Starting at the south of Malekula lie the Maskelynes, a set of beautiful of islands with a many of safe anchorages, beautiful sandy beaches and friendly people. There can be strong currents running, so it pays to time your passage with the tide. The Maskelyne people are excellent seafarers and it quite usual to see them sailing their outriggers fishing on the many reefs in the area. Options for activities include outrigger canoe adventures, fishing tours, Ringi Te Sui clam gardens and small island walkabouts. Snorkelling and diving are well worth the effort and dugongs and turtles are frequently spotted, especially near Gaspard Bay, which along with Port Sandwich further up the east coast of Malekula and is one of the safest anchorages in Vanuatu.
Malekula itself is rich with ‘kastom’, from the Small Nambas in the South and East to the Big Nambas in the interior North West. Southwest Bay is a wide sheltered bay of 2km across, home to several villages, each with their own fascinating customs and the large Tisiri lagoon behind. It is here that each August the Nalawan Festival is held showcasing amazing kastom dances and masks giving a peek preview of what life used to be like here. The Lamap and Maskelyne communities also work together each year to present arts and cultural events which is well worth seeing. Port Stanley and Norsup provide a raft of sheltered anchorages, as well as the opportunity to visit Lakatoro to get basic supplies and fuel. Further north on the east coast the smaller islands like Rano, Wala and Vao provide beautiful sheltered anchorages and pristine reefs.
Only 15 to the east Ambrym would be your next “port of call” to explore this magical volcanic island. With the east coast too exposed for safe anchorages the main anchorages are between Craig Cove on the west and Nopul in the north. Here can be found hot springs, active volcanoes and a way of life steeped in magic and kastom ceremony that still thrive today. There are a number of festivals through July and August that give cruisers the opportunity to step onto the Nasara (spiritual ground) and witness other ceremonial dances in North Ambrym. The two active volcanoes of Mount Marum & Benbow constantly rumble away, and trip up to the crater’s edge is another ‘must do’. The overnight treks take you through jungle, across ash plains and up cane covered slopes to the very edge of the bubbling lava lake below.
Local people in these safe anchorages are familiar with yachts arriving in their sheltered waters and will often approach with a friendly ‘salu salu’ greeting and an opportunity to refill your supplies of fresh produce.
Vanuatu Cruising also have released a comprehensive downloadable Vanuatu Cruising e-book which you can find on the site homepage.
The Vanuatu Radio Net broadcasts each morning on SSB Frequency 8230mhz from May through till mid October at 0730 local time. If 8230mhz is busy or not so good, its broadcast may move to 8188mhz.