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Published on June 15th, 2017 | by adventuremag


Tanna Island – Just like the movies


Tanna, Vanuatu’s first ever feature movie filmed entirely in Vanuatu, has been nominated
for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th globally renowned Academy Awards also known as The Oscars 2017.

It stars non-actors who had never even watched a film and it was shot with no electricity (everything was solar-powered, including the editing bay).

This is a story of star-crossed lovers that’s been compared to Romeo and Juliet. Wawa, being readied for the ceremony that will recognize her as a grown woman, is in love with the handsome grandson of the tribal chief. When, as part of an effort to prevent a war, Wawa is betrothed to a man from another tribe, she must choose between loyalty to her clan and her own heart and the villagers must wrestle with the idea of adapting their culture in order to preserve it.

Directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, best known for the documentary First Footprints,
spent seven months living amongst the remote tribe in the village of Yakel. Whilst there, the
duo worked closely with the Ni-Vanuatu people to ensure the story was captured and told in
a respectful and accurate way. The trailer to the movie can be seen at www.adventuremagazine.co.nz


If there is one bit of advice we could offer about Tanna Island, it is this :

Take your time.

There is a lot to see and do in Tanna.  From swimming in amazing, practically untouched underwater caves to snorkeling some of the best coral reefs in the South Pacific; Tanna seems has it all.

It has been described as taking a giant step back in time with the wild horses that are roaming around the island or experience an ancient culture that remains largely unchanged to this day.

Tanna is best known as the home to one of Vanuatu’s most popular tourist attractions, the Mount Yasur volcano and a walk to the rim of this fiery volcano certainly makes a visit to Tanna unforgettable. Considered one of the world’s most accessible volcanos, Mt Yasur is just a one hour drive from Tanna’s White Grass Airport followed by a short 10 minute walk to the crater rim. It is best viewed at dusk, like watching fireworks during the day just does not have the same impact, so go at dusk.


Tanna is fascinating with the local culture largely unaffected by the western way of life. To experience the traditional Tannese culture there are day tours to local villages as well as custom ceremonies throughout the year, like the renowned Nekowiar or Toko ceremony. There are also cult tribes to learn about including the Prince Philip cult and the John Frum’s cargo cult.

Tanna Island is only a 45min flight from Port Vila.



Must dos

Blue Cave

You can take a tour from White Grass Ocean Resort. It was around an hour each way by small boat. The cost was 18000vuv for two and included a stop to do some snorkeling on the way back. The blue cave is really amazing but take care with strong currents at certain times of the year and swell direction


Lenuanatuaiu waterfall

Lenuanatuaiu waterfall is amazing but a bit of a trick to get to -  best option is 4×4 quad  tour but you can walk it as well. Lenuanatuaiu waterfall  is so hard to remember so we named it “Isso’s waterfall” in respect to the wonderful local owner/guardian of the waterfall called  Isso. If doing by quad it’s afull experience getting there and the waterfall is more of a reward than a destination.

John Frum Cult Village Tour (Friday Evenings)

Join in the dancing and enjoy the celebration of this unique cult. Legend has it that these local tribal people  were encouraged by the WWII soldier John Frum to turn to Christianity for the promise of a better life with the addition of Western goods such as radios and coca cola. John returned to America and his followers are still awaiting his return and the bounty he will bring. If you visit on a Friday you will be privy to the weekly ceremony when John Frum members conduct rituals including raising flags and marching in unison, holding the belief that mimicking these American acts will lead to the delivery of magical cargo such as radios, jeeps, fridges and other manufactured items owned by American visitors during WWII

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