Vanuatu guide - One week on Espiritu Santo
Updated: Mar 25
We planned a trip to Australia and wanted to visit one of the islands in the South Pacific. We thought of Fiji first but then a friend who is from Fiji and grew up in the area told me about Vanuatu. I never heard of it before and immediately googled it. The next minute I was looking for flights. I could instantly see that the nature is stunning and it looked like the perfect place to relax.
When I saw that there are direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane it was decided. We are going to Vanuatu. First we wanted to go the the capital island Port Vila because there were more flight options and hotels but then I looked at pictures of Espiritu Santo and the nature looked so stunning that we decided to chose this island. There are direct flights to Espiritu Santo, or just Santo, from Brisbane and the trip only takes 2.5 hours.
So flights were booked, next was accommodation. We wanted to stay in a hotel close to the beach. Tourism in Santo is not very developed and there is only a handful of hotels. We stayed at Barrier Beach Resort on the East Coast of the islands and we loved it. Read more about our stay here. There are also great local accommodations where you can stay in a treehouse right on the beach (i.e. Port Olry).
So what is there to do on Santo besides stunning beaches? Plenty! We spent almost one week there and everyday we went on day trips and each of them was so much fun. If you are into nature and incredibly beautiful beaches you will love this island. You can either book guided tours where a driver will pick you up or you can ask your hotel to arrange a taxi for you. If you want to be more independent I'd recommend to rent a car. The main road is very good however some side roads are very bumpy so a 4x4 drive is a good choice. Here are some trips we did during our time on Santo.
Horseback riding with Santo Horse Adventures
One morning we went horseback riding at The Ranch. This is a horse sanctuary. The owner Megan rescued these horses and takes care of them. Some of them have been abandoned, some of them abused. Here they are being rehabilitated.
The 1.5 hour trail was beautiful. We started at the ranch and went up the hills through palm plantations and little villages. The trail ended in a fresh water spring. It was such a unique experience. The trails are designed to the groups level of experience and everyone can participate, you don't have to be experienced. It was one of the main highlights of our trip, you should definitely give it a try.
Santos so called blue holes is one of the things the island is famous for. These are natural pools of spring water with an incredibly blue color surrounded by green forests. The biggest are Nanda, Matevulu, Riri and Malo. We visited the first two. Matevulu was great since it had some ropes to jump into the water.
Nanda is quite big and has great facilities. You can also rent a kayak and paddle to the blue holes. All blue holes have a small entrance fee, you can stay and enjoy as long as you want. You can either book a tour or taxi or go there with a rented car for more flexibility.
Mt. Hope Waterfall
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from our trip but this one was really fun. On this trip we drove deep into the rainforest to swim in a river and climb up Mt. Hope Waterfall. Although it sounds very adventurous it is an activity for everyone, no extra fitness needed. It does involve some climbing though so you should not have any injuries or such. I can definitely recommend you to book this tour (individual access not possible). Be prepared for a bumpy ride to/from the river but still it was very much worth it. For details click here.
This one climbed way up to the most stunning beaches I have ever seen and was also selected as the Top 15 remote beaches among the world.
No tourist crowds, no annoying vendors, just pure nature and shades of blue and green. Definitely spent 1 day here or pass by on the way to Port Olry.
Oh my god!!! This place was the best, just the best! The colors, the calm, the water.. everything. We spent an entire afternoon here having some lunch and drinks.
Chez Louis is a great option for lunch, a bit pricy though. It is famous for it's coconut crab, however it is a highly endangered species, so maybe try the lobster or fresh fish instead? Atmosphere is just great and this beach went up to number one among the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
Did you know that the island of Santo was the second largest WWII allied military base in the Pacific? There are still many spots where you see crashed planes or the famous Million Dollar Point. If you are into history you will definitely love this tour.
Everything about Santo was great. The beaches, our hotel, the people and the nature. It was one of the most beautiful tropical islands we have seen and we loved the fact that it has not been yet discovered by too many people so it can preserve it's nature and calmness.
Of course this also comes with a downside. Don't expect a fancy airport or many facilities outside of the hotel. Especially the airport was a downer for us and unfortunately on our way back our flight got canceled and we had to wait for long hours. Anyhow we managed to get back home safely and it was still one of the best trips we ever had.
This post was written in collaboration with Vanuatu Tourism Board.
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