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Vanuatu’s Vaunted Southern Stars

The island of Efate is the heart of this archipelago nation and home to its capital Port Vila.  Efate itself is ringed by attractive beaches with numerous satellite islands lying close offshore.  One of the most fêted of these offshore islands is Eretoka which seems to have been shaped in the form of a hat, and is the location of Chief Roi Mata’s Domain which is inscribed on the World Heritage register, the first site in Vanuatu to be so privileged.  Efate’s interior is characteristically lush and tropical, blanketed by luxurious foliage, thanks to substantive levels of precipitation which not only keep the island verdant but also create spectacular waterfalls, like the Mele Maat Cascades which lie just west of Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital.  Mele Maat features a gorgeously landscaped series of terraced pools surrounded by brightly colored tropical flora.  The centerpiece of the site is a spectacular wall of tall falls, perfect to carefully abseil down.

Located almost at the southern end of the chain of Vanuatu’s islands lies Tanna, on which  Mount Yasur, one of Vanuatu’s most well-known active volcanoes wows its audience with its simply otherworldly non-stop fireworks display of molten lava projectiles which create stunning parabolic arcs as they rocket out of the psychedelic fire-orange molten crater and land all around you as you peer in from your perch high upon the rim.  This is a true drive-up volcano if there ever was one, with just a quick hike from the parking lot up the volcano giving you a front row seat to the spectacle.

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