Naghol: How to Witness
Land Diving Festival
Naghol ceremony is held on Pentecost Island
One of Vanuatu's most unique, indigenous attractions is Naghol (or N'Gol), land
diving ceremony. It's held annually on Pentecost island, during the months of April and May and sometime in June.
This is one of the local Vanuatu customs, done to ensure a bountiful yam harvest. This very
versatile vegetable, similar to the sweet potato, is cultivated locally for the consumption.
If you are an adventurous traveller you ought to visit Pentecost island in April
or May and visit this unusual, ancient ceremony that's the predecessor to modern bungee jumping. In addition to its
yam harvest purpose, Vanuatu Naghol is also used to demonstrate the warrior abilities of the local men.
Yam and other food is traditionally prepared and cooked in
"earth oven" in Vanuatu by the local Melanesian people
History of Land diving in
The locals believed that long ago, there was a woman called Tamalie. She used to
be mistreated by the husband and hence she opted to run away. She came across a tall tree and decided to climb it
since the husband was running after her. When she reached the top, she quickly tied the vines to both of her ankles
and jumped. The husband followed right after her, not having tied his ankles with the vines. She had a safe dive as
the vines broke her fall, while the husband died.
From that time onwards, the local men have been practicing the land dives, in
order not to be tricked again by the women. This explains why the women are not allowed to come close to the
structure, leaving the men alone to undertake the activity and prove their masculinity.
During the time of planting yams in the Southern region of Vanuatu, the locals
believed that one way to ensure fertility to the soil was contact between the hair and soil. Therefore they had to
come up with a way in which they would ensure this. And hence the bungee jump was invented. The two vines attached
to the structure would then be tied to the participant's ankles not to break. The boys together with the men of the
region would build up tall structures, around 20 to 30 meters high, from strong sticks which would was to be firm
enough. They are often so accurate such that the participant does not reach the ground but his hair is in contact
with the soil.
Just in case you are wondering, it is done without any safety equipment. The least
experienced jumpers often start from the lowest jumping levels, while the experienced jumpers dive from the highest
platforms, as this drawing below shows.
This wall mural depicts the ceremony of Naghol, held on
Pentecost island in Vanuatu, April-May
Reasons for the
The local people believe that Naghol brings about a series of benefits and
meanings to the men participating in it. The locals believe that land diving brings about a sense of masculinity
and brevity to the participants. When the dive is done accurately, it ensures a bountiful yam harvest. They believe
that the dive can enhance the wealth of the divers and prevent them from suffering the illnesses associated with
the wet season.
Requirements for the
The jump is done between the months of April and May specifically because this
season is dry and best for holding the structures firm to the ground. The season also ensures the best elasticity
of the vines (also called lianas) and enhances the safety of the participant. The vines are often chosen by an
elder, depending on the participant's weight and height. If the vine is too short, the participant might end up
colliding with the structure, if it is too long, he might hit the ground and die.
The participant has to be male. In case where the participant is not from their
community, he has to be conversant with their culture before participating in the jump. Even as an observer, it is
breathtaking to see, as the divers are not wearing any protective gear, and the tower is really high.
How to get
Over time, this ritual has become one of the exotic tourism attractions in the
region. Many tourists are now booking flights with Air Taxi, operating from Port Vila's domestic airport, on Efate
island. This airport is adjacent to Port Vila Bauerfiled International Airport.
Pentecost is one of the most often visited islands in Vanuatu. Pentecost tours are
available from tour shops in Port Vila. But it's good to book your tour in advance, as number of visitors to
Pentecost island is limited for each Naghol land diving ceremony.
Ruby Andrew’s author bio
Ruby Andrew lives in Bristol, UK and is an avid reader and blogger. Since her early years she’s had a
passion for writing. Her articles have been published in leading UK newspapers. Her areas of interest are food,
reviews (Book/Movie), Travel, Fashion, and Lifestyle. She works as a guest blogger on her chosen areas of interest
and currently writes on behalf of Sri Lanka Visa.
Attractions in Port
Cascades Waterfall - Popular tourist attraction for a family
Mele Village - The largest village hosts a
number of resorts and attractions
Port Vila Markets - Your visit to Vanuatu
would not be complete without a trip to Port Vila markets, including Chinatown shopping
Port Vila Restaurants - Gaining
reputation for culinary excellence across the South Pacific, Port Vila has a large number of
Port Vila Shopping - This true South Pacific
shopping paradise offers duty free shopping, handcrafts and souvenirs, and boutique shops.
Port Vila Supermarkets - There is a small
supermarkets galore in Port Vila that will cater for your groceries and other shopping needs.
Top 5 Attractions - When choosing something
memorable to do in Port Vila, select one or more of the top five unusual events and activities.
Vanuatu Naghol Ceremony - Also known as Vanuatu
land diving, this ancient ceremony is a popular Vanuatu attraction, on Pentecost island.