Vanuatu Land Diving Makes Bungee Jumping Look Easy

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 31 Jul 2020 10:37

If the idea of bungee jumping makes you nervous, then Vanuatu’s land diving tradition definitely isn’t for you.


The unique tradition is thought to be decades old, and consists of young Vanuatu men diving off a 100ft tall wooden tower. Adding to the scariness of it all, those who do it are only supported by two vines around their ankles.

The cultural ceremony takes place on the island of Pentecost every year between April and June, and involves young men from the ages of 10 to 30 taking part.

Watch the daring ceremony here:


Before you start thinking that 10-year-olds are jumping off 100ft towers, the first boy actually jumps off the lowest platform of 10 metres to make his debut jump, reported International TravellerI’m 23 and I still wouldn’t rush to do it, though.

Included in the tradition is the men and boys choosing their own vines, which is quite the gamble. If they choose ones too short, they’ll smack into the tower, but if they pick ones too long, they’ll hit the ground. Ouch.

Now, how on earth did such an event become a tradition on the island? Well, let me tell you.

Land diving Land diving PA Images

It is said to have all started when a woman fled to the jungle in an act of defiance to get away from her husband. After her husband followed her, the woman climbed up a tree and tied vines around her ankles. Once the man climbed up the tree himself, the wife jumped off it but was saved by the vines around her ankles. The husband – who jumped after her – didn’t have anything to stop him hitting the ground, so, well… y’know what happened.

Inspired by the woman’s act of defiance, the women of Pentecost began land diving for fun. Their thunder was soon stolen by the men of the island, however, who claimed the tradition after feeling uncomfortable seeing the women in ‘uncompromising positions’, said CNN.

I’m sure they were pretty mad at the time, but I bet modern Pentecost women are happy to not have to continue the tradition themselves.

Land diving Land diving PA Images

While the tradition is seen as a bit of fun for the islanders – as I’m sure you can imagine – it has sadly ended in some people losing their lives.

One of the most infamous incidents was in 1974 when Queen Elizabeth II visited the island, and they  performed the ceremony for her out of season. One of the men who took part died after his vines snapped, breaking his back.

With this in mind, and as mentioned earlier, I definitely won’t be rushing to take part.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Culture, Land diving, Now, Pentecost Island, Travel, UNILAD Adventure, Vanuatu


CNN and 1 other
  1. CNN

    Meet Vanuatu's land-diving daredevils, who inspired bungee jumping

  2. International Traveller

    Land diving in Vanuatu