The beauty of Port Vila puts other Oceanic capitals to shame. The city was built around Vila Bay, and the French atmosphere provided by cafes and rambling streets makes it a wonderfully romantic destination. The steep hillsides offer incredible views of the harbor and its islets, inlets and lagoons, and the friendly population quickly makes the capital feel like home.
To learn more about the distinct cultural groups that call the islands home, spend an afternoon exploring the Vanuatu Cultural Center and National Museum. The thought-provoking permanent displays show off traditional artifacts like slit gongs, masks and outrigger canoes, while other galleries highlight pre-historic shells, pottery, fossils and wildlife from each island. Video documentaries examining the history and culture of Vanuatu are shown daily, and the experienced staff often give performances of traditional skills like story-telling, sand-drawing and playing bamboo flutes.
Ten minutes away from the city is one of the world’s last remaining unspoiled island paradises. Hideaway Island is surrounded by crystal-clear azure waters, and thousands of fish swim among the colorful coral reefs. It is one of the country’s only marine sanctuaries and home to the world’s sole underwater post office.
Twenty minutes away is the beautiful Mangaliliu Village. Tours of the village leave from the capital every day, and visitors can hire local guides to take them through the magnificent jungles and rainforest. The villagers are happy to show travelers how they have relied on the forests to sustain their livelihoods for centuries, and visitors can relax on the pristine beaches, take cruises on outrigger canoes or learn how to fish in the traditional style.
One of the best times to visit the city is in June, when the streets of Port Vila erupt in celebrations for World Music Day. Professional and amateur musicians perform free concerts throughout the city, locals feast on traditional delicacies and the parties do not stop until the wee hours.
Port Vila is the sole duty-free port in Vanuatu, making the capital a shopper’s paradise. For affordable prices, visitors can buy brightly colored sarongs, chic French perfumes, gold jewelry, champagne, straw hats, camping gear and more. The Chinatown district on the Rue Carnot is another bargain-hunting haven, and traditional handicrafts can be purchased at Luganville Town. There are a number of coffee shops, dive shops and small restaurants in the neighborhood as well.
Water sports are popular with both locals and visitors, and the coast of Port Vila offer many opportunities for marine fun. Ocean-walker tours combine SCUBA diving and snorkeling, allowing visitors to explore the world of coral and tropical fish in their natural environment.
Kayaking is another favorite activity, and passionate guides are available for hire at the capital’s harbor. Open-ocean tours take visitors through the coastline’s rock formations, and many tours include snorkeling in the numerous blue holes off the coast. Home to a rich variety of coral and sea life, these blue holes are some of the world’s best diving sites. Visitors may also kayak to serene lagoons, natural caves, hidden inlets, untouched mangroves and some of the most stunning waterfront properties in the city.
Port Vila Geographical Location
Port Vila is the largest city in Vanuatu and is located on the south coast of the island Efate.
The approximate population of Port Vila is 36,000.
Port Vila Language
English and French are the official languages of Vanuatu but are spoken by a very low percentage of the population. Most Ni-Vanuatu speak one of the hundreds of local languages.
Port Vila Predominant Religion
- 55.5% Protestant
- 14% Other Christian
- 13% Roman Catholic
- 10.5% Other
- 6% Indigenous Beliefs
- 1% None
Cargo cults were common in Vanuatu after World War II but few remain today.
Port Vila Currency
Vatu is the official currency of Vanuatu.
Port Vila Climate
Port Vila is hot during the summer and only marginally cooler during the winter. Precipitation is common throughout the year with the heaviest rainfall occurring between December and May.
Port Vila Main Attractions
- Mele Cascades
- Hideaway Island Marine Reserve
- Underwater Post Office
Other Attraction in Port Vila
- Ekasup Village
- Vanuatu National Museum