Driving in Vanuatu: A Guide to Exploring the Islands

Driving in Vanuatu: an archipelago known for its pristine beaches and lush rainforests, offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore its natural beauty by driving. Understanding the nuances of driving in Vanuatu is essential for a safe and memorable journey.

Getting Started

Before embarking on your driving adventure in Vanuatu, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local driving regulations. Visitors can drive with a valid overseas driver’s license for up to 30 days. If staying longer, obtaining a local driving permit from the Vanuatu Police Department is necessary.

Road Conditions

Vanuatu’s road network varies across different islands. While main roads on popular islands like Efate and Santo are generally well-maintained, some rural areas may have unpaved roads and potholes. It’s advisable to drive cautiously, especially during rainy seasons when roads can become slippery.

Driving Laws and Regulations

Speed limits in Vanuatu are typically lower compared to many countries, with urban areas often set at 50 km/h (31 mph) and rural areas at 60 km/h (37 mph). Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers, and children must be secured in approved car seats.

Navigating Traffic

Traffic in Vanuatu is relatively calm, especially outside of the main towns. However, it’s important to watch out for pedestrians, animals, and local traffic customs, such as right-hand driving. Traffic rules are strictly enforced, and police checkpoints may occasionally be set up.

Local Driving Culture

Vanuatu locals are known for their friendly and relaxed demeanor, which extends to their driving habits. Drivers often use hand signals to communicate on narrow roads and intersections. Showing courtesy and patience while driving is appreciated, contributing to a safer driving experience.

Safety Tips

To ensure a safe journey, consider adopting defensive driving practices. Be aware of local weather conditions and adjust your driving accordingly. Keep emergency supplies such as water, snacks, and a basic first aid kit in your vehicle, especially if venturing into remote areas.

Renting a Vehicle

Renting a car in Vanuatu is straightforward, with several rental companies available in main tourist areas. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, and ensure your rental includes comprehensive insurance coverage.

Exploring Beyond the Roads

While driving allows access to many of Vanuatu’s popular attractions, consider exploring on foot or by boat for a more immersive experience. Engage with local communities, visit traditional villages, and discover hidden natural wonders off the beaten path.

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Environmental Considerations

As an eco-tourism destination, Vanuatu promotes sustainable travel practices. Respect local environmental regulations, dispose of waste responsibly, and support initiatives that preserve the island’s fragile ecosystems.


Driving in Vanuatu offers travelers the flexibility to explore this island paradise at their own pace. By understanding local driving regulations, respecting cultural norms, and prioritizing safety, you can make the most of your journey while contributing positively to Vanuatu’s sustainable tourism efforts.

FAQs on Driving in Vanuatu

  1. Can I drive in Vanuatu with my overseas driver’s license?
    • Yes, you can drive with a valid overseas driver’s license for up to 30 days. For longer stays, you’ll need to obtain a local driving permit from the Vanuatu Police Department.
  2. What are the speed limits in Vanuatu?
    • Speed limits vary, but urban areas typically have limits around 50 km/h (31 mph) and rural areas around 60 km/h (37 mph). It’s important to adhere to these limits to avoid fines.
  3. Are the roads in Vanuatu safe to drive on?
    • Main roads on popular islands are generally safe, but some rural areas may have unpaved sections and potholes. Drive cautiously, especially during rainy seasons.
  4. Can I rent a car in Vanuatu as a tourist?
    • Yes, renting a car is easy with multiple rental companies available. Ensure your rental includes insurance coverage and inspect the vehicle before renting.
  5. What should I do if I encounter police checkpoints while driving in Vanuatu?
    • Stay calm and comply with instructions. Have your documents, including driver’s license and rental agreement, readily available for inspection.

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