Mr and Mrs Romance’s guide to Port Vila on Efate Island, Vanuatu

Tell me you don’t like the idea of a Pacific island holiday and watch me laugh in your face! Everyone does. There’s no theory, reason, or evidence that you could produce that would make me change my mind.

Mr and Mrs Romance - Vanuatu - title pic

I tell you what, let’s do it the other way round. Let me tell you some things about… let’s say… Vanuatu, and we’ll see who changes their mind first.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation

We headed to Vanuatu for our long-awaited honeymoon. Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital city, is on the island of Efate. It’s the second largest in the 82-island archipelago that spans 12,200 sq km of water.

The coast of Efate is typical of islands in the South Pacific. Diamond-clear water, not much surf, soft white sand and an abundance of sea life just itching to leap out onto your plate!

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation, sunset

Where did we stay?

Mr and Mrs Romance - Vanuatu - coral cottage collage

As it was our honeymoon, we had the excuse of pushing the boat out a bit further. We stayed at Tamanu on the Beach, 35 minutes south of Port Vila. It calls itself ‘Vanuatu’s only luxury boutique absolute oceanfront resort’… quite a name, isn’t it?

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation

And it’s a name worth having – especially when it delivers!

What was it like?

When we arrived, we were shown to our own beachfront coral cottage, close enough to ocean’s edge we were glad neither of us sleepwalk! They’re called coral cottages for good reason too. The walls are entirely made up of coral! Anyone who’s been to Yorkshire in the UK knows about the drystone walls there. This is kind of the same thing.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation

There are only three cottages with beachfront positions. The other three, set back a little way from the beach make up the total of six places to stay in this resort. Each oceanfront cottage has a lot of floor space – between 60-80 sq metres – a large verandah onto the beach, and an open-air bathroom.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacationMr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation

Along this coastline, sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand every year between March and April. Oh and the beach is private, so you won’t see anyone unless they’re staying at Tamanu or they work there. Or they’re turtles.

What did we do?

Tempted as we were, we didn’t spend all our time at Tamanu. We did other things too! Driving to the north of the island, we discovered many secluded beaches and villages.

WWII Museum and Wreck Diving

In particular, near the village of Paognisu, we came across the WWII museum. It’s just a tiny shed with a few bits of broken ammunition, parts of planes and things like that.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation, diving, wreck

But, there was also a sign for tours to an American fighter plane, wrecked in the sea when it ran out of fuel. The Americans had an airbase here in the 1940s and although Efate didn’t see any of the conflict, accidents still happen.

We were taken out to the wreck by the museum guy in his tiny wooden boat. Because the tide was low, he had to get out and drag the boat through the mud. I offered to get out and help, but he was emphatic. We had to stay in the boat.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation

The wreck, when we got there, was in three metres of water, tangled in sea grass and rusted to its shell. We were allowed to stay there for only ten minutes before we had to leave again. This was plenty of time, but still, we did wonder why the time limit.

The Waterfall

Heading south again towards Port Vila, we visited the Mele Cascades in the west of the island. This is an incredible experience and a must-see.

Down from the steep hills towards the little village of Mele flows a waterfall from an underwater stream. The deluge cascades down hundreds of steps into a series of pools, some deep enough to swim in. The water is cool and fresh, and you can climb up the falls to where the stream first emerges.

Mr and Mrs Romance, Vanuatu, Pacific island, port vila, beach, holiday, vacation, waterfall

Port Vila Markets

We also went to the weekend markets in Port Vila itself. Unfortunately we timed it badly as a giant cruise liner had just come into port that morning. The relatively sleepy capital had transformed into a tourist ghetto, with throngs of savage bumbag/fannypack-toting shouters filled the streets.

We retired to a little local food place on one of the piers and took stock. All too soon we would be heading back to Tamanu to check out and catch our flight back home.

The memories of our honeymoon in the South Pacific will stay with us for the rest of our lives. And after all, isn’t that what travelling’s all about?

Mr and Mrs Romance - Vanuatu - tree on beach

Tamanu on the Beach: click here to see their different specials and deals on stays here.
Private tour to the plane wreck: VT800 (Vanuatu ‘vatu’) each
Entrance to Mele Cascades: VT1000 each (VT250 for kids) – money goes towards to the local Mele villagers who maintain the facilities, clean toilets, barbecue hut etc.

Here’s a nice brochure about Efate.

Here are seven fun facts and some more pics of Vanuatu.

Flights to Port Vila are very frequent with five flight companies operating between Port Vila and Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, though all flights transfer via Australia or New Zealand.

  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Pacific
  • Virgin Australia
  • Air Vanuatu also flies from Australia and NZ.

Click here to read about our trip to Tanna Island and the world’s most accessible active volcano, Mount Yassur.

Images by Mrs Romance.


  • […] Click here for our full review on Efate Island and Port Vila – Vanuatu’s capital. […]

  • Reply May 1, 2013


    I enjoyed Vanuatu when I was there a few years ago, although it sounds like you had a more glamorous time than my friends and I did — we CouchSurfed the entire week (in our own private room, though). Now I want to go to another Pacific island… New Caledonia!

    • Reply May 2, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Hi Theresa
      I bet your visit to Vanuatu was a bit of an adventure then – but it sounds like you struck it pretty lucky if you had your own room!
      One of my mates went to New Caledonia recently and really enjoyed it. Looks beautiful. We went to the Cook Islands a few years ago and had the best time. It’s not as expensive there (yet) as a lot of other Pacific islands.
      Keep an eye out – I think we’ll be doing a piece on the Cooks fairly soon if you want to know more.
      Cheers for stopping by

  • Reply May 8, 2013


    My uncle would tell you he didn’t fancy it. He went to Malta once and didn’t like it so he’s never since left the UK! I’m glad I have the opposite attitude to travel. This looks like the perfect honeymoon spot.

    • Reply May 9, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Oh no! That’s hilarious, Arianwen! Your poor uncle. He must have had a really bad time. My first experience of travelling abroad could have put me off too – my parents took me to Rhodes when I was a kid, but it was Easter holidays for Greek uni students and they pretty much filled up the island in full party mode.

      Yes, Vanuatu is a great honeymoon spot, but there are places there that would suit a regular holiday-goer too. Well worth a visit if you get a chance.

      Thanks for commenting.


  • […] you want more information about Port Vila on Efate Island, click here. If you want to know more about Manna Island and its volcano, click here. And if you want some fun […]

  • Reply April 18, 2014


    Wow! I LOVE the pics you guys have taken along the way…just beautiful! You definitely have an eye for detail!

    We’re heading to Vanuatu (AGAIN! I’m addicted!) next month, and stumbled across your website while trolling Tanna accommodation. Thanks for such a refreshing read!

    Well done!


    • Reply April 21, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Thanks Rachelle! We really enjoyed our trip to Vanuatu. Such an interesting place – and so close to our shores too. I’m not surprised you’re going back again!
      Glad you like our pics – Mrs Romance will blush when I pass on your compliments!

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