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There’s nothing like peering into the magnificently fiery mouth of Mount Yasur, a volcano on Tanna Island. As one of the planet’s most active volcanoes this hot headed beast offers projectile magma and glowing lava. Not without risk, violent explosions and regular bouts of ground shaking call for the supervision of a local guide. There’s a daily danger rating ranked between 0 and 4; anything above 2 and the area is closed. But don’t be disheartened, level 2 still offers plenty of shudders, shooting debris and a deafening roar.
Strap in and explore Vanuatu from a different perspective. Self-drive off road buggies are an exciting way to reach the island’s most remote villages and patches of unknown. Led by guides, on two-seater, 250cc buggies, there are various tours to suit your mood; go for a swim, cross the jungle, stop for a snorkel or get acquainted with a muddy bush track.
With so much nattering and general commotion, never has the term ‘mother’s meeting’ been so appropriate. Port Vila’s Mama’s Market is so called because it’s run by ladies selling various products, everything bought comes with a niche back story. From bright baskets to Vanuatu jewellery, ask which island it’s from and how it was made. Also a fantastic place to try local delicacies such as lap-lap (cooked yam roots with coconut cream and meat), fresh fruit and native vegetables.
Sometimes all you want from a holiday total relaxation. Vanuatu’s distinct lack of over development allows the beaches to be refreshingly untouched. Half an hour from Port Vila, Eton Beach (in Efate) boasts a shoreline that slopes into the water and provides a natural sand ledge for sunbathing. While Champagne Beach, on the island of Espiritu Santo, is defined by a curved sliver of platinum sand which is as pure today as it was centuries ago.
Considered by many divers to be the best wreck dive in the world, the SS President Coolidge was a luxury passenger liner converted to a troop carrier during World War II. Now the hulking wreck creates a spectacular underwater playground on an enormous scale. Alternatively, ask about Cindy’s Reef and Chails Reef to admire bright corals and friendly turtles or Tutuba Point for an exceptional reef and cave dive.
Get your adrenaline pumping with a high-speed ride through the lush jungle treetops outside Port Vila. Once you’re harnessed and briefed, you’ll make an exhilarating departure and zip from platform to platform along multiple lines. If you can keep your eyes open, you’ll catch breath-taking views of Mele Bay.
An island in the Tafea Province, Tanna boasts a fascinating local culture that has remained largely untouched by western ways. Despite being so removed, small cults have formed around figures like Prince Philip (you read that right), who is revered by one group here. Visit secluded villages to encounter kind-eyed locals practicing arts handed down through generations.
Nothing can prepare you for the awe-inspiring beauty of Vanuatu’s brilliant freshwater forest pools. Springing up from beneath the jungle floors and filtered by limestone, the water is pure, clear and luminously blue. Found in both Port Vila and Espiritu Santo, the holes are extraordinary swimming experiences. The largest and most popular with visitors is Nanda (Espiritu Santo). For a more tranquil experience, try Riri Blue Hole (Espiritu Santo), reached by a gentle paddle in a traditional canoe.
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