Hotspot of the week: Pentecost Island
When the first yams of the year poke through the soil on Pentecost Island in early April, the southerners build high wooden towers that become centrepieces of the traditional Land Diving Festival.
The festival, which takes place on Saturdays in April and May, sees boys and young men tie vines to their ankles and leap head first off the towers, the aim being to bless the soil by skimming the earth with the tops of their heads.
For boys, it's also a time to prove their manhood. When a boy comes of age he shows his courage by diving off the tower as his elders look on, his mother holding an item from his childhood which she discards when he completes the jump, signifying that he has left childish things behind. But people take part in the land dives for all sorts of reasons, sometimes for the sheer joy of it.
The land dives are Pentecost's most renowned attraction but it's a pretty perfect place to while away a day or few, with thick rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and lovely beaches with great snorkelling. The mission in the hillside village of Melsisi, overlooking a long coral beach, provides accommodation with a difference.