We would guess in this particular case both the country and the currency it uses are completely new and unfamiliar to you. Let’s rectify that situation now by finding out more about both of them.
The first thing you should be aware of here is that the vatu is not subdivided into any other unit. So you literally have the vatu to use when you are there and nothing else. This can make life a little easier when trying to become more familiar with the currency and the coins and notes.
There are plenty of coins in use, ranging from the smallest one vatu coin to the largest 100 vatu coin. In between you will also find the 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 vatu coins. You can also use half a dozen vatu banknotes. These are the 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 banknotes.
You don’t need to go back too far to find the first use of the vatu in Vanuatu. 1982 was the year it came into being, after independence was granted two years earlier in 1980. Before this point the country used the New Hebrides franc. The introduction of the new currency also meant the Australian dollar, which was also used in the country, was no longer taken as legal tender.
As you might expect of a currency that is not well-known among many, the vatu is not generally available through the usual bureaux de change prior to you travelling to Vanuatu. However the good news is the currency is easy enough to get hold of once you actually get there. You have lots of opportunities to exchange your cash for the vatu, right from the moment you get to the airport. There are plenty of resorts around that will happily exchange your cash too.
You also have the option to look for a cash machine, and there is a reasonable number of them around. Providing your card is either a Cirrus or a Visa card you should be fine to use it in Vanuatu. You may just want to alert your card provider to the fact that it is you using the card and not anyone else.
You can also use a credit card to make payment for things but you may not be able to do so everywhere you go. The best option is to ensure you ask before assuming, so you know how you can pay in each case.
Simply access your preferred currency converter to get the latest information. Be aware that some converters only update every now and then – such as once a day for example – whereas others update virtually every minute. If you want a more accurate idea of the current exchange rate you should opt for a more advanced converter. Just remember this won’t include any commission you would typically have to pay when converting your currency into the vatu; it can only be used as a rough guide.
Vanuatu does not have an embassy in London; the nearest one to the UK is in Belgium! However you can find out more about the country by going to the UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/government/world/vanuatu. This is a good place to start when you want to learn more.
Safety in Vanuatu is generally not a problem. In fact the most important thing to be aware of is where Vanuatu is in the world – namely sitting right on the so-called Ring of Fire. If your knowledge of the world extends this far, you’ll know this is an area known for its volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Most people who go to Vanuatu on holiday don’t experience any problems at all in this sense, or indeed in any other. However it is a good idea to be alert to the issues that can arise in this way.
The good news is that crime is not a huge issue in Vanuatu. There are crimes that occur of course, many of which are petty in nature. Of course if you were to have your bag stolen or your pocket picked you wouldn’t think it was minor, so it makes sense to take precautions. Don’t carry any more cash than you really need to, for example, and keep what you do carry divided into separate amounts. If you stow these away in separate pockets it would be very unlikely you would lose the lot if you were to be targeted.
Finally make sure you don’t travel alone if you can help it, especially if you are female. You will be safer if you don’t venture out alone at night and stick to well-lit and popular areas where there are lots of people.
Unless you already know the answer you are probably wondering where in the world Vanuatu actually is. Let’s reveal the information here. For starters it is an island nation, but it is spread over a number of islands in the South Pacific. You will find it off the north-eastern coastline of Australia. New Caledonia is to the south-west while the Solomon Islands are situated to the north-west. The capital of Vanuatu is Port Vila, which boasts many sights and also is host to the Vanuatu National Museum.
Nearby is one of the most popular resorts Vanuatu has to offer. This is called Iririki Island and it is actually a mere few minutes from the capital. This is a great place to be if you really do want to get away from it all, especially as there is a wonderful beach here. Don’t feel as if you have to relax all day though, as you can take part in a variety of beach- and sea-based activities too.
Elsewhere in Vanuatu you can visit The Summit Gardens. These are tropical gardens filled with some of the most amazing colours you will ever have seen. You can even take advantage of the guides who work in the gardens and can reveal much about the flora and fauna you will see there. Make sure you look out for the odd bench so you can simply sit and appreciate this beautiful place.
Another great naturally-occurring place to visit is called the Mele Cascades. As you might guess from the name this is a waterfall and you can take a tour to see it if you wish. You can even walk down the cascades themselves, as there are ropes guiding you through them. This part may not be for everyone but you can still go for a swim under the falls if you wish. Who would refuse such an offer in such a stunning setting?
As we’ve already discovered, Vanuatu is actually a collection of islands rather than being a single one. One of these islands is called Espiritu Santo, and it is on this island that you will find a beach called Champagne Beach. To say this is a beautiful beach is a huge understatement and it is popular for good reason. The pure white sand meets the bluest of water from the South Pacific, inviting you in for a swim before another spot of sunbathing. You can also visit nearby Hog Harbour, which despite its name is a village (although it does have a harbour as well).
Finally we mentioned the fact that Vanuatu is situated on the Ring of Fire in the Pacific, so we should perhaps finish off rather aptly with a mention of Mount Yasur. This is one of the active volcanoes in the region, and it is on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. In terms of eruptions, well, the last one for this volcano got going in 1774… and it is still going strong! That’s quite impressive for any volcano, although in this case it isn’t a huge eruption so you can usually walk up fairly close to it to see it in more detail. This could be a once in a lifetime chance but do take care if you do decide to see it.
Vanuatu is a series of islands all offering the potential for an amazing trip to a region you may never have visited before. The islands offer some great beaches and water-based activities to get involved with, while you can also go exploring and see some of the more natural sights on land here. As we have seen above, they really do have lots to offer and once you get to grips with the local currency you will be using it with confidence. Whether you opt for a break in a dedicated resort or you decide to go off the beaten track, you can always be sure of an amazing time in Vanuatu if you choose this as your summer destination.