A jig-sawed collection of 82 tiny islands, Vanuatu is most often visited on whirlwind cruise ship tours through the Pacific. But, trust me, it’s a country you want to take your time with. As one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse places in the world, each island is its own unique pocket of adventure.
On Pentecost you can witness land diving -- the original form of bungee jumping -- where boys perform a sort of death-defying bar mitzvah by leaping from a 90ft tower of branches with only a vine tied to their ankles for support. The whole initiation into manhood is based on a legend where a woman tricked her husband to jump off a tree to his death. Watching the whole ritual still feels like a well-concocted ruse.
If you’d rather be a part of the action, abseiling through the Millennium Cave on the island of Santo has all the thrill-seeking you desire: sheer rock faces, bat-infested caves, and a rapid swim down a river. Or, for the more risk-adverse, head to Cook Reef near Emae, where you can swim with turtles and little Nemo fish who are way more chill than Disney would have you believe. Oh, and you’ve got to try kava -- Vanuatu’s national drink -- that is a sedative, stimulant, and hallucinogen all mixed in one. Even better if you get it served the traditional way, where the kava root is chewed up, mixed with water and strained right into a coconut shell for you to chug. - Prianka Srinivasan, Thrillist contributor