Get Up Close And Personal With A Volcano On This Vanuatu Island
It is time to answer the call of Vanuatu.
Tanna Island, Vanuatu, was named for tana, a local word which means “earth”. It’s beautifully fitting, really, for a place that’s home to Mount Yasur, an active volcano where the centre of the earth literally bursts up to surprise and delight you.
Mount Yasur is – incredibly or frighteningly, depending on how you look at it – open to members of the public game enough to walk up and peer into the belly of the Earth. It’s basically the only place in the world you can get so up-close-and-personal, sans expensive helicopter, and it’s easily accessible to Aussies, being just a short flight from the east coast via the capital Port Vila, for which flights depart daily from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
A mere 50-minute drive from Lenakel – Tanna Island’s largest town – will take you to the bottom of the bubbling beast that is Yasur. Getting to the top of the crater rim is a short four-wheel-drive trip, typically done at sunset. At the top, you’ll be close enough to sweat from the volcano’s heat (and your own nervousness, let’s be real).
There, you’ll lose track of time, staring in astonishment as the lava bubbles and explodes like a firework display in front of you. Actual lava! Like in the cartoons!
As the sun goes down, you’ll be a silhouette against Yasur’s fiery show, giving you the opportunity for one of the most impressive Insta shots we bet you’ll ever take.
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Still want more adventure? You can take part in the truly mind-boggling pastime of ash boarding. Due to 800 years of volcanic eruptions, Yasur’s slopes have been transformed into eerie black ash dunes that you can ash board down or explore on foot before the sun dips below the horizon. It looks like another planet and is the perfect way to take your mind off the fact that you are about to stare into the belly of the earth.
You don’t need to burst your bubble by going back to one of the main towns, either. Continue your salt-of-the-earth experience by spending the night in a local treehouse. Treehouse accommodation is a distinctly Tanna experience and usually comprises a private room with shared facilities, along with one of the island’s best views of the volcano. It’s the perfect way to meet the locals.
After your Yasur experience, you’ll be far from finished with your visit to Tanna. Another one of the island’s jaw-dropping beauties is the Blue Cave – a stunning, cobalt-blue grotto located on the north-west of the island.
All the local hotels offer tours to the Blue Cave, with local guides zipping you around the coast to the entrance. Access to the grotto itself is a little tricky, but well worth it. You basically have to jump into the coastal water and dive under the sea cliff through an underwater tunnel, before emerging in the pristine Blue Cave. While the cave can be accessed quite easily at low tide, it should only be attempted by experienced free-divers visiting under the guidance of certified guides.
With a stream of light pouring into the water from a hole above, creating that trademark blue water, it’s a downright religious experience to swim (and take photos) there. Just make sure your camera is waterproof.
You’ll be stoked to tell every man and his dog that your Vanuatu holiday consisted of not one but four once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Pretty neat for a small 550-square-kilometre island.
(Lead image: Florian de Graaf / Unsplash. All other images courtesy of Vanuatu Tourism)
Learn more about Vanuatu’s unique experiences at Vanuatu.travel.