Kastom dance at Purau, Tongoa, Vanuatu
View over Laika, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Tam-tams at Mangarisu, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Beach at Panita, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Kastom dance at Purau, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Chief's pig at Mangarisu, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Community work at Kurumabe, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Old cottage at Panita, Tongoa, Vanuatu
PWMU house at Kurumabe, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Nakamal at Kurumabe, Tongoa, Vanuatu
Kamy Guesthouse Kamy Guesthouse Serdj Guesthouse Marae Sunset Bungalows

The undiscovered Shepherd Islands

Apart from a couple of cruising yachts and dive charters, very few people visit the Shepherd Islands. On Emae and Tongoa islands there have been some efforts to develop small scale tourism and a couple of guesthouses are ready to welcome visitors.

The Shepherds are relatively densely populated. There is little economic activity although fishing is very good. Many people move to Port Vila to find work.

It's relatively inexpensive to get to the Shepherds from Port Vila and these islands can be combined with a trip to Epi.

Kaekae kava
'Kaekae kava' means to eat or chew kava. People in the Shepherds like to drink kava in the evening and they prepare it in the traditional way, by chewing the roots. The masticated kava is then placed in a bowl of water to extract the active compounds. The roots are chewed again one or two more times before the bowl of 'muddy water' is suffciently potent. The kava drink is then strained to remove the solids and ready to consume. It's an honour to sit down with the chief, your host or simply with a friend to share a couple of shells of kava. Just make sure your vaccinations are up to date!

Emae is adjacent to the huge Cook's Reef. Roads around the island are convenient for walking and exploring Emae.

We feature one bungalow on Emae:
Sunset Bungalows, Marae, Emae

There are more places listed on the SHEFA tourism site:


On Tongoa each village has something different:
- At Mangarisu village you can see their kastom site and go to the surf beach.
- Purau is another good place for kastom and down on the coast there is a blowhole.
- Kurumabe village has an active geothermal area where Vanuatu Scrubfowl bury their eggs. The 'green hole' is a famous spot to see Royal Parrotfinches drinking.
- On Laika island there is a Wedge-tailed Shearwater colony and the villagers go there to harvest "mutonbirds" in April and May each year.

- On the west coast is the Tongoa wall, a drop-off dives.
- Panita is a good anchorage for yachts with a long black sand beach.

We feature two bungalows on Tongoa island, both at Pele village:
Kamy Guesthouse, Pele, Tongoa

Serdj Guesthouse, Pele, Tongoa

There are more places listed on the SHEFA tourism site:


The Silimauri Health Centre at Lumbukuti has the most extensive medical services and there are a basic dispensaries at the more distant villages. Stores are regularly restocked by cargo/passenger boats and there are markets at Morua and Pele (Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays) where you can buy local produce.

Air Vanuatu flies to the Shepherds three times a week. One route includes Valesdir on Epi (Vila-Tongoa-Valesdir-Emae-Vila).
A return airfare from Port Vila to Tongoa is about 15725 Vatu and to Emae it's about 12193 Vatu (May 2006). Tourists holding a return Air Vanuatu international ticket are entitled to a 20% discount on this price. Exchange Rates.

If you plan to fly between islands within the Shepherd loop check the timetable carefully as each day has a different routing.The Air Vanuatu domestic website has scheudules and a fee matrix for download. When booking you may find that flights are fully booked but then you arrive at the airport and the plane is not full (we've been told this is common).

Several small cargo and passenger boats pass through and around the Shepherds every week. Most are based in Port Vila, on Efate.

Tongoa has a lot of roads for and several trucks. If it's too far to walk then you shouldn't have much difficulty finding transport.

Last updated: October 2014 by Stephen.

Vanuatu map Top of page

Please read our DISCLAIMER notice.
COPYRIGHT © 2004-2009 Wantok Environment Centre (WTEC). All rights reserved.