Vanuatu is a true Melanesian paradise in the heart of the huge Pacific Ocean. It’s a picturesque Y shaped necklace made up of dozens of gorgeous little islands providing the perfect holiday for individuals, groups, couples and families. Well known for its geographical diversity – from active volcanoes and imposing cliff faces to pristine beaches, tropical gardens and colourful coral reefs – Vanuatu is a travel destination with something to offer every visitor. As well as having tourist adventures, being amazed by the stunning scenery, sampling gourmet delights and indulging in some retail therapy, Vanuatu is a place where you can explore history and culture at your leisure.
The two main cities of Port Vila and Luganville contain about 20 per cent of the population of around 200,000 people, consisting of indigenous Ni-Vanuatu as well as Australians, New Zealanders, Europeans, Asians and other Pacific Islanders. Ninety five per cent of the population is indigenous but, amongst them, there are 113 distinct languages and many dialects. This makes Vanuatu a true melting pot of cultural diversity, caused by 3,000 years of immigration from all over the Pacific.
This rich cultural diversity attracts visitors to Vanuatu’s National Museum and Cultural Centre which is a must see for anyone interested in history and culture. It’s a great place to see cultural performances and events as well as the permanent displays of traditional artefacts, prehistoric shells, fossils, animals and birds. After gaining an overview at the museum you can see plenty of history, culture and scenery up close, from the active Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island where you can walk to the edge of the crater, to experiencing the death defying land divers of Pentecost Island.
Cultural festivals abound. During your Vanuatu travel experience you can enjoy the colourful Tanna Toka Dance, the spiritual Rom dance and Back to My Roots Festival on Ambrym Island, and a water music festival performed by the women of Gaua Island. The National Arts Festival at the end of each year also pulls a wide array of cultural performances together for visitors.
However, Vanuatu’s most famous cultural event would have to be the land diving or Nagol festival which is a once in a lifetime experience for any visitor. This awe inspiring ceremony is a male fertility ritual which also celebrates the yam harvest. Definitely add this impressive event to your Vanuatu travel itinerary – and be prepared to be amazed by this unforgettable experience.