Vanuatu - Tanna (and the Volcano!) Photos

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 9 Oct 2012 11:55
Tanna is the next island up the chain after Anatom and is famous for the volcano, Mount Yasur. It's one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world, and by active we mean constantly bubbling away with frequent explosions sending glowing red lumps of molten lava high into the sky. When peering over the rim of the crater and an explosion occurs, the instructions are not to run, but wait, see which way the wind is blowing the lava, and then, if you need to, run!
The only decent anchorage in Tanna is at Port Resolution. It's just an indentation in the east coast creating a narrow bay that gives protection from the prevailing winds. It was named by Captain Cook after one of his ships. There's no port there. The main town on Tanna is over on the west coast, but has no proper anchorage and is affected by the prevailing winds and swell. There is a track across, but it's so bad it takes a 4WD 3 hours to negotiate it and apparently it's quite an adventure. We never attempted it and so have no idea what it's like, but the villages around Port Resolution are very basic - houses made of pandanus leaves and outrigger dugout canoes the main water transport. The school had breeze block buildings and maintaining it was clearly a priority. At break-time the 90 or so pupils shouted and screamed, and played football, just like any school anywhere else in the world.
Thier way of life is very traditional, but with the odd bit of modern technology where it fits. We had a knock on the side of the boat from a villager who had paddled out in his dugout canoe to ask us if we would charge his mobile phone! We said we would and he left it in a plastic bag and paddled back to shore, returning 3 hours later to pick it up again. They've never had land-line phones and have gone from nothing to mobile. Another guy came along later in his dugout canoe to get his DVD player recharged. Some of the villagers have generators, but they struggle to fix them if they stop working, and some have solar panels, but they still live in houses made from pandanus leaves.   
 It just so happens that the Volcano is conveniently placed just over the hill from Port Resolution (45mins by slow 4WD). So one of the ways the village brings in income is to take cruisers up to see it. They have one pick-up truck within the village and cram as many people in the back of it as they can. You can see the smoke from the volcano as you approach the island and as it's so close, every now and then when at anchor, can hear the deep rumbles of the explosions.
Vanuatu is a malaria area, although the southern islands are supposed to be less of a risk. Nevertheless we did take malaria tablets - 2 days before we arrived, every day we were there and 7 days afterwards. Luckily we weren't affected by the long list of possible side effects, which did make you think twice about taking them!
The inner bay of Port Resolution - it's too shallow to anchor.
The anchorage a little further out.
One of our first callers.
The local children loved having their picture taken and then seeing what it looked like.
The main dinghy landing, alongside the local boats.
Village houses and the 'main road' through the village.
They had restaurants too!
Village houses were concentrated around a village green, but some where set back in
the trees.
Following the main road out of town............
.............. which twists and winds a bit, and you come across .......
.....this! But don't get too excited ..........
.... this is it. Quite modern compared with the other buildings. You could get drinks here
in the evenings and they cooked meals for guests who could stay in the cabins below.
Needless to say there are no resident yachts, but there are a lot of yacht and yacht club
burgees from all over the world hanging inside.
3 guest cabins side by side.
There were a lot of these trees around the village - datura - very poisonous!
One of the villagers, Sara, demonstrating the use of her hand operated sewing machine -
a Singer of course!
Lunch for the village one day! We saw only one.
The village pick-up truck loading up for the next excursion to the volcano.
The intrepid explorer waits in anticipation!
The glowing lava showers get brighter as the sun goes down.
A silhouette of the crater's rim. The high point is the best observation area and you
can just see people standing on the top. We climbed up there and peered over the edge,
but decided to come back down before it got too dark to see where you were going.
The display continues every evening unless it starts to get too active and visitors are
kept further away. The glowing lava was spectacular, but the noise that accompanied
each explosion was quite frightening.
We had a very strong wind blowing away from us, so felt sort of safe!
Banyan trees - they are huge! The villagers organised a fund-raising lunch to help
send one of the young men to study to be a minister in Fiji. The lunch was in one of the
village meeting places, surrounded by several of these great trees. 
The food all set out on mats on the ground.
Beth, from yacht Sarah Jean, entertains the children.
Just through the village and you're on Ocean Beach - a gorgeous beach to walk along
and watch the Pacific Ocean waves come rolling in. The water's so clear and colours
so bright.
No tourists here, except us of course!