Ambae inspired James Michener's mysterious island of Bali Hai in his book Tales of the South Pacific. The island is a large semi-active shield volcano rising to 1496m above sea level. It's Vanuatu's second highest island with crater lakes on the summit and cloud forests on the upper slopes. East Ambae is wet and the west is a rain-shadow area. Ambae is an excellent place for hiking and walking, good for birdwatching and there are some secluded beaches. Access and facilities are improving and a few intrepid volcano tourists are travelling to the unique volcano of Ambae.
Ambae's west and northeast are densely populated. Elsewhere there are few villages. The centre for PENAMA province is at Saratamata in the northeast. Ambae's economy is based on agriculture. Ambae is famous for its aelan taro and melo-melo kava. Other products are cocoa and copra.
Not many tourists visit Ambae even though it's close to Santo with frequent and inexpensive transport links.