Santo, Ambae, Maewo, Gaua


[August - Sept 2011]


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Whatintheheck is a BLUE Hole?

It's a whole river's worth of water that comes out of a hole in the ground about a hundred meters across. We believe these are unique to Vanuatu. The water is blue because of the mix of dissolved solids (minerals and salts presumably) and boy is it ever BLUE.


This banyan tree sits over the Malevulu blue hole. Many climb the rope swing and jump off since the bottom is...well, very very far down. (Probably around 80 feet.)

Old Growth

This massive tree was in a clearing on "Oyster Island", a small island off of Santo's eastern shore.

War Ruins

Santo was home to Luganville and the home of the USA's Pacific fleet in WWII. Ruins abound including wrecks of airplanes, this pontoon and even human remains. While here, a group of US military men were combing the area for the latter - over sixty years later.


At the northeast end of the volcanic island of Ambae is an extinct crater which forms a bay. It is behind this cliff. We anchored on the western side in a bay called Vahine. From this magnificent cliff at dusk came thousands of bats: fruit bats and also the ones that are so tiny your only clue they're around is their squeak.


This bay sits in a crook on the SW corner of the island of Maewo on the far eastern edge of Vanuatu. The island is high and mountainous and is blessed with beautiful waterfalls and wonderful fresh water.

Asanvari's Waterfall

The water from the stream that feeds this waterfall is piped downhill to Asanvari village. The pool at the base of the waterfall is used for bathing and washing clothing. A patio and small wooden "bar" is under construction nearby, designed for functions including visitors from yachts.

Chief Nelson

Nelson is chief of Asanvari village. We'd heard that he'd ask for money to visit village sites but he asked for nothing except conversation and ideas about getting funding for a new village punt -that is a small ocean going boat.

Training Canoe

This tyke had his own little itty bitty training canoe but quickly tired trying to keep up with Dad and came alongside for a piggy back ride.


This is a typical ni-Vanuatu home, though this one is particularly neat and clean with a pleasure garden as a front yard. This home is in Asanvari village.


In the culture of the peoples of Asanvari, the nakamal is a large hut that is used as a common area for cooking. Women gather and cook over a large fire (in which rocks are also heated to cook root crops) while men sit alongside on benches, drinking kava.

Wise Design

This nakamal is on the other side of the village, serving a different group of families. The roof of this nakamal was raised to allow smoke to escape more easily, obviating the unhealthy atmosphere evident in the older nakamal in the last photo.

Melinda's Wedding

Melinda was from Kiavo, a village about 20 miles north of Asanvari. Roger, from Asanvari, wooed her and offered a large bride price to her family and Melinda agreed to marry Roger. The wedding was "kastom", meaning it wasn't conducted in a church but according to ancient customs.

Melinda's New Family

One of the rituals of the kastom wedding was the acceptance of Melinda into the new village and for the villagers to become her new family. Philip was asked to participate.

Melinda's Trousseau

After the ceremony of bringing the bride into the village's family, we walked to the other side of the village, where Roger's home was. Here Melinda and her family (the woman next to her is her Auntie) laid out all of her worldly possessions, while Roger's family presented the bride price.

The Bigger the Pig...

the more valuable the bride since pigs are considered the ultimate in wealth.

The Bride's Family...

accepts the bride price by ritualistically walking around the groom and his offerings.

There Goes the Bride...

Once the bride price was accepted and the elders made their speeches, the entire village picked up Melinda's possessions and moved the new bride into Roger's home.

After the Wedding...

we lingered at Asanvari for a day or two.

Before Being Asked

to transport Melinda's grandmother, mother, and two brothers back up-island. This is Ross, Melinda's grandmother


is Melinda's mother.

Ed & Fred

are Melinda's younger siblings.

After Dropping

the family off at their bay, up-island on Maewo, we made an overnight voyage to Losa Lava Bay on Gaua Island. In a country where black magic is believed truly, this was our creepy moonrise that night.

By Morning

the winds and seas had picked up substantially and we had a crazy entrance into the bay. Once inside, though, we were snug.

Edgel Weting

the talking chief of the village met us at the shore and took us around the village. We had hoped to hear water music here but Edgel told us the people who practiced it had moved back to the other side of the island. We were disappointed of course.

We Did

however, get a nice tour of the neat little village of homes with a unique style. From Losa Lava we pushed onto Sola on Vanua Lava Island which would be our departure port from Vanuatu.