According to a Vanuatuan tale, thousands of years ago a young man chased a young girl up a tree. She jumped off and he followed her – she had vines around her ankles, he didn’t. This is widely considered to be the original bungee jump.
The tactics of today’s Vanuatuan land divers on Pentecost Island haven’t changed much – they use no safety nets and jump off poles often more than 30 metres high, with just slim tree vines stopping them from diving straight into the sand.
The vines have to be just right. Back in the 1970s when Queen Elizabeth visited the vines were too dry and she witnessed many divers hit the ground.
The Land Diving season on Pentecost Island is between April and June, when the vines are wetter and have a bit more give.
Here is a shot taken last year during Pacific Jewel’s visit to Pentecost Island during the Land Diving season. It’s a unique cultural experience and a favourite among passengers.
Land Diving Pentecost photo by Adrian Sargent