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An Aquatic Destination

The island of Espiritu Santo or more commonly Santo is the largest Island in Vanuatu, and appeals to travellers that revere all things aquatic. Interestingly, much of the island is ignored by visitors and tourism is confined to the islands situated around Santo's southern proximity and along the east coast up to Champagne Bay.

Santo presents itself as a boutique destination that dispenses with the messy commercialism present in Port Vila, and has a more casual air that allows visitors to relax and spent the time to participate in everything that is handily available. Scuba diving has been a massive drawcard around Luganville, and Champagne Bay, being declared one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, attracts visitors seeking that ultimate sun and sand experience. More recently holiday goers have discovered that the east coast is a kayaker's wonderland, that the spring-fed cascades inland are an amazing adventure, and that Santo is a fantastic place to commence their sailing sojourn.


Soft Adventure, Watersports and Boutique Accommodation.


Previously, a haven for divers who revere the celebrated scuba diving locations around the SS President Coolidge, and Million Dollar Point, the island has greatly matured and a feast of activities are available for visitors. Luganville, the islands major urban area is situated on the substantial channel between the main island and Aore Island, and presents a stunning outlook that is both functional and aesthetically distinct. The deep channel provides the ultimate in natural channels during the second world war was home to a major fleet of American battleships. Today, while Luganville itself does not have a particular focus towards the coast, the surrounding environs offer fantastic views over the strait and the idyllic opposite shoreline on Aore Island. A fleet of small boats ply their way between the two islands with a resort, and a significant amount of holiday accommodation developing on Aore Island.

In keeping with its boutique nature, a diverse array of accommodation has developed over a wide distance, and more than anywhere in Vanuatu, a significant number of small and sophisticated resorts and accommodation facilities have been built to suit the seaboard outlook. This is enhanced by the close proximity of an eclectic mix of islands, and Ratua Private island, Aore Island Resort, Oyster Island Restaurant and Resort, Bokissa Private Island Resort amongst others have set the standard for the spectrum of discerning tourists now visiting Santo.

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The Millennium Cave.

The Millenium Cave (or Millennium depending on language)is definitely a must do when travelling to Santo. The journey commences with scrambling over large river boulders before entering the large cave, climbing down ladders and jumping into pools in the semidark along the way. Perhaps the best part is exiting the cave and floating down a deeply incised but sleepy spring fed stream, along with cascading waterfalls along the vertical stream walls.

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A Kayaker's Paradise.

About 20 minutes drive up the east coast of Santo, sees you at a group of small islands bounded by Turtle Bay and Mavea Island. Kayaking around these islands makes for a great day, but check the weather beforehand. Have lunch at the nearby restaurant at Oyster Island, the main arrival point for sailing boats travelling across the pacific. Further north, along the east coast towards Champagne Bay and Hog Harbour, sweeping bays present other interesting Kayaking spots.

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Champagne Bay

Champagne Bay is consistently in the top beaches in the world, with good reason. Located in a sweeping bay it has classic headlands either side with a number of panoramic islands just offshore. The fine sand is a pleasure to walk on, clear blue water, and a great beach drop-off for swimming. The atmosphere is fantastic and often has very few people on it. Beware cruise boat day however, as passengers can all but take over the beach.

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Explore Aore Island

Aore Island is merely a ferry trip over the strait from Luganville, and well worth considering staying for a night or two. The island has a variety of niche accommodations, along with a larger resort. The paths and rudimentary roads are worth walking or biking over, with a number of old rundown buildings, rusted machinery, and relics lying around. Take a ride around in an old Willy's jeep or simply relax in a hammock.

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A Coastal Boutique Stay.

Dotted along the coast is a number of boutique resorts, AirBnB styled accommodation, and Holiday homes to suit all tastes. The beauty of Santo is that you can get away from it all, have a great time with plenty of soft adventure, but still enjoy great comfort and quality meals.

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Explore the Coastal Roads

While vehicle hire can be problematic, exploring the coastal roads is a great thing to do for those who like travelling around and having a look. Espiritu Santo is the largest island of the Vanuatu group, and the coastal road is generally a quality sealed road. If unsure about driving on the other side of the road, there are a number of tour operators that will show you aspects of the island, and scenes that you are unlikely to experience by yourself.

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Kayak the Blue Holes

The natural springs along the east coast are unique estuarine waterways that are vivid blue along parts of their reaches and at their originating points, with unusual vegetation, with expanses of waterlilies on their riverbanks. The Matevulu Blue hole is perhaps the best known, but there is also the Nada Blue Hole, and it is possible to venture up the Riri Blue Hole in a dugout canoe.

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A Yachting Mecca

With its wide natural sea passage, the strait between the main island and Aore Island, along with the many offshore islands provides an excellent location for yachties. A number of yachting tours to the northern islands commence here, are highly regarded and provide a different insight to travelling around the South Pacific.

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BLOG | Authentic Espiritu Santo

Have a look here at our BLOG Articles on Espiritu Santo. The island of Santo provides a wide range of adventure activities for travellers to participate in while enjoying the comfort of boutique accomodation, and tropical cuisine to match. Scuba Diving and sailing have been a feature for many years, but more rcently kayaking, walking, biking, and exploring the unique landscapes created by its limestone aquifers have become a "soft" adventurers paradise.

Click | for Blog Articles on Espiritu Santo.

 

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BLOG | Authentic Vanuatu.

Have a look here at our BLOG Articles on Vanuatu. Why re-invent the wheel, have a read and it might just heighten the great moments of your journey, and reduce those horrible moments you would like to forget.

Click | for Blog Articles on Vanuatu.

 

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UntitledBy Roderick Eime from Australia (Vanuatu Scuba Diving - Million Dollar Point) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Diving, Diving, Diving

Santo was definitely discovered by scuba divers many years ago and a vast array of diving spots are nearby. The most well known is the wreck of the S.S. President Coolidge, a large Liner that was converted into a troop carrier during World War Two, and is one of the largest accessible wrecks that is available to sports divers in the world. Another famous dive spot is Million dollar point where the US Military literally drove superfluous vehicles off the wharf at the end of the war.

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Authentic Travel In Other Vanuatu Island Destinations.


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By Greg Watt avid traveller and author of travel websites and blogs. For an insight into all things travel in Greg's life have a look at WATT's | About Us pages. Always with an opinion regarding travelling, you can keep up to date and share travel insights with Greg at Vanuatu Traveller's Facebook Page for things in the Pacific, or Traveller-Info's Facebook Page for things elsewhere in the world,  or with Greg himself on his Linkedin Page or  Google+ Page.