In the land of ‘land diving’ – Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island
Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island is one of the 83 constituent islands of the small nation of Vanuatau in South Pacific Ocean. The island is located 190 km north of Efate island that comprises Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Pentecost Island is called Pentecôte in French, Pentikos in Bislama and Vanu Aroaroa in native languages. Pentecost is spread over an area of 490 square kilometres and has a population of over 12,000. The long and narrow island (north-south stretch of about 60 km) has Maewo island in the north, Ambae island in the north-west and Ambrym island in the north-west direction.

Geography:

Pentecost mainly has a mountainous terrain  and several rivers. The highest peak in the island is Mt Vulmat with an altitude of 947 metres. The mountain range of the island demarcates the humid and rain-prone eastern coast and the temperate western coast. The coastal areas of the island are ideal for agriculture and livestock rearing. The human population is mainly concentrated on the western coast of the island. Laone, Laltong, Abwatuntora, Latano, Namaram, Bwatnapni, Melsisi, Bwaravet, Lonoror, Hotwata, Panas are some of the villages located in the western coast area. Other major settlements are located at Nazareth and Atavtabangga in the north and at Enaa, Wutsunmwel, Tansip and others in the centre of the island. The east coast is mostly inaccessible with fewer settlements. Ranwas, Bunlap in the south-east and Renbura and Vanrasini further north are some of the settlements on that side.

History:

Pentecost was discovered by Louis Antoine de Bougainville on May 22, 1768. Later, it was also sighted by Captain James Cook in 1774. It was influenced by successive Christian missionaries but traditional customs there remain strong. more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost_Island

Birthplace of bungee jumping:

Pentecost Island is most famous for being the spiritual birthplace of thesaid to be the place where the extreme sport of bungee jumping originated, although as an old ritual called the ‘gol’ or Land Diving. It is religiously organized between April and June every year mainly in the southern part of the island whereby men jumped from tall towers (around 20 to 30 metres) with vines tied to their feet, in an effort to ensure a good yam harvest.

Attractions:
  • Land diving ceremony
  • Statue of Walter Lini, the father of the nation of Vanuatu, who led the country to its independence, near Lini Memorial College
  • Bushwalking
  • Fishing
Social set up in brief:

Imported rice and tinned meat is an important part of the diet for people living in more developed areas of the island. , particularly, hold a high position in Pentecost society, not only as food but also as a traditional item of value.

Copra (dried coconut meat) has been Pentecost’s main export, but it has now been overtaken by kava, a narcotic root used to prepare a drink. Houses are constructed from local wood and bamboo, and thatched with leaves of natanggura (a variety of palm).

Language:

People of Pentecost Island speak five indigenous languages, namely, Raga (North Pentecost language), Apma (Central Pentecost language), Sowa (south-central Pentecost, recently gone extinct), Ske (of south-western Pentecost) and Sa (South Pentecost language). Besides, people also speak Bislama, one of the three official languages of Vanuatu.

Reaching Pentecost:

By air:
Pentecost has two airports, namely, Lonorore in the south-west and Sara in the north (the second more served by smaller aeroplanes). Lonorore airport was upgraded in 2008-2009.

By water:
Cargo ships linking Port Vila and Luganville touch the island’s west coast. M/V Brisk is one such ship. A few also visit the eastern coast. Yachts regularly visit Loltong, Waterfall and Panngi villages. Panngi can even receive cruise ships.

By Road:
A dirt road runs from the north to the south-west of the island, while another connects Salap in the south-west to Ranwas in the south-east.

Accommodation:
  • Noda Guesthouse (Vanu)
  • Nagol Bungalows (Salap)
  • Samuel’s Guesthouse (Baravet)
  • Walarua Guesthouse (Lavatu)
  • Walap Beach Bungalows (Wali)