Vanuatu is on the move. This chain of 85 islands squeezed out across a thousand-mile tectonic fault line west of Fiji trundles about 2mm across the globe every year. Rising rather more rapidly from its Pacific bed as a series of active volcanoes, it pushes the earth’s core to the surface. Get there fast and inexpensively through Vanuatu Holiday Deals to find one of the world’s last, untouched and fascinating destinations.
Daily life in Vanuatu proceeds slower than other places. This is a country that lives on ‘island time’, where days pass slowly, languidly, and the pace of the 21st century slows to a crawl. But for those prepared to challenge the logistics of crossing the Pacific Ocean, Vanuatu’s islands provide the ultimate opportunity to experience Melanesian life, with some of the world’s finest diving opportunities, a unique set of idiosyncratic cultures and rich tropical interiors shaded by a whole chain of active volcanoes.
The diving – or snorkelling – comes first. Forget the modest sights offered by most other destinations: the sealife around Vanuatu is brighter and more colourful than any. The shoaling fish, untouched coral reefs and patrolling big pelagics are joined by a number of notable wrecks. The rule here is to bring your own mask: the local models available for hire tend to be bad masks that don’t fit and also leak. It is cheaper and easier to come prepared, especially as the tropical climate means that your first priority is likely to be to dive into the water.
Then, be ready for a revelation. Spreading across climates that vary from tropical to subtropical and untouched by the commercial pressures of an overpopulated world, the underwater environment thrives on the rich waters of the remote Pacific. Sharks, turtles and rays are obvious highlights but the waters are strewn with the casualties of World War II. A favourite with divers is the vast SS Coolidge, an American troopship sunk not too deeply in shallow clear waters. Like all such arrivals in these fertile waters, this is now thoroughly colonised by new residents: clouds of colourful fish chasing fringing corals that open up a whole new world of aquatic adventures.
Vanuatu is also at the heart of the incredible phenomena of cargo cults. The island of Tanna is famous for its parallel beliefs, forged when the Western world intruded on their cultures, where Presbyterian evangelists met indigenous religions and merged with the wonders of a new consumer revolution. This cultural soup has resulted in religions that worship, amongst others, Prince Philip (yes, really!) and John Frumm, an iconic construct of American plenty who was – and still is – expected to bring wealth in abundance from the New World. This didn’t run well with the authorities at the time, as the religion suggested money should be ditched, pigs thrown away and farms abandoned as a sudden influx of wealth from abroad was imminent. The colonial powers were seen as obstacles to this Second Coming of Wealth (though in this case it would have been a first coming) but it persisted and still attracts a steady number of adherents.
On land, the islands are lushly beautiful. Much of the landscape is richly verdant, with roads little more than thinly-grassed channels through dense vegetation. Then occasionally, Vanuatu rears up with all the power of earth’s natural power. These islands, uniquely, have a set of active volcanoes that offer lightshows and experiences that could never be matched. Vanuatu is one place where you can watch from a crater’s edge as the earth’s molten core blotches up rocks in multicoloured magma, in dazzling displays where the very heart of Earth shows its power as it pushes out whole new worlds.
Vanuatu is not cheap to get to, but not expensive once there. There are affordable flights via Air Vanuatu, prices change from season to season, so check frequently to catch if there’s are discounts and promos to be had. And again, there are always good prices available through Vanuatu holiday deals. If you’re ever searching for an once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination, Vanuatu should be top of your list.
Photographs courtesy of Shutterstock.
Copyright © 2015 Lucy Barker