The Story of Vanuatu’s Daring Land Divers

Bungee jump­ing isn’t for the faint of heart, but you know what real­ly puts you at badass sta­tus? Bungee jump­ing from a crude­ly con­struct­ed wood­en tow­er that kiss­es the heav­ens, with noth­ing more than a trusty jun­gle vine secured around your ankles.

This might seem like some­thing out of a Tarzan movie, but deep in the jun­gles of Pen­te­cost Island on the Van­u­atu arch­i­pel­ago of the south pacif­ic, “land div­ing” is a sacred right of passage.

For cen­turies young men have been tak­ing the leap of a life­time to prove their man­hood. The high­er you jump and the clos­er to the ground you come, the more brown­ie points you score.

There are no nets, water, safe­ty equip­ment, or your mom­my there to hold your hand. It’s just a 100 ft high wood­en tow­er and a tree vine care­ful­ly select­ed by a vil­lage elder. The vines must be sup­ple with a lot of sap or else they can snap and then, well, I think you know what the out­come is.

Nowa­days, land div­ing has become an indus­try on the island and curi­ous trav­el­ers vis­it the Van­u­atu each year to watch the high­fly­ing dare­dev­ils in per­son. Extreme sports enthu­si­asts have offered bun­dles of cash to dive them­selves, but the islanders won’t allow it. Guess this is a good time to say: kids, don’t try this at home.