Vanuatu – “full cup” experience


I remember from previous Aquarius owners and their circumnavigation Vanuatu looked the most exotic and least developed country, Since I decided to have minimum required knowledge about country in order to have less expectations and more pleasant surprises I haven’t done much research. And this place topped all my experiences and I dare to say this is one of the TOP places we’ve ever visited…

It all started with an unexpected crew joining us – 2 Lithuanians were introduced to us while they were travelling in Fiji. Richardas and his wife Jovita shared that it was their dream to sail so after short consideration we offered them to join us. They cancelled their plane tickets and rushed to Port Denarau where we were getting to take off. They arrived at 6AM and by noon we already were on our way to Vanuatu.

The passage was pleasant and quite fast – 488 NM we sailed just in 3 days and crew handled it well and was a pleasant couple to have onboard.

We tried to get to most Southern island of Anatom, but our request was denied since there’s no customs so we turned to Tanna. We knew that there’s a volcano but what we found was beyond our dreams. Volcano left us strong impression – the mountain from afar was quite impressive surrounded by unusual terrain but ability to look in it’s gurgling mouth spitting blazing red lava was something else…

From our crew we found out about this special indigenous village, where in 2016 movie was made that got nominated for Oscars! No actors, no staging, just pure simplicity, beauty and love… And we were so lucky to get to see this, walk between kind, simple people and running around, giggling kids… Not sure if I can describe this humbling experience.

Then we took off to see “Biggest Banyan tree in the world”, which was big, but all the “service” was kind of a joke and felt as a rip off, but this by any means took off other great experiences.

Our new crew was ecstatic seeing bunch of dolphins racing along Aquarius and during the passage they saw a very first whale in their life…

After Tanna we sailed to Port Villa in Efate. That is a capital city and we were surprised by big Bon Marche store that gave us excellent provisioning capability, but must surprising was to meet there more Lithuanians! Vanuatu was the last place I was hoping to meet people from my country, but I was surprised again… Very kind, welcoming people, who took care of us and our entertainment was a true delight! We even got to enjoy luxurious villa and impressive Fire Shows… There are also beautiful Blue Holes but we ran out of time and good weather. Nevertheless we left Efate very happy!

Next on our list, that was “a bucket list” item – Land diving (Nangol) – a ritual performed on Pentecost island where men jump off 25-30 meter towers tied by with two tree vines wrapped around the ankles. Land diving is done without any safety equipment, except for the vines. We were hurrying up to see the very last ritual for the year… talk about timing! And we barely made ther… Not only because of the little time we had, but also because of unexpected extreme weather conditions… According to the forecast it was supposed to be “usual” day – Some forecast models were indicating winds up to 20knts, some – close to 0. But we’ve got 50knts of wind and 5 meter seas! Thanks goodness Aquarius is well prepared for that and Ken ‘s experience we and our new crew stayed safe and arrived into safe anchorage… Another huge experience…

And – we made it to the last land dive ritual of the year! Although there were many doubts that due to the weather it might be cancelled, but on the day of event we were greeted by beautiful clear skies and sunshine… So we went…

Land diving – it is performed every year April to June and it is believed that successful land dives will bring good Yam harvest…

We haven’t stayed the night in Pentecost as we planned the overnight sail to Espiritu Santo island, but before leaving somehow we attracted the colony of flying ants on Aquarius. I was terrified to see all the bugs all over but hoped that while sailing overnight all will be gone. And I did see lots of dead bugs on the boat as we moored next to luxurious hotel in Santo. Only after we started cleaning the dead bugs we found another thousand of live ones in every possible crevice and it took us another 2+ hours to clean up that “joy”. Phew, at least now after few days they are completely gone!

In Santo our friendly crew took off their ways as 7 day sail and safety in Papua New Guinea was a concern, which we agree with and they continued their travels by air and land. But it was nice to have their friendly and cheerful company for a while!

In Santo there were other “bucket list” items –SS President Coolidge - an American luxury ocean liner that was transformed into troopship during World War II and now is one of the world’s biggest shipwrecks popular dive destination. Ken had a blast between this underwater military wreckage!

Then we took a day off to get around the island – ride the canoe to blue water holes, swing with the rope in to crystal clear water and experience paradise like silent river flow between huge untouched forests… If looking into Volcano mouth felt like looking into the hell this felt like being in serene paradise…

And those blinding absolutely picture perfect white sand beaches – Champagne Beach and our favorite – Port Orly beaches… well – it was a blast!

I hope this gives you some idea about this place which from as little knowledge as I had seemed to guarantee few attractions and lots of untouched landsite, but this was simply better even if I would have been daydreaming a perfect location.

I hope someday you will get to visit this splendid place and we will be able to share our memories…. Someday…

And now – we are off again – this time to Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately it is devastated country and crime is high… But on our way to Indonesia we don’t have many choices – either this or very risky and double longer sail via Cairns in Australia or Papua New Guinea… After long and serious consideration we chose latter.

Wish us fair wind and safe passage – we should be there in 7 says…

P.s. we already released our first video on Vanuatu, click here.

If you like our travels, videos and what we share or simply if you would like to donate to locals please support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/svaquarius

With Love,

Ken & Zivile/Isabelle


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