Vanuatu opens borders: 6 tips to save on a holiday
After almost 2 years, Vanuatu finally opened its borders to travellers again on 1 July 2022 – just in time for a winter escape.
According to Vanuatu Tourism Office short haul market manager Paul Pio, there's already strong interest in travel.
"The relaunch of Vanuatu has been long-awaited, and in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia we are seeing a very strong level of enquiry and interest from trade and consumers who want to know how best to experience Vanuatu in 2022."
Skyscanner also told Finder it has seen a 63% increase in searches for flights from Australia to Vanuatu for travel in 2022 (comparing month on month for May to June).
Vanuatu can be more exclusive (and expensive) than other nearby island destinations. So if you're getting ready to pack your bags, here are 6 tips to help you get the biggest bang for your bucks.
Tip 1: Use frequent flyer points for your flights
If you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer member, you can redeem 36,000 Qantas Points for a return economy flight and 83,000 Qantas Points for a return business flight from Sydney to Port Vila, operated by Air Vanuatu.
In comparison, the cost for an average return flight from Australia to Vanuatu this year is $760, according to data Finder received from travel search engine KAYAK.
Using points means you can save on this cost and also offers good value for your points.
If you have Velocity Points, there aren't currently any direct options available. But Virgin Australia will recommence flights from Brisbane in March 2023. So if you have Velocity Points, keep an eye out for options.
Want to grow your frequent flyer balance? Check out the latest credit card sign-up deals.
Tip 2: Look at packages
Holiday packages can sometimes give you a bigger bang for your buck than paying for everything separately. Especially when there's a big push for travellers (hello, opening borders!).
This package is for twin-share and includes flights from Brisbane or Sydney (including 30kg of luggage), airport transfers, 7 nights at the Moorings Hotel and daily breakfast.
Flights are also available from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Luxury Escapes is also one to look to for bargain packages. It's currently slinging an all-inclusive 4-night package for 2 at The Havannah Vanuatu for $3,420.
This is the same price as if you booked direct, only you'll get a few bonuses including a bottle of wine, couples massage and sunset cruise thrown in.
Bonus: You can also earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Points when you book through Luxury Escapes.
Tip 3: Take a cruise in 2023
Now that the cruise ban has been lifted, cruise lines have been quick on the mark to put international sailings back on the itinerary.
Carnival Cruises is one of those cruise lines. It currently has 5 South Pacific itineraries that call in at Mystery Island.
You don't even have to wait too long to get there either with sailings starting from December 2022.
Of your options, the best deal is this 10-day South Pacific cruise in March 2023. It starts at $949 per person, based on twin share, which brings your daily cost down to $94.90.
Tip 4: Book while the news is hot
Whenever there's news about a border opening or a new flight route, you can bet your bottom dollar that sale fares will follow.
Since the announcement, Air Vanuatu has dropped a Take Off & Unwind sale flaunting fares from Brisbane to Port Vila from $530 return and Sydney from $580 return. This sale runs until 31 August 2022.
As for new flight routes? Well, Virgin Australia is restarting Brisbane–Port Vila flights in March 2023.
It's already put up fares from $469 return recently, but we're betting it'll have more tasty deals in the lead-up to the inaugural flight.
Remember to check travel requirements
To travel to Vanuatu, you'll need one of these forms of proof that you don't have COVID-19:
- A negative COVID-19 PCR test done 24 to 72 hours before departure
- A negative COVID-19 supervised certified RAT done within 24 hours of departure
- A positive COVID-19 RAT or PCR test at least 8 days before departure and no more than 2 months before that date
You need to show evidence at airline check-in before you travel and again at border control when you arrive. While Vanuatu doesn't require proof of vaccination, some airlines do – including Qantas and Virgin Australia – so check what they need before you go.
If you're worried about getting COVID-19 before or during your trip, some travel insurance does cover it.
Tip 5: Travel in August
August is one of the cheapest months to travel to Vanuatu as it's the island's low season.
KAYAK told Finder that, on average, fares for this August are $702 return. That's 7% cheaper than the average cost for flights from July–December 2022.
While August is low season in Vanuatu, rest assured the weather is still pleasant. It's the dry season, so get ready for all those sunny days! Although it is a smidge on the colder side, so bring a light jacket.
Tip 6: Skip the day tour and use your resort's equipment instead
On and under-water tours can be extremely pricey – particularly on islands.
To keep costs at bay, make the most of your resort's freebies. Many of them offer complimentary use of their non-motorised watersport equipment for guests, such as paddleboards, kayaks and snorkelling gear.
Alternatively, if you do want to pop on a day tour, pre-booking online on sites such as Viator can shave dollars off your tour.