Traveling faster than the speed of sound, the shockwave came out of nowhere and nearly threw me backwards to the ground. The massive concussion that followed nearly burst my eardrums; and in one explosive moment almost too rapid to perceive, a fiery eruption of lava and molten rocks catapulted high into Vanuatu’s thick humid air. Mount Yasur was spewing fire like a wild fairy tale dragon with volcanic boulders hurtling through the air, landing mere feet away. As the earth continued to tremble, the astringent taste of sulphuric smoke surrounded me, stinging my eyes, while a metallic taste crept into my mouth and throat. This mind-blowing spectacle of Mother Nature is well off kitesurfing’s beaten track, but it is just one of the uncharted perks of exploring the islands of Vanuatu.
This small island chain in the South Pacific had been on my radar for quite some time but the logistics never seemed to work out. Back in 2015, I had lined up a trip but the expedition was put on ice when Cyclone Pam, the most powerful cyclone in South Pacific history, ravaged the island. Buildings and infrastructure were flattened, roads, food stocks and water sources damaged or destroyed, and 95% of the crops grown for island subsidence were wiped out. I had to wait four years, but by 2019, most of Vanuatu had recovered from the after-effects of Pam and I began to plan what I had set my explorer-mind on many years earlier.
Kitesurfing is still in its infancy in Vanuatu, despite the southeast trade winds that blow consistently during southern hemisphere winters. Always on the hunt for offthe- beaten-kitesurf-path solo sessions and as a passionate surfer, Vanuatu—with numerous top-level surf breaks—had everything I was looking for in a destination. Only 65 of the 80 islands are inhabited and I focused my search for wind and waves on three of the islands in the vast archipelago with the greatest potential for surfing and kiting: Efate, Pele and Tanna… To read rest of The Spirit of Vanuatu, become a subscriber of Tkb Magazine.