I recently stayed at Banyan Castle with a couple of friends on a girl's trip away in Vanuatu. We are in our twenties and have been to places like Cambodia and India, so we're used to basic accommodation.
There ground bungalows and two tree houses. One high, and one even higher. We booked the higher one. It's about three stories up. It was a childhood dream of mine to sleep in the branches of a tree.
BUT... when we turned up to the bungalows, there was another couple in our tree house. They had been upgraded. We explained that we had booked and showed the owner a print out of our email conversation. It was quickly sorted and the other people moved out to another room, which I'm sure was annoying for them. They just don't really understand tourism and booking. I put it down to them having limited email access. Make sure you bring a copy of your booking.
Basically this a bit like a home-stay. The family cooks for you and the kids often hang out with you and ask you questions and sing you songs.
It's a basic place with a backpacker vibe. There is a western toilet, but you flush with a bucket. The shower is very basic and has cold water only.
Though we were there in the off season, I have to say I was amazed at how few tourists there were in Tanna. We walked to the Volcano with our guide, Morris (a lovely guy) and to my astonishment there were only five or six other tourists at the top. No gimmicky shops, no huge tour groups, signage or fencing, just a luna landscape and red exploding lava! You can go right to the edge.
Tanna is not Port Vila – there are no fancy resorts. If you want a genuine Vanuatu experience and meet locals, this is the place. I will always remember my time in Tanna. It was just so different to anything I've ever seen. Although the people are poor, they are happy. And there happiness in contagious.
NOTE: This is quite funny, but we met Brian and Carol (review below) while staying there. They were the couple that had to move rooms! It's a shame they didn't have as much fun as us.
– Lucia, Gina and Simone.