Looking for a new Pacific Island holiday destination? Here are three reasons to consider Vanuatu.
The Ni-Vanuatu people have a unique culture that has been influenced by visitors over the years. With more than 110 different languages thriving here, it's one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Visiting Vanuatu, it would be a crime to stick to the resorts — get out there and experience the "real" destination. The island of Tanna is known for its "Cargo Cults" — villages where new religions emerged after visits from American GIs in World War II. For example, the "John Frum" movement worships an American serviceman — who identified himself as "John, from America" — while another group worships Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as a divine being.
Visitors can also experience the origins of bungy jumping on a "land diving" tour. Every year from April to June, the villages of Pentecost Island perform the ritual, known as the Naghol. Young, brave men jump from the top of a 30m handcrafted tower, with only vines tied to their ankles to break their fall. It inspired A J Hackett and needs to be seen to be believed.
The islands of Vanuatu offer some amazing scuba-diving opportunities — the most famous being the SS President Coolidge, reportedly the largest wreck dive in the world.
The ship was a large luxury ocean liner that was converted to carry US troops during the war, but hit two Japanese mines and sank to a depth of 70m. It's common to see barracuda, lionfish, sea turtles and moray eels lurking throughout the wreck.
If you're just looking to enjoy some quality downtime at the beach, Vanuatu definitely has you sorted. Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo is one of the best in the South Pacific, with a secluded vibe, clear blue water, soft white sand and charming beachfront cafes.
There's more to Vanuatu than just beautiful beaches, coral reefs and colourful fish, however. If you're a nature lover, you'll want to spend plenty of time exploring the lush green rainforests, waterfalls and towering mountain ranges. You can even take a hike to the top of an active volcano and witness the boiling lava beneath you. The easiest to access is Mt Yasur on Tanna Island — it's a two-hour trek to the top and an unforgettable experience standing at the edge of its crater as the volcano rumbles. Tanna Adventures offer a guided tour of Mt Yasur, or you can see it from the air with Air Taxi Vanuatu.
flies direct from Auckland to Port Vila, with connections available to Espiritu Santo and Tanna.