Erromango Map, Vanuatu
Though Erromango is Vanuatu's fourth largest island, its total population is under 2,000, a result of the island's tragic history. Irish trader Peter Dillon discovered large sandalwood forests here in 1825, leading to an influx of other traders who often used unethical means to collect the precious wood. Resentment among the Erromangans grew.
In 1839 two famous Protestant missionaries, John Williams and James Harris, were martyred on Erromango. At least three others were murdered in later years. Inadvertently, the missionaries brought with them diseases which decimated the Erromangans. Then from 1863 to 1904, thousands of Erromangans were recruited – and even kidnapped – to work in the sugar fields of Australia. The few that returned brought further disease with them.
Erromango today has only a few small villages along the coast. Unpongkor village, eight kilometers south of Dillon's Bay airstrip, has the island's only guest house. The village is beautifully situated at the mouth of the Williams River facing Dillon's Bay.
An old logging road crosses the island from Unpongkor to Port Narvin, but only hiking trails reach the rest of the island. It's a rugged two-day trek from Unpongkor to Ipota via Happy Land and a guide will be required. Ipota has an airstrip which receives occasional flights from Port Vila and Tanna, making it possible to fly into Dillon's Bay and out of Ipota.