Vanuatu, an archipelago nation in the South Pacific, isn’t known to many common travelers. The SCUBA diving community regards Vanuatu as one of the best locations on the planet to explore their passion. Some U.S. residents remember the country’s unique name from its season as the as the backdrop for the TV Series Survivor. But to many, Vanuatu’s location, at almost 1,800 kilometers northeast of Australia, makes the 82 islands hard to just stumble upon.
The remote location is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, the islands are away from pollution and human expansion which in turn makes for a prime location for agriculture, especially for Kava, a local plant known for its medicinal properties. 65% of the country’s population makes their living in this field. On the other hand, the nation isn’t on the typical tourist map, which can limit the local economy’s growth by not bringing in foreign currency. That has been changing rapidly in the last decade, however. In the year 2003, only 50,000 visitors arrived on the shores of Vanuatu, but that number more than doubled over 10 years, resulting in 110,000 visitors in 2013.
The influx of tourism can be attributed to many factors, mostly for the advancements in the travel industry as well as the internet. The easier it is for people to share their experiences in Vanuatu, the more inspired their friends and family back home may be to visit themselves.
So when Australian photographer and Instagram marketing expert Lauren Bath saw the beauty, adventure, and charm the islands possessed, she immediately began working with the local tourism board to assemble a team of photographers and filmmakers to help show what much of the world was missing.
The team spent a week exploring the islands, from the crystal clear and warm ocean waters to standing on the edge of the erupting Yasur volcano on Tanna island, which was documented in this exciting video blog by Matthew Vandeputte.
When I first saw the content the team was publishing using the hashtag #SavvyShells, I was blown away by the unique beauty and turquoise tint that seemed to be in front of every camera scene. Matthew Vandeputte added to my fascination of the still photos by producing an intriguing time-lapse film that took all of us along for the adventure through this small archipelago paradise.
It’s easy to see why this small team of visual artists fell in love with this nation of 286,000 people. And it’s also easy to see why more of the world is heading to Vanuatu for a unique and color-filled adventure.
Photos provided by Matthew Vandeputte, JewelsZee, Matt Donovan and Rob Mulally.