What we recommend you see and do on Santo Island
Head straight to one of the local white sandy beaches and start experiencing the laid back natural beauty and lifestyle of Espiritu Santo. Watch your worries blow away on the gentle sea breezes, feel the warmth of the sun on your body and chill off in the crystal clear blue waters. Enjoy the first few days of your holiday amongst the tropical rainforests and clear blue skies before heading off to explore this island paradise. With tours including deep sea fishing, kayaking, diving, and island hopping Espiritu Santo has something unique for every one to enjoy.
Espiritu Santo Attractions
Diving and Snorkelling Santo
Santo is home to the “The SS President Coolidge”, a 200 m luxury cruise ship that sank after hitting a mine during WWII with 5,000 troops on board, all but 2 escaped. Now declared a Marine Reserve, she lies intact on her side and is accessible throughout. To see the whole ship it is recommended you do at least 10 dives, each time discovering more of the ship and its watery treasures.
Other popular dive sites on Santo include “Million dollar point” (where the Americans threw all their equipment and machinery into the sea at the end of WW11), and the wreck of the “Tucker” off Malo Island. There are also spectacular reef dives with large coral gardens, bombie heads, turtles, manta rays, reef sharks and caves to explore.
For snorkelers, there is also plenty to see in Santo’s many blue holes, lagoons and inshore reefs. Visit one of Santo’s amazing blue holes, surrounded by lush rainforests, just inland from the pristine Lomnoc Beach. These holes are a true natural wonder where crystal clear fresh water comes to the surface through layers of limestone and coral producing water of jewel quality blue.
Beach life on Santo
The beaches in Santo are the best you will find in Vanuatu. Pristine white soft sandy beaches, dotted with the most amazing shells and bleached coral, creating heaven for any avid shell enthusiast. Lonoc, Golden Beach and Champagne beach are the most popular.
Santo Fishing, Boating, Kayaking
Vanuatu boasts some of the best game fishing and deep water fishing grounds in the Pacific due to its volcanic geology. The fishing waters around Espiritu Santo are reputed to be the best in Vanuatu. Fishing tours can be booked through your resort. Local game fish include; marlin, Wahoo, Spanish mackerel, giant trevally and numerous species of Tuna including albacore and yellow fin.
Santo Sea Kayaking and Outrigger Canoe Tours
Sea kayak or outrigger canoe tours offer an interesting alternative and an opportunity to visit local blue holes and dive right in. Most resorts supply ocean kayaks for your use and one Tour Company offers an idyllic trip through spring fed rivers in locally made dugout canoes.
Millennium Cave and River Trek Tour. You’ll walk through lush rainforest, where you will learn the medicinal uses of local plants and trees before descending down bamboo ladders to a 400 m long and 50 m high cave, complete with bats, a running stream, stalagmites and stalactites all around. Once through the cave, you’ll start your river adventure. Scrambling over rocks and boulders, you’ll navigate a waterfall before enjoying a lazy float downstream. You’ll swim through canyon walls, past plunging waterfalls and take in the majesty of the pristine landscape before returning to town.
With its clear turquoise seas, Santo offers some amazing swimming opportunities. Whether you enjoy a calm float in blue hole or an ocean swim beyond the reef, you will return feeling refreshed and relaxed. Each year these gorgeous calm seas attract local and international competitors for the “Vanuatu Swim Safari, Espiritu Santo ocean swim.
Nanda Blue Hole is Cool Crystal Blue Water Pool lying amidst the natural green forest. It is a forty five minutes drive from Luganville town to Shark Bay on the eastern side of Santo.
Vatthe Conservation Area covers 2,276 hectares of lowland alluvial forest and offers bushwalkers and bird watchers an experience to remember. Loru Rainforest Protected Area covers 220 hectares of lowland rainforests and has its own bat caves and is a known coconut crab location. As you will be out there for a few hours, remember to be self sufficient, take your own food and water, let the resort know where you are going, and the best advice is to take a guide with you.
Mountain Bike Hire Santo
To discover Santo, up close and personal, hire a mountain bike and design your own tour. There are many fascinating village, beaches and points of interest within an easy ride of your accommodation and most resorts stock good quality bikes. Ask your resort to pack a picnic for you, grab your swimming gear and head off for a day of relaxed discovery.
Driving on Santo
While roads are sealed, they are full of pot holes. So drive carefully and slowly especially if there has been heavy rain as the depth of the holes can be deceptive. A good 4wd is recommended.
Kastom Cultural Village Tours Santo
To experience a way of life that has been largely uninfluenced by western culture, you can take a cultural tour to a number of Kastom Villages. Here locals will share with you their local customs and culture, their knowledge of traditional medicine, dance, crafts and styles of cooking. You will experience, Warrior welcome, Coconut Demonstration, Custom Dance, Water music, Public Dance, Food Preparation, Stone Kava preparation, local fare and Kava tasting.
Horse Riding Santo
There are a number of horse riding tours available and can be booked through most resorts. Explore the island’s beautiful landscapes on horseback with rides available along beaches, through the rainforest, through stunning farmland and natural valleys and fresh and saltwater lagoons.
Kava Bars Santo
If you haven’t already tried kava, it’s a strong herbal drink made from kava root that is a major component of traditional Melanesian culture. These roughly made Kava bars can be identified on the roadside by their red hanging lanterns. The experience is one to be tried at least once.
The main street that runs through Luganville contains most of the commercial businesses and restaurants. The main street contains the port at one end, and the markets and municipal council building at the other end. In the centre there are two main types of stores; tourist boutiques, and all-in-one stores, best described as a cross between a supermarket and a hardware store, stocking cheap imported goods from China. Luganville has a market place in town which is quite popular with cheap local foods and drinks and local craft market stalls. If you are looking for groceries there is supermarket in town that stocks western goods, however it is advised that you bring any special toiletry or dietary products with you.
Espiritu Santo Nightlife
Interested in a night out on the town? You could try to find a kava bar but even those are very sedate. However, the sunsets are so spectacular that you could easily create your own fun, with good company, great wine and great views. Most resorts have their own bar and restaurants and provide local live music.