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3 unique things to see in Vanuatu

25th June 2014

Vanuatu is a tropical paradise that has it all when it comes to beautiful white-sand beaches, twinkling turquoise ocean and an undeniable sense of tranquility.

But it's also a lot more than just a relaxing destination. There's so much to do and discover, from daring volcano visits to thrilling cultural discoveries.

Here are three unique thing to see and do when you take a holiday to Vanuatu.

Check out land diving

Have you ever been bungy jumping, or watched someone you know going for a jump? Chances are you've never seen it quite like this.

Vanuatu's own Pentecost Island is where bungy jumping really began, as the cultural practice of land diving, also known as Nagol or N'gol, inspired New Zealander AJ Hackett. This is the man who went on to commercialise the contemporary form of bungy.

During a land diving ritual, local males, some of whom are still young boys, climb a man-made tower that can be up to 40 metres high. They then jump from the top of the structure, with only their foot attached to a carefully selected vine. This is a rite of passage and signals a coming of age for the boys.

It's an adrenalin pumping experience, and there are several tour operators around Vanuatu who will take you to watch the hair-raising feat.

Gaze upon an active volcano

Vanuatu is also famous for its active volcanoes. Ambae volcano is the tallest of the bunch at almost 1,500 metres high, however it can also pose a danger due to elevated levels of activity, so it's best viewed from afar.

Ambrym volcano is another of Vanuatu's treasures, and is regularly active spouting smoke and ash.

Then there's the Yasur volcano on Tanna Island (see image above), which is Vanuatu's most accessible volcano. While it's active, tour operators often take visitors to approach the site, which is particularly spectacular at nighttime when the magma glows a bright orange against the night.

If you visit, make sure you go with a knowledgeable and experienced guide, and don't venture off and away from the tour area.

Visit a genuine village

Don't limit your journey in Vanuatu to staying in resorts without getting out and about to explore local life and make a connection.

Head out to discover how the locals live in their villages for a side of the nation that many tourists don't see.

A number of tour operators can take you to various settlements where you can interact with the residents and explore their culture.

Endu is one of the villages you can visit the south east of Ambrym. This is a particularly rewarding destination as it's one of the country's most traditional settlements, so you're bound to see and learn a lot.

Take inspiration from how the locals interact with and respect nature, and be wowed by their talented and energetic performances of dancing, singing and chanting.

You can even take a turn at some of the more traditional island talks of trapping wild chickens for food and perhaps even learn a bit about the residents' cooking, carving and healing skills.

Another option is to visit Enimah village on Efate Island, with its traditional of dancing, food and harvesting.

Learn about housing and architecture, growing food crops and preparing meals, the local drink Kava, plus plenty about coconut trees, crafts, dance and more.

If you think you'd like to discover these unique activities in Vanuatu, don't hesitate to talk to a travel agent who can help turn your dreams of travelling to this gorgeous island country into a real plan.