Malekula, with its surface area of 828 square miles (2070 sq km) and 21,000 inhabitants, is the second biggest and one of the most densely populated islands of Vanuatu. Settlements are concentrated on the coast.
The island is culturally diverse, as demonstrated by the fact that about 30 languages are spoken on it. At the same time, despite earlier European settlement, old traditions have succeeded in surviving more or less intact to this day – especially in the isolated mountainous regions. The name for the two groups of natives – Big Nambas and Small Nambas – refers to the different size of the penis sheaths (nambas) which the men wear suspended from a belt.
Visitors land at the airstrip in Norsup. A few simple rest houses and restaurants have opened 3 miles (5 km) to the south in Lakatoro. The Cultural Center there gives information about the island and the availability of tours. In Aop Bay a marvelous white beach beckons – but beware of the sharks in the waters around Malekula. The Wala Island Resort on Wala Island is an ideal place for Robinson holidays. Another possibility is spending the night on nearby Ranoi island.
There are many places in Malekula that are considered taboo, so visitors should get exact information before they set out on a trip about where they may go.