TRAK Unleashed: Vanuatu

October 16, 2013

Back in the winter of 2012, 4 good mates from Australia set off on adventure to the South Pacific in the Vanuatu islands. One of the most stunning paddling destinations this planet has to offer. Here is what Mick wrote to us when they got back from their trip:


Hi Nolin, nice to hear from you. We thought it should be illegal for 4 middle aged men to have so much fun, so we tried to get the rookie (Bill) arrested so we could sell his kayak. It didn’t work.
- Mick

Here is their story!

As written by Mick Shankie:

The planning for the 2012 Vanautu trip took place over a couple of beers one year earlier. The three of us (Grant, Brian & Mick) had just returned from a two week paddling trip through the Gilli island group. Each of us had folding kayaks. Brian & myself had TRAK kayaks and Grant had a Feathercraft. The Boss (Grant) proposed Vanuatu after reading a blog about Tranquility Island Resort. So early May 2012 four of arrived in the picturescue Vanuatu islands.

IMG_0184Now we had a rookie named Bill to carry our bags, or so we thought. He had different ideas. Transporting the kayaks was hassle free, no excess baggage fees. That night we settled in with a few wild turkeys and a good nights sleep. Next morning after a hearty feed of bacon & eggs, we assembled the kayaks, and planned scouting trip. Beautiful crystal clear waters and blue skies greeted us, as we set out on a 20km trip, to assess the tidal flow at the top of the island. Arriving at our destination at the bottom end of the tide, it was apparent that any trip planning would depend on the tidal flow. One hour before the bottom of the tide and our passage was blocked by exposed reef, which spanned across 300m to the main island.

The next day we planned to circumnavigate the island; a total of 32km. Again the conditions were ideal, it is Vanuatu custom to ask permission of the village chief, to land on their beach, or snorkel on their reef. With this in mind we paddled along the coastline, looking for the village. The first settlement we came across was the island primary school, thinking this was the village we landed to ask permission.


We were greeted by a small group of school kids, which quickly turned into a very large group of school kids. Then their teacher and the principal, all of whom were happy to see us. They must have thought we were crazy. In Vanuatu the canoe is a method of transport, or for fishing. Here we are paddling just for the sake of paddling. The kids were so excited to see us; I offered to take one kid for a quick trip in the kayak. I towed the TRAK along in the shallows while the kid attempted to paddle. The other 90 or so kids were in fits of laughter. As we left to cheers and waving, I pretended to fall out of my kayak, then rolled over all together, the kids loved it.

We arrived at the top of the island with the tidal stream running flat out. This was like a fast flowing river. As we passed through the narrow opening we were greeted by the most amazing site. A volcano rose out of the crystal blue waters some 16km away.


We were all astonished by the pure majesty of this towering volcano. Lunch was on what was arguably the most idyllic beach in the world.
The water has such a high salt content that you can float with no effort. We sat there and watched the locals snorkeling and netting fish for dinner.

That was the largest distance we traveled during the trip. The following day we were joined by a couple more friends, whom were on their kayaking honeymoon. (Congratulations John & Tina). They were paddling 3-piece Valley kayaks, they had brought with them from Melbourne. To celebrate their union we headed for a luxury resort (Havana resort) on the main island, some 2.4 km away, cold beer, great coffee & the best toasted sandwiches in the whole entire world. Another 2 km further along we found the Wahoo bar, good food, cold beer, and a deck which is counter-levered over the water. From this point on the day trips were shorter, but always seem to end at Havana or Wahoo. Great trip, fantastic location, good people, and value for the money!


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