ambrym, the black island
Ambrym is sometimes called the black island after the expansive ash plain covering the interior. With two active volcanos and strong kastom, Ambrym is certainly a good destination for adventure travel in the South Pacific.
Trekking to the Benbow and Marum active volcanos draws most tourists to Ambrym, and travellers can also walk right around the island.
Around mid-year, you are bound to encounter the Rom which Ambrym’s signatory custom dance that represents spirits believed to be of the forefathers of the island. The traditional costume consists of a tall, brightly painted conical mask and a cloak of dry banana leaves. Ambrym islanders are also said to be skilled in custom magic and sorcery.
Carvings are a requirement for grade-taking on Ambrym. In the kastom nasara you can see tall, multi-faced tam-tams and tree fern sculptures. Some carvings are produced commercially for the tourist trade and export too. Another important tradition on Ambrym is sand drawing (artistic designs which illustrate local legends or leave messages) — North Ambrym has an annual cultural festival featuring Rom dancing, grade-taking and sand drawing around mid-July every year. The interior villages of West Ambrym welcome visitors to go and witness the annual Rom dance festivals.
Ambrym is relatively cheap to get to. A good travelling strategy is island hopping via Ambrym by plane and/or ship between Vila and Santo — on budget. There are some cheap and good places to stay on west Ambrym that are easily accessible by mobile phones, and these can be used all around the island. This new development makes contacting people much easier!