Vanuatu

Local boys on the beach VanuatuCane & Able Travel can arrange holiday packages to the South Pacific that include flights, accommodation, transfers and tours. We have lived in Vanuatu, visit regularly and have been arranging travel for guests since 2003. We have the local destination knowledge, know what is possible for the disabled traveller and we have the most competitive prices as we have negotiated rates directly with the resorts. We are a licensed Australian travel agency and a member of the Travel Compensation Fund.

The tropical humidity makes my particular MS worse but I try to travel in the cooler months and I can get by with a cane to assist. I always hire an air-conditioned car in Vanuatu as I find that easier and less tiring than hopping on and off buses. Having said that, the local ni-Vanuatu people are always forthcoming when assistance would be welcome.

Poppys on the Lagoon Wheelchair GuestIn Port Vila, Vanuatu, we recommend Poppy’s on the Lagoon for travellers in wheelchairs. Poppy’s has two Garden View Bungalows with purpose built doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, wheel-in shower with wall rails etc.

The resort is on the flat and the friendly locals are more than happy to assist people getting in and out of vehicles etc – and there are restaurants with wheelchair access in town.

The photo is of a recent guest at Poppy’s. You don’t get bare-chested cabana boys to push you around like this back home!

If you are mobile with cane assistance like me, there are lots of Vanuatu resort and hotel options to suit all needs and budgets. Just drop me an email and pick my brain as there are 20+ resorts that may suit.  For example, Iririki Island Resort

Iririki Welcome Panorama

Iririki is located in Port Vila Harbour so guests have to transfer on the ferry (only a few minutes across). Generally speaking the resort can accommodate guests who are not exclusively wheelchair dependent – staff are readily available at both the Ifira Landing and the Iririki Jetty to assist with boarding and disembarking the ferry – I don’t mind a steady hand for this bit.  There are a number of rooms that have no steps to the door and the showers in all rooms will accommodate a chair (there is a small hob around the showers in the deluxe rooms).  The island mini-vans are on call to take guests around the island and there is a wheelchair on standby for short-term use or emergencies.

The Havannah Resort VanuatuWe know all the resort owners/managers so can request a room that is near the restaurant and recreational facilities.  Likewise we can assist in Fiji and the Cook Islands where we have personally experienced more than 50 accommodation properties.We are also experienced in using and arranging wheelchairs with the airlines – even if you have cane-assisted mobility, a wheelchair can be very handy if you are in a hurry or the boarding gate is a distance away.

Feel free to contact us for advice on travelling with a disability in the Pacific, cost and obligation free. We’re here for a chat.

And here is some general travel information on Vanuatu in a handy A to Z format:

ATMS

There is an ANZ ATM on arrival at the airport and there are ANZ and Westpac ATM’s outside the banks in the main street. ANZ has ATMs outside supermarkets.

BEER

There is a wide variety of Australian, New Zealand and European imported beers but the local drop, Tusker, is very good and less expensive as there is a hefty import duty.

CAR HIRE

There are a number of car rental businesses. Small Guide Travel recommends Hertz and can arrange a good deal. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.

At one point in the joint rule French/English condominium days they drove on both sides of the road so the government decided that the next vehicle to arrive in Vanuatu would dictate which side of the road was used, depending on where it originated from – it arrived from New Caledonia (French). So there you go…

And do you know how many people you can legally fit in the back of a truck? One more!

CHEMISTS

There are three chemists in the main street – Healthwise and The Drug Store are the English ones and there is a French ‘pharmacie’. They stock everything you will get at home but it is more expensive because it has to be imported.

CLIMATE

The climate is tropical, with the heaviest rainfall and humidity through November to February. The maximum temperature is around 28° to 30°C. The water temperature is pleasant all year round. Click here for the current Port Vila weather forecast.

CORAL CUTS

If you get a scratch or graze (and it can happen without you knowing while snorkelling – it’s only when the air hits do you realise), nature’s cure is to squeeze lemon or lime onto the wound. The best stuff to cleanse the wound is Hydrogen Peroxide (if it doesn’t fizz, it’s not infected), followed by an anti-bacterial cream and cover with a dressing. In Australia or New Zealand you would leave it uncovered and let the air heal – in the tropics it’s the reverse.

CURRENCY

The currency in Vanuatu is the vatu. The easiest way to get your head around it is to divide by 10 to get an approximation (e.g. 1000 vatu = $10.00) but at time of writing the exchange rate was 91.5 AUD and 71.5 NZD – here’s a link to currency conversion.

DUTY FREE

The inbound duty is two litres of spirits or 2.25 litres of wine (3 bottles) and 200 cigarettes (or equivalent). You can buy duty free beer on arrival.

ELECTRICITY

The vast majority are three pronged plugs (same as in Australia and New Zealand) – the two pronged ones are found in just a few French built/owned properties.

FRANGIPANI

Frangipanis are delightfully scented white flowers with yellow centres (and occasionally pink). The name comes from the Marquis Frangipani of Rome, who invented a perfume for scenting gloves in the 16th century. Just a bit of trivia…

GOLF

There is an excellent 18-hole golf course at Mele, about 15 minutes from town. Saturday is competition day and visitors can only play with proof of handicap on that day.

HANDICRAFTS

For a range of handicrafts from carvings, t-shirts, necklaces and coconut bras (‘basket blong titi’ in Bislama) head to the souvenir markets on the harbour next to the Nambawan Cafe. ‘Nambawan’ in Bislama means ‘Number One’ or ‘excellent’.

HEAT

Just a reminder that Vanuatu is in the tropics and while it never gets really ‘hot’ it can certainly feel it because of the humidity. Temps range pretty much year round between 23°C and 30°C and the water is always warm. When going on an outing or an activity like a round of golf, take a bottle of water and wear sun protection.

HORSE RIDING

There are two horse riding ‘ranches’ – Club Hippique Aquatic Park and l’Hippocamhpus (The Sea Horse Ranch).

IMODIUM

Many travellers to the tropics get mild tummy upsets. This may not be the fault of the tropics as much as a change of time zone and diet and the body doesn’t like it (who has a full cooked breakfast every day and that extra few drinks every night at home?) While there are natural remedies like lots of water, packing Imodium or similar to take with you may come in handy.

INSURANCE

Travel insurance is cheap – because most people don’t get to use it – but if you do, it could save thousands of dollars. Flights do get delayed, connections do get missed, people do get sick or have accidents and property can get stolen or go missing. A good policy for Australians travelling to the South Pacific is SureSave Travel Insurance (even covers your pets boarding if you are delayed getting home!)

LANGUAGE

There are three ‘official’ languages in Vanuatu – English, French and Bislama. Bislama is ‘pidgin English’ with a few French words. To say thank you in Bislama, “tank yu” or “tank yu tumas” which means “thanks a lot” (thank you too much). On Erakor Island you will find a unique way to call the ferry – “Sipos yu wantem ferry, yu kilim gong”.

MALARIA

Malaria tablets aren’t necessary for a Vanuatu holiday but insect repellent might be handy for comfort. Doctors will tell you that Vanuatu is a ‘malaria country’ but these days that’s only on the outer islands, not in Port Vila or the main island of Efate.

PASSPORTS

Your passport should have six months validity from your arrival date. If you lose you your passport the Australian High Commission’s number is 22 777 and the New Zealand High Commission is 22 933.

TAXIS

The buses are arguably more reliable than the taxi services and certainly cheaper. Ask the taxi driver for a rate before hopping in. Taxis have a ‘T’ in front of the number plate. Buses have a ‘B’ in front of the number plate and are plentiful – they also drop door-to-door for 150 vatu around town.

TIME ZONE

In non-daylight saving time Vanuatu is an hour ahead of east coast Australia and is on the same time zone as the states that have daylight saving during that time. New Zealand is normally two hours ahead of Vanuatu

TIPPING

Tipping is not encouraged in Vanuatu. Tip with a smile and ‘tank yu tumas’. Melanesian custom says that if you give something for nothing, the person receiving will owe you – and that’s how a tip is perceived. Bargaining at the markets can also be taken as an insult.

VAT

There is a 12.5% Value Added Tax on all goods and services. This is usually included in the quoted price.

WATER

The tap water is safe to drink but if you are worried, bottled water is readily available. Whatever you decide, the important thing in the tropics is to drink plenty of it to stay hydrated.

There is a high calcium content in Port Vila water so you may get white specks in your tea or the shower rose can become clogged (a paper clip sorts that out).

And water temps for swimming don’t change that much throughout the year – around 24 degrees Celsius.