Tanna is one of the most remarkable islands in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a mix of stunning natural beauty and rich traditional island culture.
The Tannese people still maintain a traditional Pacific Island lifestyle which keeps the ancient customs of their ancestors alive. To preserve their life and culture, some villages even restrict exposure to modern technology. If you visit such a settlement, you will find vibrant and welcoming people wearing traditional nambas and grass skirts. Although there are roads on the island, you will find that most locals get around on foot or horseback. This deep-set traditionalism is rooted in a ‘Cargo Cult’ in which an American named ‘John Crum’ is the focus. The belief is that if Tannese people maintain their ‘kastom’ beliefs and life, their American messiah will return with western riches.
Tanna’s coastline varies from gorgeous deep blue rock pools, and volcanic black-sand beaches. It could be said that due to the maintenance of the traditional lifestyles and customs on Tanna, and the minimal human impact this has, the surrounding reefs are teeming with life. Tanna is renowned for its stunning snorkelling sites, making it an ideal destination for divers and non-divers alike.
Set back from the stunning coastline, you will find a backdrop of luscious tropical jungle, dotted with beautiful streams and waterfalls. Dominating this gorgeous landscape is the world’s most accessible active volcano, Mount Yasur. This active volcano is at the root of the island’s natural beauty, providing rich fertile soil for Vanuatu’s most delicious produce.
Tanna has a tropical climate with a distinct wet and dry season.
Wet Season: December to April
Temperatures range from 29ºC during the day to 20°C at night. Rain makes a regular appearance in the form of downpours and thunderstorms early in the mornings and late in the afternoons. Humidity is at its peak at this time of year.
Dry Season: May to November
Temperatures begin to drop from May and are at their coldest between June and August. Daytime temperatures reach an average of 26ºC and dip to 16°C overnight.
The effect of Tanna’s active volcano extends beneath the waves, making for world-class diving. As there is almost no freshwater runoff from the island, the visibility in the waters of Tanna is fantastic. Dive in to see dramatic marine landscapes, extensive coral formations, captivating caves, thriving walls, drop-offs, and a myriad of marine species.
The upkeep of traditional lifestyles on Tanna has led to minimal pressure from fishing on the island’s marine ecosystem. You will find a prevalence of species, from tiny reef fish and colourful critters to big blue parrotfish, turtles and maybe even the elusive dugong.
The water temperature varies during the year:
November to April: 26°C to 28°C
A 3mm wetsuit is recommended. January to March is when the water is at its warmest.
May to October: 24°C to 26°C
A 5mm wetsuit is strongly recommended. August and September are when the water is at its coldest.
All year round
Blue Hole One
Blue Hole One is located 50m from the beach, easily accessible as a shore dive and made up of four different sinkholes that are interconnected with swim-throughs and tunnels. The outer reef is accessible by several caves and swim-throughs formed as a result of the wear of volcanic rock. Maximum depth inside the hole is 9 metres while the outer reef reaches 15 metres.
Blue Hole Two
To access Blue Hole Two, you have one of two options. You can go at low tide and enter as a shore dive, or at high tide take a short boat ride to get there. Traverse tunnels and swim-throughs from a giant hole in the reef system to the outer reef and test your sense of adventure and skill level as you decide what the best route to take is. Once outside on the reef, you will see spectacular coral formations and brightly coloured fish life. There are also colossal caverns, great grottos and cool caves to explore at your leisure. Maximum depth is 6 metres inside the hole and 20 metres on the outer reef.
Blue Cave Aquarium
A short boat ride from Blue Hole One brings you to the famous Blue Cave. Access to this incredible cave is only available underwater. Scuba in, surface and take in the wonders of the bright, aquamarine waters and the sunlight streaming through the natural 'window' in the ceiling of the cave. Exit the cave at 5 metres and make your way east, descending through catacombs of coral formations surrounded by a myriad of aquarium fish species. Maximum depth is 20 metres.
MV Jean Percy
This wreck dive is accessible by either a 20-minute boat ride from White Grass Ocean Resort or a short surface swim from shore, weather permitting. This boat sunk in 14 metres of water after striking a reef during heavy seas in 2010. Only 20 metres from the beach, she lies due north/south and upright. The un-cleaned, raw wreck still sports cargo in the holds and other equipment on-board such as a generating plant, fishnets, tiled floors and electrical cables. Engine room and additional penetration is possible using appropriate wreck diving skills. Maximum depth is 14 metres.
White Grass House Reef
Jump off the purpose-built jetty or dive the house reef by boat from the beach at Blue Hole One. See fantastic coral formations, turtles, moray eels, reef sharks, and blue-spotted rays. You may even spot a shy dugong. The topography is captivating with swim-throughs, tunnels and grottos to explore. Maximum depth is 20 metres.
Tanna's most famous attraction and regarded as the world's most accessible active volcano, Mount Yasur is a sight to behold. Over the centuries, ash rain from Mount Yasur has built up massive black sand dunes, creating a stark moonscape and allowing a 4WD to get within 150 metres of the rim of the volcano. After taking a 4WD through the highlands, past coffee plantations and villages and then across the ash plains to the mountainside, a short hike will bring you to the jagged rim of the crater. Witness the awesome power of nature as you watch glowing vents of lava and magma spurting up into the evening sky. A walk to this fiery volcano certainly makes a visit to Tanna an unforgettable take-home experience! There are many fascinating villages, beaches and points of interest including hot mineral springs and thermal pools which are warmed by Mt Yasur Volcano. The hot springs flow over the beach and into the sea at Sulphur Bay. You can also get around to other parts of the island on a mountain bike or horseback.
A guided tour of one of Tanna's traditional kastom villages is a must-see on this fantastic island. Villagers will share with you their local customs and culture, their knowledge of traditional medicine, dance, crafts and styles of cooking. You can also experience the rituals of black magic practised by a warrior tribe in the highlands of Tanna.
February 15th is John Frum day. The Nekowiar Ceremony is one of Vanuatu's most spectacular cultural events bringing together neighbouring villages for three days of gift-giving ceremonies, custom dances and feasting. The men's Toka ceremony is considered the most impressive traditional dance. The festival is held every 3 to 4 years.
Take a boat tour to the blue holes and underwater caves or explore the many beaches that line the coast. At low tide, the coral shelf exposes itself and allows you to explore its myriad of rock pools and crevices. Swim beneath cascading waterfalls with the local village children or take a Sea Kayak Safari. Experienced guides will lead you out through the reef and along the coastline to visit deserted beaches and snorkel virgin reefs. You may even see a turtle or whale! Popular surf spots just off the reef in Tanna include Port Resolution and Lenakel.
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