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Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Melbourne, Australia
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Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Hi folks

Will be having one day in Vila (cruise ship) soon. Visited for a day a couple years ago and had pre-booked a tour with a local operator so didn't have to worry about taxis or buses.

Hope to visit Erakor Island (perhaps Mele Cascades in afternoon). Have been told we could catch a bus to Erakor Island (mainland jetty) from the cruise terminal - how do I find this on arrival? And are the local

buses safe/reliable? I guess there will be taxis (taxis galore?) but was hoping to keep costs down...

It has also been suggested that it might be difficult to do what we want to do (go to Erakor and then to Cascades afterwards and back to terminal) so would be best to book a driver for the day (one quote A$150 for two of us, any entry fees additional). Any advice from those familiar with the local situation? Thanks!

Edited: 29 July 2017, 08:27
10 replies to this topic
Geelong...
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1. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Take note of the information about Vila in the ships daily newsletter and attend the info session on board which will be replayed on your staterooms TV. When you go ashore after you clear the wharf gates you will be faced with a scrum of bus and taxi operators all vying for business and offering various tours. If you do your own touring just make certain you are close to the ship at least one hour before you are required on board.

We have done most of the full day ship excursions at Vila and despite the cost felt these were good value.

When we visit this port now we just catch a water taxi into the town and walk around it's an interesting place to visit.

I've honestly lost count of the number of times passengers have scrambled back on board as the gangway is being pulled up.

Good luck with this and enjoy your cruise.

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Thankyou. This will be our third cruise. In the past we have done a mixture of ship excursions and independent pre-arranged tours. All have had us back to port in plenty of time (we go with those that have good reputations). This is the first time we are considering grabbing a local bus. To the Erakor ferry is supposedly150vt or $2 versus the $20+ for taxi! And have to look for a vehicle with a red B on the number plate? I just want to have a rough plan so we can 'hit the ground running'. Has anyone recently hired a driver from the Port for the day and how much did it cost?

Blue Mountains...
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3. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

G'day Chezzyr, The first time we visited Vila was on a cruise ship in 2009, we got a bus (any small van with a B on the front of the numberplate) into town for 150vt each and went to the tourist office and asked where the best place to snorkel was and how to get there. They told us to head to Hideaway Island and where to get a bus and how much we should pay. We flagged down a bus opposite the Anchor Inn and spent 300vt each to and from and had a fantastic day out there then back at the Anchor Inn and then back to the ship. We have been back to Vila and other Islands of Vanuatu 8 times including staying on Erakor Island. My tips are: Don't wear your cruise ship card and lanyard, that identifies you. When asked by a bus driver if you have been to Vila before say "yes a few times" and know where you want to go, you will then find normal prices apply. I would suggest Hideaway before Erakor but if you really want to go there it would be a a half hour walk from the Wharf or 150vt pp by bus from town.

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Thankyou for the extra information. Will see if we can catch a bus from the port to Erakor jetty. Would like to spend a few hours at Erakor and then maybe head to town (taxi or bus) and see what else we have time for. Perhaps catch water taxi back to the cruise ship. Really not sure if we want to hire a driver for the whole day. Might assess the situation the morning we arrive. Do buses accept Aussie dollars or only VT? If strictly VT I guess my best bet would be to break some notes at the port market?

Australia
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5. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Hi Chezzyr, most of the buses are hoping for a day hire when they get people from the cruise terminal. The going rate is $120 for the day (for the whole bus).

You will be charged more like a taxi fare to get to Erakor wharf unless you walk out a bit from the port past the markets stalls and grab a passing bus (that hasn't been lined up for hours waiting to get a fare). If you get one out on the road it would be 150 vatu pp. Yes they prefer vatu. You will also get better price for food and drink if you pay vatu as many places don't change their daily AUD rate. So maybe grab a bus to town to Goodies to change some AUD or even just go to the ATM at Au Bon Marche 2 (not far from port) and withdraw from your own debit account in vatu then get another bus to Erakor Wharf (5 minutes away).

The day guest fee once you get to Erakor wharf is 1000 vatu per adult payable to the man in the booth on the wharf) and then you get the little boat over to the island (free), keep your receipt and redeem it off your food and drink bill.

I would swap your plan around, get a bus to Goodies in town, change money, get a bus to Cascades from town (4-500vatu as its out of town), pay entry fee at carpark booth, walk up the cascades on the path and have some swims on the way down. Wave down a bus when you are done and go back to town (another 4-500 vatu each) and then get a 150 vatu bus to Erakor Wharf and have lunch and a snorkel there and head back to the ship after 3pm.

Have fun!

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Thanks for painting a picture of the local situation, PeaceAndLight. I have limited vatu, and only 1000vt notes. Would I be best trying to break them somewhere or do buses/taxis give change?

And would it be better to try get into town first THEN find transport to Erakor? Am just trying to make the best use of our limited time in Vila.

Wanted to do Erakor in the morning as I understand it coincides with low tide which is what I want. If we manage to get ourselves to Erakor would we then have to get back to town to find additional transport to the Cascades? Or would it be easy enough to find/negotiate a trip from Erakor wharf? I think I would only contemplate this if we are finished at Erakor by lunchtime. Happy to consider suggestions.

Australia
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7. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Buses will have change for 1000 vatu ($12 au).

You can get a bus to Erakor from the wharf but it would cost more than 150 vatu (and is only fair as they do line up from the small hours to get a good long fare from cruisers) same as buses are more expensive from the airport to town than vice versa. Just a money saving hint to walk out a bit (10 minutes ?) to get a late comer or firmly offer a taxi 400 vatu to take you to Erakor wharf.

The thing is with buses is that they pick up multiple passengers who may have different destinations (thats why they are cheaper) but if you are pressed for time just negotiate with a taxi. Erakor isn't far at all from the cruise wharf. Most cruise people just head to tours or into town or else you would be able to share a taxi if you had others who wanted to go to Erakor too.

When you leave Erakor and get back to their wharf from the little boat there may be taxis or buses there waiting.... if not just walk into Le Lagon from the waterside (to right of wharf), past the rooms and pool into their carpark. Offer a taxi there the same money it would cost in a bus and they will often take it rather than sit around. Offer 1000 vatu to get to Cascades from Le Lagon.

Not sure of tide times for when you are there but at low tide you can just about wade from the Erakor wharf to the island. Its nice snorkelling between the island and the village (look for the coral bommies) or to the left of the little beach toward fish traps.

Have a lovely time. Erakor is a nice place for relaxing!

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Thanks for all this. Now feeling armed with enough information to do our own thing in port. Tours are great but I feel I would like to keep things simple and just visit a couple of places. Hopefully it will all work out with the timing. Will there be buses running into town from the terminal or do we need to do the longer walk to find the ''cheaper" short trip ones? Or if we opt for something like the water taxi for something different, will that get us near Goodies?

Geelong...
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9. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

There will be a scrum of taxis and mini buses just outside the wharf gates as well water taxis operate from the market area near the wharf and charge about $5/person each way they drop you off at the waterfront in the town. Take AUD in small notes until you can obtain some Vatu.

Peace and light has given you some great information. Enjoy your visit I always look forward to visiting Vila on any cruise itinerary.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Port Vila - transport from cruise terminal

Hi. Back from our cruise. I think our day in Vila was one of the highlights - as we managed to do what we wanted, within budget and managed to avoid mobs of other cruise ship passengers!

Erakor Island was lovely, not many people but plenty of star fish and other critters to check out in the shallows at low tide (a taxi driver was willing to drive us from cruise terminal to Erakor jetty for the same price as a water taxi would cost into town). After Erakor we grabbed a taxi near Le Lagon who did what I felt was a good deal: A$50 total to transport us to Mele Cascades/wait around for us/mini tour/back to cruise ship. Given that we had been quoted elsewhere $120 to $170 for a day I felt we did ok! We got by with the vatu and aussie dollars we had on us without need to go to ATM or money exchange.

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