timber sailing ketch at Havannah Harbour for a short cruise to Moso Island to have a look at the Turtle Reserve. The cruise across the bay is on calm, crystal-clear waters and with stunning views, land in sight at all times. Your great hostess will give you a safety briefing before departure and morning tea will be served on the way. Landing on Moso Island, a short walk will take you to the turtle conservation rookery promoting public awareness for the Hawksbill turtle. This Conservation Project strives to help the Hawksbill by raising them for 12 to 14 months past the critical stage where they are easily eaten by predators. They are then tagged and documented before being released back into the ocean. After spending a pleasant half hour with the turtles, you will jump aboard ‘Vanuatu’s Lady of the Sea’ once again, for a lovely scenic sail to a beautiful secluded deserted beach on the other side of Moso. It is not unusual for dolphins to follow the ship, so be prepared for sightings! The white sand beach and azure, clear, waters are absolutely breathtaking. Here, there is time to relax for three or so hours having lunch, swimming and keen snorkelers can board the smaller boat for a snorkel trip to the reef where you will be amazed by the variety and beauty of the marine life. After a great BBQ lunch and very pleasant afternoon, it’s back aboard the Coongoola for a final cruise to the palm-framed landing on the shores of Havannah Harbour. Truly memorable and a great day on the water. The whole family will love it! Tour departs every day, just book a day or so in advance. Ph: 25020. www.southpacdivecruise.com.vu.
Riding a horse on a beach and into the azure, crystal-clear waters can become your personal memory in Vanuatu. Club Hippique has a variety of rides to suit every taste and kids are welcome on all of them. The full day tour will take you through tropical rainforest to a pristine white sand beach where you can relax, swim and have lunch before coming back through a different and just as beautiful, tropical landscape. Those looking for a shorter tour, will enjoy the rain forest & plantation ride, which will take you through amazing forest and ends by taking your horses swimming in the salt water lagoon for that unforgettable experience. But would you prefer a waterfall? No problem, the Waterfall Ride takes you through amazing countryside and to your very own secluded cascade pools that only a few visitors ever get to see. Picnic lunch and drinks are included. And for sunset lovers, go for the sunset ride to the top of the plantation, overlooking the beautiful second lagoon. Magnificent. Beautiful Vanuatu again delivers outstanding nature and Club Hippique delivers well-loved and looked–after horses, and outstanding experiences. A great way to bring all the family together. Club Hippique is located 10 minutes from Port Vila, situated between panoramic hills, coconut palms and a blue water lagoon. Over 600 acres of hills, rainforests, white sandy beaches and waterfalls to explore on more than 60 horses. Whether you’re a complete beginner, or you have grown up around horses, they can find the perfect horse and ride for the whole family. www.clubhippiquevanuatu.net. Ph: 23347 or 7723347.
Vanuatu comprises many islands, each one with its different and unique vibe. If you are staying in Port Vila, there are a few islands very close to Efate which are a must-see. One of them is the picture-postcard absolutely divine, Pele Island. Evergreen Vanuatu can take you to Pele for the day, and everything will be organised for you and your family so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Just pack your swimmers, towel, sunscreen and camera and wait for your pick up. On board their comfortable coach, you will be driven to Emua Wharf, on the northwest of the island. From there, a short and lovely ten-minute boat trip will take you to Pele Island. Be ready to be greeted by stretches of palm-fringed white sandy beaches and turquoise waters! The area from this village on Pele Island to Nguna Island has been a Marine Protected Area since 2003. Fishing is prohibited in these areas therefore marine life is abundant. Upon landing, you will be able to go snorkeling on the reef a hundred meters offshore. Swim, explore and when you are hungry, a sumptuous barbecue lunch will be provided to appease your appetite.
In the afternoon, you will be guided to the nearby village, visit the local primary school and be entertained by their cheerful singing. Here, your children can hand out stationery items to the children should you wish to bring some with you. School facilities are very basic and paper and pencils are sometimes scarce! After the village tour, head back to the beach, snorkel, swim, go for a paddle on the kayaks or just relax and enjoy the afternoon lazing on the beach before afternoon tea is served and heading back to the capital. A perfect family day. www.evergreenvanuatu.com. Ph 23050.
Do you remember when you were little, the fascination with waterfalls? Maybe you are still fascinated by them today, there is something so alluring about waterfalls. Not far from Port Vila, the iconic Mele Cascades is a must see while in Vanuatu. This is another great outing that the whole family can enjoy together and children will love. Make a morning or afternoon of it, or, why not, a whole day. You can get yourself there by hired car or local bus if you are feeling adventurous. The cascades are a short 15-minute drive from Port Vila. If you prefer, you can take the Mele Cascades Waterfall tour and be picked up and dropped off at your accommodation. The cascades are huge, wonderful, and the perfect place to cool off on a hot day. Make your way to the river as you enjoy a dip in the different pools along the way. On top, the biggest waterfall awaits you. Before, after, or in between, have a burger or a cold drink in the restaurant as you enjoy the sound of water and the views. Nothing short of spectacular. www.evergreenvanuatu.com. Ph: 23050.
Of course, an unforgettable adventure. How many children get to stand next to a live volcano? Tanna may sound remote but the facilities available are great and you can have all the mod-cons while there. Accommodation such as Friendly Beach Bungalows and Whitegrass Ocean Resort and Spa will cater for all your needs. They will collect you from the airport, provide you with great accommodation, fantastic food in their restaurant and organise all your tours for you, including the mighty Mount Yasur. If you would like to have a more grass-roots experience, there are plenty of local accommodation options. Another amazing family-bonding experience to be had in Vanuatu! Check out www.friendlybeachvanuatu.com and www.whitegrasstanna.com for accommodation options.