Vanuatu (Republic of Vanuatu)

Languages: Bislama, English, French

Currencies: VUV · Vanuatu vatu (Vt)

Capitol: Port Vila

Continents: Oceania

More useful information

Area: 12,189km2

Population: 307,150

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +678

Timezones: UTC+11:00

Last updated on May 6, 2024

Tanna Island in Vanuatu is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This small island is located in the South Pacific, over 3700 kilometres from Australian east coast. 

Tanna is the third largest island in Vanuatu with population of 30 000. The land is home to one of the most remote bush tribes in the world and some of the most stunning natural wonders on earth, which are a gate to number of fascinating activities and things to do in Tanna Island. 

I heard about Vanuatu many years ago and since then was dying to visit these tropical islands. From Efate I flew to explore Tanna, I had 5 days to experience the highlights of the island.

7 top fascinating things about Vanuatu and bush tribes you probably didn’t know.

Where is Vanuatu?

Vanuatu spreads across 83 Pacific Islands, some still uninhabitet. 

The tropical islands are volcanic and coral in origin. 

The easiest way to get to Vanuatu is taking a direct flight from east coast of Australia to Port Vila – capital city, located on Efate Island (it’s only 3 hours flight from Brisbane), for best deals check 

My first stop after Australia was New Caledonia (home to world’s largest lagoon), where I took some time to explore the local islands.

Check Full travel guide to New Caledonia – the world’s largest lagoon!

Things to bring to Vanuatu.

Number one thing you should have is a medical insurance. I won’t be telling the story here, but it was the first time during many years of traveling that it could get dead serious. During rainy season bacteria spreads immediately, people get sick easily and within few hours my small cut turned into a wound and advanced blood infection.

Remember – Vanuatu is exceptional but it is a developing country and any tourist infrastructure and medical care is on a very basic level. 

All is good when things are going well, but a small disruption can quickly change into a life threatening situation. 

SafetyWing is a nomad travel insurance I can highly recommend. 

Things to bring on the island:

  • Water purifying tablets (YES! I used them for the first time in my life),
  • local SIM card – most of stays do not have internet, some people didn’t even hear about wifi!
  • Sun lotion
  • Dry Snacks/nuts/chocolate
  • First aid kit
  • Mosquito repelent.
Top attractions and things to do in Tanna Island in Vanuatu for adventurous traveler.

How to get from Port Vila to Tanna Island?

PORT VILA is the main airport in Vanuatu in Efate Island. Biggest islands are located north from Efate and these are: Espirito Santo, Malekula and Ambrym.

Tanna Island is located south from Efate Island, 45 minute flight from Port Vila.

You need to reach Port Vila in Efate Island or Espiritu Santo Island before traveling to other islands. 

The quickest way to travel across the islands is taking a flight by a local carrier – Air Vanuatu. Flights are usually cheap ($45-$100) – book in advance to secure best price and accessibility. 

There was always a payment error on Air Vanuatu website, so I recommend using brilliant TRIP.COM, since the prices are same. 

International flights to Vanuatu.

There are no international flights to Tanna Island.

Direct international flights are available from: 

  • AUSTRALIA (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane)
  • NEW ZEALAND (Aukland)
  • FIJI (Nadi)

Direct flights are operated by Air Vanuatu, Qantas, Solomon Airlines, Fiji Airways and Air Calin.

Tours & prices in Tanna Island.

Prices for most bungalow accommodation are similar – it’s between $35-$50/per night. 

Village tribes are priced between 9500-12000 VATU/depending on how many sites are included.

Mount Yasur entrance is 8000 VATU plus you will need to arrange transportation ~ 2000 VATU/min 2 people. 

Volcano Safari Tour ~12 000 VATU

Lunch in other bungalows ~ 1000 VATU. Coffee 200 VATU.

Blue Cave tour ~ 11500 VATU.

Top attractions and things to do in Tanna Island in Vanuatu for adventurous traveler.

Tanna Island Airport.

Tanna Airport or White Grass Airport  (TAH) is a tiny airport with daily flights from Port Vila. There are no shops at the airport. Luggage is delivered manually by local staff 😉

The airport is located 8 kilometres north of Lenakel – biggest town on the island.

I know in the past there were two flights daily from Port Vila but in 2024 was just one. 

Air Vanuatu flys to across 24 Vanuatu Islands.

Lenakel town.

Lenakel town is the biggest town in Tanna Island. There are few small shops, cash machine and lovely street market, where you can get delicious fruits. 

There’s lots of accommodation options in the town, in case you wish to stay for 1-2 days and explore nearby area. 

Are there earthquakes in Vanuatu?

If you came to Vanuatu it means you are adventurous traveler. Vanuatu is one of the top remote locations in the world. There are over 2000 seismic events across the archipelago, regular cyclons and tsunami. 

However-most of the eartquakes happen underwater and are not destructive. 10 seismograph stations throughout the Vanuatu monitor seismic activity and you can regurarly check on their official website for daily updates.

5-day itinerary for Tanna Island.

5-6 days is an optimal time for exploring the island. 

I would suggest 5-days itinerary for Tanna Island:

  • Day1: Lenakel Town
  • Day2: Hiking Mount Yasur – I would suggest hiking the active volcano as soon as possible to avoid any cancellations, if there is rain the tour might not go ahead.
  • DAY3: Visit bush tribes – Yakel, Latapu, Imaio.
  • DAY4: Explore the rainforest, waterfalls, hot springs, take jungle treks, take a chance to observe local life.
  • DAY5: Visit Blue Cave
Who are Vanuatu tribes – one of the world’s most remote bush people - Mount Yasur Volcano

Things to do in Tanna Island.

Tanna Island is an adventure of a lifetime. Everything was magnificent – hiking active Yasur Volcano, meeting local bush tribes and dive in their culture. But there’s so much more about Vanuatu, with many exceptional and memorable things to do in Tanna Island. 

Where to stay in Tanna Island?

If you came to Tanna Island you will most probably hike Yasur Volcano. For the best

There are few accommodation options with smoking volcano view but there is one exceptional place – Castle Tree House And Bungalow – which is owned by Mike. It is most frequently booked accommodation in the area for number of reasons – amazing hospitality, exceptional location and vibe of the place. Mike, his wife and lovely 5 kids are adorable, they will feed you, host you and take you touring around the island. 

Most of the accommodations would offer airport pick up, since there are no roads you need a 4WD car to drive through muddy jungle paths. There is no other transport on the island. It’s a totally wild area sinking in dence rainforest. 

Castle Tree House And Bungalow.

The place is magic, one of the bamboo bungalows is built on a tree, 20 metres above the ground. It’s absoluetly one of the most incredible stays I’ve seen. 

Along with overwhelming rainforest, palm trees and coconuts hanging at your porch, you are getting a clear view of smoking Mount Yasur and a sound of volcano eruption. 

There are other bungalows located mostly around Yasur Volcano entrance, our mall tour went there one day for lunch and we all got an impression they are jelous about Mike’s place and the fact that most people would chose to stay at his place. 

Hiking Mount Yasur.

One of the top things to do on Tanna Island is hiking Mount Yasur – world’s most accessible active volcano! Volcano is erupting daily, leaving a red sky aura at nigh time. 

You need to book take a guided tour to hike the volcano’s rim and witness the explosive power of nature firsthand. It is not possible to explore it on your own. The experience is truly awe-inspiring and is something that adventurous travelers will never forget! Here you can book Mount Yasur Guided afternoon tour – truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Check here for everything you need to know before Hiking Mount Yasur Volcano in Tanna Island. 

7 top fascinating things about Vanuatu and bush tribes you probably didn’t know - Mount Yasur Volcano

Blue Cave in Tanna Island.

Blue Cave natural wonder is a sea cave located 2 hours drive from Yasur Volcano. The cave gets its name from the deep blue color of the water that fills it. It’s possible to swim in the cave and explore its underground chambers, which are filled with incredible rock formations. The Blue Cave is a must-visit for anyone who loves the ocean and is looking for a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Jungle hiking.

Tanna Island has plenty of opportunities for jungle hiking and exploring. Staying in Mike’s place we got to visit the nearby local village with a primary school.

We also got to witness a local football game 😉

The island is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, including lush rainforests, rivers and beautiful beaches. Hiking trails on the island are a great way to experience the island’s natural beauty.

Top attractions and things to do in Tanna Island in Vanuatu for adventurous traveler. Jungle hiking Tanna Island

Meeting bush tribes of Tanna Island.

Meeting the bush tribes and experiencing the local culture is a must. It’s one of the top fascinating things to do in Tanna Island and while traveling across Pacific Islands. 

Most popular tribes are: Yakel, Imaio and Latapu. Tanna tribes are one of the most traditional and are known for its unique customs and way of life. They are considered as one of the most remote tribes in the world.

All village tours are guided and you need to book them in advance. Mike organized all our tours. You’ll be able to learn about their history, traiditions, witness their famous “kastom” dance, which is a traditional dance performed by the tribes.

You might like: Who are Vanuatu tribes – one of the most remote bush people.

Top attractions and things to do in Tanna Island in Vanuatu for adventurous traveler.

Canibal Tour in Tanna Island.

Cannibal tour in Tanna Island is a fascinating storytelling about human hunting tactics. It is perfomed by a local tribe and they are literally hunting you!

Here are two options for full-day highly rated tours across Tanna Island:

Imaio tribe and Latapu tribe.

It is possible to visit 3 villages during one tour but it’s better to tell Mike in advance. We weren’t sure till the end if Latapu tribe will meet us to greet us, perform their ceremonial dance and introduce their chief. 

Both chiefs were speaking English and actually I was surprised how friendly and opened they were toward us. You can ask him about any of their traditions or hunting practices. Although they might be using some of the modern world tools, they have preserved a unique way of life that is deeply rooted in their customs and traditions. 

Who are Vanuatu tribes – one of the world’s most remote bush people - Etapo tribe Tanna Island.

Imaio tribe lives nearby Yasur Volcano, they follow a strict code of “kastom,” which encompasses their traditional customs, beliefs and practices. They place great importance on observing these customs as a way to maintain their cultural identity and connection to their ancestors.

Land is a crucial aspect of any traditional tribe culture and they have a strong connection to the land they inhabit.

KAVA ceremonial drink.

Trying Kava drink is a must! 

Many tribes in Vanuatu take part in kava ceremonies. Kava is a traditional drink made from the roots of the kava plant and holds significant cultural and social importance.

It is consumed during ceremonies, rituals and social gatherings. 

We had an opportunity to drink it at night, in the jungle hut, near the fireplace. It has a strong energetic influence, which doesn’t last long and is not to strong.

Hiking Mount Yasur Volcano in Vanuatu – the most accessible active crater in the world. View from Tree House Bungalows

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Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!