Ask any traveler to run down their bucket list of islands to visit, and you’ll almost certainly recognize the lineup. Hawaii, Fiji, Bali, and Bora Bora are all stunning spots, to be sure.
One name you probably won’t hear, however, is Vanuatu. And maybe that’s a good thing, because once word gets out, this small nation in the South Pacific could easily become the world’s most talked-about islands escape.
Most Americans likely don’t have Vanuatu on their radar, as Business Insider recently pointed out in a lineup of lesser-known islands. But that doesn’t mean this paradise of empty white-sand beaches, authentic local villages and a larger-than-life active volcano isn’t worth a spot on your list. Take a look:
In Vanuatu, adventure abounds: Visitors can hike right up to one of the world’s most accessible volcanos, Mount Yasur, for a fiery lava show that goes off round-the-clock. A visit to Millennium Cave, meanwhile, requires trekking through the jungle and making a challenging descent into a cavern before swimming down a river littered with waterfalls. Remote beaches and visits to working villages round out a trip that’s adventurous, relaxing and intriguing without ever being glitzy or touristy.
You can get to Vanuatu by cruise ship or boat, of course. Flying from the U.S. usually requires at least one stop, typically in Australia or Fiji. For even more adventure, hop a plane from the capital city of Port Vila out to Mystery Island, and savor perfect beaches with hardly anyone else around.
Shh, don’t tell. Let’s keep this place our little secret.