Land diving, Pentecost. Ever since we heard about the birthplace of bungee jumping, we wanted to check it out firsthand. That was how our trip to Vanuatu was hatched. The problem with seeing land diving is that it only occurs during a small window of opportunity each year, specifically when the liana vines have enough elasticity to safely bounce a man back out of harm’s reach after he willingly propels his body through the air from the top of a 100 foot makeshift tower. After a bit of research, we learned that land diving only occurs on Saturdays every April/May and part of June each year. This meant we had to lock in our plans way in advance, which is problematic given Air Vanuatu’s tendency to change flights at will. Most visitors to the land diving spectacle fly in/out specifically to catch the performance, paying a pricey $500 USD for the day’s excursion. We weren’t keen on rushing in and out of Pentecost without seeing what else it had to offer so we opted to stay a few nights at Noda Guesthouse, run by the fantastic duo of Silas and Vinneth. Silas was able to organize everything from Port Vila via email beforehand while his wife Vinneth ensured everything ran like clockwork on the ground. Noda Guesthouse is nestled at Waterfall Village, which lived up to its name with fantastic waterfalls in the nearby vicinity. And the snorkeling wasn’t too bad either! All in all, we feel extremely blessed to have witnessed the land divers of Pentecost and can never erase the image of naked men clad only in a namba (penis sheath) leaping off a wooden tower to the crowd’s delight and amazement. Truly an unforgettable sight to see!
Robby smiling before boarding our 16 seater twin otter airplane from Port Vila to Pentecost Island
Vanuatu consists of 83 gorgeous islands - here we fly above one of them
Flying above Ambrym, home to Mt Marum and Mt Benbow volcanoes
Mt Benbow volcano; Ambrym
Crater of Mt Marum volcano; Ambrym
The island of Ambrym remains volcanically active and is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveler
Our pilots prepare to land on Pentecost Island
Our plane's shadow as we descend on Pentecost Island
The tiny airport of Lonorore; Pentecost
Riding in the back of a ute with Megan, Annabelle and Ben on our way to the land diving ceremony; Pentecost
Young boy wearing nothing but a namba (penis sheath)
Boys eagerly anticipating the land diving ceremony. Any circumcised boy (aged 8 or older) is allowed to participate in the land diving
Boys and men prepare to cheer on the males who have been selected to jump in today's land diving ceremony
The girls and women of the tribe wear grass skirts made from wild hibiscus
It’s a nail biting moment as this land diver raises his hands to speak his last words before taking the plunge
The men at the bottom of the makeshift tower have the important jobs of testing the liana vines for elasticity, clearing rocks and loosening the soil
Village woman cheering on her son, the youngest land diver to jump today
An experienced elder will tie on the liana vines to the ankles of the land diver, double checking everything before certifying that the jump can continue
This man assumes the land diving jump position before leaning forward in slow motion
Placing his faith in the vines to stop his fall, this man plummets to the loosened soil below and stops in the nick of time - it is a mesmerizing sight to behold!
After successfully completing the jump, the land diver is cut free of his vines
Worker using a pole to loosen the earth, a vital task of the land diving ceremony
After each land diver jumps from the tower, the next diver will climb to a higher platform to make his own leap in this death defying spectacle
It is a tense moment as the land diver peers over the edge of the tower as he prepares mentally to take his leap of faith
As each diver jumped from the platform, we held our breath to see if he would emerge unscathed at the bottom of the tower - our nerves were on edge!
Snapshot of a land diver in mid air
A split second before this land diver hits the ground!
Snap! The vines violently yank the land diver back to safety before he breaks his neck on the earth below
The finale of the land diving ceremony is when the last diver jumps from the top of the 70 foot wooden platform
The diver jumps without hesitation
Too late now if he's having second thoughts!
Getting jerked back to safety by elastic liana vines. Pentecost land diving is truly the birthplace and inspiration for today's sport of bungee jumping
A young mom carries her exhausted child home at the conclusion of today's land diving ceremony
We loved this girl's beautiful smile and lovely hair!
Getting chased by children who easily manage to keep up with our ute on Pentecost's rough roads
Communal dining hut at Noda Guesthouse; Waterfall Village
Outrigger canoe; Waterfall Village
Robby admiring the crystal clear water at Waterfall Village's beach
Looking back at Waterfall Village; Pentecost
Robby gets invited to partake in a kava ceremony at the male only nakamal (meeting house and kava bar); Waterfall Village
Early morning view of Noda Guesthouse, our home while on Pentecost
Exterior view of the nakamal; Waterfall Village
His and her burial plots; Waterfall Village
View looking back towards the coastline on our hike to the upper waterfall of Waterfall Village (its namesake)
Village kids playing in a lower pool of the waterfall
We had to wade through this river to reach the upper waterfall
Robby gingerly making his way up to the waterfall
Becky smiles on the hike up to the upper waterfall
Michael (our guide) helping Tanya up to the waterfall. Notice her husband John walking barefoot behind her!
Almost there! Robby smiles in anticipation as we near the waterfall
Becky strikes a pose as we reach the base of the upper waterfall
Our first glimpse of the waterfall
The upper waterfall consists of two large waterfalls. Robby enjoys a back massage from this behemoth
Becky climbs behind this waterfall and pauses for a breather...what a stunning location!
The main waterfall and plunge pool of Waterfall Village's upper falls
Friendly village kids check us out on our hike back from the waterfall
Picking fresh lemons from the garden
A typical dwelling on Pentecost Island (notice the grapefruit and papaya trees nearby)
Michael helping Tanya down a slippery path - she wasn't too keen about the machete in his left hand as he kept slipping himself!
We passed several small villages full of similar houses on our hike to the waterfall
A Ni-Vanuatu girl sells us some cocoa fruit
Michael expertly uses his machete to crack open our fruit
Yum! The cocoa fruit is delicious and has an uncanny taste similar to soursop
These horses were transported to Pentecost Island from Efate by boat
This ingenious villager has a solar panel for his power needs
Boarding school housing 300 students; near Waterfall Village
Coconut plantation at Waterfall Village
Outrigger canoe - a popular fishing vessel on the island of Pentecost
Restaurant at Ranwadi College
Coastline view of Pentecost Island
A pig grazes in the front yard
Robby in front of our cottage at Waterfall Village
John loves drinking kava so we joined him at this local kava bar
5 bowls of kava - the stuff in Fiji is a joke compared to the real deal in Vanuatu. Our lips and tongue went numb immediately after consuming this potent stuff!