Did you know that though the art of bungee jumping in the western world has been around for nearly 40 years, the origins of the sport date back much further? Take a cruise with us to Pentecost Island, Vanuatu in the South Pacific…
Home to naghol, or land diving, the men of Pentecost have been participating in this ritual for decades. Legend has it that a woman was trying to escape her abusive husband and ran up a tree to hide. He followed her and she jumped out of the tree—only after tying vines to her legs. He jumped after her and died on impact, while his wife survived the fall. There are differing reports, but some say the men of the island started diving so as not to be tricked by women again.
Over time the ritual has evolved—the main purpose now is to ensure a bountiful yam harvest. The ceremony takes place only in April and May, and once the men dive they, hopefully gently, grace the ground with their shoulders or head, blessing the soil.
Today, instead of jumping out of trees, they now jump off a manmade structure, around 98-feet tall. A trusted village elder measures the length of the vines, based solely on years of trial and error, and ties one to each foot. As the diver jumps, the crowd goes silent, likely holding their breath until he lands. The islanders then let out a collective sigh and rush to check on him before celebrating his courage.