An archipelago of 80-plus islands, Vanuatu is a rugged slice of Pacific life, dotted with beaches, volcanoes, tiny villages and the occasional flashy resort. The people of Vanuatu, known as the Ni-Vanuatu, are predominantly Melanesian with more than 100 different ethnic and language groups. The capital Port Vila has a colourful downtown area with a good selection of shops, cafes and markets; and don’t miss the Tanna Coffee Factory. You can also book a snorkelling trip, cruise or walking tour here – Vanuatu has some of the Pacific’s best scuba diving locations. The port of Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo is famous for the Blue Hole, regarded as the prettiest freshwater swimming hole in the South Pacific.
Who goes there: Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.
Cruisers like: Vanuatu is home to some of the best diving and snorkelling in the South Pacific with protected reefs, rolling deep sea mountain ranges, plunging cliffs and bright coral bommies. The islands were used as American military bases during World War 2 and are now surrounded by a number of spectacular diving wrecks, including SS President Coolidge, the largest and most easily accessible recreational wreck dive in the world. Land based highlights include the National Museum of Vanuatu and the Vila Outdoor Market – both in Port Vila. On Luganville you’ll find Million Dollar Point, a vast collection of coral-encrusted US military equipment.
Best for: Couples, families, older cruisers, hikers, snorkelers, scuba divers and other adventure seekers.
Getting around: Public transport is minimal on the islands, although you will find cheap local taxis or minibuses waiting for the ship at most ports.