After landing at the tiny Lamap airport on Malekoula, you’ll head to a boat ramp, jump in a banana boat and speed out towards Maskelyn Islands. Your goal is to spot a dugong.
In the Maskelyn Islands, there are tiny jewels of land dotting the ocean and according to locals, there are lots of dugongs. As you dive down amongst the coral-covered rocks you’ll explore the abundance of sea life including sea turtles and tropical fish and coral-covered rocks. The crown in the jewell though is spotting a giant sea cow and the chances are increased at these depths. Soon enough you’ll be so close you will be able to see her pupils.
Dugon’s can be found with their young playing an endless game of chasey, circling around one another. They are about two metres long, have a plump appearance, and a fluke tail like a whale’s. It’s easy to see why some people call them sea cows. The dugong’s monolithic, imposing form can make divers nervous, but remember… dugongs only eat sea grass, rather than tourists.
After a mesmerising day of swimming amongst these giants of the sea watching them frolic and gracefully glide across the water, they’ll disappear into the depths of the water and you’ll wonder if any of it actually happened.
There are a few flights each week to the southern airport of Lamap on Malekula Island. Check the domestic schedule and remember if you book when in Vanuatu with your international ticket in hand, you get 20 per cent off your domestic flight price.
Book everything else through the Vanuatu tourist centre either in the provinces or go into the office in Port Vila.
The half-day tour costs about $US100.
You’ll need to be comfortable swimming in open seas between the islands. The guide and boat will be nearby.