Monday 7 November 2022

From On Board: Heritage Expeditions in Melanesia - Michener's Tales

#expeditioncruising .

Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Every time I come to Santo I can't help recalling James Michener's epic novel, Tales of the South Pacific.

Michener was a US Intelligence Officer based here at Luganville and his evocative tales were built directly on his experiences on the island when the purpose-built town was a massive forward supply base literally overflowing with all the material of war and the supporting infrastructure like hospitals, airfields, ammunition stores, mess halls and wharves.

Our arrival at Santo saw us at the iconic (yes, that word) Champagne Beach, a glorious crescent-shaped beach with the whitest sand and clearest water.

Interior of new WWII museum, showing planned expansion. (RE)

From there we moved to Luganville for a quick tour of the sites. Of particular note was the new Pacific War Museum near a former PT Boat base that houses the collection of the late Allan Power who pioneered recreational diving at Million Dollar Point and the wreck of the SS President Coolidge. Ten years ago I was fortunate to meet and interview Allan just after his inauguration in the Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, but I did not see many of the artefacts on display in the new museum. There are plans to expand the museum with new halls that will display larger items like aircraft and vehicles.

The day finished at the famous 'Blue Hole' (main pic above), another hotspot for visitors to Vanuatu where we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the turquoise, spring-fed waters. The rope swing certainly rekindled childhood antics in many of us. Whoo-hoo!

For those wanting a bit more background, here is a story I wrote after my earlier visit: Vanuatu's Sunken History

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