#port vila international airport


For those who have known me for many years … well … you wouldn’t describe me as patient, understanding, tolerant or having much empathy.

Well in Vanuatu on my last trip (3-8 April 2016) I needed all those characteristics.

I was proud (no pun intended) how I handled myself, while being sent around in circles in Port Vila for thee (3) days in a row!

I had seven (7) objectives this trip:

  1. Submit residence applications – lodged 7 April 2016
  2. Submit building application – lodged 6 April 2016
  3. Visit Vanuatu Tourism – discussed our investment and employment objectives on 6 April 2016, and was informed I needed to complete another application form and pay another fee.
  4. Meet our preferred builder – Jude introduced me to Richard on 6 April 2016 who grasped what we want to create at Divi’s. We visited the block together on Thursday 7 April 2016. At this stage it is looking good – Richard may be our builder, yahoo.
  5. Sort a land surveyor and building engineer – sort this on our next trip.
  6. Find a jetty builder – this step we plan on undertaking next year.
  7. Buy a car (if I can find a suitable one) – test drove a 2012 Ford Ranger with 17,000kms on the speedo. Very nice car. Asking price vatu 150,000 (AUD$39,375) plus 7% transfer duty.

I am going to share with you my experience with Vanuatu Immigration.

On my first day in Port Vila I headed to the Immigration office to source the Residency Application forms. I sat in their office to fill them out, checking the information required with the information I brought from Australia. Only a few missing pieces:

  • Security Bond
  • Business License
  • Bank cheque for the residency application
    • On the application you had the option to choose:
      • 1 year
      • 1 year up to 3 years
      • 5 years
      • 10 years

For the Security Bond I was sent to our bank. At the bank to arrange the security bond, a bank account in our name with cash in it the government can draw on if they want to send us back to Australia for being naughty. So, the security bond account needs to cover two one way air fares from Port Vila to Brisbane for Darleen and myself. At the bank I was asked for my itinerary. This was to validate the cost of two one way airfares. I wasn’t aware I had to have an actual itinerary to quantify the value of cash to be in the security deposit bank account. The lovely lady at the bank sent me to the Air Vanuatu sales office.

After standing in the line at Air Vanuatu sales office for over 40 minutes, I had my itinerary. Back to the bank.

All good, but … it would take the bank a few days to prepare the security bond paperwork, $62.50 set-up fee and $25 maintenance fee charged every six (6) months. Yes for a bank account with $600 in it! Note to self … must buy some more bank shares!

While I was at the bank I arranged for a bank cheque payable to Vanuatu Immigration. We decided to apply for a one year up to three year residency visa vatu 315,600 (AUD$3,945). Again, the bank cheque would be ready tomorrow.

A few days later I collected the paperwork and bank cheque from the bank. The security bond paperwork had been prepared with the wrong date (March instead of April). After another 30 minutes that was rectified, and I headed confidently to the Immigration office to submit Darleen and my residency applications. I was excited, this was another big step in our goal to live in Vanuatu – my adrenaline was pumping.

At the Immigration office all went well, I had provided all the supporting documentation requested in the application. Be disappointing if an accountant of 30 years couldn’t read an application form properly, or so I thought!

The lady headed to Treasury to obtain a payment receipt.

After a short wait, I was approached and it was explained to me that on our first residency application (not mentioned anywhere on the application form!), Darleen and I could only apply for a one year residency visa, so the bank cheque provided was for the wrong amount!

Back to the bank. Deposit the bank cheque into our bank account, and arrange for the correct funds at the one year residency application rate, vatu 57,800 each (AUD$720).

Remember, this is just one government agency in Vanuatu. I had this same experience many times over in the first three (3) days: Shefa Council (business license and building application – two different buildings), ANZ Bank, Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Unelco, Vanuatu Tourism, and TransPacific. Some experiences were easier than others, but you get the idea!

The most amazing part of the five (5) days in Port Vila for me … after each day I was able to sit on the deck at Ocean View Apartments, look out over Mele Bay in Port Vila … drinking a Lemon Tusker beer … thinking … Darleen and I are both going to live here soon.

Mele Bay Port Vila

Mele Bay Port Vila


Boarding the plane at Brisbane International Airport was exciting for the Vanuatu crew and officials. We were boarding a brand new Boeing 737-800 that Air Vanuatu took delivery of on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. It was the aircrafts first visit to Brisbane … we even had the fire trucks spray the aircraft as we taxied towards the runway. That was a new experience.

We landed late Friday night (11.10pm) safe and sound at Port Vila International Airport. It wasn’t a soft landing either! Thought the pilot would be focused on executing a soft landing because of the “breaking up” of the runway as reported by Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin. That was not our experience, we landed with a thud!

We had an experience at Port Vila International Airport that was so Vanuatu. We expected there would be a line of taxis at the airport that would be able to take us to our accommodation – no luck. Once we realised we were in trouble, I chatted with the transfer company that was taking two (2) other passengers to Chantilly’s on the Bay. After paying him Vatu3,000 we boarded the transfer coach with twelve (12) other people. Turns out it was one transfer bus for all the resorts in Port Vila.

We were all sitting … sweating on the bus about to leave and there was one couple standing on the curb as they shut down the airport. Turns out they were waiting for Evergreen Tours to pick them up. Our bus organiser went and helped the couple for the next 20 minutes, while we all sat sweating on the bus. He explained to us once the couple was sorted, that normally there is a line of taxis, but for some reason that was not the case tonight. He wanted to help “his friends”. That highlights a part of Vanuatu we love.

We checked into our room at Chantillys on the Bay just after midnight. A few weeks ago Trip Advisor had sent Darleen an alert to a deal at Chantillys on the Bay, pay four (4) nights @ AUD$199, next three (3) nights for free. We grabbed the deal straight away.

The air-conditioning was running in the room at 16 degrees, it was sensational stepping out of the humidity and heat into a cool room and climbing into bed.

Waking hungry, we wandered down to The Moorings for breakfast. Ironically where we ate breakfast was on decking under a natangura roof (grass roof), the same as we want to create at Mangaliliu. After a yummy omelette we asked for the name of the company that completed the construction after the cyclone – Island Constructions – we plan to have a chat with them.

Saturday morning after collecting a Suzuki Jimny from Europcar for the week, we picked up some basics from the supermarket. Darleen was thrilled to see Pauls fresh milk on the shelf! We grabbed some for our neighbour Bob as well.

Arriving at Mangaliliu and seeing our blocks, now cleared thanks to Bob and his team of local Ni-Vans was great. It gave us a much better feel for the what we have to work with.

We discussed our plans with Bob over a long lunch at his home, which looks great.

After lunch we walked around our beach block and went for a swim. The temperature of the ocean felt 28c. It was lovely.

Arriving back at Chantillys on the Bay, we grabbed two Tusker Lemons and watched the sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Tusker sunset, divis vanuatu

On Sunday after another beautiful breakfast at The Moorings we headed back out to Mangaliliu.

It was time for Darleen to drive. In all of our trips to Vanuatu so far, I have been the driver. Darleen jumped into the left side driver’s seat and off we went. We drove past the Mangaliliu turn off the main road travelling up to Havannah Harbour. We wanted to check out the amount of new development. We didn’t notice any new work. But work that was in progress on our last visit (November 2015) had progressed or been completed.

With tape measure and red and white marking tape (like you might see at an accident or building site). We marked out the lines of the beach block from front to back tying the tape at eye height on the trunks of trees, then finding the 30 metre markers from the high water mark, and measuring in four (4) metres to the front corner of our proposed bungalow. From that point we measured out the complete outer structure.

We duplicated this process for the bar and tapas building.

We have a vast amount of land to work with. The effort we are going to have to put into the gardens is daunting. There are certain natural features on the block, rocks and big trees, and an amazing tree canopy over the proposed bar and tapas and bungalow, and they are what we had hoped for.

We had big grins over our faces all day.

Returned back to Chantillys on the Bay for a relaxing dinner of tapas and Tusker Lemon watching another beautiful sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Scott in paradise


Tusker is the local beer in Vanuatu, and they make a “Tusker Lemon” beer that Bob (neighbour) introduced me to while in Vanuatu last November (2015).

I enjoyed the flavor, consuming quite a few in the week I was there checking out the block at Mangaliliu, Vanuatu. I am looking forward to having another Tusker Lemon next weekend, after arriving in Port Vila. C’mon Air Vanuatu – please keep those planes flying into and landing safely at Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Earlier this week after hearing about Air New Zealand, then QANTAS, and now Virgin Australia not flying into Port Vila Vanuatu because of the condition of the runway, I started scanning the web searching for any information I could find to gain a better understanding of the situation. While much of the information reported was simply comments from one government agency blaming another government agency for the issue, I couldn’t find any actual steps being taken, other than planned meetings and visiting delegations, that was leading to the outcome wanted by all – every airline being able to fly into and land safely at Port Vila International Airport Vanuatu.

But I did come across the Tusker Road Movie, and I LOVED IT.

Check it out for yourself …

BUT … the locals are not happy!

The Vanuatu Daily Digest said:

Video: Tasteless Tusker promo plumbs new low in Vanuatu advertising

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but they were not convinced that is entirely true.


Whether you have been to Vanuatu or not, I would love to read/receive any comments you might have about the Tusker Road Movie.