Overview

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The Naghol tripVanuatu

Our award-winning Naghol trip takes you straight into the heart and soul of Vanuatu, a small and amazingly diverse group of islands in the South Pacific. We steer clear of the bubble-wrapped resorts and explore unique, little-known attractions on no less than six stunning islands – Espiritu Santo, Pentecost, Efate, Mele, Erakor, and Tanna.

You’ll choose to hike to remote mountain villages, dive the SS President Coolidge, or kayak and snorkel for three days. We’ll be drawn into the remarkable custom of land-diving. We’ll experience an active volcano, Mt Yasur. We’ll swim, snorkel and kayak in crystal-clear waters with tropical fishes, corals and dolphins. We’ll hike to waterfalls and Kastom villages to see dancing and fire-walking. You may not know much about Vanuatu yet, but you'll soon understand why the locals smile so much…

Start:

Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

End:

Port Vila, Vanuatu

Maximum group size:

12 Guests

Duration:

3 14 days

Price:

US$ 3,775

Includes:

5
4
What was the highlight? Before I went I was sure it would be the land diving. Now I would have to say, hiking up an active volcano and looking down into it! That was simply incredible! Staying on Hideaway Island was another of my favourite parts… and the kayaking, and snorkeling, and the sunrises and sunsets. Every day was different and every day was a highlight. It was the best organized tour I’ve ever been on, and I’ve been on quite a few.

– Martha S.

The trip in detail

Halo mo welkam long Vanuatu - welcome to the adventure island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu! The Portuguese adventurer, Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, who thought he’d discovered Terra Australis (the great Southern Land, later to be known as Australia), named the island La Austrialia del Espíritu Santo in 1606. These days the island is locally known as ‘Santo’ and is home to a wide variety of adventure activities – the perfect place to start our trip!

We’ll meet you at the airport and head through the sleepy village of Luganville to our seaside bungalows. We’re on the best beach on this side of the island, and the swimming is terrific – so relax, get yourself into island time, take a swim, or simply catch some rays while we pick up people arriving at different times. If you’re keen to explore the rainforest, we can help organise an optional hike for you. In the evening we’ll meet up at 7pm in the relaxed restaurant of our resort for dinner and a chance to get to know each other.

Meals: Dinner included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 2 Hike to Tabunbotari Kastom Village

This three-day trekking trip has been specially designed for Aspiring Adventures. Steve scoped out the area in 2008 with the help of Maag, a villager from Marakai, and is proud to offer you this entirely unique experience. After breakfast at the resort, we’ll meet our local guide, and together we’ll take a 4WD to Namoru, a small village on the south coast, where our hike begins. With the Wylapa River to our right, we pass coconut plantations, and small villages with friendly natives keen to say hello as we venture further into the jungle. Once we reach a huge banyan tree high on some slopes with awesome views of the jungle and islands beyond, we’ll pause for some fresh coconut before heading down a bit to the village of Tabunbotari – arriving about mid-afternoon. Here we’ll stay in a traditional nakamal (community bungalow), and there’s plenty of time to relax and look around the village while our guide makes us kae kae (dinner) by candlelight!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Tabunbotari Village, Southern Santo

Day 3 Hike to Marakai Kastom Village

After breakfast we hike onwards to the star attraction – Marakai. Situated almost 2,000 feet above sea level in the depths of the Espiritu Santo jungle, the people of Marakai don’t often receive visitors, but when they do, there’s certainly a big song and dance about it – literally! We’ll arrive late morning, which gives us plenty of time to relax into “Kastom-life”, explore the village and surrounding area, and spend time with these amazing people. Kastom simply refers to the rules or customs following ancestral legacies and beliefs – however it is far from simple in terms of practice. Boys from the age of about 12 go through a series of initiations followed years later in manhood by large nimangki ceremonies to reach societies highest status levels.

Upon arrival we’ll likely be greeted by Chief Moli Sula or Assistant Chief Redion, invited to the guest nakamal, and then have lunch. Later we’ll go for a swim in the nearby river, and for those interested partake in a kava ceremony – you can even help the men prepare a fresh batch if keen! If there’s room, one of the chiefs will offer to sleep in the nakamal with us – to help protect us from any bad spirits. This is a day you will always remember…

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Marakai Village, Southern Santo

Day 4 Hike to Fimele Village, return to Luganville

The entire village gathers together this morning after breakfast to sing to our farewell. It’s a deeply moving experience, ensuring the memory of the people of Marakai will stay with you. Our hike back down through the jungle takes us to Fimele Village where we’ll take a 4WD back to Luganville. Later we’ll meet up with the divers and snorkellers to swap stories over a well-earned dinner.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 2 Matevulu Blue Hole: Kayaking and Snorkelling

After breakfast we’ll head up the northeast side of the island to Turtle Bay where we will paddle along the beautiful coastline past numerous small islands until reaching the mouth of the Matava River. Here your trip will have a change of pace as you seem to enter another world, paddling up this stunning tranquil river, with only the sound of your paddle in the water and birds in the treetops until you reach the magnificent Matevulu Blue hole for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water. After lunch, enjoy some great snorkelling on the beautiful reef, or simply relax on the beach.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 3 Champagne Beach, Jacquie’s Hole, Ri Ri Blue Hole Canoe

Today we will head to the most magnificent beach in the South Pacific, Champagne Beach, and the mysterious and crystal clear blue hole, known as Jacquie’s Hole. Afterwards take a canoe ride from the river mouth to the Ri Ri Blue Hole through tropical jungle, to enjoy the peace and the sound of birds.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 4 Snorkel Million Dollar Point

This morning we’re going to rev it up a notch on quad bikes! Along with our local guide we’ll ride out to Million Dollar Point where you can swim and snorkel over World War II relics and see colourful tropical fish. This has got to be one of the most unusual and spectacular snorkelling locations in the world! Take your time to explore, and later we’ll head back to town for lunch. Later we’ll meet up with the hikers and divers to swap stories over a well-earned dinner.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 2 Diving Million Dollar Point

If you love coral reefs and warm tropical waters, we’ve got just the thing! Diving in Vanuatu is gaining a reputation as some of the best in the world, and in particular the diving at Luganville. At this time of year the water temperature is a balmy 27–29°C (about 80–85°F), and the visibility generally about 20–30 metres – likely the best diving conditions you’ve ever experienced! Because we're in the Southern Hemisphere, April and May are great times for diving, with calm, warm waters and well-protected dive sites.

After breakfast we’ll meet with our diving guides to go through our gear and briefings for our six dives over the next three days. We’ve teamed up with local experts, Allan Power, who have been diving this area for over 35 years, have an impeccable safety record, and excellent gear for us to use (although you can bring as much of your own gear to use as you wish). There is a wide variety of dives available to us, and we always make the first dive an easy one in case you’re out of practice. Today for instance we may take an initial dive over the SS President Coolidge, and also dive Million Dollar Point, an entirely unique dive site where hundreds of tonnes of US equipment was dumped after World War II ended. It’s a veritable metal graveyard from bulldozers and aeroplane engines to trucks and jeeps – it's unreal!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 3 Diving the SS President Coolidge

Considered by many divers to be the best wreck dive in the world, the SS President Coolidge was a luxury passenger liner converted to a troop carrier during WWII. While entering the Santo harbor in October 1942 she struck friendly mines, sinking in less than 90 minutes; bad news for war efforts, but great news for modern day recreational divers keen to explore a remarkable underwater playground! Almost completely intact, you can swim through the numerous holds and decks viewing the reminders of her glorious days as a cruise liner and the remnants of her days as a troop ship. There are guns, cannons, jeeps, helmets, trucks and personal supplies left by some of the soldiers, as well as the beautiful porcelain statue of “The Lady,” chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain. The wreck is covered in coral and is the home to a plethora of sea life such including turtles, barracuda, lionfish, and a host of reef fish.

You could easily do 20 plus dives on the Coolidge and still not see everything! Resting in 20-70 metres of water, she’s 200 metres long, and a number of specific dives have been created to fully appreciate the grandeur of this wreck – Promenade Deck, Engine Room, Medical Supplies, Swimming Pool, and of course “The Lady”. We’ll experience two of these dives today.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

Day 4 Diving the Coolidge

After breakfast we’ll head out for our third and final day of diving. We’ll likely leave “The Lady” until today when you’ll be feeling comfortable with the depths, of course, if you’d prefer shallow dives, no worries! At a depth of 40 metres (130 feet) ‘the Lady” is one of the most famous wreck dives in the world. After swimming through the first class dining saloon we’ll visit the ceramic figure of the lady and her unicorn (feel free to give her a kiss for good luck!). On this dive we’ll also swim through the first class lobby, library and continental lounge to see the beautiful Italian mosaic fountain, porthole skylights and brass mushroom-shaped ceiling lights. Simply stunning! Later we’ll meet up with the hikers and snorkellers to swap stories over a well-earned dinner.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

After breakfast we’ll head to Vunaspef village, a short drive inland through rainforest and coconut plantations in a 4WD for a full day active experience at the Millennium Cave. Only recently discovered, the Millennium Cave was literally stumbled upon when a man from the village accidentally fell into it! Soon after, in the year 2000 it was explored further by Samuel, son of the village chief, and his team. Discovering that the cave was several kilometres long and had a high ceiling of over 50 metres, they were so impressed they named it the Millennium Cave. We’ll have a chance to safely explore this dark cave full of bats and sparrows, and have a play in the waterfall before lunching in the tropical rainforest on the riverside. Later we’ll swim and hike our way back to Vunaspef.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Beachfront Resort, Espiritu Santo

We have a 45-minute flight this morning from Espiritu Santo to the island of Pentecost. We’re here to see one of the most amazing customs you’re ever likely to witness – naghol (land-diving). The namesake of our trip, and the inspiration for bungy jumping, land-diving only takes place on specific days in May and June. Men (and boys as young as eight) will tie liana vines to their feet and make a daring leap of faith (and courage!). The purpose? To appease spirits to ensure a bountiful yam harvest. It’s truly an awesome event, nail biting yet mesmerising – and the costumes, singing, dancing and whistling add a powerful raw energy that you can literally feel in the air around you.

Of the few people that venture this far away from the beachside resorts of Port Vila, most fly in and out the same day. However, there’s more to Pentecost than the naghol. We’ll spend two nights here and gain an insider's experience of this little-visited island. After the diving we head south to the small village of Salap. Dinner will be served in a dining room with a difference – it’s on the beach!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Nangol Bungalows, Pentecost – doesn’t get more relaxing than this!

You’ve got a tough decision to make today! You may find yourself keen to spend the day hanging out at the bungalows reading a book or wandering along the beach – it’s your call. The other option is a hike to the ultra remote kastom village of Ratap. Depending on abilities, we’ll hike part of the way or take a 4WD and head towards the centre of the island. The Ratap villagers are a friendly bunch and they’ll perform a typical custom dance of the region, just for us. After lunch we’ll wander back to our bungalows – there may even be time for a detour through the lush tropical rainforest to check out stunning waterfalls and giant banyan trees.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Nangol Bungalows, Pentecost

After a relaxed breakfast of local produce we wave goodbye to our hosts and head to Lonorore for the short flight back to Port Vila. It’s possible to travel between these two islands by boat, but there are two very good reasons to fly – for a bird’s eye view of the Naghol and diving towers and the many islands of the Malampa and Shefa provinces, and more importantly because the ocean currents and waves can be quite treacherous here! Upon arrival in Port Vila, we’ll head straight to Hideaway Island. You’ll feel miles away from anywhere as you sit in your private bungalow with stunning views over the water. Hideaway Island is a short boat ride across the lagoon - if it's low tide, you can even walk it!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Hideaway Island Resort, Efate

Today is free so you can choose your own pace!

Hideaway Island is tiny, but you can spend the whole day doing activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, diving, and yachting - or nothing at all if you feel so inclined! If you’ve never dived before, this is the perfect place to take an introductory dive, and both snorkellers and divers can post a postcard home in the world’s only Underwater Post Office (we’ve tested it out, and it really works!).

We're close to Port Vila so you can also spend part of your day wandering around the sleepy capital, shopping for traditional handicrafts, exploring the market, or people watching. Locals hint: try out the uniquely Vanuatuan dish “laplap”. Also, passionfruit are at their best at this time of year. If you feel like doing something else, Steve's here to help you organise other activities in the area such as cultural tours, scenic air tours, fishing trips, diving trips or even parasailing. Another great way to enjoy the tranquillity of Hideaway Island is by reading a book or lazing on the beach in the sun…

Meals: Breakfast included

Accommodation: Hideaway Island Resort, Efate

After breakfast we’re off to Tanna, a small island to the southeast of Port Vila. In the local tongue, Tanna means earth. And that’s the reason for us coming here – to witness the raw power of one of the greatest spectacles on the planet; an active volcano!

Upon arrival at Lenakel, we’ll take a 4WD across the centre of the island, passing small villages, smiling happy children, enormous banyan trees and thick tropical jungle. About halfway we’ll reach Loanialu Lookout and our first glimpse of Mt. Yasur. The cone-shaped volcano and surrounding ash fields are a stark contrast to the lush greenery of the jungle. Occasional puffs of smoke billowing from the depths add to the volcano's eeriness. Within a short distance we’re cruising across the ash fields, around the base of the volcano and onwards to Turtle Bay where our seaside bungalows await us.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Sunrise Bungalows, Tanna

Sunrise over the South Pacific Ocean here really is worth getting up early for, and after a tropical breakfast, we’ll take time to walk barefoot along the stunning secluded beach. Dip your feet in the sea, or bury them in the sand in certain spots and you’ll notice something special – geothermal activity in the area mixes with seawater, and the result is deliciously warm.

In the afternoon, we’re off to Mt. Yasur Volcano. If you watched “Survivor: Vanuatu” way back in 2004, you may recall the female tribe was named after this very volcano! Our 4WD will take us almost to the top: Yasur is one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes. Officials closely monitor Yasur’s activity, and the level on the day determines how close we’re allowed to go. On a good day we’ll reach the upper rim for a chance to look into the heart of the volcano. Of course, the action is happening well away from us, but the excitement of the roaring and steaming and billowing black smoke, and lava exploding into the air then thudding and crackling inside the crater, will have you gasping at the awe-inspiring beauty and power of Mother Nature. And the best part is yet to come! As evening descends and the light fades, the molten lava bombs become our private fireworks display. This is a day you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Sunrise Bungalows, Tanna

This morning we’ll retrace our steps – travelling around Mt. Yasur, over the ash-fields, up to the centre of the island for our last glimpse of a volcano we now view with a vast respect, through the hill villages, and onwards to Lenakel for our flight to Port Vila.

After lunch we’ll explore the Mele-Maat cascades – pools of crystal clear water softly shaded by the rainforest, with a spectacular 35 metre waterfall thrown in as well. The views out over Mele Bay and our own Hideaway Island will have you scrambling for your camera! An option this afternoon is to abseil down the cascades – ask us for more details when you book, if you’d like a little extra adventure today (yes – you will get wet; yes – it will be loads of fun!). Later we head back to Hideaway Island for our final two nights together – this place is simply too good to miss! Later tonight if you’re keen, it's possible to head out to a local kava bar to try out the muddy, peppery concoction – it’s not for the queasy!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Hideaway Island Resort, Efate

It’s our last full day together, and we’ve got a great morning’s activity ahead of us. After breakfast we’ll be met by our local Sea Kayak guides for a kayak trip with a difference! Every kayak is glass-bottomed, and you’ll likely spend just as much time staring at the coral and tropical fishes, as you will at the often-sighted playful dolphins and turtles that reside in the bay. We’ll visit a hidden coral atoll and along the way there’s a chance for swimming or snorkelling too. You don’t need to have any previous experience with kayaking – we’ll give you all the instructions you’ll need, and you’ll find it to be a relaxing and fun adventure. To end the perfect day, we’ll have a BBQ on the beach at Hideaway Island, and hey why not sneak in a night snorkel!

Meals: All meals included

Accommodation: Hideaway Island Resort, Efate

Today is the last day of your adventure in Vanuatu. After breakfast together we’ll take you to the airport for onward journeys. If you are flying out later in the day, you’ll have one last chance for a dip in the ocean, and if you’re staying on a bit longer we can pass on useful advice for your continuing adventures. It has been a pleasure travelling with you!

Meals: Breakfast included

How much does this trip cost?

US $

3,775

pp.


in a group of four to 12 people


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WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • All meals as specified in the itinerary (13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners)
  • Drinking water at meals
  • All accommodation and activities specified in itinerary
  • All guiding services, including Trip Leader and local guides
  • All transport, including domestic flights, during the trip
  • Transfer to the Beachfront Resort on the first of the trip
  • Transfer to Port Vila airport on the last day of trip

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Tips for your Trip Leader and guides
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Flights to Luganville (start of trip), from Port Vila (end of trip)

Steve, Aspiring's co-founder says:

Vanuatu probably isn't on your "bucket list", but it should be! These islands are an adventurer's playground, it's just amazing how much there is to do. And the locals are happy, friendly, chilled and open. Exactly how I feel at the end of every trip to Vanuatu!

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Open departures:

Start Date End Date
May 28 June 10, 2018 Enquire
May 27 June 09, 2019 Enquire

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