Vanuatu, known for making people happy. Situated north-east of New Caledonia and west of Fiji, it is made up of 83 islands, with the largest towns Port Vila, situated on Efate and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. It captivates its visitors and brings to mind a vision of timeless tranquility.
Visit traditional villages and see how the Vanuatu people have been living for several generations, seemingly unaffected by modern technology.
Activities and attractions range, from high energy treks, zipping through thick jungle tops, hydro-zorbing downhill, horseback riding, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing to laid-back deserted beach picnics, cultural village visits and easy walks through tranquil botanical gardens.
Vanuatu offers an accommodation range to fit every budget, including 5-star resort properties, sophisticated over water bungalows, small luxury boutique properties, larger family-friendly hotels, serviced apartment, family owned guest houses, Robinson Crusoe-style budget accommodations, and island bungalows.
Read about this trio's amazing time in Espiritu Santo visitng the Blue Hole, Aore Island, Champagne Beach, Millennium Cave, and enjoying the coconut crab lunch at Club Aqua. To find out more, contact the Espiritu Santo Tourism Association.
Be sure to also take some time to visit the underwater post office and the Mele Cascade waterfalls.
Attractions & Activities
Vanuatu has many activities and attractions to offer, from high energy treks, zipping through thick jungle tops, hydro-zorbing downhill, horseback riding, scuba diving, and deep sea fishing to laid-back deserted beach picnics, cultural village visits and easy walks through tranquil botanical gardens.
Vanuatu has some of the most exciting volcanoes in the world among them the easy accessible Yasur volcano on Tanna Island, one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. Also worth a daytrips is the extinct volcano on Nguna Island and the magnificent rain forest, giant trees, and rare birds and butterflies of Emau Island.
While in Vanuatu a trip to the Vanuatu Cultural Centre in Port Vila is mandatory. Although visitors will find many masks and carvings for sale in shops around town, the more magnificent ancient pieces, historical photos, and rare artifacts are shown at the center
Sail boat cruises and ocean kayaking offer day and overnight charters to the nearby islands of Hat, Pele, Moso, Nguna, Lelepa, and Kakula. Many of Vanuatu's islands and groups are relatively inaccessible to the normal tourism networks. This is one of the reasons why Vanuatu has maintained strong cultural roots and maintained an extremely high level of tribal cultural practices, many unchanged in dozens of generations. Here visitors can experience the cultural richness and diversity of the country with its rituals and traditional ceremonies as an integral part of today's life. Among the most stunning ritual is the Nagol, an ancient tradition, known as the role model for the modern bungee jumping.
One of the most popular activities is scuba diving. Divers rave about the abundant sea life with soft corals, plate corals, sponges, and thousands of curious fish. The mountainous underwater terrain with plunging cliffs, grottoes and overhangs, huge caves, and intricate interconnecting underwater tunnels formed by frozen lava guarantees unforgettable diving experiences.
Culture & Events
Many of the islands of Vanuatu have been inhabited for thousands of years, the oldest archaeological evidence found dates to 2000 BC. Vanuatu is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. With a population of approximately 217,750, the country boasts 113 distinct languages and innumerable dialects. This amazing diversity is a result of 4,000 years of sporadic immigration from many Pacific countries. Although most settlers arrived from Melanesia, the larger built, lighter skinned Polynesians also settled in the islands.
In 1605, the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós became the first European to reach the islands, believing it to be part of Terra Australis. Europeans began settling the islands in the late 18th century, after British explorer James Cook visited the islands on his second voyage, and gave them the name New Hebrides.
In 1887, the islands began to be administered by a French-British naval commission. In 1906, the French and British agreed to an Anglo-French Condominium on the New Hebrides. During World War II, the islands of Efate and Espiritu Santo were used as allied military bases. In the 1960s, the ni-Vanuatu people started to press for self-governance and later independence; full sovereignty was finally granted by both European nations on July 30, 1980. Vanuatu joined the UN in 1981 and the Non-Aligned Movement in 1983.
With no written language, story telling, songs and dances are of great importance. Art, in its many forms, from body decorations and tattoos to elaborate masks, hats, and carvings are also a vital part of ritual celebrations and the social life of the village. Despite the introduction of European ideas, Vanuatu kept its cultural richness and diversity with rituals and traditional ceremonies as an integral part of today’s life. Similar to Australian Aboriginal stories of the dreamtime and Maori legends of the past, ni-Vanuatu culture also has its mythic legends.
One of the must exciting ceremonies to attend is the Naghol. This awe inspiring ancient tradition, also known as land diving, is the role model for the modern bungee jumping. Each year around the time of yam harvest (April/May), tall wooden towers (up to 70 feet) are constructed on Pentecost Island. The tower is hold together by local vines, remarkably, not a single nail or any other piece of manmade building material is used. Young men dressed in traditional mats wrapped around their bodies jump from a platform on the tower, only secured by vines tied around their ankles. Up to 30 ‘outsiders’ are permitted to watch the dives on the designated days. Legend has it that the first jumper was a woman. She was trying to escape from her abusive husband, climbed a tree and jumped. He followed her, leapt and died, unaware that his wife had secured liana vines to her ankles. For some time, only women participated in the dive until the male elders decided that they should dive to redress their shame and prove their courage.
For more information, please visit Vanuata Tourism official website.
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