When Is the Best Time
Land Diving, where the New Zealander AJ Hackett got inspired for Bungee Jumping. It’s a custom which takes part from the first Saturday in April until the last Saturday in June, 13 times in 2020 and 2021. There is limited space only, and flights fill up quickly for this event each Saturday. Advanced booking is recommended. Only very few airlines offer this trip. Some cruises offer this spectacle as well, but just for their guests. We made our booking six months in advance. Regarding the weather, Pentecost experiences much precipitation until late April. May gets drier, and June is the best choice if you like to watch these breathtaking jumps.
Pentecost has a tropical climate. It’s warm throughout the year and gets hot and humid during the rainy season with temps above 30°C. The season lasts from November to March officially, but the wettest months are January to April. The dry season lasts until October. Occasional rain showers occur. The western side of Pentecost experiences more rain. Cyclones are more likely to happen between January and March. The category 5 monster, Cyclone Pam, hit Vanuatu in March 2015. It was the worst natural disaster ever.
Usually, Land Diving is held for 30-40 people, but the audiences increase if it’s presented for a cruise ship. There is much space for everybody to sit and stand around the diving tower. Due to a limited number of seats and flights available, you will always sit in the first row to attend this cultural spectacle from an ancient time.
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Where and Tips
Vanuatu is a group of 83 islands, mostly undeveloped. Although Santo and Efate have a tourist infrastructure, paved roads, and electricity you may end up in a region without these common amenities. If you like to watch this awesome once in a lifetime spectacle, you have to arrive either in Port Vila on the island Efate or in Luganville on Espiritu Santo.
Airport Port Vila
Available Trips for Land Diving on Pentecost
You get a pick up from your hotel between 7.30, and 8 am. The flight to Pentecost takes roughly 1 hour from Port Vila. It’s a scenic flight over Cook’s Reef
and the active volcanos on Ambrym Island, weather depending. You arrive at Lonorore Airfield in the south-west of Pentecost Island. The shuttle in the open jeep takes roughly 20 minutes on a muddy, bumpy jungle track.
- The shortest trip is just the traditional Land Diving on Pentecost and back to your airport of departure. The price is roughly 49.000 VT / 390 € / 650 AUD
- Another tour includes a stop on Epi Island for lunch at the Lamen Bay. You can snorkel in the bay afterward, which is famous for turtle and manatee spotting. This is the tour we booked. The price is slightly higher for another stop on one of the more remote islands. The price is roughly 53.000 VT / 415 € / 600 AUD
For booking with Air Taxi Vanuatu
- Two nights package offered by Air Vanuatu for Saturdays and Wednesdays. This sounds fantastic with two nights stay on Pentecost Island. The problem is to get it confirmed and it may happen that even a week before you still don’t know if you are booked on the flight or not. This happened to other travelers we met on Tanna Island.
Quick Facts and History About Naghol - Land Diving
- Naghol, Nagol, or N'gol is a Bislama word. The language is spoken on the Vanuatu Islands by the local Ni-Van; the indigenous people. Each tribe has a different local dialect, and some tribes can’t understand others.
- Land diving is the most unique custom of Melanesia, which takes place from April to June only. It’s celebrated by the Sa tribe and associated with the annual yam harvest on the southern part of Pentecost.
- Young boys aged seven starts to practice the land diving to allow their body and back to get used to it. They dive from the lowest rung and men from the higher levels between 20 and 30 meters. They land on a soft soil free of stones.
- The preparation already starts in February/March. Building the tower (tarbegol) with local timber takes roughly five weeks. Important is that the most elastic tree vines are chosen carefully. The length of the vines must fit the divers' weight, and is wisely chosen by the most experienced members of the tribe without any scales or measurements. This works only at the end of the rainy season.
- In February 1974, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Islands of Vanuatu. She should get the best program on her visit, and land diving was held in February for the queen. It was the wrong time of the year for using the tree vines; they broke, and the diver had a fatal accident.
- Of course, nowadays it’s more commercial and held more often (weekly) than in the past but always only between April and June.
Lonorore Airport Pentecost Island
Packing List for the Day Trip (limit 5 kg bag)
- Toilet paper (It's not the kind of restroom you are used to)
- Bottle of water and snacks; you can't buy anything on the tour
- Umbrella (April wet season; May/June drier)
- Sunscreen and sun hat; there isn't any shade
- Insect repellent; mossies can be an issue
- Wear trainers for the short walk on the dirt part