Australia Network's Sean Dorney reports there could be 14 parties plus independents in the 52-member house, presaging political arrangements more complex than the act of conducting the election in a scattered archipelago.
Patrol boats were used to bring many ballot boxes back to the capital, Port Vila, for ballot counting.
Vanuatu's Electoral Commission also keeps the official figures to itself until the final announcement, refusing to release any progressive numbers.
In the meantime, anxious candidates resort to the local media, on the advice of the Electoral Commission, to try to gauge progress.
Candidates in the dark
Former journalist and National United Party Candidate, Jonas Cullwick, checked with his old newsroom.
"That's true, that's true. I've been down to the newsroom of Radio Vanuatu to see if I could find out from them if they had some figures from Maewo where I contested," Mr Cullwick said.
"I don't know where they got their reports from but they said the recounting had put me in the front. But they don't have the figures so I'm in the dark as well".
One candidate who is in no doubt about his win is independent Ralph Regenvanu, who polled a record number of votes in the capital, Port Vila.
His campaign slogan was, 'Enough' - it was time for new policies.
"One is getting rid of corruption. Changing the kind of leadership we expect from MPs. That's a big one," he said.
"Promoting Ni-Vanuatu (Indigenous Melanesians) in business rather than what's been happening for so long which is the foreign investors come first. Enforcing the law. And land, bringing the land situation under control again," he said, referring to ongoing tensions over foreign investment and development.
Derek Brien from the Pacific Policy Institute in Port Vila says Regenvanu's result is significant.
"He came in campaigning on a platform of change, he came in with a platform of exposing and dealing with corruption," he said.
"What he has picked up on is this underlying discontent, disenchantment within the electorate saying, 'After 28 years, what have we actually achieved?' And that was the point of difference within the campaign.
"And I think the result, the overwhelming result that the Regenvanu camp have delivered has got a lot of political parties and analysts actually sitting back and going, 'Well, there is quite, quite a bit of support behind what the Regenvanu camp was saying in their campaigning.'"
Big names fall
Some major political figures were routed, including the finance minister, Willie Jimmy, and a former prime minister Barak Sope.
But Mr Brien says the more established parties held their own in the other islands.
"In effect we've had two elections here in Vanuatu. We've got the election here in town, Port Vila, and Efate, the island on which it's situated, and then the rest of the country where 80 per cent of the population lives," Mr Brien says.
"And I say that because in the lead up to the election a lot of the media, a lot of the analysts were predicting a mood for change.
"I think what we forgot in that debate, or in that discussion in the lead up to the election, what was the rest of the country talking about. The rural areas where the majority of people don't have access to newspapers, televisions and, in the last few years, radio because there's been a problem with the transmitter. And in a lot of cases the rural electorate has been totally disengaged from both the government process and certainly the political process.
"It's not about policy basis down there. It's about patronage. It's about personalities".
The prime minister, Ham Lini, has won his seat and his party is in intense negotiations to try to cobble together another coalition.
He held a motley collection of parties together last time and that brought a certain amount of stability, although he was heavily criticised for not being tougher with errant ministers.
And he did it in the face of six motions of no confidence, including some which had support from the government side.
"Now a lot of people have said Ham Lini's greatest strength was his weakness," says Mr Brien.
"I'm not suggesting that Ham Lini is at all a weak leader, but what's meant by that is Prime Minister Lini and his core team put great emphasis on holding stability in government".
Vanuatu has in the past witnessed many changes of prime minister, even dumping one in 2004 for trying to switch the One China Policy and to instead recognise Taiwan.
But stability under Prime Minister Lini has brought benefits, including telecommunications liberalisation, including the introduction of the new mobile carrier, especially important in isolated rural areas.
There's been an "open skies" policy leading to an increase in tourism and inward investment particularly in Vanuatu's property market, in turn underpinning economic stability and growth over the last 12 to 18 months.
The outgoing government is pinning it all on the political stability it delivered, according to Mr Brien.
Confidence in Australia low after raids
Foreign policy issues that feature in Vanuatu include wide support for the Free West Papua Movement and broadly for independence throughout Melanesia, the One China Policy and relations with Australia and New Zealand.
"The major factors dominating that are these labour mobility schemes both the one in New Zealand and the one recently announced with Australia," Mr Brien says.
"The other issue with Australia has been the relationship with the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police raids here in Vanuatu on a number of high profile off-shore financial businesses.
"And there was in the immediate aftermath of those raids considerable backlash against both Australia and the Government here for allowing the AFP to come in and conduct those raids".
As for the eventual election outcome in Vanuatu, the big question is whether Ralph Regenvanu's strong showing will translate to any more than just a lone voice for change.
"I cannot compromise on the need to prosecute leaders who have broken the leadership code. That's something that cannot be compromised on," he said.
"So that's going to affect who I'm going to go into government with, obviously. So, yeah, we'll see".