Exploring Vanuatu’s Outer Islands
An archipelago of 83 islands, Vanuatu possesses a number of outer islands that are worth exploring besides the popular main islands such as Efate.
You can expect to travel the off the beaten track, have adventures on active volcanoes and witness the rich culture and traditions of the outer islands that will be of a unique experience for you.
Ambae (405 sq km)
This island is said to be inspiration for the island of Bali Hai in the book “Tales of the South Pacific” by James Michener. An island dense with rainforest, it is described as the “most beautiful island in the world” by Michener.
Home to the Manaro Volcano, which is listed one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Ambae takes on the shape of a pyramid and is often under the cap of a sea haze. There is something magical about the island which suddenly appears from behind a fog after a shift in the wind.
Ambae is famous for sand drawings, featuring a design that is rose-like, representing laplap. Ambae’s beautiful tropical land makes a
perfect setting for a relaxing getaway, coupled with the company of some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
Ambrym (680 sq km)
Ambrym is an island of many surprises. Firstly, active lava lakes flow in Ambrym which makes it one of the few places with that amazing natural occurrence. Mount Benbow and Mount Marum are active and continue to bubble, steam and ooze. Volcano walks can be scheduled if you are adventurous enough – watching the core of the lava lake from the rim of Mount Marum is an unforgettable experience and a privilege.
Another surprise that Ambrym holds is the wonderful snorkelling and the chance to see the endangered dugongs as they feed on the sea grass in the tropical waters.
The Rom spirit dance used to be too sacred to be seen by the public, but now it is demonstrated in certain areas. There are also dances such as Hipipur, Welele and Roplar that travellers will be able to watch as the natives celebrate events such as marriages.
Aneityum (162 sq km)
Aneityum is an island surrounded by live coral reef and impeccable white sandy beaches. Amongst nature’s gifts to the island, there are massive cascading waterfalls, volcanoes and mountains. Beautiful sandalwood trees have been able to thrive on the rich volcanic soils and tropical climate, growing in masses on Aneityum.
Sandalwood is popular in the East for its pleasant scent and was aggressively sought by traders, which wrecked Aneityum in the last century.
Epi (444 sq km)
Epi is an island that gives you the best of both worlds – beautiful sandy coves and beaches to relax on, and the rugged rainforest where adventure awaits. It is the place to enjoy the peace of being surrounded with nature, away from the bustle of cities. There are two hot springs near the village of Votlo and bungalow-style guesthouses that ensures comfortable accommodation for each traveller.
As with most islands in Vanuatu, Epi’s best beach, Lamen Bay beach is great for snorkelling and it also gives snorkelers the chance to swim alongside with the friendly dugong.
Malekula (788 sq km)
Malekula is the second largest island in Vanuatu and has been famed for cannibalism in its past. It is rich in history and culture as it had less European visitors due to the lack of sandalwood for commercial purposes. Malakula provides visitors with a good idea of Vanuatu’s heritage and its inhabitants are happy to share this rich culture with visitors. Witness traditions of the Small and Big Nambas and also visit old cannibal sites in North Malekula.
Visitors to Malekula in August can expect the Nalawan Festival with custom Nukofo dances and ceremonies. When in Malekula, visitors should see the local art and read about the history of the island in the Malekula Cultural Centre and also enjoy the wide selection of fruits and local delicacies such as lap-lap and toluk at the fresh produce markets.