The island nation of Vanuatu is a unique destination in the South Pacific known for its ancient rituals, indigenous tribes, laid-back vibe, world war II relics, world-class diving and hiking. The country is made up of approximately 80 islands, which feature a largely pristine environment.
The Shepherd islands contain the two major islands Efate and Epi and are the country’s main tourist destination. Efate (Île Vate) island houses Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila which is a bustling city surrounded by lagoons, beaches, and offshore islands. The National Museum of Vanuatu located in the capital, is a great place to learn about the Melanesian culture and you can buy local handicrafts and souvenirs from the city’s lively Tanalilui Road markets. The nearby Mele Cascades waterfall and Hideaway Island are other attractions on the island. From here, you can also explore the surrounding islands on a cruise or even go on a short sunset dinner cruise.
Located north of Efate, the rugged and remote volcanic island of Epi offers excellent snorkelling opportunities. You can also visit the indigenous ni-Van villages and learn about their culture. The nearby Ambrym Island is home to the twin volcanoes of Mt Benbow & Mt Marum. Climbing these volcanoes is quite challenging, but if you reach the summit, you will get to witness boiling lava of an active volcano as a reward.
The next northern island to visit is Pentecost which is known for its land diving ritual (also known as Naghol). Some people claim that this ritual was the inspiration behind the popular adventure sport, bungee jumping. Pentecost is dotted with numerous small villages which are inhabited by different tribes and you can experience their unique cultures and lifestyle.
Further north lies Vanuatu’s largest island, Espiritu Santo and you can base yourself in its main town Luganville. Millennium Cave on the outskirts of Luganville is a major attraction in the region, where you can trek through the jungle and swim in the waters of the cave. Surrounded by verdant forest, the natural Nanda Blue Hole is known for its crystal-clear waters and offers great swimming and snorkelling. Champagne Beach with its white sands and clear waters, the small village of Port Orly with stunning beaches and rolling hills, and interesting dive sites like Million Dollar Point with sunken WWII vessels are other attractions on the island.
Towards the south of Efate island, Tanna Island will welcome you with its volcanic mountain Yasur, one of the most accessible volcanoes in the world. Hiring a 4×4 vehicle is the best way to explore the volcano.
With its powdery white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, unspoiled forests and wonders like blue holes and volcanoes, there’s no doubt that Vanuatu is a nature lover’s delight. The tiny nation also boasts of a diverse culture and you can find even five or six different languages being spoken on a single island! Vanuatu is a destination unknown to many, and a visit here is truly refreshing and memorable.
Some people believe the land diving ritual of Pentecost was the inspiration behind bungee jumping.