Covered in tropical rain forests, mountains and volcanoes, Vanuatu is a stunning group of 88 islands in the South Pacific. With the vast majority of islands uninhabited, the total population stands at approx 250,000. With the Solomon islands to the north, Fiji in the east and New Caledonia to the south, Vanuatu is known for it’s mostly volcanic archipelago, incredible diving, stunning scenery, warm and friendly hospitality and laid back rural lifestyle with calm atmosphere.
For most ni-Vanuatu, farming is the main source of income, hence significant economic issues exist in most parts of the country. With the main export crops consisting of beef, timber, copra, squash and cocao, many crops are highly influenced by local weather and cyclone damage and flooding are common. Tourism is becoming a major component of the local economy however there is not the strong tourism undertone that you would find in Fiji for example. It’s much more low key.
Very few employment activities exist outside the towns and regional government centers. Most villages outside Port Vila (the capital) have no electricity, and access to piped water is a luxury in many parts. Local traditions are strong and have been heavily influenced by colonization by the British and French. Christianity is the main religion practiced.
Average temperatures range from 25°C in winter to 29°C in summer with Jan – Mar the wet season with cyclone activity not uncommon.
Location of Volunteer Programs
Port Vila, the capital and main hub of Vanuatu is situated on Efate island. The architecture has mainly french with the population quite multicultural including ni-Vanuatu, Chinese, Vietnamese, British and French. Port Vila has all the standard facilities you’d expect from a commercial hub such as hospitals, shopping districts (note Vanuatu is a tax haven so duty free!), sports stadium, hotels, casino, museums and cultural centers. The town is a great base for divers who come for the trips to Mele Cascades, a large rain forest water fall with rock pools and incredible scenery. As the commercial hub tourism plays an important role, however it does not feel ‘touristy’ especially in the areas where IVI services. Here you can get to know the locals and truly experience the authentic lifestyle from outside of the tourist resorts.
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation and Meals are included for the duration of your volunteer program. 3 meals a day on weekdays and 2 meals a day on weekends will be provided for the duration of your placement. Food will be mainly authentic to the local culture which includes plenty of chicken dishes, coconut based curries, dhal (lentils), fresh fish, saffron rice and tropical fruits. Meals are served at your home stay each day or at the project site. There is also filtered water available at the volunteer center. Bottled water is also readily available in Vanuatu. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
Accommodation is in a dedicated house very close to the beach! Volunteers will share a bedroom with up to 2-4 persons per room (single gender rooms). There is WiFi included in public areas, laundry facilities (at small additional fee), lockable rooms, hot showers, bed linen, mosquito protection and fans included. Volunteers are requested to bring their own towel. Living with other volunteers in a dormitory-style house is heaps of fun and a great way to meet like minded travelers. The volunteer house is in close proximity to a basic supermarkets, ATM, fresh fruit and vegetable stands, petrol stations and bus stop.
For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer house are available for an additional US$150 per week, subject to availability.
You will be expected to clean up after yourself, and to play your part to keep the accommodation neat and tidy.
24/7 Program Support
Throughout your Vanuatu volunteer placement, you’ll have the support and assistance of a dedicated team of staff, local ground operators and host families. They will provide you with competent support and in depth knowledge about Vanuatu. They’re there to ensure you have an incredible experience. A 24 hour emergency telephone number & emergency evacuation so that you can always reach a member of our ground operator team in the event of an emergency.
An optional one week orientation is a great way to prepare yourself better for the coming weeks where you will be more engaged with the local communities. Learn more about the culture of Vanuatu including a city tour and visits to interesting locations. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the local language, take Melanesian cooking classes, visit the blue lagoon and spend time being a tourist before your volunteer experience begins. The orientation weeks start on the first Monday of every month with two in June & July. Go here for more details.
Vanuatu is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Dances, ceremonies, artistic styles, authority status, and cultural traditions can vary from island to island and district to district. The locals are so friendly and welcoming to tourists. Within villages, tribal alliances are still intact and money does not play a significant role in their daily lives. The pace and lifestyle is also very laid back. Do not worry too much about this, enjoy the island time!
An arrival airport transfer is included for pick-ups on Sundays. If arriving on other days, you’ll need to make your own way to the placement. We’ll provide instructions for this and will assist you. If arriving on the Saturday, you’ll need to book an extra nights accommodation in advance at a cost of US$50 p/night including meals. Local travel to the projects and other sites is also included in the cost of the program.
Requirements & Expectations
You are welcome to come on your own, with a group, with a friend or family. Most of our volunteers are single travelers so if you’re coming on your own, don’t worry, you’ll meet plenty of like minded volunteers! Generally, volunteers should be 18 years of age, however we can cater to as younger in certain circumstances. Contact us for more info.
IVI projects suit proactive positive minded people with a desire to learn while supporting those less fortunate. The more open to new experiences you are the better as it’s likely that conditions will be much different to your way of life back home!
It is important for the volunteers to realize that due to the nature of island culture (and developing country), things change quickly and without much notice. Because of this it is very important for volunteers to be flexible and adaptable to their schedule.
Weekends & Extra Tours
Weekends are always free for relaxing or sightseeing of your choice. Our team on the ground will help you organize additional trips at local rates! There’s heaps of things to see and do in Vanuatu, from museums and cultural centers to island hopping, hiking, water sports like snorkeling, diving, boating and fishing etc.
Holidays 13AUG – 24AUG (2 weeks)
Holidays 26NOV – 15JAN (7 weeks)
GoGetFunding is a Crowd funding site which offers a simple and professional online fundraising solution to help fund a portion of your trip or even a donation toward your chosen project. Simply create a fundraising page to share your story via social media platforms such as facebook & twitter.
Some of our past volunteers have raised over $2000+! Why not give it a try? If you use the above link, our logo will be displayed in your profile to help us share our message through your social network community.
Volunteer in Vanuatu Program Fees
- Arrival airport transfer (Port Vila)
- 3 Meals p/day (Quality Melanesian inspired cuisine)
- Accommodation (Volunteer Centre – Single gender shared rooms)
- Local Transportation
- Training & Supervision as required
- Use of necessary equipment incl program materials
- Certificate of Completion
- Comprehensive departure guide
What’s Not Included
- Travel Insurance (Mandatory)
- Airfares & Visa fees
- Tours, Souvenirs, Spending Money