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The dive tower
The dive tower
The jump
The landing target
Bungalow accommodation

Pentecost Land Dive

Thursday, July 24, 2003
The people are amongst the world's friendliest and they have been blessed with a homeland of extraordinary beauty — its beaches are sublime and divers lust after the pristine waters.

When Captain James Cook landed on this island on Whitsunday in 1774, he named it Pentecost, which is the seventh Sunday after Easter on the ecclesiastical calendar. It is part of the Republic of Vanuatu, which has a population of mostly Melanesian and Polynesian people, with a tiny sprinkling of French, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The people are amongst the world's friendliest and they have been blessed with a homeland of extraordinary beauty. Its beaches are sublime, divers lust after the pristine waters and what they have in them, vulcanologists adore its many smoking peaks and naturalists are in awe of its untouched forests, reefs and beautiful and exotic birdlife. All of this is surrounded by an ocean so blue it defies belief.

Pentecost Island is a place of very diverse cultures. In the north the people are Anglican, in the centre they are Catholic and in the south, where customs and culture are totally different, they practice the centuries-old ritual of naghol.

This involves men and boys jumping from a great height, with the only thing between them and a hard landing being a vine tied around their ankles. Young males are encouraged to jump before they can walk and they learn by jumping from rocks into the ocean, or off small towers. They can only take part in the naghol after circumcision, which occurs when they are seven or eight. After their first jump, the boy's mother throws a baby blanket into the air, signalling that her son's childhood is over. This is where AJ Hackett got the idea to introduce bungy jumping to the world!

Each April, when the first yam crop is ready for harvest, the people in the south of the island begin building enormous towers from bits and pieces — lianas, branches, vines and tree trunks. After about five weeks, when the tower is 20-30 metres high, the men very carefully select a vine. Its size is of utmost importance … just 10cm too much vine could mean death or serious injury.

In April and May when the vines are strong and elastic they make many jumps, and as they near the ground, they curl their heads under and let their shoulders touch the earth, supposedly making it fertile for the following year.

Another interesting custom which Pentecost has, but shares this one with three other islands, is sand drawing. What makes it unique is that the hand-drawing of symbolic figures on the sand is done in one uninterrupted movement, without lifting a finger.

Just 30 minutes along a beautiful coast road from the Lonorore Airport is the village of Salalp. It has three bungalows run by Chief Willie. These are simple but attractive, with coral walls and pandanus leaf roofs. Each has a little verandah, three beds with mosquito netting and shared bathing and toilet facilities.

The village has no electricity. They use kerosene lamps. Meals are cooked by village women in a little shed with thatched roof. Food is simple and fresh — chicken, fish, pork and prawns accompanied by locally-grown vegetables.

You can drink spring water which has been boiled and the village doesn't have a bar for alcoholic drinks. Kava, however, is available. This is very strong and tends to numb the mouth, lips and throat. It is taken in the late afternoon and is the drink used in ceremonies.

Location

A 45-minute flight from Port Vila in Vanuatu

Cost

Island Safaris has three-day packages from Port Vila to Pentecost Island starting at around $795 per person. Domestic flights, twin share accommodation, all means and entry to land diving are included.
Qantas flies daily to Vanuatu on code share services with Air Vanuatu, starting at $833 from Sydney, $1001 from Melbourne, $1090 from Brisbane, $1477 from Adelaide, $1888 from Darwin and $1979 from Perth, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Island Safaris
PO Box 133 Port Vila Vanuatu
Ph: 0011 678 23 288
Fax: 0011 678 26 779
www.islandsvanuatu.com
info@islandsvanuatu.com

Vanuatu National Tourism
www.vanuatutourism.com
tourism@vanuatu.com.vu

To book a flight, visit www.qantas.com.au or call 13 13 13.

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