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Wonders of Vanuatu

Fossil cone of Ambrym Volcano
Fossil cone of Ambrym Volcano. / Gus MacLeod, Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Vanuatu is a beautiful and impressive country. People of Vanuatu should be praised for the preservation of the natural landscape and their traditions thus showing that there is a noble alternative to Western civilization. The most amazing wonders of Vanuatu are:

  • Volcanoes and associated landmarks. Vanuatu contains some of the few nearly permanent lava lakes of the world, here are active submarine volcanoes, unusual lakes in volcanic craters, unique biotopes created by the volcanic acid rain.
  • Traditional landscape with unique monuments of living culture. Many people in Vanuatu still follow the traditional way of life. There still are revered burial caves with ancient paintings, according to local beliefs spirits of the deceased still travel their mysterious ways, giant banyan trees still serve as the centers of old villages.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Vanuatu

Geological wonders

Mount Yasur


One of the most active volcanoes in the world, erupting at least for several centuries. Volcano represents impressive, barren cinder cone contrasting with the usual forested landscape of Vanuatu. Often several times in one hour can be observed spectacular explosions of molten lava. Volcano is 361 m high.

Yasur volcano eruption, Vanuatu
Benbow Crater with lava lake


A spectacular, very deep hole with vertical walls where for the most time is observed a lava lake. Acid rain formed by the gases from craters has burned approximately 100 km² large plain in the jungle of Vanuatu. Here live specially adapted organisms – insects, orchids.

Lava lake in Benbow Crater, January 2007
Mbwelesu Crater (Marum Crater) with lava lake


Up to recent times in Mbwelesu side crater of the greater Marum crater was located one of the rare lava lakes. This was one of the greatest views on Earth.

Lava lake in Mbwelesu Crater, August 2010
Lake Letas


The largest lake of the smaller Pacific Islands. 19.7 km² large crater lake, up to 360 m deep. Near Mount Garet cone the water is warm, stained with sulfur. Lake contains many taboo sites for local people and has high cultural importance. 19 endemic species of plants, several endemic animals, unusual biotopes. The temperature of lake water is 32° C and few aquatic animals (eels and shrimps) can live in this heat.

Lake Letas with Mount Gharat, Vanuatu
Lake Vui (Lake Voui)


Unusual lake in volcanic crater. Water is blue green, with a bitter taste, volcanic crater rises from it. Locals believe that spirits of dead live here. Lake formed some 360 years ago.

Thermal fields of Lake Manaro Lakua


Thermal field with hot springs and fumaroles (some sources mention also geysers). Located in pristine tropical forest with numerous endemic species including endemic orchids.

Matevulu Blue Hole


Beautiful spring coming out from approximately 15 m deep cave that is filled with blue water. The only place in the world where lives the only freshwater hermit crab in the world – Clibanarius fonticola. Nearby other blue holes such as RiRi Blue Hole, Jackie’s Blue Hole.

Matevulu Blue Hole
Nagpen River (Selva River)


Biologically nearly sterile river from the largest sulfur springs in Vanuatu. Water of river over a distance of some 10 km has very bitter taste, is very acidic. Water is dark brown, in lower reaches there forms yellowish suspension.

Matenoi Gorge


Spectacular, almost inaccessible gorge.

Siri Falls


Impressive, 120 m tall waterfall from Lake Letas crater lake, located in lush jungle.

Siri Falls, Vanuatu
Kuwae submarine volcano


One of the most active volcanoes in Vanuatu. It is possible that there was a catastrophic eruption in 1452 – 1452 AD. This eruption possibly created the present-day sea between Epi and Tongoa. This was the largest eruption in the last 10,000 years and left a serious impact on climate worldwide. Submarine fumaroles from this volcano stain the seawater yellow, there rise bubbles of hydrogen sulfide as well.

Teouma Gorge


Spectacular, almost inaccessible gorge.

Blue Cave (Tanna)


Beautiful seaside cave with opening above. Sea basin inside the cave is illuminated by the Sun.

Mele Cascades


Beautiful group of waterfalls with cascades over tufa formations and rimstone pools.

Mele Cascades in Vanuatu, upper part
Ambrym volcano acid rain


Acid rain formed by the gases from volcanic craters has burned approximately 100 km² large plain in the jungle of Vanuatu. Here live specially adapted organisms – insects, orchids.

Takara Hot springs


Seawater hot springs close to the sea. Ground temperature here reaches up to 101°C, water temperature in springs – 74°C.

Biological wonders

Happy Lands Kauri Reserve


One of the last stands of kauri (Agathis macrophylla) – giant trees reaching up to 40 m height and 10 m circumference. Earlier it was considered that this is a local species Agathis obtusa, but lately it is joined with other species of kauri in region. Area with a high biological diversity.

Banyan in Lomteuheakal


Many historical villages of Tanna island have giant banyan trees that are located in the center of local culture – dancing place (nasara). The diameter of such trees reportedly reaches 50 m. The tree in Lomteuheakal has an approximate trunk circumference of 26 m. Banyan of Yakel village has a house built on top – this house is used for the circumcision of local boys. Kaluas is considered by locals to be the largest banyan tree in the world. The tree is huge but, unfortunately, no data about its size found.

Banyan in Lomteuheakal

Archaeological wonders

Peter-ihi ceremonial dancing ground and Norohure ceremonial dancing ground


Unique monument – megalithic ceremonial dancing ground with ancestral slit drums. Nearby – enormous banyan tree. At Norohure dancing ground are placed large stone sculptures – faces. There are more interesting megalithic monuments in Malekula and Vao islands.

Tamate stone engravings of Ureparapara


Northern part of island contains engravings – store of information for the secret society of Tamate. Current inhabitants of island still continue some of these ancient traditions.

Teouma burial site


Approximately 3,000 years old burials of Lapita culture. In 2003 here were discovered some 60 headless skeletons placed in ornate ceramic pots, with heads on their chests. These were among the first discoveries of remnants of these early Polynesians.

Aname petroglyphs near Port Patrick


Large group of petroglyphs on an enormous boulder in a steep slope facing the sea. These ancient drawings show fish, birds, turtle, different symbols. Petroglyphs adorn so called "Sun stone" nearby stands "Moon stone" without any engravings. There are at least 8 other petrolgyph sites on island, many include cupmarks.

Architecture wonders

Alawuro Cave of Vatthe


A limestone cave in an impressive outcrop rising tall over the jungle of Jordan River alluvial plains. An important site of legends – local people believe that the guardian of Big Bay lives in this cave and protects the local area from construction and logging. Many stories about the magical activities of this spirit. The area has very high biological diversity, numerous endemic species.

Yalo Cave and Apialo Cave


Caves of the spirits of deceased people who lived in this area. Yalo Cave (120 m long) contains some 750 rock paintings and engravings and Apialo Cave (smaller) – 1500 rock paintings and engravings. Many of these paintings are hand stencils, also drawings of faces. Initially – some 3,000 years ago – caves were inhabited. Many living traditions of local people are linked to these caves. Another important monument is the stone of Navet’itiet located in another cave that also is adorned with engravings. According to the legends, this stone is used by deceased ones to file off their noses.

Wreck of “The President Coolidge”


Extremely well preserved wreck of a giant ship sunken in 1942. The largest accessible wreck of ship in the world, many dives are required to learn it all. Contains numerous exciting intact details of military equipment and luxury passenger ship interiors.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost established himself as one of the most engaging and original travel writers around. Getting Stoned with Savages again reveals his wry wit and infectious joy of discovery in a side-splittingly funny account of life in the farthest reaches of the world. After two grueling years on the island of Tarawa, battling feral dogs, machete-wielding neighbors, and a lack of beer on a daily basis, Maarten Troost was in no hurry to return to the South Pacific. But as time went on, he realized he felt remarkably out of place among the trappings of twenty-first-century America.

Vanuatu: Far Flung Places Travel Guide

The only current detailed guide to the islands of Vanuatu, with invaluable information, not just on the main islands, but also the more rarely visited outer islands. Including maps and detailed listings.

Learn how to travel around, find the best places to visit, stay and eat for a memorable holiday in these islands of fire and beauty.

Includes a guide for Cruise Ship passengers to make the most of their short stay.

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