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Any traveller with a few stamps in their passport has heard of Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital on the main island of Efate. But it takes a real intrepid traveller to discover the lesser known islands of this amazing nation.

Here are a few you probably didn’t know existed.

Tanna

Famous for Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano, the island of Tanna is a 35 minute flight from Port Vila and offers a range of adventure and cultural activities. Tanna also has a lot to offer besides Yasur. An ideal destination for snorkelling, the waters of Tanna have a number of underwater caves and some of the most beautiful reefs in the world. 

matt donovan tanna

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Malekula

Shaped like a sitting dog, Malekula is the second largest island in Vanuatu and is also one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse islands, with over 30 languages spoken. The island is well known for its tribal groups, ancient cannibal sites, hiking and protected marine areas. It’s easy for travellers to learn about the cultural heritage with friendly villagers who are proud to share their stories.

Malekula

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Espiritu Santo

Better known as Santo, this is Vanuatu's largest island and is only a 55 minute flight north of Port Vila. Santo is renowned for its world-class diving, gorgeous blue water holes, the famous white sand Champagne Beach, welcoming people and amazing island resorts.

melissafindley espiritu santo

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Pentecost

Pentecost is a small island, pristine and untouched with unspoiled rainforests, beautiful waterfalls and crystal clear ocean waters. The island is most famous for the land diving ritual known as ‘Nagol’ where men jump off a 20 to 30 metre tower with only a vine attached to their legs. Witnessing this ritual is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and definitely worth seeing.

Pentecost

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Ambrym

With its moon-like terrain and two imposing volcanoes, Ambrym is not your average tropical holiday. The island, north of Vanuatu’s Efate, exhibits a green, moss-like vegetation covering ancient lava flows, evidence of the successive damaging eruptions in the island’s history. Referred to as the “Black Island” because of its volcanic soils, Ambrym’s two resident volcanoes, Mt Benbow and Mt Marum, are well worth a visit. Ambrym is an ideal destination for thrill seekers as visitors can choose to climb one or both of the volcanoes.

ambrym volcano aerial view

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