As South Pacific paradises go, Vanuatu is neither predictable nor placid. This Y-shaped archipelago of small islands, located directly over the Pacific Ring of Fire, has live volcanoes and daring vine jumpers, and it happens to be located in a cyclone corridor. It also has an extraordinary collection of exotic rituals and taboos, thanks to the French, British, native Melanesians, Chinese and Vietnamese, all of whom have contributed their own flavors to Vanuatu's ethnic patchwork quilt.

If you're looking for a relaxed, accommodating island paradise that caters to your every whim, Vanuatu may not be what you're looking for. But for adventurous travelers intrigued by its beautiful, tumultuous topography and its stubbornly traditional culture, Vanuatu does offer a glimpse of the South Pacific as it can rarely be experienced.

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