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Palm-leaf thatch drying at Ranwas village, South Pentecost, Penama

You think Vanuatu's beaches are unbeatable on one island until you reach the next. Divers are delighted at the clear waters, coral reefs and shipwrecks; vulcanologists go wild for its many smoking peaks; and naturalists lust after its untouched forests, reefs and extravagant bird life.

Exploited, kidnapped, proselytised and robbed for a century and a half under the benevolence of a wobbly colonial administration, the ni-Vanuatu, as islanders are known, have bounced back today and are among the friendliest and most welcoming people in the Pacific.

Since independence in 1980 travellers have been kicking back in the country in ever greater numbers to surf, dive, water-ski, trek and relax. And if any of that sounds too active there's an especially mellow-inducing brand of local firewater called kava to take all your hinges off and implant the suspicion that the 21st century is just a bad dream after all.

Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track
Getting Around
Further reading

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