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“A lovely family” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Nauhiu Banyan Castle Bungalow

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Nauhiu Banyan Castle Bungalow
Main Road, Tanna Island, Vanuatu   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 4 Tanna Island B&B and Inns
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“A lovely family”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2011

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.

Room Tip: Ask for the highest tree house with the view of the volcano. Print a copy of your email exchange and...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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26 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2011

Amazing price for the transport. Old building without maintenance. Garbage in the middle of the bungalows. Crackers and peanut butter for the breakfast, crackers and a tin of tuna for the picnic during the waterfall tour. 20 litters of water for the toilet of all the guests. No toilet paper. Black plastic on the top of almost all the roofs. Children using the bungalows as playground. Very uncomfortable beds. Dirty clothes of the manager as a symbol of general dirtiness...
Even the people are very nice, they don't know what is tourism.
I think they have no sanitary controls in Vanuatu... Sure they cannot operate that way in an other country.
Brian and Carol

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2011

We travel a lot, are used to basic accomodation and are sure not the people that need anything special in particular. But our experience of our stay at the Banyan Castle was not just disappointing, it was pretty much exactly what you don´t want to experience on your travels.

The accomodation is very basic, which could be alright, even considering the high price they will charge you (5000 Vt). But our rooms were full of garbage from the former guests.
The beds were wet since the rain dripped into the cottages.
The beds were not made, you wonder how long they go with the same sheets.
The toilet is a hole in the ground with water to flush down.
shower, pretty much non existent.
food- we ended up eating the same rice bowl that was just heated up everyday (1000 vt. per person per meal!)
-while you eat, the kids will wait around your table, as soon as you´re finished they will get the leftovers. The more you eat, the guiltier you feel about having eaten their food away.
-After meals they will make their kids sing you songs and ask for donations in order to pay school fees. None of their kids go to school though.
-My girlfriend ended up with a food poisoning after the first meal, which got her sick for the whole time of our stay.

Organisation: We came to Tanna to see the crater of the volcano, we left three days later without having seen it!

We got the impression that John (the owner) tried to keep us there as long as possible. He kept on promising that he would organize a trip to the volcano, which he eventually did not do. We waited for two days and nothing was done, but promises that were not kept. ("Volcano -pick up this morning...this afternoon...this evening....tomorrow morning etc.")
So while waiting to finally be able to go and see what we came for, we ended up staying in his totally overpriced place and he also made sure, that we could not leave, by refusing to let us use his phone and to organize any kind of transport. We felt like being captives in a way and even got the impression that he was angry with us, when we finally left.

Staying at the Banyan Castle has ruined our stay in Tanna completely and we would strongly advise not to go there. We have never gotten such a bad service for this much money, and we seriously feel that we have been tricked! whether their complete unreliability and their total misunderstanding of price/service was done on purpose or not, is questionable. We feel that John understood that he ruined our vacation, but did not care, since travellers that go to Tanna will usually only come once.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hobart, Australia
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2011

I travelled with a friend in August. Airport pick up was arranged beforehand and we got a lift to Banyan Castle (around 1.5-2 hours). On the way we crossed the ash plain and could see and hear the volcano erupt!
Linda and John were really nice and welcoming on arrival. The food was tasty (basic though), I'd recommended taking some biscuits or snacks with you as the shops around aren't very stocked.
We did a few of the tours etc. went to Port Resolution beach (2 hr walk), big banyan tree and of course went to the top of the volcano, which was totally amazing. We stayed in the treehouse and had perfect views of the volcano - at night time it was amazing.
I would stay here again if (when?) I return.

Note that this may not be for people who like electricity or warm water showers! Make sure you charge cameras etc before you go as there's only a generator for a few hours at night!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cabarita Beach, Australia
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011

We stayed for 3 (wonderful) nights at Nauhiu Banyan Castle Bungalows in June this year. This minute 'village' (resort) is comprised of a series of intricately woven and built grass huts and two treehouses - one of which is located about 8metres off the ground in a huge Banyan tree. You are literally up above the canopy of the trees and the view to the volcano Mt Yasur is amazing. This accommodation is located as close to the volcano as you can get. So you save lots of hours on bumpy roads by staying here, nearby and get the chance to visit the volcano by night and also to walk (about 10mins) by daylight to see the moonscape surrounding the volcano. Its good to rotate if you are staying several nights here so that others can spend a night up in the highest treehouse. One night alone is quite memorable.
Our wonderful hosts, John & Linda and their children could not be friendlier. John met us at the airport at Tanna after we had emailed our flight details to him and for a fee of between $20 -$30 (2000-3000 Vatu) you will be transported completely from one side of Tanna across to the other. There is a communal 'restaurant' (larger hut) where visitors congregate to chat and eat together. We shared our first breakfast with two French families (each with two very young children) who had stayed for a week at Nauhui Banyan Castle and were reluctantly leaving that day.
Our fellow travellers were a young French couple in their 20's and another Australian travelling solo who would have been late 40's. This is the kind of trip that interests young and old (as long as you have a spirit of adventure).
Our meals were cooked by Linda, John's wife, using local produce, and whilst simple, were very tasty. The local grapefruit is to die for. Facilities are basic but clean. But the best part is that this accomodation is wholly owned by this Ni-Vanuatu family (no foreign investor here).
John & Linda entertained us by singing beautiful songs (great voices) and John plays a mean guitar when he can get his hands on one. Or you can choose to steal away and simply look up at the stars. (No electricity here - but generator provides basic lighting after dark.)
Wherever you want to go, John will arrange your trip/tour either alone with a guide or with a small group. There are plenty of fun trips to take, a walk to Port Resolution to snorkel around some amazing coral or a dip in a crystal clear stream. Our guide, Morris was very informative, and fun to hang out with.
This isn't 5 star accommodation - it is 'back to nature'. But it is a 5 star experience and we will be back!

Room Tip: Whilst 1 night in the high treehouse is a 'must' be fair to others and allow it to be rotate...
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Nauhiu Banyan Castle Bungalow

Address: Main Road, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Tanna Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Tanna Island

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