10 Essential Espiritu Santo Experiences!

Jun 08, 16 10 Essential Espiritu Santo Experiences!

 

 

Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu’s largest island, and one of the true jewels of the Pacific. With its stunning beaches, magical blue holes and lush rainforests, it’s the ideal destination for an unforgettable holiday. We’ve compiled a list of Santo experiences not to be missed for the enthusiastic traveller!

 

 

 

 

1. Espiritu Santo’s famous blue holes

 

Espiritu Santo is probably best known for its ‘blue holes’, an incredible natural phenomenon formed by springs of pure, fresh water, which have carved out deep holes in the local limestone over millennia. The water is deep, clear, and so incredibly blue that it seems as though it couldn’t possibly be real! The three most popular blue holes are the Nanda Blue Hole, the RiRi Blue Hole and the Matevulu Blue Hole, all of which are on the east coast of the island. You can swim, hurtle into the water on a rope swing or (if you visit the RiRi Blue Hole) take an outrigger canoe all the way to the ocean! Visiting these national treasures is truly an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

 

matevulu blue hole

 

2. Drink in the beauty of Champagne Beach

Champagne beach is a tranquil haven for those seeking utter rest and relaxation in beautiful surroundings. The beach lines a calm bay with stunning, snow-white sand and deep blue water. You can swim, snorkel, lie in the sun to your heart’s content, or retreat to the plentiful shade with a good book. Set back from the beach a little way is a small market that sells local produce, handcrafted souvenirs and mouth-watering delicacies – including lobster fresh from the bay! Champagne Beach gets its unusual name thanks to the low-level volcanic activity below its pristine waters. At low tide, gas is able to escape from the volcanic rock, causing the shallows to bubble like fresh, fizzy champagne.

 

champagne beach santo

 

3. C’est La Vie à Port Olry!

 

Port Olry is a delightful Francophone fishing village with its own white sand, palm-lined beaches. Three small offshore islands dot its turquoise waters, which can be reached by kayak or outrigger canoe for those in the mood for a little adventure. The tropical reefs that ring these tiny islands make for a magical snorkelling experience, and there are a number of great, local shack restaurants to try when you return to the village with a rumbling stomach!

 

port olry

 

4. Million Dollar Point (and other historic WWII sites)

 

Million Dollar Point is so called because, at the end of World War Two, the American Army dumped hundreds of tonnes of military equipment just off the coast. In the seventy years that has since passed, this (unofficial) underwater military history museum has become encrusted with coral and other aquatic life, making it one of the most bizarre and fascinating snorkelling experiences to be had. You can also visit what’s left of the corrugated iron huts constructed during the war, and see the rusting sea walls that have remained virtually untouched for more than half a century.

 

milion dollar point

 

5. Millennium Cave

 

Approximately 15km from Espiritu Santo’s major town, Luganville, after trekking your way through dense rainforest, across bamboo bridges, down ladders, through pools and rivers, you’ll be rewarded for your valiant efforts by reaching the huge, majestic Millennium Cave! It is Vanuatu’s largest cave at around 20 metres in width and 50 metres in height, with an ancient river bed and icy cold pool within its walls. It is also home to a colony of small (and harmless, don’t worry!) bats. A guided tour is essential for this experience – it is a challenging hike for those with a decent level of fitness, and a knowledgeable local guide will ensure your safety and maximum enjoyment. Most tours include a river experience after you have enjoyed the wonders of the cave itself – follow the river bed and scramble over enormous boulders before showering under a cascading waterfall to cool down!

 

millenium cave santo

 

6. Luganville: Marketplace, Coconut Crab Sanctuary and Cave Kava Bar

 

Luganville is Espiritu Santo’s major town (often referred to simply as ‘Santo’ by the locals), and although many visitors only pass through it on their way to a tour or activity, it has some unique experiences of its own to offer. You can walk pretty much anywhere you need to go (although there are some small buses for particularly hot days or to avoid a tropical downpour) and can choose from a number of local eateries and bars. An essential Luganville experience is a visit to the outdoor marketplace for fresh produce, tasty treats from local street food vendors and craft stalls open well into the night. Explore the Coconut Crab Sanctuary grotto to come face to face with the famous local species (not for eating as they are protected!) and enjoy a taste of traditional beverage kava (made from finely ground roots of the kava plant) at the Cave Kava Bar. It is worth noting that, should you wish to try kava, it’s best to do so in Luganville. On some of the other islands and in more remote areas of Espiritu Santo, this traditional drink still holds great cultural significance and cannot be consumed by women.

 

kava vanuatu

 

7. Wreck of SS President Coolidge

 

The SS President Coolidge was a luxury ocean liner that functioned as a troop ship during WWII, until she was sunk by mines off the coast of Espiritu Santo in 1942. After Vanuatu gained independence from France and Britain in 1980, the government of the new republic declared the wreck a protected site, from which no artefacts may be removed. Today, it is one of the world’s most accessible shipwrecks and an incredible experience for divers of varying levels of experience. Visitors dive with dive tours and experienced instructors in order to ensure safety and to get the most out of the time spent in the water. Divers can explore the decks on various levels of the ship and see the cannons, military Jeeps, guns and personal items left beneath the surface. One of the most famous attractions is ‘The Lady’ – a beautiful porcelain statue of a lady riding a unicorn, along with chandeliers from the vessel’s luxury days, and a mosaic tile fountain! Coral grows abundance in the many nooks and crannies, and you’re sure to make some fish friends during your adventure.

 

ss president coolidge diving

 

8. Santo Horse Adventures

 

Whether you’re an experienced rider or a complete novice, Santo Horse Adventures is an experience not to be missed! Make some equine friends and explore the local villages, coconut plantations, mangrove tunnel and hidden trails. There are some places you just can’t make it on foot or by vehicle, so a horse riding tour is the ultimate adventure! What’s more, all the horses at the ranch are rescue horses who now enjoy a peaceful life and receive a lot of love from locals and visitors alike; your patronage will help the staff provide a home for more horses in the future.

 

horse riding vanuatu

 

9. Aore Island

 

Ok, so this isn’t technically on Espiritu Santo because (as the name would suggest) it’s a separate little island, but Aore is a great day trip if you’re staying on Santo. Take the ferry across and enjoy a whole host of water sports such as parasailing, fishing charter rides, snorkelling, scuba diving and sunset cruises. You can also hire a push bike or a quad bike and explore the island, or make the most of the many beautiful walking tracks. If you’d like to stay longer than a day, you can stay at the wonderful Aore Island Resort!

 

aore island santo

 

10. Leweton Cultural Village

 

Leweton Cultural Village is located just outside of Luganville, and is the perfect place to learn more about Vanuatu’s fascinating history and diverse culture. Visitors are met with a tribal greeting and custom song and dance; there are some traditional dances in which the sexes are separated and visitors must observe these rules. You can also watch demonstrations of traditional basket weaving, food preparation and kava making. Fun fact – there are approximately 85 different kinds of kava plant grown across the Vanuatu archipelago! The major highlight of a visit to Leweton is the chance to see the women from the remote northern islands take part in a stunning water music performance. For travellers who truly want to appreciate all that Vanuatu has to offer, a trip to Leweton for some insight into a rich, ancient culture is a must.

 

leweton cultural village vanuatu

 

 

Find information about VanuatuFlights, and Accommodation visit Air Vanuatu’s Website.

 

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