Let's not kid ourselves: Vanuatu is a developing nation, what used to be called a “Third World country”
So whereas digital infrastructure like internet is almost as advanced as most first world countries, physical infrastructure like roads is less so, at least for the present,
I have seen a lot of advances in the 5 years that we've lived here.
Our first ride in Vanuatu in 2016 was a culture shock! In the morning we'd been on a 6-lane Brisbane, Australia freeway at 100kph to get to the airport and in the afternoon crawling along on a rutted and potholed strip of narrow bitumen from the airport to Port Vila town.
Fairly quickly after that the main artery was upgraded. Nowadays it's still 1-lane (each way), but there are no potholes and generally it's a smooth run.
According to the latest census from last year, Port Vila had a population of 49,528. So at 50k people, it's not a huge place. The fact is most people do not own a car but use the very practical local bus system, and therefore single-lane roads are fine.
But what you want to know about is the EXPERIENCE of driving here.
I wasn't paying much attention to the other drivers on that first ride into town (I was not driving) but the following day I was on the roads as a driver. I did not need an “International licence”. I was able to drive for 30 days with my Australian Driver Licence.
Now I have driven in Holland, Belgium, Canada, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and most of all Australia. Let me tell you, Vanuatu is unlike any of those. I was used to mostly a dog-eat-dog scenario. Take your breaks when you can, and nobody gives an inch.
I quickly learned that road manners in Vanuatu are completely different.
It is the norm that when you are in an emerging vehicle – be it from a side road, private land, or just from a parking position – you will wait no more than one or two cars before someone stops to allow you to get ahead of them into the stream of traffic. When you want to make a U-turn it is the same – only a few cars and someone will flash their lights to indicate they are letting you in. You wave, smile, and execute the U-turn.
It's like every other driver is a friend or relative. (Well, they quite likely are!)
In town the speed limit is 50 kph, out of town it's 80 kph. The “around the island” bitumen road on the island of Efate where Port Vila is located is only about 130km to get right back to where you started. We have many times driven right around the island on our day off just for sightseeing. It takes a few hours, more when you stop at roadside produce stalls, or for a swim in the deep turquoise waters of a blue hole, or the WWII museum, or perhaps at a resort for lunch.
Another time I will talk about the bus system. You may decide you don't need a car at all.
To experience this as a Citizen or Permanent Resident: https://in.vu/cal << book a consultation
Lance in (courteous) Vanuatu