Vanuatu Culture, Adventure and History

For each South Pacific Destination we asked those in ‘the know’, those that had been there and lived there and loved it there to give us some insights as to where to go and what to do.  After years of living and working in Vanuatu we asked Tish and Owen Mete gave us the run down on Vanuatu.

Vanuatu is like taking a step back in time, it has a lot to offer any visitor but one of its most significant aspects is its tight hold on its culture. Everywhere you go they speak Bislama which is a type of pigeon English and there are funny signs up all over the place, there is something like 370 completely different dialects and the only communication is Bislama. Each island is unique but also the same. The people are lovely and welcoming and it’s hard to believe that not that long ago cannibalism was part of their culture.

A ‘must do’ if you go April/May is to go to the land diving on Pentecost Island, a remarkable trip that will stay long in your memory. The custom built no nails tower is the original bungee jump and is constructed to honour the Yam harvest. There have been some deaths but remarkable few. It is impossible to describe what it is like watch people jump off this incredibly high tower held only by vines but it has been going on for hundreds of years and now has become a big tourist attraction.

Another amazing island is Tanna; the island has its own active volcano called Yasur. It is an overnight trip or a two day trip; we suggest you stay at Whitegrass. To walk up Yasur volcano at night is a unique opportunity not sure there are many places in the world where you can get this close to an active volcanoes (that might be for good reason). There is a company (volcano surf) now organised to do volcano sandboarding – so you get to snowboard on the fine sand on the edge of the Yasur volcano – not on everyone bucket list but would be fun!

Back on the main island of Efate it is well worth going on the Ekasup Village tour is a great learning experience on how the locals live with a hands on demonstration about plants and medicines and how they survival. It is a full immersion with giant spiders, roaming chicken, nasty bugs, warriors etc absolutely one of the best cultural tours we have ever seen.

In Vanuatu most of the island offers the standard island activities mountain biking, off road 4×4, hikes etc. You can go abseiling near Mele cascades (which is currently dried up). Zip lining both in Efate and Santos, Jet Ski tours, horse riding tours, most activities are covered.

M\It is worth bearing in mind some of the islands any have a very rich history linking back to the Second World War there was a big American base here and there are old trucks and tanks and relicts still in place or just under the water there are also some amazing wreck diving around the island of Santos the largest commercially dive boat wreck in the world The President Coolidge and Million Dollar point where the US bulldozed hundreds of cars, tanks and trucks into the sea.

Vanuatu is going through some real tourism growth here are some quick fire places to note when you visit

New accommodation places have opened recently like Tamanu on the Beach; it has had a complete refurbishment on one of the best white sandy beaches in Vanuatu with fantastic food, and sensational views

Chantilly’s coffee – by far the best coffee in Vila.  The only place that you can sit right over the water. Tapas menu and blackboard lunch is amazing

La parissienne you could quite easily miss and not on the tourist trail.  It is on the main road leading over to the holiday inn.  It has the best pies and is open very late at night or on your way back from the night club, as it also bakes fantastic baguettes

Happy hour at the Lava Lounge and great if you can get a seaside seat, located opposite Iririki next to the submarine

The main supermarket Au Bon Mache has a sensational selection of French cheeses, local breads, Charcuterie to have with a great wine selection available in the same store.  (Be warned alcohol cannot be purchased in supermarkets between midday Sat and Monday, so stock up.

Vanuatu offers a great mixture of culture, history and adventure I see it less as a laze on the beach destination and more of an immersion in culture, history and unique activities.

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