By Lee Czerniak. Images by Anne and Eric Simmons.
More than 700 years ago, a chief so great he was known as king reigned over the islands, and his legend lived on in oral histories.
In 1967, making use of that same folklore, archaeologists were able to discover the extensive grave of the chief, and today, Chief Roi Mata’s Domain is a World Heritage site, along with his residence and the site of his death. These are some of the many fascinating historical sites in Vanuatu – though much of that history lies beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered. Unique snorkelling and diving spots around the islands are a must-see for travellers.
The sunken SS President Coolidge is the main attraction, a massive luxury liner converted to a troop carrier for the war effort and sunk in 1942. Because the ship went down within mere metres of shore, beginner divers can enjoy this spectacle alongside more experienced ones.
There is more history to discover. The world-renowned dive site off the coast of Espirito Santo, Million Dollar Point, is where the Americans dumped millions of dollars of American Army surplus at the end of WWII. Just off shore you will get to dive with jeeps, bulldozers, trucks, forklifts, unopened boxes of clothes and even boxes of Coca-Cola. This is a different kind of wreck dive but certainly a part of history and a great dive.
For those who are more interested in relaxing than diving shipwrecks, Vanuatu offers spas, shopping, golf, nightlife and more. There a number of day spas throughout the island where visitors can enjoy body scrubs, massages, baths and healing activities. Some spas make use of volcanic ash for therapeutic purposes. Other outdoor activities for fit and adventurous travellers include kayaking, horseback riding and jungle ziplines for all ages.
Vanuatu is not only home to fabulous beaches, exciting dives and great food, it is also known for having some of the friendliest smiles.
Air Vanuatu has additional international flights, which commenced 01 June 2016 due to strong demand. There are now six flights a week to and from Sydney to Port Vila, three flights a week to and from Brisbane and three flights a week to and from Auckland. These flights are in addition to Air Vanuatu and code-share partner Fiji Airways’ eight flights a week between Port Vila and Fiji.