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Labo Village, South West Bay, Malekula, Vanuatu

By Sue Richards last modified Dec 08, 2008 01:10 PM

Published: 2008-12-08 13:10:51
Countries: Vanuatu

We returned to Vanuatu in 2008 to visit some of the anchorages we'd missed last year. Friends had spoken to us about South West Bay on the west coast of Malekula, and we'd heard a little about a cultural festival and a new Yacht Club.

We anchored at the south eastern corner of the hook that encloses the bay, off the village of Lembinwen in 4 metres over sand. The anchorage is well protected from the trade winds and enormous. Even the 30 something vessels that we'd heard had gathered earlier in the year would have had plenty of space.

The morning after we arrived we met Willie and a friend who arrived with an invitation to a "custom dance" at their village Labo, 3 miles further up the coast. We were extremely pleased that we made the effort to travel the three miles. The village and the people are delightful.

The villagers have cooperated to produce the "Fire Beach Eco-tourism Project" of which Willie is the manager. There is space to anchor in behind a reef off the beach, which cuts down the effect of the fetch to the south, or you can quickly reach there by fast dinghy from the main anchorage. Fire beach is below a cliff and the flat grassed area between the beach and the cliff behind has been turned into a lovely garden and natural theatre venue for custom dances. The dancing was very spectacular and followed by a gently guided tour of the village which meanders in green terraces up the steep sides of the hill overlooking the bay.

It has to be one of the most beautiful places we've ever visited.

This was topped off with thank you speeches before a refreshing snorkel on the spectacular coral off the beach. The reef there has been set aside and protected for the project for two years, and it certainly showed. Willie came along to show us several areas of giant clams that they'd gathered together to great effect.

Labo is not mentioned in the Tusker or any other Vanuatu cruising guide we've seen, our visit there was the highlight of our 2008 Pacific cruise.

Peter Colman
SY Mendana

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