The Maskelynes: A Comment on the Locals

Published 15 years ago, updated 4 years ago

The Maskelynes: A group of islands on the SE corner of Malekula Island in the Vanuatu chain.

We have had an email from someone in the Maskelynes saying the natives are a bit boisterous there, pushy, shooting war cries across bays etc., and maybe uninvited boardings. Seems they are out of Uliveo but they go all over the Maskelynes, in search of “donations”.

Luc Callebaut, noonsite editor in Vanuatu, comments:

It might be a bit exaggerated, but it is true that a certain Jimmy and his friends, out of Uliveo, give a very bad reputation to the Masquelynes!

I heard first hand that they have fooled some cruisers by overcharging when guiding them to the Giant Clam marine reserve, or have invited some tourists to their home for a meal (like it is a gift) and then charged them 1,500 Vt for the meal … so beware.

We stopped in Awai Bay and Gaspard Bay as well as behind the outer reef of Uliveo (see Rocket Guide, a CD guide to Vanuatu) a few weeks ago, and did not meet any of these characters. Many of the nice, honest natives in the Masquelynes are suffering from the bad reputation brought by these few … the local chiefs know about the problem … but so far it is only swindles and exploiting the naivety of yachties, so not much they can do about the situation! (Unless people who get taken by a swindle lodge a complaint with the proper Chief).

So don’t be afraid to sail there, enjoy contacts with the rest of the friendly population and just be aware of the aforementioned group! There are some very nice young people who actually received certificates from govt. tourism workshops. If you talk to people, you can get a feeling who is trying to push you into something or insisting. Most ni-Vanuatu are shy and willing to please.

I have not heard of boardings. If there are, I’m sure that they are nothing even close to the type of “boardings” in the Caribbean or Venezuela! So, do not let yourself be intimidated.

PS: Some of these “War cries” that you hear are just the common way the ni-Vans locate or communicate with each other over long distance, although Jimmy could possibly be using them to intimidate folks.

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