If you always wanted to come to Pentecost Island in Vanuatu but never could make it happen here is one more reason why you should seriously consider packing your bags and travel to this island paradise. Every year in the months of April and June, young men of the Pentecost Island indulge in one of the most hair-raising displays of dare-devilry. The ancient sport of Nagol or ‘land-diving’ involves jumping head first from a 20-30 meter high makeshift platform of branches, twigs and tree trunks. Their aim is to touch the ground below with their shoulders. This mother of all bungee jumping acts started nearly 15 centuries ago, long before the developed world ever conceived the professional form of this extreme sport or people started taking an active interest in it.
Every year, in April, before the first yam crops are harvested, young local men would start building a platform of about 20-30 meters high. This takes usually 5 weeks to be ready for the dangerous head-first dives to begin. At that point the young men would carefully select a vine that is strong enough to carry their weight and survive the jump. The length is carefully measured as even a few centimetres can make a big difference in the final outcome. The vine is fastened around the legs before the jump. The jump which lasts for only a few seconds generates speeds of about 72 km/h and at the end of the drop the youth curls his head so that the shoulders touch the ground. This is done so that the ground is rendered fertile for the ensuing year’s crop.
This jump unfortunately is reserved for locals only but they do allow visitors and audience is always welcome. Any enthusiastic traveller interested in experiencing this event first hand can book a trip between April and June and make sure to show up between Thursday and Saturday. The mood during Nagol is festive and the whole village takes part in the merriment singing, dancing and ushering the harvest.
True to its reputation Pentecost Island in Vanuatu has more to offer than simply the Nagol festival. The island has some of the most pristine of beaches in the world, reefs, forests that have never been touched, mountains teeming with abundant wild-life and much more. The best thing is it is within reach for the discerning Aussie traveller. Still here?