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The volcanic island of Ambrym, with its old lava floe, unfathomably deep craters and friendly dancers, will take your breath away, right from when you fly in over Benbow Volcano – one of the most active volcanoes of the New Hebrides volcanic arc.

Vanuatu’s outer island Ambrym, located in Malampa Province in the centre of the Vanuatu archipelago, has a population of just over 7,000 and speaks several languages; North Ambrym language in the north, Southeast Ambrym language in the southeast, Daakaka in the south, Lonwolwol in the west, and Port Vato in the southwest. This island’s tropical vegetation and black sand is iconic and will be sure to delight as you explore the landscape in the back of a ute or by foot.

Don’t Miss

  • Hiking to the rim of Benbow Volcano

  • A few shells of kava at the local kava bar

  • Dancing with the locals during their kastom dances

  • Kayaking across a crater so deep that no technology available can measure its depth

How To Get There
Fly into Port Vila from Brisbane or Sydney Airport. From Port Vila you can fly directly to Ambrym. If you’re in Santo or Craig Cove, there are flights leaving to Ambrym from there as well. To get the best up-to-date information, check out the schedules on www.airvanuatu.com

What To Bring

  • Hiking boots and walking poles – the hike up Benbow is long and you want to be comfortable!

  • Pack snacks! Especially for the hike. If you’re a sugar fiend, or rely on morning and afternoon tea to get you through the day, you’ll be grateful to have a few goodies up your sleeve during the long days of exploring.

  • Cash to buy hand-carved goods from the remote villages

Things to do and top Attractions in Ambrym

Climb to the Rim of Benbow Volcano
The sea of black lava plains and jagged volcanic rocks that extend from the base of Benbow volcano right to its rim, is the terrain that calls keen adventurers across the world. Benbow was once famous for its bubbling lava lake and the deep red glow visible after dark from grand distances. However, due to an earthquake in December 2018 which displaced hundreds of locals, the bubbling lake can no longer be seen. But don’t let this stop you! We promise that the spectacular views from Benbow and the neighboring volcanoes will take your breath away.

This two-day hike across volcanic soil starts with a 3-4 hour climb up to the campsite, where you’ll dump your bags, before the four hour round trip up the volcano. You’ll camp the night and the following day will make your way back down the mountain. Your walking poles will come in handy as you’ll be feeling it in your knees!

Kayak across Lonwok Lake crater
The Lonwok Lake Crater is so deep you could put a cruise ship right in the middle and it would float. After a volcanic eruption in 1913 that swallowed the local Presbyterian hospital, this crater now serves as a place to swim and kayak. You’ll have to jump on a short boat ride to get there, and pay an entry fee (every piece of land is owned by someone in Vanuatu!), but the land owner will welcome you with open arms.

Drink at the local kava bar
Kava, a ceremonial drink is made from the root of the kava plant. Each island on Vanuatu (and sometimes, each village!) has slightly different kastom practices when it comes to consuming kava. Make sure you stop by the roadside kava bars (you’ll recognise them by the little light on the roadside), have a couple of shells and ask about how they prepare their kava. Be careful though, kava has sporolific effects and too much can leave you feeling pretty hazy.

Kava is generally served around sunset and it pays to go early to get freshly prepared kava. If you’re staying at the Ocean Blue Bungalows on Ambrym, we recommend the kava bar just around the corner. If in doubt, ask anyone you pass. The Vanuatu people are a helpful and friendly bunch!

If you’d like to do your research on kava, here’s a great local website to start with.

Experience the Fanla Rom dance and black magic tour
Take a short boat trip to Ranon on Pentecost Island to experience the sacred Fanla Rom Dance and Black Magic Tour. The ‘Rom’, or ‘masked’ dance is known for its detailed masks, elaborate costumes and lively music. Performed by special sorcerers, this dance gives you a unique insight into the magic that’s stitched into the hands of local men.

This tour costs around A$45 per person, and involves a series of dances and magic performances, as well as a bounty of fresh fruit for your refreshments. There’ll also be the opportunity to buy wood carvings from some of the best carvers in Vanuatu. Their methods and apprenticeship process is very strict. Make sure you ask about them, it’s an interesting story! Buying authentic and local is a great way to support these communities directly.