Nitivenbetep: 20 Entrepreneurial Reasons to Visit South West Bay, Malekula in Vanuatu

The Hallmark Movie “Love on the Slopes” with the characters Alex Burns and Cole Taylor teaches us about conquering our fears. Alex is a copy editor tasked with a mammoth job to write a piece about conquering her fears. She does this, undertaking these extreme sports for a travel writing competition. She successfully takes the risks and conquers her fears.

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Her reward: Alex and Cole both go on a dream bucket list of the magnificent Victorian Falls together. 

Lets face it, who would turn down the idea of holidaying in a tropical paradise?

The tropical destination of South West Bay harbours 6 coastal villages which the locals speak two dialects Ninde and Nahavaq-as well as pockets of French speakers. The tribes there are called the “small Nambas” people which translates to “small penis sheath.”

Here are 20 reasons why you should visit this beautiful bay and meet it’s people. The documentary photographer and blogger Mitchell Kanashkevich called it in a post as “where the pristine nature meets ancient traditions.”

One: The stunning sunsets are hard-to-miss anywhere in the Bay. Grab a shell of kava and head down to the beach with your mates around a camp fire for the evening to watch the shooting stars across the ocean. (PC: Naki Family)

Two: Take a trip down memory lane to our Ten Stick Island. A reserve for our marine life and tropical trees, this little island could be a potential breeding ground for our turtles and the vast simple flora and fauna.

The tales have it that the American Military paid 10 sticks of tobacco to the locals during the WWII to have the island used as a local base to practice shooting. During the war, more than 500,000 military personnel were stationed on Espiritu Santo where the largest South Pacific World War II Museum is being built here. James A. Michener was stationed on Espiritu Santo and based his book “The Tales of the South Pacific” on this island. I have visions of “Bloody Mary cocktails” being served as one watches the misty sunrises of Bali Hai currently known as Ambae.

Three: The tranquility lagoon awaits with the Mahun Guest House as a host. Situated on the beachfront, this property has a local restaurant filled with local goodness and a garden.

Four: Say “I do” on The biggest South West Bay’s Icon; the Nembangahu poses as a potentially beautiful destination for wedding packages. The snorkelling and diving as added recreational activities with rock climbing and water sports are a huge attraction.

Say “I do” in one of the stunning locations on the beach in the bay.

Five: Lumete Guest House welcomes you for your special yoga retreats and meditation. Do a get away. Eat Pray Love at this special venue. Lumete

Six: Attend our Mewun Kastom School to learn about our Ninde Language. Learn some Nine words and mingle with the locals. See some of our traditional dances and ways of living and dance to a traditional gong beat and rhythm. Also, check out the latest project on our Ninde documentation and orthographic Design Project-a work in progress delivering on the linguistics and cultural preservation. We have Vanuatu’s National Curator Kaitip Kami and his team to thank for. You can also check out the fantastic travel blog of SWB: Where Pristine Nature Meets Ancient Traditions. Photo Credits: Mitchell Kanashkevich PhotographyMewun

Seven: Quench your thirst after snorkelling and diving at the Amilawane Guest House with refreshing sweet tropical pineapples and papayes slices. A little slice of sandy beaches and warm waters awaits your arrival. (Photo credits: Stanley Trief)

Eight: Hold a Round the Bays Ocean Swim Race. The first South West Bay Sunday school Round the Bay Relay was so successful seeing all the youth participate that it could potentially be an annual event with health promotion messages attached. Sunset

Nine: Visit one of the villages in the bay and learn about a basic traditional herbal medicine. Ask a local to show you how to create a herbal medicine from the local herbs to treat a probable head injury sustained from climbing and falling off a local tree.

Ten: Don’t miss our newly established Local South West Bay Market House. Support the local women at Lorlow village with their local fresh produce, both from land and the sea at our first ever local womens market house. We have our local Member of Parliament Honourable Esmon Saimon to thank for a sustainability project that has been a long time coming.

Lorlow SWB
Lorlow Village Coast looking towards the Northern Coast of Malekula. Photo Credit: John Sawyer

Eleven: Admire a few species of butterflies from Nembangahu-A potential site for our first largest museum for the area to help preserve our customs and traditions. It will also be our way of connecting to the global village.

A view of the SWB Icon Nembangahu and the whole Bay. PC: Naki Family

Twelve: With an environment sustainable for the popular kava growing plants and the business, there is even a potential for the introduction of medicinal marijuana to be grown in the “Cold Room.” But of course that comes with all the ethical and greater discussions about our food insecurities and sustainable development in the Bay.

Thirteen: Take time for a hike up to one of our longest rivers called Nuwis. Get up early and catch the beautiful sunrises behind the palm trees. Take a local guide with you and catch the fish of the day if lucks on your side.

The tropical rainforest with the Nuwis River. PC: Richie Kaising

Fourteen: Catch a Surf in the Bay especially at Lorlow Village with the children taking a cold swim in the tropical waters. (Photo Credit: Naki Family)45344521_1082209475294970_3237105057015005184_o

Fifteen: Take a cooler nap at the Fire Beach with its waterfalls. This site has the potential to be our tourism destination where the developments and the establishment of cruise ships mooring are in planning.

Cool down here in one of our famous local hot spots at Lorbunwoi, Labo Village. Photo Credit: SWB Sights

Sixteen: Take one for the environment and link up with one of the local landowners who owns part of the coast as well and help plant some corals to restore the marine biodiversity. This project is so important to our people as we try and regrow our Coral Gardens to contribute to sustaining our future generations.

Coral Growing by Island Reach as part of their charitable work of educating and conserving our marine biodiversity

Seventeen: Lembinwen village presents as one of the calmest harbours for international yachts for a few nights. It is an ideal location for onboard health screening, treatment and promotion for the locals if you ever feel that need for philanthropy and humanitarian purposes.

Eighteen: Take a hike along the sandy beach to the Lamango Farm (owned by a Kiwi bloke) just left of the Lembinwen lagoon and buy fresh eggs, freshly butchered beef, pork and goat. Meet the hard working men Robson and James-they may have some “poulet fish” available as well as unpasteurised milk and cream as recommended by the South West Bay Yacht Club.

The absolute serenity of Lembinwen Village in South West Bay. PC: Naki Family

Nineteen: Travel the coast to Labo Village for Pottery Creations and see Uncle Ken work his magic with pottery there. He was trained by the local Australian Missionary patron to South West Bay from Australia to put his skills into good use.

Twenty: Do what I do. Eat tropical fruits. swim in the tropical waters. Watch the tropical sunsets. Listen to the tropical birds chirp. Embrace the local tropical culture and weather. Sleep under a tropical tree.

How to get there: Air Vanuatu has frequent flights once a week to Port Vila from several destinations too; Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. There are several flights to South West Bay, Malekula several times a week. Visit for more information.

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