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Page: Vanuatu Islands - Best Known Islands in Vanuatu Island Archipelago

Vanuatu Islands

Visitor guide to popular islands of Vanuatu

Vanuatu island archipelago consists of 83 islands. The main administrative island is Efate island, home to Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, which is also the most populated island. It's also home to the Bauerfield International Airport and the domestic airport, making it the gateway to Vanuatu. The largest is Espiritu Santo island, commonly known as Santo, home to Luganville town.

  Most Popular Vanuatu Islands

Island Hopping

Moving from an island to island during your stay in Vanuatu, gives you access to the widest range of activities and exploration possible. It is one of the best ways to explore the islands on your holiday in Vanuatu, combined with fantastic sightseeing.


Popular Islands

Each of Vanuatu islands is a beautiful, tropical paradise, waiting to be experienced and explored. While most of the islands are uninhabited, there are several islands that are very popular with visitors to Vanuatu, each uniquely different.


Ambae Island

Previously known as Aoba island, Ambae island is best known as the inspiration for James Michener's magical island paradise 'Bali Hai', from his Pulitzer winning book "Tales of the South Pacific". The island is about 50kms east of the Santo island.


Ambrym Island

This volcanic island has long been one of the star islands in Vanuatu archipelago. The island is famous for sorcery and magic, where visitors can witness native Rom dance, local ceremonies and wooden carvings.


Aneityum Island

Located at the southernmost end of Vanuatu islands archipelago, this island is rich in volcanic soil, thanks to its two volcanos, which are no longer active. It's popular with snorkelers because of its coral reefs. In the past it was ravaged by sandalwood trade.


Bokissa Island

One of reasons for wanting to holiday in Vanuatu would be to spend your time in natural surrounds, in places largely untouched by human activity. Bokissa private island resort is one of such island paradises, where you can stay in private bungalows.


Efate Island

Being the gateway to Vanuatu, Efate island is the best known of Vanuatu islands, where most visitors tend to spend their Vanuatu holiday. All international flights to Vanuatu come to Port Vila's Bauerfield International Airport.


Emae Island

Located in the middle of the Shepherds Islands, Emae is the largest island in the group, although seldom visited. It's ideal for those who enjoy peace and quiet. This is an island paradise with long beaches and clear waters.


Epi Island

This quiet, lush garden island is the perfect holiday spot for families, hikers and backpackers. There are wonderful beaches around the island. Travel from Port Vila and combine with a visit to nearby Emae island (see above).


Erromango Island

Once home of large sandalwood forests, Erromango suffered from deforestation. Nowadays, the island is an adventure come true, offering to its visitors a number of walking and hiking trails, as well as caves to be explored.


Espiritu Santo Island

The largest of Vanuatu islands, Santo is especially known for its great diving sites, which are WWII abandoned and sunken planes and ships. It's home to 2nd largest, town of Luganville and features some amazing beaches and resorts.


Inyeug Island

Known as the Mystery island, Inyeug can be reached via mystery island flights and cruises from Port Vila, which go via Tanna island. Its small airfield serves as a small airport for its large neighbour, Anatom or Aneityum island.


Lelepa Island

One of the best places to visit is Lelepa Island. It doesn't have any holiday accommodation, but it gest visitors via Lelepa Island Day Tour. It features 3000 years old Fels Cave, where you can see ancient man hand paintings.


Malekula Island

If you are seeking unspoiled natural beauty, a pristine environment and an incredible array of history and culture, this island is the best place to visit. Malekula island teems with beauty and attractions.


Moso Island

Located in Havannah Harbour, which it forms with Lelepa island, Moso island is popular for scuba diving, hiking, tours and fishing. There is Tranquility Dive Resort on the island, with bungalow and dormitory rooms, bar and restaurant.


Nguna Island

Located in Undine Bay, between Pele and Moso islands, Nguna is classed as one of outer islands in Vanuatu. The island has 13 village settlements, two extinct volcanos, and the nearby Pele-Nguna Marine Protected Area.


Pentecost Island

One of Vanuatu's best known tourist attractions that has been featured around the world is land diving or Naghol ceremony. It is held annually on Pentecost island, where residents survive through farming and cash crops.


Tanna Island

This small volcano island is one of the most popular destinations for visitors coming to Vanuatu. It features one of the most accessible volcanos, Mt. Yasur, as well as many other attractions and bungalow accommodations.

Best Known Islands

The largest of Vanuatu islands is Espiritu Santo island, also known as just Santo island. Other better known and more popular islands are Tanna, Pentecost, Epi, Ambae, Erromango and Malekula islands. The above pages provide brief information on some of the best known islands, which are also most popular with visitors.

One of the best known of the small Vanuatu islands is Iririki, located in Port Vila
harbour, famous for Iririki Island Resort, whose bungalows are facing the harbour.

Named by Captain Cook

Many of the islands present names come from the Captain James Cook, who sailed through in 1774, from north to south. He named the archipelago the New Hebrides, after the islands off Scotland, and chartered most of the islands on the map. In 1980 Vanuatu gained its independence from combined French-British Condominium and got its present name of Vanuatu – meaning ‘our land forever’.

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