Vanuatu Main

vanuatu-main

Several islands lay claim to their own "Bali Hai," but it was on Vanuatu's largest island, Espiritu Santo, that James Michener, gazing over the blue Pacific toward a nearby island during WWII, found his original South Pacific inspiration.

Like Fiji, Vanuatu is not actually an island but rather a chain of islands. Once known as the New Hebrides, the archipelago is an endless chain of fine beaches, amazing diving, volcanoes, the scent of frangipani in the air ... in other words, all the stage settings for a few classic tales of the South Pacific. On the main island, Efate, the capital of Port Vila, set around a magnificent harbor, is no cultural backwater: there are fine hotels, gourmet restaurants, and a low-key nightlife that even includes a little casino action.It's also a natural base for tours and activities ranging from hiking to golf (two fine 18-hole courses on Efate) and diving. Serious scuba enthusiasts will also head north to Espiritu Santo, the chain's largest island and home to many WWII shipwrecks.

The war left a permanent imprint on these islands, from the wrecks of planes and ships, to what has been called the world's most expensive junk pile - Million Dollar Point on Espiritu Santo, where at the end of the war the U.S. military drove a vast fleet of jeeps, bulldozers, and other war equipment into the water. Today, it's a favorite dive site...