Tanna means ‘earth’ in Tannese. Glorious, rich, soft volcanic earth, producing seriously organic meat and vegetables; lush, undisturbed rainforests; heady night-perfumed flowers; coffee plantations; plains where wild horses gallop; mighty mountains; a giant banyan, the world’s largest living organism; hot springs; waterfalls; and presiding over it all, fuming, furious Mt Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano. To be so close to nature’s raw power is mind-blowing. And the sea also offers surf, coral reefs, bays, harbours and deep blue swimming holes.
The Tannese are passionate about their island. Local chiefs form marine and wildlife sanctuaries. There are gardening, surfing, cycling, walking or volcano enthusiasts everywhere, and very serious quarantine controls – the island has no nasty bugs, so everything’s grown without insecticides, herbicides or pesticides, which is how they want to keep it. Christianity, cargo cult (where believers act like Europeans so that wealth ‘cargo’ will come their way) and kastom (the rules surrounding ancient ancestral legacies and customs) are important and all natural phenomena have a fourth dimension of spirituality and mystique.
The entire island is a tourists’ playground. So when the volcano has finished working its magic on you, grounding you, bringing the spiritual into focus, there’s horses to ride, forests to trek, waterfalls to stand under, and a 1.6km-deep drop-off tumbling with coral to snorkel along. Meet kastom villagers wearing nambas (penis sheaths) and grass skirts, watch age-old festivals or just laze on a tropical island beach and watch the sun set.
Stay for ages: it will be unforgettable.