Hear about travel to Vanuatu as the Amateur Traveler talks again to Chris Willis.
Chris has been on the Amateur Traveler before talking about remote adventures like swimming with whales in Tonga, visiting the stone churches of Ethiopia, and photographing gorillas in Uganda, wild horses in Mongolia, and penguins in Antarctica. Chris comes back on the show to talk about a recent trip to the remote, tropical paradise of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is in the very far western South Pacific. It’s between Figi and New Caledonia, almost all the way to Australia and it’s directly south of the Solomon Islands. The TV Show Survivor filmed a season of the show on the island of Vanuatu. In an episode, contestants stood on the rim of an active volcano which is one of the things that drew Chris to Vanuatu.
Chris also had a dream of sailing the South Pacific and they were able to take a sailing tour on the Soren Larsen which happened to be in Vanuatu at the time of their travel. The Soren Larsen is a square masted brigantine that takes tours of various islands in the region. Some of these islands have people who still live largely in traditional fashion with little contact with the outside world. They sailed 10 days on the ship from the island of Espiritu Santo north to a group of islands called the Banks Islands whose first European explorer was Captain Bligh of the mutiny on the Bounty fame.
Espiritu Santo is famous for its diving. The island was home to a significant U.S. base in World War II used to support the attack on the Solomon Islands during the battle of Guadalcanal. Chris was able to dive the wreck of the SS President Coolidge which was built as a passenger liner but pressed into service in the war. It sunk in shallow water when it hit a U.S. minefield. He also dove at Million Dollar Point where the U.S. drove tons of equipment into the sea rather than sell it to the islands at what was perceived to be a bad price.
The highlight of Chris’s trip was, as he suspected, standing on the rim of a live volcano. Although the trip also had surprises like the Water Music created by the local islanders.
Swimming with Whales off Tonga – Episode 38
Travel to Ethiopia – Episode 79
Mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda – Episode 80
Travel to Mongolia – Episode 111
Cruise to the Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica – Episode 180
Chris Willis’s pictures of Vanuatu
SS President Coolidge
The Banks Islands
Epi Island Guesthouse
White Grass Ocean Resort
Oyster Island Resort
See Travel to the South Side of Chicago – Episode 365 for Peter’s comment about who is buried where