brown and gray mountain under white clouds during daytime
aerial view of green trees and body of water during daytime
body of water

Is Vanuatu Safe?

Vanuatu is generally safe for tourists, with low crime rates. However, visitors should exercise caution in urban areas due to occasional petty theft and scams. Natural disasters like cyclones, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes pose risks, so monitoring weather alerts is advisable. Travelers should also take preventive measures against mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and seek medical assistance if needed, as healthcare facilities can be limited.

Download Vigilios

Your Pocket-Sized Travel Safety Guide

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store

Safety & Security

Vanuatu is generally considered a safe travel destination, but visitors should exercise caution and take necessary precautions. Here are some key points regarding safety in Vanuatu:

  • Petty Crime: Petty crimes like bag snatching, pickpocketing, and theft from vehicles and accommodations occur, especially in urban areas and tourist hotspots. Remain vigilant and secure your valuables.

  • Violent Crime: Violent crimes against tourists are relatively rare, but incidents of armed robbery and assault have been reported. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night.

  • Disputes: Disputes between locals, often fueled by alcohol, can escalate quickly. Avoid getting involved in arguments or confrontations.

  • Scams: Be wary of common scams like overcharging, fake tour operators, and friendly strangers offering unsolicited help or services.

  • Civil Unrest: While rare, civil unrest and political demonstrations can occur. Monitor local news and follow advice from authorities.

  • Natural Disasters: Vanuatu is prone to natural disasters like cyclones, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and follow instructions from local authorities.

It's advisable to exercise caution, remain vigilant, and follow local advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Vanuatu.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Vanuatu should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has a relatively low risk of infectious diseases, there are still some concerns to keep in mind.

  • Mosquito-borne Illnesses: Diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus are present in Vanuatu. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and consider taking preventive medication if recommended by a doctor.

  • Food and Water Safety: Avoid consuming tap water and only drink bottled or purified water. Be cautious with street food and ensure proper food handling and preparation.

  • Vaccinations: Routine vaccinations like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid are recommended. Consult a travel health professional for personalized advice based on your medical history and travel plans.

  • Medical Facilities: Healthcare facilities in urban areas are generally adequate for minor issues, but may be limited for serious conditions or emergencies. Comprehensive travel health insurance is highly recommended.

  • Air Pollution: While not a major concern, air quality in some areas can be poor due to vehicle emissions and burning practices. Those with respiratory issues should take necessary precautions.

By taking appropriate preventive measures and being mindful of potential health risks, travelers can enjoy their time in Vanuatu while minimizing the chances of illness or injury.

Natural Disasters

Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, is prone to various natural disasters due to its location in a seismically active region and its tropical climate. Here's an overview of the potential risks:

  • Cyclones and Tropical Storms: Vanuatu lies in the cyclone belt of the South Pacific, making it vulnerable to these powerful storms, especially between November and April. Cyclones can bring destructive winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges.

  • Earthquakes and Tsunamis: The country is situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area with high seismic and volcanic activity. Earthquakes and the potential for tsunamis pose a significant risk, particularly in coastal areas.

  • Volcanic Eruptions: Vanuatu has several active and dormant volcanoes, including Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes. Eruptions can disrupt travel and pose health hazards.

  • Flooding and Landslides: Heavy rainfall, often associated with cyclones or tropical storms, can lead to severe flooding and landslides, particularly in mountainous regions.

  • Drought: Prolonged dry periods can result in water shortages and impact agriculture, potentially affecting food supplies.

While natural disasters are a concern, Vanuatu has established emergency response systems and procedures in place. Travelers are advised to stay informed about weather conditions, follow local authorities' instructions, and consider travel insurance that covers natural disasters.


Transportation in Vanuatu can be challenging for travelers. While there are various options available, safety and reliability are often concerns.

  • Road Travel: Driving conditions can be hazardous due to poorly maintained roads, lack of proper signage, and reckless driving practices. Rental cars are available, but exercise caution and avoid driving at night if possible.

  • Public Transportation: Buses and minivans are the primary modes of public transportation, but services can be unreliable and overcrowded. Taxis are available in urban areas, but it's advisable to negotiate fares beforehand.

  • Air Travel: Domestic flights connect the islands, but schedules are subject to frequent changes and cancellations due to weather conditions or operational issues. International flights are generally more reliable.

  • Maritime Transportation: Ferry services operate between islands, but safety standards may not meet international norms. Exercise caution when boarding and during the journey, and prioritize reputable operators.

While transportation options exist, travelers should prioritize safety, plan ahead, and consider guided tours or private transportation arrangements for added convenience and peace of mind.

Cultural Norms

Vanuatu is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean with a rich cultural heritage influenced by its Melanesian roots and colonial history. As a visitor, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a harmonious experience.

  • Dress Modestly: While beachwear is acceptable in tourist areas, it's advisable to dress modestly when visiting villages or attending cultural events. Cover your shoulders and knees to show respect for local customs.

  • Greetings: Greet locals with a warm smile and a friendly "hello" or "good morning/afternoon/evening" in Bislama, the national language. Handshakes are common, but avoid touching someone's head, as it's considered disrespectful.

  • Kava Ceremonies: Kava, a traditional drink made from the root of a pepper plant, plays a significant role in Vanuatu's culture. If invited to a kava ceremony, participate respectfully and follow the local customs.

  • Photography: When taking photographs of locals, especially in villages, always ask for permission first. Some communities may have restrictions or require a fee for photography.

  • Respect Sacred Sites: Many areas in Vanuatu are considered sacred by the local communities. Avoid entering these sites without permission and guidance from a local guide.

  • Environmental Awareness: Vanuatu's natural beauty is a source of pride for its people. Respect the environment by properly disposing of waste and minimizing your impact on the islands.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Vanuatu are limited, especially outside of the main urban areas. While police and ambulance services are available in major towns, response times can be slow, and the quality of care may not meet international standards.

  • Medical Facilities: Vanuatu has a few hospitals and clinics, but they often lack advanced medical equipment and specialized staff. Many travelers opt for medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand for serious medical issues.

  • Police Services: The Vanuatu Police Force is responsible for maintaining law and order, but their resources are stretched thin, especially in remote areas. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid confrontations.

  • Fire Services: Fire departments exist in major towns, but their capabilities are limited, particularly in rural areas. Travelers should take precautions to prevent fires and have emergency plans in place.

  • Tourist Assistance: Some resorts and hotels offer assistance services for tourists, such as arranging medical evacuations or contacting embassies. However, these services may come at an additional cost.

Travelers are advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance, carry emergency contact information, and familiarize themselves with the nearest medical facilities and emergency services before embarking on their trip to Vanuatu.

Frequently Asked Questions

A colorful illustration with three people and the letters "FAQ" representing a Frequently Asked Questions section

Is Vanuatu safe for tourists?

Vanuatu is generally safe for tourists. However, visitors should exercise caution, especially at night, and avoid isolated areas. Petty crime, such as bag snatching and theft, can occur. It's advisable to secure valuables and be vigilant in crowded areas.

Is Vanuatu safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers can generally feel safe in Vanuatu, but should take precautions. Avoid walking alone at night, and be cautious in isolated areas. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas, to respect local customs. Exercise common sense and trust your instincts.

Is Vanuatu safe for families?

Vanuatu is a family-friendly destination. Most resorts and hotels cater to families with children. However, be cautious of strong ocean currents and undertows at some beaches. Pack necessary medications and baby supplies, as they may be limited in remote areas.

Is Vanuatu LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are legal in Vanuatu, but the LGBTQ+ community may face social stigma, especially in rural areas. Public displays of affection should be discreet. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized, and discrimination protections are limited.

Do you need a visa to go to Vanuatu?

Visitors from many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for stays up to 30 days in Vanuatu. However, a valid passport with at least six months' validity is required. It's advisable to check specific visa requirements based on your nationality and intended length of stay.

Can you drink tap water in Vanuatu?

Tap water is generally not safe to drink in Vanuatu. Visitors should drink bottled or purified water to avoid potential health risks from contamination. Avoid ice cubes made from tap water and be cautious when brushing teeth or consuming food and beverages prepared with tap water.

What is the currency in Vanuatu?

The official currency in Vanuatu is the Vatu (VUV). Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, resorts, and larger establishments, but cash is recommended for smaller vendors and rural areas. ATMs are available in larger towns and cities.

Download the App

Map, Insights & Support - Vigilios is your Personal Safety Companion

A phone displaying the Vigilios app and it's safety features.
App Store QR LinkApp Store
Google Play QR Link
Coming soon to Android
Google Play