Vanuatu: Top 10 Attractions And Awesome Activities Of Espiritu Santo
Here Are Our Top 10 Activities And Attractions For Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu.
As the largest island in Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo is an outdoor adventure paradise – with world class diving, fishing, spearfishing, kayaking and trekking. Santo is also blessed with a wealth of traditional culture and amazing natural attractions like stunning blue holes, pristine white sand beaches, colourful fringing reefs, picturesque islands, lush rainforest and mountains full of waterfalls, canyons and rivers.
Our top 10 list of activities Espiritu Santo has tried to incorporate as many of these attractions as possible based on a combination of factors – unique experience, natural beauty, cultural heritage, ease of access and fun and adventure.
1. Swim in a blue hole
Some of the more popular are Ri Ri Blue Hole, Jackies/Nanda Blue Hole and Matevulu Blue Hole.
We recommend paddling up the crystal rivers leading to Ri Ri Blue Hole or Matevulu Blue Hole at Turtle Bay to enjoy the full 3D immersive experience. There are a number of paddling choices – you can paddle up Ri Ri Blue Hole by renting out local outrigger canoes with a guide or you can take the free ferry across to Oyster Island Resort and rent kayaks to paddle up Matevulu Blue Hole (it’s a short 30 min. paddle up the river). You can also do a guided tour with Island Time Kayaking up to Matevulu Blue Hole or you can stay at Turtle Bay Beach House and paddle their free kayaks up to either blue hole. There is a small fee per person for swimming at these spectacular freshwater springs but it’s one of the better things to do on the island so it’s well worth it (and you get to use the giant rope swing!). One of our top attractions and activities Espiritu Santo!
2. Float down a river at Millennium Caves or Mt. Hope
Millennium Caves is absolutely amazing, mind blowing and insane – but not for the feint-hearted or the unfit.
This is a jungle trek/cultural experience/caving/canyoning adventure all rolled into one. It’s an hour’s drive into the mountains above Luganville. Imagine Indiana Jones on a National Geographic adventure and you’re getting close to the truth. Book direct with the Millennium Caves office here. If you want the more family friendly version of Millennium Caves, try the Mt Hope Waterfall tour. Some of the things to do on the tour include floating down slot canyons, jumping off boulders and climbing up a waterfall. This is about a 40 min drive from Turtle Bay on the east coast up a very rough dirt track. Book via Oyster Island Resort or find more info here. As activities Espiritu Santo go, this is definitely for the more adventurous.
3. Snorkel and sunbath at Champagne Beach
Take a picnic lunch, take your snorkelling gear and prepare to be dazzled by one of the most beautiful, natural white sand beaches in the South Pacific. Not a resort in sight, just Champagne Beach in all its glory. In addition to lots of shady huts to relax under, there is a nice section of reef located on the western corner of the beach.
If you want to add in a splash of adventure to your day trip, try kayaking to Champagne Beach from Lonnoc Beach about 2 kms away or catch a small boat across to Elephant Island (about 5kms away) for a half day snorkelling and seafood lunch tour.
Finally, stop off at Lonnoc Beach Lodge on the way out of Champagne Beach for a cold drink or a bite to eat at their new beachside restaurant and admire the stunning view. We also recommend you visit the nearby Hog Harbour blue hole (about 1.4km after the Champagne Beach turn off) for a refreshing swim in a stunning natural spring (a 500vt entry fee pp may apply). A great combination of attractions and activities Espiritu Santo for a day trip.
4. Visit a cultural village
A visit to Espiritu Santo and Vanuatu is not complete unless you have immersed yourself in the local culture.
There are lots of nearby kastom villages to choose from, many offering a variety of things to do – kava ceremonies, traditional dancing, the famous water music, island feasts and more. Of these, Leweton Cultural Village is very accessible and one of our favourites. If you want to experience more of an adventure, try taking a tour to some of the villages in Fanafo (up in the mountains on the east coast) – the bamboo forest walk is particularly good.
5. Dive the Coolidge
Espiritu Santo has one of the world’s best wreck dives on its doorstep, the SS President Coolidge.
There is also some amazing reef dives around the nearby outer islands like Tutuba Point and Cindy’s Reef. And you can’t beat the famous Million Dollar Point dive (or snorkel) for fascinating WW2 history and accessible reefs and wrecks.
6. Go Island Hopping
Espiritu Santo is surrounded by a ring of 35 mini-islands so the choice of nearby islands to visit is huge (see here for more info) If you want an adventure and a taste of what the real Vanuatu would have been like 50 years ago head over to Malo Island for the day. Go snorkelling, visit the blue hole, see the caves and wildlife, wander around the nearby village. Alternatively, for a more mainstream experience, catch the free ferry from Luganville across to Aore Island and snorkel at Aore Island Resort, visit the caves at Freshwater Plantation, and visit the old WW2 sites up in the hills. In terms of things to do, island hopping is one of the more exciting attractions and activities Espiritu Santo!
7. Fishing/Spearfishing the deepwater drop offs
Port Olry is a sleepy, picturesque fishing village located at the top of Santo’s beautiful east coast and home to one of Santo’s most beautiful natural beaches. It’s about a 40 min drive north of Turtle Bay Beach House. We recommend finding a beachside restaurant (Louie’s is one of them), ordering a fresh lobster or local fish and diving into the crystal clear waters off the gorgeous white sand beach.
If you want a little more adventure you can either walk to the nearby island from the point at low tide (good snorkelling on east side off island) or take a tender over to the larger island (Dolphin Island) Thion and do the walk up to the lake and Dolphin Rock lookout if you are feeling fit. There is some good snorkelling off this outer island and a nice beach to relax on. You can take a picnic lunch over.
8. Day trip to Port Olry
Port Olry is a sleepy, picturesque fishing village located at the top of Santo’s beautiful east coast and home to one of Santo’s most beautiful natural beaches. It’s about a 40 min drive north of Turtle Bay Beach House. We recommend finding a beachside restaurant (Louie’s is one of them), ordering a fresh lobster or local fish and diving into the crystal clear waters off the gorgeous white sand beach. If you want a little more adventure you can either walk to the nearby island from the point at low tide (good snorkelling on east side off island) or organise a boat/canoe ride over to the larger island (Dolphin Island) Thion and do the walk up to the lake and Dophin Rock lookout if you are feeling fit. Ask at one of the restaurants for a boat contact. There is some good snorkelling off this outer island and a nice beach to relax on. You can take a picnic lunch over.
9. Visit a secret waterfall and a hidden island village
Drive 40 min south of Luganville across rickety bridges and through beautiful rural countryside to reach Tangoa Island.
Local villagers will paddle you across the short distance from the mainland to their small island by traditional outrigger canoe and show you around. There are some beautiful walks, an optional island kakae lunch (if requested ahead of time) and snorkelling on coral reefs at nearby Ella Island. After Tangoa Island, you can visit nearby Tuffuntari Waterfalls. This place is a hidden treasure – it’s at a junction where two rivers meet, one warm and one cold! Wonderful crystal clear water, fish to feed, a refreshing swimming hole and that amazing waterfall over limestone cliffs! Cost is around 500vt each payable to custom owner on arrival. Nelson (one of the guides) is eager to please and very knowledgeable about the area.
10. Swim with horses
Located at “The Ranch” adjacent to Lope Lope Lodge on Espiritu Santo’s east coast, this is without doubt one of the most beautiful locations for horse-riding in the whole of Vanuatu.
The trail ride winds it way through rainforest, coconut plantations, crystal blue rivers, traditional villages and then onto a beautiful beach. The highlight is a swim in the ocean with your horse! In terms of one of the more unique activities Espiritu Santo, this is pretty special! Megan-Jane, the owner is passionate about her business and can customise each trail ride to suit a groups needs (they are normally around 1-2hrs long).
It’s one of the more relaxing things to do on Santo. Afterwards you can enjoy a snorkel or lunch at Lope Lope Lodge which overlooks a picturesque beach. In her spare time Megan rescues horses and rehabilitates them at her horse sanctuary.
Footnote: Contact Seal Superyachts Vanuatu for detailed information about cruising around Vanuatu, superyacht charter regulations and about how we can support your visit. Principle agent Justin Jenkin has been proud to have acted as agent for many of the Superyachts which have come to visit.
Contact Justin Jenkin at firstname.lastname@example.org to discover more about the potential of cruising around Vanuatu.