The Vanuatu Expedition – Bart de Zwart reveals 10 facts about Vanuatu before his new SUP adventure

By Bart de Zwart

Once or twice a year I am lucky enough to go on one of those special trips. I call them expeditions because it is an exploration into the unknown.  A stand up paddle board my preferred way to travel.  I honestly don’t know where I going to sleep tomorrow. I know it will be on Tanna one of the 70 islands which make up Vanuatu. A group of islands roughly situated between Fiji and Papua New Guinea. And I know that we will have an inflatable SUP and 3-piece paddle to get around on and a tent to sleep in.

This time Trevor Tunnington and I decided to go bare minimum. Some clothing essentials, navigation gear and a day ration of food. I have often done these trips alone but it is so much nicer to share the experiences you encounter. Trevor is not only an accomplished sup racer but also a fun person to travel with. You have to be easy and open minded to enjoy trips like this then you will have an experience you ill never forget.

10 facts about Vanuatu and the Vanuatu SUP Expedition

Vanuatu has some interesting facts which makes this a unique country far away from civilization.

1. Vanuatu is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of natural disasters. It is positioned exactly over the ring of fire and has very active volcanos, frequent visits from cyclones, earthquakes,  flooding and sea level rises.

2. Vanuatu is one of the least visited countries in the world.

3. Most of its inhabitants live a very simple lifestyle. They live in nature from nature. A sustaining form of life where the western world could learn a thing or two from. It will be interesting to see how they deal with plastic pollution.

4. At the same time it is also one of the happiest countries in the world which proves again that wealth is not the key to happiness.

5. As I said, we travel very light this time. This is what gear we bring on this 12 day expedition. Starboard 14’ Touring, 3-pieces paddles, drybag/backpacks, compass, GPS, satellite tracker/messenger, tent, sleeping pads, knife, led lights, 2 shirts, 2 shorts, hat, Maui Jim sunglasses, suncream, emergency expedition blanket (works as a sleeping bag)  2x 3 liter water bags, water purifying tablets and some nuts and dried fruit  just in case.

6. Cannibalism was practiced as recent as 1969, so we are on the safe side now, specially because I bought some dried fruits and nuts in case we need to trade…

7. Bungee jumping was invented in Vanuatu. On the island of Pentecoste, men and boys have to proof themselves by jumping from a wooden tower with vines around their legs.

8. The island Torba is banning importation of Western food by 2020, to become totally organic. This is to ban unhealthy western food and replace by locally produced organic food.

9. On Tanna, is one of the most accessible active volcanos, Mt Yasur. You can stand on the rim while the volcano is bursting lava in the air right in front of you.

10. There are over 120 different languages and even more dialects in this spread out country. Luckily for us, English is one of the official languages so everyone understands each other.

We will be paddling and exploring some of these islands in the next 2 weeks. Due to the lack of internet, a full cover story with phots and video will come out after we return home.

Aloha from Fiji, halfway to Vanuatu.


About the Author

Mathieu Astier

Mathieu is the hyper-active founder of TotalSUP and a multilingual online marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience working for top international internet companies. His love-at-first-sight for Stand Up Paddling in 2013 led him to build one of the leading online media dedicated to SUP in English and French and to turn his family lifestyle towards the ocean.

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