This is the place which apparently inspired the Kiwis to invent bungee jumping. For travellers eager to venture off the beaten track in 2012, consider Vanuatu’s outer islands. Vanuatu is an archipelago of 83 islands in the South Pacific, and outside of the main islands there are a number of island gems. From active volcanoes, to unique cultures and traditions, the outer islands of Vanuatu offer lots of adventures.
Malekula is Vanuatu’s second largest island, and provides visitors with an insight into Vanuatu’s history and culture. Each August Malekula is also home to the Nalawan Festival, where travellers can witness spectacular Nukofo custom dances, celebrations and ceremonies. To book accommodation or tours in Malekula, visit www.malampa.travel an online booking resource launched in August, or Adventure World’s new First Footprints product collection (www.adventureworld.com.au), which launched in October.
Pentecost Island is famous throughout the world for the land diving ritual (pictured above), which occurs every Saturday between April and June. The ritual, which influenced the invention of bungee jumping, sees local men and boys as young as seven jump from a 20-30 metre high manmade tower with only a vine attached to their legs.
Travelling to view this ceremony is a must-do for adventurous travellers. Day tours to view the ritual are available through Adventure World’s First Footprints product collection (www.adventureworld.com.au), or can be booked in Port Vila.
Island Escape (www.islandescape.co.nz), a luxury small ship cruise company, also offers packages which cover Espiritu Santo and South Pentecost.
Tanna is one of Vanuatu’s best-known outer islands, and is home to one of its most popular tourist attractions – Mt Yasur. Tanna is only a short 45 minute flight from Port Vila, and from here you will be at Mt Yasur volcano in less than two hours.
While in Tanna, a cultural tour to a Kastom Village will provide an insight into a culture largely isolated from the western world. For the adventurous there’s plenty on offer with stunning blue holes, underwater caves, some of the best coral in the South Pacific, and untouched waterfalls. You can also sandboard down the side of a volcano, or explore the island’s beautiful landscapes on horseback. Tanna packages are currently available through Flight Centre (www.flightcentre.com.au) and Spacifica Travel (www.spacificatravel.com).
For the truly intrepid traveller there are also opportunities to venture to Ambrym, Epi, and Banks and Torres. These islands offer a mix of rich Ni-Vanuatu culture and customs, and pristine natural beauty.
How to get there:
Vanuatu is only three-four hours from Australia’s East Coast, with Air Vanuatu flying to Port Vila six times a week from Sydney, three times a week from Brisbane and once weekly from Melbourne. Air Vanuatu also offers regular inter-island services from Port Vila, making it easy to explore Vanuatu’s outer islands.
More info: www.vanuatu.travel