Discovering the Islands of Vanuatu

These are 6 of the major islands of Vanuatu

As one of the most diverse island nations in the South Pacific region, Vanuatu offers a multitude of cultural experiences and natural encounters to suit any type of traveller.

The archipelago is made up of just over 80 islands, 65 of which are inhabited, and is home to an amazing variety of flora and fauna. If you are travelling to Vanuatu and want to know which islands to explore, this quick guide can help you to discover the major islands of Vanuatu.

Bathers on a sandy island beach
Out of 83 islands in Vanuatu's archipelago, 65 are inhabited, although only a handful
known to Vanuatu visitors, including Mystery Island that can be reached via boat
from Port Vila town and its resorts.


Home to the nation’s capital Port Vila, the island of Efate is the primary international hub of Vanuatu. It is the most visited and most populated of all of the archipelago’s islands. Efate offers a fantastic range of activities suitable for all travellers including zip-lining and marvelling at natural wonders such as the Mele Cascade Waterfalls. The beautiful beaches and bustling markets of Port Vila on Efate island provides plenty to do on your holiday to Vanuatu.

Efate caters to all travellers with their selection of day activities and accommodation that caters to all budgets and travel styles from family friendly to adults only. This island is especially suited to first-time visitors, families and more upmarket travellers.

Espiritu Santo

Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu’s largest island. Though it is less developed than Efate, the main town of Luganville has an international airport with flights from Australia on local carrier Air Vanuatu. Similar to Efate’s Port Vila, Luganville offers markets, shops, bars and restaurants but on a much smaller scale. It is a great destination if you are looking to stay away from the big tourist crowds, especially during peak travelling season.

Espiritu Santo is known as a fantastic destination for active travellers as there is a lot of natural, untouched beauty to explore away from the typical tourist hotspots. The island is home to the famous blue holes, freshwater limestone pools that are amazing shades of blue, and popular dive spot, Million Dollar Point. Accomodation options allow you to stay on the mainland or just off the coast on one of the island resorts.


Home to one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes, the mighty Mount Yasur, Tanna Island is a great place to immerse yourself within Vanuatu’s local culture. From kava tasting and village visits, to viewing the islands turtles and dugongs, Tanna Island will give you a taste of authentic island life. When visiting the island, travellers cannot miss the Volcano Safari which gives you the once in a lifetime opportunity to view a live volcano up close.

The island is a short 45 minute flight from Efate and is a must do for adventurous travellers seeking an authentic island experience. Don’t let the fact that there is no five star accommodation available on the island deter you from the adventure that awaits you on Tanna Island.


Another one for the adventurous traveller seeking insight into local cultural traditions, Pentecost island is home to the famous land diving ritual called Naghol that takes place each year between April and June. The tradition serves as a right of passage for local men and marks the annual yam harvest.

Guests to the island are welcome to watch the tradition themselves and can choose between a day trip or overnight stay tour.


Home of twin volcanoes Mount Benbow and Mount Marum, Ambrym Island is known as the “balck island” because of the blanket of volcanic ash that covers it. It is considered the Black Magic centre of Vanuatu as Black Magic is still practiced here. Those who visit Ambrym have the opportunity to view traditional rituals and purchase local carvings, as well as trek the volcano to see the crater up close. Ambrym is accessible via helicopter from Port Vila and with no hotel options available, those who wish to stay overnight must stay in traditional bungalows.


Only a few tourists venture to Malekula, Vanuatu’s second largest island. The island’s untouched, rugged natural beauty is something to be marvelled at and the adventurous spirits that journey to the island will be met with gushing waterfalls, lush rainforests and jagged mountain ranges, perfect for on-foot trekking. This wild island is the best place to learn about and explore ancient cannibalism sites and discover the local history of Vanuatu off the beaten track.

  Vanuatu Islands Info
Vanuatu Islands  Major Islands of Vanuatu - Discovering six of the best known islands in Vanuatu archipelago.
 Ambae Island - Legendary Bali Hai island
 Ambrym Island - Home to two volcanoes
 Efate Island - Vanuatu's administrative island, home to its capital Port Vila.
 Epi Island - Small island with two volcanoes
 Erromango Island - Exploited for its Sandalwood
 Pele Island - Home to popular Pele Island Tour
 Pentecost Island - Famous for its annual land diving ceremony, unique to Vanuatu.
 Santo Island - Known as Espiritua Santo Island, this is the largest island in Vanuatu.



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