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.

Espiritu Santo activity

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.

Espiritu Santo kayaking

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.

Santo Swimming

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.

Hiking 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.

Espiritu Santo horse riding

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.

Shopping Santo

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.

Boating, Sailing and Kayaking

Local tour companies offer half day, full day, over night, night and sunset sailing charters, boat cruises and deep sea fishing charters around the harbour and the nearby islands. Join an ocean kayak tour and paddle to a small coral island and discover the beauty of the coral gardens. You can also review marine life from above in a glass bottom boat, and may even see a dugong!

Malo River Tour

vanuatu sailing

Vanuatu kayaking

Jet Ski Boat


For a heart-stopping ride of your life experience high-speed jet boating at its best on the harbour. Guaranteed to get your adrenalin pumping.

Jetboat Vanuatu

Surfing, Life Saving

Stand up Paddle Boarding

 

 

Stand up paddle at Vanuatu

You’ll hear “there’s no surf in Vanuatu” but there are some 4ft – 6ft waves to be found off Pango, Erator and Eratap which are suburbs close to the city of Port Vila. Just recently a surf school has begun operation at Pango and is proving popular for expat women and their children and local Ni Vanuatu children. Stand up paddle boarding is new to Vanuatu and with its calm clear waters it is gaining in popularity. Local expats have recently received some donations of surf life saving equipment and have begun their own version of “nippers”, proving a favourite with parents and children alike.

Ocean Swimming

The Port Vila Masterbathers, are a faithful group of Vila Residents who gather in the harbour each day at lunch time to swim for fitness, pleasure and training. Some are preparing for “The Vanuatu Ocean Swimming competition” held in Port Vila each year and others enjoy the social aspect.

Kite Surfing

Kite surfing is relatively new to Efate and increasing in popularity with locals and visitors alike. In 2007, The Imere International Kite Surfing Challenge was held on the peninsular near Hideaway Island. It was a great success with riders from Vanuatu, Australia, New Caledonia, France and New Zealand participating.

Parasailing

Fun, safe, and easy for all ages you will parasail 65 meters from behind the boat while enjoying the beautiful Port Vila harbor marine life and breathtaking views. No experience is necessary, your flight will last 8 to 10 minutes and you will stay high and remain dry.

Abseiling

Trek through lush rainforests and abseil safely down the cascading waterfall and cool off in the crystal clear blue water.

The Port Vila Golf and Country Club is presently the only 18 hole championship course in Vanuatu and the course provides a challenge to professionals and Amateurs alike. The country club hosts the premier international golfing event “The Tusker Vanuatu Golf Open” held each year that is sponsored by Tusker, Vanuatu’s own world-class beer. Nine Hole golf courses can be found at the Le Meridien and Le Lagon hotels and resorts.

Golf Vanuatu

Golf

Formerly the Botanical Gardens, these gardens are now managed by local Ni Vanuatu.

Discover Vanuatu’s early history, art work, wildlife, fauna and custom stories. Be aware that some of Vanuatu’s early history of blackbirding and cannibalism and custom stories are not suitable for all visitors.

Botanical Gardens

The Secret Gardens Cultural Centre and Native Reserve

Take an easy 20 minute drive from Port Vila to Blue Water Resort and view man made rock pools containing sharks, turtles and marine life.

Blue Water Shark, Turtle Feeding

Blue Water Shark, Turtle Feeding

Cultural Village Tours

A fantastic experience with a cultural village that is a ‘hands on’ experience. Enjoy custom dance, story telling, music and a traditional Melanesian Feast. Local hotels and resorts also offer cultural evenings and Melanesian Feasts including kava tasting. The Vanuatu Cultural Centre and Museum features a collection of historical artifacts from the island of Vanuatu.

vanuatu-string-band

 

vanuatu-village-learning

tanna-custom-dress

 

Hot Mineral Springs

Hot mineral springs are renowned in the South Pacific for their relaxing and therapeutic properties. Hidden away in the North East of Efate you will find a local Ni Vanuatu family slowly building a natural thermal pool. Don’t be put off by the “rotten egg” smell of the sulphur, your skin and muscles will thank you for the experience. Wear old bathers as the sulphur is hard on clothing.

Horse Riding

 

There are two excellent horse-riding ranches in Vanuatu – l’ Hippocampas (Sea Horse Ranch) and Club Hippique Adventure Park (CHAP), both about 15 minutes from Port Vila town. Half day and full day rides with guide available and include romantic sunset rides, rainforest treks and beach rides.

 

Discover Vanuatu from a higher perspective and take a helicopter or seaplane tour around Port Vila or land on deserted beaches for a romantic and private experience.

Seaplane, Helicopter Tours

Buggy Tours, Scooter and Motorbike Hire

Discover Efate on and off road on open buggies and quad bikes that are very easy to operate. Be your own tour guide, rent a car, scooter or motor bike and explore Efate at your leisure.

 

Travel fifteen minutes out of town and 3 minutes by Ferry and you will find yourself enjoying the beauty of Hideaway Island. Snorkel amongst amazing fish and marine life, including large clown fish colonies, dive off the reef, swim or sunbath or enjoy a great lunch. Make sure you post a postcard in the underwater post box.

Hideaway Island

Eco Tours

Kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming. If you are looking for a fun way to see the real Vanuatu, off the beaten tracks, then an Eco tour is for you. Discover the hidden beauty of the fabulous flora and fauna in its natural environment, learn about the history of the land and meet the locals and experience a day in their life.