Still unknown to tourism, the islands of this volcanic archipelago of the Coral Sea conceal natural treasures and preserved traditions. An invitation to lose yourself.
Many people have never heard its name, and for those who know it, the location of Vanuatu is often uncertain. Not far from Australia and Papua New Guinea – all distances being relative – this Melanesian archipelago, formerly called New Hebrides, is located a little more than 500 kilometers northeast of New Caledonia.
Don’t expect to visit all of its islands, most of which are uninhabited, and some of which remain mysterious, not only because they are difficult to access, but because they require an invitation.
If you don’t break any taboos, like approaching a face carved on a log in the forest, and comply with the custom enforced by the chiefs, you will have the chance to experience unforgettable moments of sharing in the remote villages of the world: cooking and tasting laplap with the women, sitting at the nakamal gathering of men to drink kava, the preparation and tasting of which are experiences in their own right, or perhaps having the chance to taste a pig stewed under white-hot volcanic stones.
This way of life in contact with nature is evidenced by dances, such as the snake dance, or the music of the water that the women make sing by immersing themselves halfway in the water to play it like a drum. Nature offers itself in all its splendor and harshness, from the paradisiacal beaches of Espiritu Santo to the indefatigable fire-breather that is Yasur, in permanent eruption on Tanna.
If these two islands are easily accessible, others are much less so, with small planes ensuring random rotations to land on sometimes tiny runways, and the journey continuing in a 4×4 or small motorboat, as in Ambrym or Gaua. It will then take hours of demanding walking in the jungle to reach a caldera sheltering the lava lakes of Marum and Bembow, or to reach the Letas lake, bathing the foot of Garet, which leaves its explosive threat on the surroundings. Enough to make you feel like an explorer.