Vanuatu

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WorldSouth PacificVanuatu
Vanuatu
16°00.000'S, 167°00.000'E Chart icon.png
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Vanuatu
Vanuatuflag.png
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Flag
Capital Port Vila
Language Bislama, English, French
Currency Vanuatu Vatu
Time zone VUT (Vanuatu Time) (UTC+11)
Calling code +678

Vanuatu is an island nation in the South Pacific, situated roughly between Fiji and New Caledonia.

The background and history of Vanuatu is best observed on Wikipedia

Vanuatu is a convenient jump off point before making the trip westwards to Australia, southwards to New Zealand or north west to the Solomon Islands. Note that being in the cyclone zone, most yachts make their way out of Vanuatu before early November when the cyclone season starts (but be aware that cyclones don't own calendars). However it is possible to spend the cyclone season in Vanuatu -- either by hauling out at the Port Vila Boatyard or by finding an appropriate mooring in one of the cyclone holes, e.g. Havannah Harbour.

Because of the prevailing winds and the direction in which the island chain lies, a yacht will typically want to come into Vanuatu around the southern islands, perhaps Lenakel on Tanna Island or Port Vila itself, and then work their way north west, down wind. A clearance port, Sola exists in the northern Banks Islands, but it's also possible to get special permission to remain in Vanuatu for a short time after clearance in Luganville or Port Vila.

Yachts travelling onwards to New Zealand, New Caledonia or the southern ports of Australia may prefer to depart directly from Port Vila. It's certainly possible to work downwind to some of the northern islands and then take an upwind passage back to Port Vila if that is your preference.

There are many bays and islands to explore in Vanuatu and it's well worth spending the time to cruise.

Charts

Land Information NZ
NZ 14 - Tasman and Coral Seas.

Weather

The wet season runs from November to April, and can be very rainy and humid. Cyclones may occur from December to April.

Weather links

  • The Fiji Meteorological Service issues daily weather bulletins for much of the South Pacific.
  • These forecasts can also be retrieved as a text format file by sending an email to query@saildocs.com. See the Weather page for more information.
  • A generalised South Pacific weather forecast from the Fiji Meterological Service may be found here or by sending an email containing send nadi.sopac to query@saildocs.com. See the Weather page for more information.
  • Vanuatu Meteorological Services issues a 7 day land forecast and a 4 day marine forecast for various regions of Vanuatu (check the links on the left hand menu of the home page for the marine forecasts).
  • Gulf Harbour Radio in New Zealand issues a forecast for the South Pacific as part of their morning radio schedule that covers Vanuatu local waters as well as passage weather to and from Vanuatu.

Passages

See also Port Vila.

Islands

These are listed North to South, in provinces.

Key to symbols: |Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||
Torba Province Sanma Province Penama Province
Torres Islands Torres Islands/wiki/Torres_Islands Island icon – island |
Banks Islands Banks Islands/wiki/Banks_Islands Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Vanua Lava Vanua Lava/wiki/Vanua_Lava Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
    • Sola Sola/wiki/Sola Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Espiritu Santo Espiritu Santo/wiki/Espiritu_Santo Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Luganville Luganville/wiki/Luganville Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Maewo Maewo /wiki/Maewo Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Asanvari Bay Asanvari Bay/wiki/Asanvari_Bay Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Aoba (Ambae)Aoba (Ambae)/wiki/Aoba Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Pentecost Pentecost /wiki/Pentecost Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Malampa Province Shefa Province Tafea Province
Malakula Malakula /wiki/Malakula Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Port Sandwich Port Sandwich/wiki/Port_Sandwich Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Port Stanley Port Stanley/wiki/Port_Stanley Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • South West BaySouth West Bay/wiki/South_West_Bay,_Malakula Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Ambrym Ambrym /wiki/Ambrym Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Olal - Nebul Bay Olal - Nebul Bay/wiki/Olal_-_Nebul_Bay Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Epi Epi /wiki/Epi Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Lamen Bay Lamen Bay/wiki/Lamen_Bay Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Revelieu Bay Revelieu Bay/wiki/Revelieu_Bay Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Efate Efate /wiki/Efate Island icon – island |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
  • Port Vila Port Vila/wiki/Port_Vila Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Erromango Erromango /wiki/Erromango Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
Tanna Tanna /wiki/Tanna Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Lenakel Lenakel /wiki/Lenakel Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Port ResolutionPort Resolution/wiki/Port_Resolution,_Vanuatu Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Aneityum (Anatom)Aneityum (Anatom)/wiki/Aneityum Island icon – island |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Anelcauhat Anelcauhat /wiki/Anelcauhat Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |

Communication

Net Name and Notes HQ Coverage and Notes Frequencies (MHz) Times (Zulu)
Vanuatu NetVanuatuPacific8.2302030

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Navigation

See the individual islands under Groups and Islands below.

Due to the direction of the prevailing winds (SE in the cruising season), the west coasts of most of the main islands of Vanuatu provides preferable cruising grounds to the east coasts. The eastern coasts are certainly navigable but with stronger winds and lumpier seas, whereas sailing the east coast of the islands provides for more sheltered conditions.

In particular the west coasts of Malakula, Espiritu Santo, Pentecost and Maewo islands provide sheltered sailing areas due to the shape of the islands and the direction in which they lie to the prevailing winds.

Entrance

24 hours advance notification of arrival has to be provided, which can be provided by a web form (which sends email) or phone. See Yacht clearance details.

According to Quarantine laws, the vessel is required to fly the yellow flag as soon as it enters Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone. Upon arrival at the port vessels can call Customs on VHF radio Channel 16 (only at Port Vila and Lenakel at the moment).

Master of all yachts entering Vanuatu from a foreign port or place must first report to the Customs, Quarantine and Immigration authorities at either the port of Lenakel or Port Vila or Luganville or Sola.

Vessels may not call at Mystery Island (Aneityum) or Port Resolution (Tanna) or any other place in Vanuatu, prior to entering one of the ports nominated above for customs clearance, unless prior written permission is granted by the Director of Customs & Inland Revenue. The Master of vessels who visit these places prior to obtaining customs clearance, being issued with an Inter-island Cruising Permit, or obtaining written permission may be subject to fines and/or prosecution.

Customs and Immigration

See Official Website for latest details.

Customs

Sea-going yachts or other vessels for pleasure temporarily visiting Vanuatu may be admitted free of duty provided that in each case the vessel:

  • Has entered Vanuatu under its own power on a voyage from a foreign port or place;
  • Belongs to or has been hired, chartered or otherwise loaned to a person or person travelling on board the vessel at the time of its arrival in Vanuatu;
  • Is intended for the personal use of the person or persons on board and shall not be used for any commercial purpose in Vanuatu;
  • Shall not be sold, lent, hired, pledged or otherwise disposed of and shall not be used for any commercial purpose in Vanuatu;
  • Shall not remain in Vanuatu for a period or periods exceeding a total of 18 months in any period of 24 months, save for reason of circumstance (including a change of residence) accepted by the Director of Customs as being of an exceptional and unavoidable nature.
  • Duty rate for yachts (sail boats) depend on tariff classification but are generally 0% but liable for 12.5% VAT unless imported under personal effects for residency.

Yachts will become liable for duty if it is disposed of in Vanuatu, if it is used for commercial purposes, if it remains in Vanuatu for a period exceeding 18 months in any two years, or if it is imported by a resident of Vanuatu.

Immigration

Yachts may not stop at any other island or anchorage in Vanuatu until after officially clearing in, unless they have received prior written approval from Customs. The international and inter-island outward clearance will be granted only on Monday to Friday from 07:30 to 11:00 hours and 13:30 to 16:00 hours. The offices are closed on public holidays and weekends.

Only with prior written approval is it possible to stop at Aneityum (Anatom) Island and finalize clearing in in Tanna. Contact the local policeman who will enter your name in a log. The Customs officer no longer runs a regular trip to Port Resolution on Tanna, should you want to clear in there you should seek prior written approval or go first to Lenakel.

If you check in at Port Vila anchor in the quarantine zone near the yellow buoy. This is just north of the lead markers in some 8 to 20 meters depth. Have your yellow quarantine flag flying. Call Port Vila Harbour Control on Channel 16. They keep radio watch from 7:30 to 16:30. If they do not answer, try Yachting World Vanuatu on Channel 16. They will contact Customs and Quarantine for you. These officials will arrive with their own skiff. If you arrive on Saturday or Sunday or a public holiday you might as well catch up on sleep and chores on the boat as you won't be clearing in except during working hours. Do not go ashore without first clearing in without explicit instructions by radio or telephone from customs officials instructing you otherwise.

Visas

Immigration officers will issue each member of the crew with an entry permit for one month providing you live aboard and do not take up paid employment. Should you wish to extend your stay you must apply to the Immigration authorities in Port Vila. The maximum stay is eighteen months in any twenty four month period.

The immigration office in Port Vila is in the centre of town, past the markets, upstairs at the back of a building which isn't clearly marked. Take in your passports, 2 passport photos per crew member, and your ships registration papers, plus a fee of VUT6000 per person. A 4 month extension is granted on the spot.

Anyone on board ceasing to be a crew member must obtain a return air ticket immediately. Responsibility for advising the immigration authorities when a crew member wishes to leave lies with the master who will be liable for crew member repatriation unless and until released from this obligation.

Restrictions

Commercial Goods

Any commercial goods carried on board that will be landed in Vanuatu or are in transit through Vanuatu, must all be declared to Customs authority on arrival by the Masters of the vessels or its crew members. Failure to do so may result with the confiscation of the yacht(s)/pleasure boat(s).

Arms and Ammunition

On arrival all arms and ammunition must be declared and surrendered to the Customs Officer for safe keeping. If Customs is satisfied the firearms and ammunition can be safely secured under seal onboard this may be allowed. In cases where no suitable secured sealing arrangements exist, the goods will be held by Customs until departure. You must notify Customs 48 hours in advance of your intended departure from the final port of clearance. If you intend to depart from a port of clearance other than the one you arrived at, it is a good idea to provide at least a week's notice.

Prohibited Goods
  • Automatic and semi automatic weapons are not to be brought into the country at all as these are strictly prohibited and severe penalties are in place for any breach of these prohibitions.
  • You may not have onboard obscene publications, or videos, narcotics (other than genuine medical emergency drugs).
Customs Allowances

Each crew member is allowed: Personal baggage consisting of wearing apparel, toilet requisites, articles of personal adornment, and similar personal effects to be owned and used aboard by each crew member and which are not intended for gifts, sale or disposal to any other person. Persons over 15 years of age are allowed 250 cigarettes of 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, 2 litres of wine and 1.5 litres of spirit, 1/4 litre of toilet water and 10 centilitres of perfume. Other items up to a value of 50,000 Vatu per person aged over 15 years. If the vessel has goods, especially tobacco or alcohol, in excess of these allowances, they must be secured under customs bond until departure.

Quarantine

No live animals, reptiles, birds of any description, fresh meat, fruit or vegetables imported by yachts may be taken ashore. Restrictions on what may or may not be left on board will be determined by the officers of the Department of Agriculture. No foreign garbage may be landed in Vanuatu without permission form the Quarantine Service.

Inter-Island Voyages

On completion of Customs and Immigration formalities at the port of entry, masters of any vessel wishing to visit other islands in the group must declare their intended movements to the Customs authorities and obtain an inter-island clearance.

Duty Free

Duty-Free goods may be shipped on board any vessel which has cleared outwards, or which is about to clear outwards, for a foreign port. Quantities allowed to be shipped shall be commensurate with the length of the anticipated voyage. Apply at the Customs Office for appropriate forms and conditions at the time of departure.

Arrival Fees

  • Immigration 4,800 Vatu
  • Quarantine 5,000 Vatu (more if there is garbage needing to be disposed of).

An invoice is issued for these fees which can be paid at the customs office after clearing in. The copy of the Quarantine invoice as well as a receipt for its payment is required to obtain outwards clearance.

Outwards Clearance

All yachts leaving Vanuatu for a foreign port are required to obtain an outward clearance from Customs and Immigration authorities at the final port of clearance. No yacht is allowed to call at any island once it has been given an outward international clearance unless given prior written approval by the Director of Customs (which is usually forthcoming).

Yachts clearing out from Port Vila may buy duty-free items including alcohol at any number of shops in Port Vila. It is possible to "provisionally" check-out in Port Vila and the alcohol will be customs sealed; not to be consumed until your final clearance and departure from the country.

Outwards Fees and Charges

All visiting small craft must pay port dues of 7,000 Vatu for the first 30 days or any part thereof. After 30 days from the date of first arrival, the vessel is liable for an additional charge of 100 Vatu per day. Port Dues are paid at the customs office at the final port of departure.

Health & Security

Submit any health warnings/information and any security details here.

Berthing

Ports

Vanuatu currently has four (4) Approved Ports of Entry:

  • Sola Sola /wiki/Sola Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Luganville Luganville /wiki/Luganville Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
  • Port Vila Port Vila/wiki/Port_Vila Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
  • Lenakel Lenakel /wiki/Lenakel Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |
Key to symbols: |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data ||

See also each the Islands above.

Amenities

Facilities
Water Port Vila: in Yachting World Marina fuel dock
Electricity Port Vila: in Yachting World Marina fuel dock
Toilets Port Vila: in Yachting World Marina fuel dock
Showers Port Vila: in Yachting World Marina fuel dock
Laundry Port Vila: in Yachting World Marina fuel dock
Garbage Port Vila:
Supplies
Fuel
Bottled gas Origin Gas in Port Vila and Luganville (Butane)
Chandlers Port Vila:
Services
Repairs Port Vila:
  • Port Vila Boatyard - In and out of water repairs to all vessels, a full service haul out facility. Tel. +678 23417; info@portvilaboatyard.com
  • Marine Surveyors & Consultants - Yacht, Superyacht and Ship Surveyors
  • Bodiam Engineering - Yanmar Dealers - Marine Engineering
  • Vila Marine - Mercury outboards
Internet There is a WiFi cafe ashore in Port Vila near the Marina and another one or two in the town area

There is a nationwide broadband provider called Telsat Broadband that provides WiFi coverage in the central town areas, 2.4GHz/5GHz coverage outside those areas (requiring a router), and satellite coverage (requiring a satellite dish) throughout Vanuatu. Their WiFi coverage is spotty in the mooring areas but quite good on shore

Mobile connectivity Like many countries in the South Pacific, there are a couple of 3G/4G internet providers in Vanuatu and this is often the best and cheapest way to obtain internet connectivity for travellers, especially if you have the sort of phone or tablet (or router) that can provide a portable WiFi hotspot when a 3G SIM card is inserted

The two providers in Vanuatu for prepaid internet are:

Both of these have booths in the market selling SIM cards and data plans. Examine the pricing between the two to choose the one most suitable for your needs

Vehicle rentals ?

Provisioning

Give the names and locations of supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries, etc..

Eating out

Give the name of recommended restaurant, tavernas, pastry stores, etc.)

Transportation

List transportation (local and/or international.)

Tourism

History

Give a short history of the island.)

Places to Visit

Kastom

Throughout Vanuatu, and especially outside of Port Vila in the villages, life is strongly influenced by "kastom" -- a set of traditional customs and taboos that apply to all kinds of matters. Be aware of this, and respect locals' requests with regard to "kastom". When visiting villages, women should dress modestly, wearing clothes that cover the shoulders and knees.

Always consider to see a chief first. Some villages may not follow traditional "kastom" rules any more, but people will be happy to welcome you anyway and tell you about their village life.

If seeing a chief, bring some kind of gift - a bag of rice or sugar, for instance. In several places we made them very happy with a share of our ground coffee, which is hard to get by, but is seen as a real treat. In the more remote places ANYTHING is welcome, needles, fabric, rope, jerry cans, empty bottles - even drinking water.

Taboo (Tabu) Zones

Regarding taboo zones always check first with the respective chief especially before snorkelling on reefs or fishing. Should you see a palm frond planted in the sand on the shore, this is the boundary of a taboo zone. Do not swim, snorkel or fish there. You will find a second one marking the other end.

Friends

Submit details/contacts of cruiser's "friends" that can be contacted in advance or on arrival - who can offer information and assistance to our cruising "family".

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

  • Cruising Guide to Vanuatu
  • Michael Pocock/Ros Hogbin, The Pacific Crossing Guide, Second Edition, RCC Pilotage Foundation, London, ISBN 0713661828. The entry for Port Vila in this book is a little outdated but mostly still accurate.
  • Warwick Clay, South Pacific Anchorages 2nd edition, Imray, ISBN 0852884826. Lists most of the major anchorages of Vanuatu over several sections of the book. Again some of the entries are a little outdated but nonetheless a good guide and in most cases still accurate.

Comments

We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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