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Insiders Guide to Vanuatu

Land Divers
Mount Yasur 2
Mount Yasur 3
Mount Yasur
Village Tour 2
Village Tour 3
Village Tour
Blue Hole
Blue Hole 2
Champagne Beach 2

Insiders Guide to Vanuatu

story by: Tom Ricketts

1. WATCH THE LAND DIVERS
This precursor to the bungy jump takes place on Pentecost Island from April to June and consists of local villagers jumping from precariously constructed 20-30 metre high towers with just two tree vines wrapped around their ankles! Yes, two plain old jungle vines! It’s thought, the higher a villager jumps from, the more successful the next harvest will be; and ideally the villager will brush his shoulders on the ground as he hits it at 70kmph!
HOT TIP: Tourists cannot do the jump themselves (many have tried to bribe), but watching it is a thrill in itself.



2. VISIT PORT VILA’S SECRET GARDENS
This is a novel wee way to learn the history and culture of Vanuatu. Walk through the gardens which are stacked full of informative signs and have various cultural stations where you can hold native lizards, snakes and giant crabs, experience native costume and dance, and hear about the nations more notorious history at Cannibal House.
HOT TIP: Entry is only about $10 and you can explore yourself, or join a small group guided tour.


3. TASTE THE LOCAL BREW
The ‘drug of choice’ if you like, in Vanuatu is not alcohol. It’s kava. Banned in some countries around the world, kava is a plant that when ground up and mixed with water, produces a relaxant and anaesthetic. However unlike alcohol, it does not impair the ability to think clearly.
HOT TIP: The best place to try kava is in one of the small roadside bars adorned with red hanging lanterns, easily locatable throughout the country.


4. CLIMB INTO AN ACTIVE VOLCANO
On the island of Tanna in the south of Vanuatu is Mount Yasur, one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes. As you climb up the side of the volcano you’ll feel the rumbling and certainly hear the roar of the molten magma below you. Then at the crater rim, stare down in awe at the spectacular fire show before.
HOT TIP: Best done at night so you can capture some amazing photo’s.


5. EXPERIENCE ISLAND STYLE BLACK MAGIC
Venture into the highlands of Tanna and visit the ancient village of a warrior tribe who have resisted much of today’s civilised world, and live as their ancestors once did. You’ll learn about their weapons and be taught the art of ambush before hearing about their frightening customs and black magic rituals.
HOT TIP: If the above sounds a bit dark for you, there’s also tours to other villages where you can witness local dancers and their incredibly colourful costumes, as well as picking up some authentic local handicrafts.


‚Äč6. SWIM THE LUCID BLUE HOLES
These beautiful natural formations are the result of millions of years of bubbling fresh water springs cutting through the soft limestone rock. With the lush green rainforests as a backdrop, the ‘holes’ look impossibly blue and are magical swimming spots.
HOT TIP: By far the best blue holes are on the island of Espiritu Santo, but Efate (where Port Vila is) does have a couple. Most have an entry fee around $5.


7. SEND YOUR GRAN A POSTCARD
Let ol’ gran know you’re thinking of her by sending her a postcard from one of Vanuatu’s rather unique post boxes such as one on the Mount Yasur volcano, or from the underwater post box three metres below Mele Bay.
HOT TIP: Special underwater postcards are available from Hideaway Island Resort.


8. DIVE ON BATTLE SHIPS, TANKS AND FIGHTER PLANES
Vanuatu has some of the best, and most unique diving in the world. It’s particularly well known for the various relics of World War II such as the world’s largest diveable wreck, the 22,000 ton SS President Coolidge which went down fully laden with guns, helmets and other artefacts of war.
HOT TIP: Complement that with a dive at Million Dollar Point, so named for the millions of dollars worth of tanks, jeeps, boats and planes dumped there before the American soldiers left.


9. SIP CHAMPAGNE ON CHAMPAGNE BEACH
Vanuatu is bursting with beautiful beaches, but one in particular is consistently voted amongst the world’s best, Champagne Beach on Santo. She has pristine white sand, crystal clear waters, and is perfect for a picnic day out.
HOT TIP: Check the cruise schedule with your concierge ahead of time so you can plan to avoid the masses that arrive from liners anchored offshore. Outside of these times, it’s possible to have the entire beach to yourself.

> READ MORE ABOUT VANUATU HERE

*Images supplied by the Vanuatu Tourism Office. Photographer David Kirkland.

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