Round Efate (Vanuatu) trip, 26 Nov. 2006 – Nguna from Paonangisi Beach

Vanuatu is an archipelago nation of 83 islands located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It is situated west of Fiji, south of the Solomon Islands, northeast of New Caledonia, and east of Australia. Vanuatu was first settled by the Melanesians, possibly as far back as 1300 BC. Spanish explorers discovered the islands in 1606. The Europeans began settling on the islands in the late 18th century. In 1906, France and the UK both agreed to colonize the islands jointly. Vanuatu gained independence in 1980 but has since experienced political instability and attempted military coups. New elections have been called a number of times including the most recent one in 2004.

The islands of Vanuatu are divided administratively into six provinces: Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea, and Torba. Shefa is the main province of Vanuatu and the location of the island nation’s capital, Port Vila. Shefa includes the islands of Efaté, Epi, and the Shepherd Islands. The province of Sanma, on the other hand, is the largest of the provinces and home to the largest island, Espiritu Santo.

Today, tourism in Vanuatu is thriving and growing every year. The most popular destinations in Vanuatu include Port Vila, Efaté, Tanna, Espiritu Santo, the Banks and Torres islands, Malakula, Pentecost, Anatom, the Shepherds Islands, Erromango, and Ambae. Visitors frequently marvel and rave about the sceneries found in Vanuatu – the colorful reefs, lush jungles and forests, coconut plantations, and bubbling volcanic craters. There is much to do in Vanuatu, including kayaking, sailing, game fishing, scuba diving, bungee jumping, and golfing. Many enjoy touring the island’s rainforests or climbing its volcanoes like the Yasur or Abrym.

Vanuatu is also known for its arts festivals, which involve dance performances, pig killings, beach fires, and other traditional ceremonies. Melanisian-style feasts, usually organized by the resorts and hotels, are a real treat as well. You’ll get to enjoy traditional Melanesian food like the Lap-Lap or Tuluk, drink alcoholic kavas, and all the while enjoying custom singing and dancing by the Ni-Vanuatu.