Vanuatu’s Espiritu Santo (or Santo as it is affectionately dubbed) is an island rich in history and natural wonders. It’s only a mere two-and-a-half hour flight from Brisbane, but it’ll make you feel worlds away.
With so many experiences on offer, we have taken a deep dive (pun intended) into what we believe to be the crème de la crème on an island that needs to be placed on your bucket list tout-suite.
So without further ado, here are five reasons Vanuatu’s largest island will take your breath away:
1. ONCE IN A BLUE MOON WILL YOU EXPERIENCE SUCH BEAUTY
There are an array of blue holes in Espiritu Santo guaranteed to transport you to a magical oasis where lush green forest lines fresh water so blue it’s as if it were painted in place.
Located halfway between Luganville and Champagne Beach, the Nanda Blue Hole is often referred to as the most beautiful blue hole in Vanuatu and features facilities including a wooden water slide, rope and swing platform (for those daring enough) as well as a bar and picnic area.
Sail down the Riri River in an outrigger canoe to the Riri Blue Hole, where you can enjoy a swim and swing into the fresh, clear turquoise water below. Snorkelling gear is a must to witness the rich underwater life.
Canoeing is also on offer to access the Matevulu Blue Hole, and nearby resorts offer kayak rental for easy paddling through the almost Jurassic surroundings to paradise.
2. CHEERS TO CHAMPAGNE BEACH
One of the most beautiful beaches in the world is located on the east coast of Espiritu Santo just 45-minutes from Luganville.
Crystal-clear turquoise water resembles the soft bubbles of champagne at low tide as it laps against the powdery white sand.
Bathrooms, a changing area and barbeque facilities make this the perfect place to park yourself for the day.
This is the stuff of postcards.
3. ESCAPE TO YOUR OWN PRIVATE PARADISE
Dany Island is located halfway between Champagne Beach and Luganville, a short ten-minute boat ride from the main island of Santo.
Offering access to 50,000 square metres of brilliantly colourful coral reef that has remained untouched for centuries, this slice of paradise is home to a veritable array of sea life including lobsters, coconut crabs and thousands of tropical fish.
The ideal snorkelling and diving destination has just been placed on the map recently, meaning an escape from the crowds and is also home to families of baby sea turtles born on the island.
Visitors are welcome to feed the turtles paw paw fresh from the island, before hiring a surfboard or bodyboard to catch the clean surf break on the northernmost point of the island – the only surf break in this part of Vanuatu.
Guests can book a day tour to Dany Island, head over on their own vessel for a nominal fee, or camp overnight with tents provided and access to shower and bathroom facilities. A tiki bar will also be built in the coming months offering fresh island cocktails and snacks to further enhance your experience in paradise.
By the end of 2018, guests will also have the opportunity to stay in the brand-new one-bedroom beachfront villa that comes complete with exclusive use of the island for the ultimate luxe tropical getaway. Priced at AUD$1,500 per night, the experience comes complete with all transfers, meals and drinks.
4. FRENCH FLAVOURS & ISLAND FAIR
Sample fresh local seafood at one of the rustic Melanesian restaurants situated right on the white sand beach of Port Olry and stay for cocktails as the sun sets over the crystal-clear waters.
The ideal place for a spot of swimming, snorkelling, outrigger fishing and even horse riding, Port Olry is also the access point to a number of small islands offshore that are accessible via canoe or a walk across at low tide.
5. STEP BACK IN TIME
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific may have dramatised the events that took place in Santo in World War II, but the island certainly played home to the U.S. naval and air forces during this time, and the evidence is still there for everyone to see.
Relics can be found throughout the island, but nowhere are they more prevalent than at Million Dollar Point, where thousands of tonnes (and “millions” of dollars’ worth) of military equipment was dumped by the Americans all those years ago.
As a result, divers can now witness everything from large jeeps to trucks, forklifts to semi-trailers and crates upon crates of vintage Coca-Cola bottles beneath the waters surrounding the area, while the shoreline is a minefield for relics that have been adopted as part of the environment.
A charming bar and restaurant have recently opened in the popular tourist spot or, for those after some respite after a day’s diving, schedule in a massage that won’t cost an arm and a leg right on the beach.
- READ: Flight Review of Economy Class to Port Vila
- READ: South Pacific nation urges Aussies to ‘give the islands a go’
Have you travelled to Vanuatu recently?
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