10 Terrific Tanna Experiences!

Aug 08, 16 10 Terrific Tanna Experiences!


Tanna is one of Vanuatu’s largest islands, and is well known for its ruggedly beautiful landscape and many opportunities for adventure. Tanna is an ideal destination for travelers seeking a few thrills; the island plenty to offer in the way of excitement and outdoor adventures, and is also easily accessible in terms of transport and available tours. We’ve put together a list of unforgettable Tanna experiences suitable for solo travelers, groups and families!



1. Mount Yasur


The most famous Tanna attraction is without doubt mighty Mt Yasur. One of the world’s most easily accessible active volcanoes, Yasur is an unmissable natural beauty for anyone with an adventurous spirit. There are a number of ways to experience Mt Yasur, but however you choose to visit, a tour is the way to go.


Most tours begin at your accommodation, where you’ll pile into a 4WD and drive through the Tanna highlands to the Ash Plain at the base of the mountain, until you arrive at the entrance to the Volcanic Reserve. Dusk is generally agreed to be the best time to visit, so that you can fully appreciate the volcano’s colourful rumblings. The official volcano guides will meet you at the entrance before escorting you to the lower viewing area, which you’ll reach after climbing approximately one hundred steps, to enjoy stunning views of the summit and (depending on the extent of volcanic activity) a preview of Yasur’s nightly fireworks.


More adventurous travellers can then ascend to the crater rim, a short but steep climb requiring a decent level of fitness. From there, you’ll have a second-to-none view of the lava explosions and flying debris that accompany every boom. Conditions are closely monitored, and visitors are only permitted to climb to the crater rim if they can safely do so.


Alternatively, scenic flight tours are a fantastic way to experience the grand scope of the volcano and its surrounding ash plains, and to see its pyrotechnics from above. It’s also the best way to experience this iconic natural beauty if you or anyone with whom you are travelling is unable to climb the mountain by foot. However you choose to experience it, Mt Yasur is a truly unique travel destination!


tanna volcano



2. Lenuanatuaiu Waterfall


Also in the beautiful Tanna highlands, towards the west coast, explorers will come across the stunning Lenuanatuaiu Waterfall. You’ll have to drive if you’re staying on the Whitegrass Coast; in most cases you’ll be able to organise a tour from your accommodation. Once you arrive at the ‘Tanna Adventures’ restaurant (beautifully situated at the top on an escarpment with sweeping panoramic views), you can arrange to be taken down to the waterfall. Here, you will need to continue on foot, as the paths and steps that lead down into the valley at the base of the waterfall are too narrow and steep for vehicle access.


The valley is deep and thriving with ferns, moss and other vegetation that has grown there for centuries. Wear something you can swim in and reward your efforts with a cooling dip under the cascading waterfall, and swim in the river that eventually winds its way to the ocean. For anyone in the mood to explore a little further, you can follow the river and come out on the other end of the island at Louniel Beach, a stunning destination in its own right – see more on this below!



Photo via tripadvisor


3. Louniel Beach


Vanuatu is famed for its snowy white beaches, but Louniel Beach has something quite different and equally stunning to offer! Its sands are black as a result of the area’s volcanic geography, making for a darkly dramatic coastline. You can overlook the beach from a nearby escarpment: a breathtaking view with Mt Yasur smoking in the far background! It’s a geographically fascinating place, with a number of underwater fumaroles (gaps in the volcanic rock that emit steam and gasses, causing the water to bubble and fizz), volcanic pumice debris that washes up on the shore, and springs of fresh, clear water right next to the ocean.


There is no reef at Louniel Beach and the swell rises with even a slight breeze, so it’s a fantastic place to surf – just make sure that you’re careful and a confident swimmer, because the shore falls away quickly into deep water. If you’d rather not swim, the beach is a stunning place for a walk and a picnic, provided that you bring your own supplies as there is nowhere to buy lunch on this sparsely inhabited part of the island.


louniel black sand beach

Photo via tripadvisor



4. Tafutuna Cultural Experience


A visit to Tanna Island would not be complete without some insight into the region’s unique, fascinating history and culture. The Tafutuna Cultural Experience is a locally run cultural tour not far from Lenakel (Tanna’s largest town) during which you will visit Isangel village, meet the Chief and learn about the ancient customs of Tanna and of the Futuna tribe from neighbouring Futuna island. Visitors can witness firewalking and canoe building, learn how to weave a Futuna basket and be invited to watch ancient practices of magic and sorcery. You will also be able to taste traditional, locally prepared food and to watch ritual song and dance customs. Visitors must be respectful of local customs and their cultural significance, and can appreciate the chance to learn about two ancient cultures.


tafutuna cultural experience


Photo via Tafutuna Cultural Experience Facebook



5. Blue Cave


Also not far from Lenakel, you can join a tour to visit Tanna’s extraordinary Blue Cave. After a short boat ride (which is an experience in itself – you may very well meet whales and flying fish along the way!) you will arrive at the cliffs that form a jagged wall behind the cave entrance. Snorkel through the clear blue waters and see stunning tropical fish, before arriving at the hidden entrance. Here, you’ll have to duck underwater and swim through a naturally formed doorway, before emerging to the surface and finding yourself in a stunning, cavernous space inside the cliff. The waters are a deep, clear turquoise and beams of light filter in through gaps in the cliff face, making for a truly magical setting. You can snorkel throughout the cave and explore its many nooks and crannies, and enjoy the utter peace and quiet of this natural sanctuary.


blue cave


6. Giant Banyan Tree


Another essential Tanna experience in the Lenakel surroundings is a visit to what is potentially the world’s largest Banyan tree. Visitors pay a small fee to support the local community in exchange for a visit to the tree, which is a short walk from Leitouapam village. A set of steps will lead you to the base of the tree – you will only truly appreciate its size when you start walking around it! The tree is estimated to be at least 600 years old, and is larger in breadth than a football field. Legend has it that Captain Cook visited this very tree in 1774, at which point it was already enormous. 230 years later, it’s still going strong.


Thousands of aerial roots form a maze at the base of the tree, which you can explore at your leisure and marvel at the vast canopy above. Bring a backpack with plenty of water, and wear clothes and shoes you can trek and scramble in, in order to have the best possible experience of the tree and the surrounding jungle.


giant banyan tree



7. Blue Hole Number Two


Tanna Island’s stunning ‘Blue Hole Number Two’ can be found in the north-west of the island, almost directly in front of the Rocky Ridge Bungalows. A large natural rock pool in the midst of a coral reef, the Blue Hole offers a wonderful snorkelling experience, with huge, colourful masses of coral and an abundance of tropical fish. Reef shoes are a must, as getting to the blue hole requires a bit of a scramble over some quite sharp coral at low tide. Along the way you will see a bewildering variety of sea life, even in the shallow pools, and you can explore the passages that lead all the way to the ocean.


The Blue Hole itself is like a giant, natural fish bowl, thriving with fish of all shapes and sizes and lined with beautifully coloured coral. You could spend hours exploring it and still find something new and fascinating at every turn. You’ll also see the locals out on the reef at low tide fishing and searching for other seafood!


blue hole number two tanna


Photo via drrachie.com



 8. Volcano Island Divers – Tours


If you’d like to step things up a notch from snorkelling, why not try diving! Volcano Island Divers run a number of tours, providing all diving equipment and led by skilled instructors to ensure your safety and maximum enjoyment. Travel out into deeper waters by boat and dive at Turtle Reef to come face to face with the beautiful, ancient creatures who swim peacefully by; explore nearby wrecks; and swim through underwater passages that lead to deeper waters. If you’re lucky, you may even run into a dugong on your underwater travels!


divers tours


9. White Grass Plains


Contrary to what their name would suggest, the White Grass Plains are exceptionally green and lush, and stretch out before you on the way to Mt Yasur. It is well worth stopping to explore the Plains and settle in for a picnic lunch – keen walkers will also enjoy a hike across this stunning, windswept landscape. The Plains are also home to the wild horses that still roam Tanna, and a sighting of these beautiful creatures is something you won’t forget in a hurry!


white grass plains


Photo via @geisha_girl on tripadvisor


10. Port Resolution


Port Resolution is a stunning bay on the south-east coast of Tanna, lined with majestic cliffs and some of the island’s most beautiful beaches. The village of Ireupuow has a market, a couple of local restaurants and a white sand beach, and at the top of the cliff you will find the local yacht club. The main attractions, however, are the marine sanctuary at Yewao Point (perfect for snorkelling) and a fantastic surf beach at Yankaren Para. The surf beach is recommended for experienced surfers, with deep swells that carry over two and a half kilometres. Visitors to the main bay of Port Resolution’s inner harbour will be met by the local village chief, and for a small fee will be taken on a tour of the natural springs and vigorous seafront fumaroles along the rugged coastline.


port resolution village


Photo via Peter Watson Roughguides.com


Find information about VanuatuFlights, and Accommodation visit Air Vanuatu’s Website.

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