Spectacular coral reefs and canyons take a backseat in Vanuatu, where WWII left a lasting legacy of shipwrecks. The best known, the S.S. President Coolidge, was a luxury liner converted to a troop ship when it ran into a “friendly fire” U.S. mine just off Espiritu Santo. Helmets and guns still litter the deck of the ship, the world’s largest shipwreck accessible to scuba divers; most of the dives are fairly deep, in the 100-foot plus range, requiring decompression stops.
Port Vila is the charter-fishing gateway for the likes of marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, and wahoo, but light-tackle fishing along the island’s reefs (and those of Efate) is a ticket to a different kind of blue water rod play. Put on a popper, imagine you’re casting for largemouth bass, saltwater-style – and be prepared to hook up with coral trout, giant trevally, and queenfish.
Welcome to the home of the original bungy jumpers. During April and May, men on Pentecost Island climb to the top of a 100-foot-high timber platform, tie vines around their ankles, and leap off … in a time-honored yam harvest fertility rite known as naghol. They fall headfirst – to touch the ground with their hair to insure a successful crop. Once closed to visitors, the ritual is now open to visitors – and is unforgettable.