By Telma and Thomas | 15 July 2016 | Vanuatu | Travel Guides

Exploring Tanna Island is a once in a lifetime experience, from trekking the famous Mt Yasur Volcano to some awesome adventures around Tanna Island. If you are planning on visiting an island outside Efate, this should be it! So prepare yourself for an unforgettable trip.
Our first reaction from the airplane window was “Wow!”. And that is exactly how yours will be.
Welcome to Tanna, expect the unexpected!

It’s like a scene from Jurassic Park, as you wonder where all the houses are because all you see is a dense forest. From that moment you realise there is no turning back and you are just about to enter a different world, a real jungle. As exciting as that might seem, it is also the unknown that will either make it or break it.
There is so much more to this place, more than we saw and experienced. One day is definitely not enough, so please don’t spoil the surprise and only book a one-day tour.

What makes this untouched island so special is the unspoiled landscape. It’s a surreal, yet thrilling adventure that you are about to go into.

the roads in tanna island

Overview of Tanna Island

  • The only way to tackle the island is by a four-wheel drive. Roads are unsealed and for the most part, fairly level.
  • The drive takes you to places resembling the surface of the Moon.
  • But what the island lacks in road infrastructure it makes up for a fast area in abundant vegetation.
  • On the way to the village, a stop at the top of a steep uphill road is a must! And there is your first glimpse of the volcano.
  • Lenarkel is the main, well only, town in Tanna. There are a few shops selling basic necessities such as tinned fish, rice, snacks, water and toiletries. The market is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and it is very cheap. You will be surprised what you can buy for just a few dollars.
  • Sit back and “relax”. The scenery on route to your village is really beautiful. Wild horses, coffee plantations and local villages makes a perfect introduction to this island in the middle of the South Pacific.
tanna island scenery
people of tanna

Tanna Travel Guide

Travelling to Tanna Island

Tanna is located in Vanuatu’s Tafea Province, in the southern part of the archipelago.
Flying is expensive, but after reading this review about being a Cargo Ship NOT a real Ferry, we decided that flying was the best and yet the fastest choice.
Other option, if you are planning on visiting more than one island, is Air Vanuatu Pass.
Costs AUD$665/USD$500/GBP£380 per person and you are entitled to fly four times. It is worth it when you see how much we paid just to fly to one island. Read more on How Much Does Travel Vanuatu Cost?

Note: At the airport you are required to pay a Departure Tax that costs 200vt/USD$0.20/GBP£0.15 per person, each way.

Getting Around Tanna Island

The only way to get around the island is by a four-wheel drive (4WD). And hiring one will not come cheap.
For the Pick Up and Drop Off from the airport, some hosts will charge 5000vt/USD$45/GBP£35 each way. So you must be firm about this and try to negotiate for a better, more reasonable price. We only paid 4000vt/USD$40/GBP£30 both ways.
Whitegrass Airport is around two-hour drive to Mount Yasur. Our recommendation is, if you are flying to Tanna for the Volcano, book accommodation nearby.

arriving in tanna airport

Activities in Tanna Island

Mount Yasur – 7500vt/USD$70/GBP£55 per person. Buy “Volcano Post Cards” in Port Vila BEFORE flying to Tanna Island.
Ash boarding – 1000vt/USD$9/GBP£7
Custom Village – 1000vt/USD$9/GBP£7

ash boarding mount yasur
costume village tanna island

Travel Costs and Before Arriving in Tanna:

  • Get money out in Port Villa before flying to Tanna. The maximum that you can withdraw at a ATM, per day, is 44000vt/USD$400/GBP£350.
  • While in Tanna, if running out of money, you will need to make a trip to Lenarkel. That journey will cost you around 2000vt/USD$20/GBP£15, each way
  • Bring insect repellent, mosquito coil and a mosquito net
  • Bring baby wipes & tissues
  • Before arriving at your village, ask to stop at Lenarkel and stock up with water, snacks, fruit, etc
  • Be aware that there is no electricity and the generator will most probably be on for only 2-3 hours a night
  • Always negociate on prices, get to know the locals or the people at the village to avoid high charges on transportation
  • Your best bet is if you cannot live without it, get it in Port Vila before you leave!
tanna children

Special Thanks:
We would like to thank Jean Claude and his brother for taking the time to show us around Tanna and introducing us to their family. We are forever grateful. Read his note here.

Are you looking to visit Tanna Island? Let us know in the comments below.

a guide to explore tanna island

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We are Thomas and Telma – the writers, photographers, videographers and founders of Blank Canvas Voyage.

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