It’s never been easier to reach Vanuatu’s island oasis, Espiritu Santo, with Air Vanuatu, offering direct flights from Brisbane, and one-stop flights from Sydney via Vanuatu’s buzzing market capital, Port Vila.
Known for its impressive diving, the world-famous white-sandy Champagne Beach, turquoise blue holes and welcoming friendly people, the hardest decision will be what to doo first. Here are few suggestions to get you day-dreaming and some great deals to get you packing:
Take a drive to the stunning Champagne Beach, which gets its name from the underwater spring bubbles. Run your toes through soft and pure white sand, which extends several metres into translucent blue water; backed by a luxuriant jungle, and of course whilst sipping champagne, well it would be rude not to really.
Espiritu Santo is home to some of Vanuatu’s natural wonders, the blue holes. While kayaking in the rivers running through lush tropical forests, adventurers will discover these large karst formation springs, which range from three to 30 metres deep. Filled with incredible crystal clear, blue waters and an abundance of lively fish, the holes are popular amongst snorkellers.
Mount Hope Waterfall Tour
Embark on the Mount Hope Waterfall tour to experience an adventurous trip through the dense Vanuatu rainforest. To get to the magnificent waterfall, participants float down the Sarakata River set in a gorge with limestone walls and wearing life jackets to stay afloat. The journey back is a relaxed walk through the rainforest.
Dive SS President Coolidge
One of the major diving drawcards for the island is the SS President Coolidge, a World War II transport ship sunk by a friendly mine in 1942. During World War II allied troops were stationed on Santo with several wrecks now lying beneath the surface of the island’s blue waters. The SS President Coolidge lies in the clear calm waters and is now one of the best shore accessed wreck dives in the world.
At over 200 metres long the ship is mostly intact, making it possible to do over 20 different dives, ranging from 20-60 metres deep. In addition to the wreck, the Coolidge has formed a large artificial reef home to a wide variety of marine life for divers looking to witness diverse marine species, including large pelagics to the smallest of sea creatures. This is definitely a highlight of Santo.
Tackle the action-packed tour to Millennium Cave, Vanuatu’s largest cave. Trek through tropical forest to reach the cave, scrambling over boulders and then cooling down with a river swim before climbing the steep incline back to the village of Funaspef. The cave is situated in South Central Santo, a 45 minute drive from Luganville town then a 15 minute walk through a coconut plantation and across a rigidity bamboo bridge.
The cave sports a high ceiling at about 50 metres high, and is home to a large number of bats and sparrows. At around three to four kilometres long, visitors navigate the river bed using torch light to examine the cave walls and ceiling before arriving at the waterfall. This is one for the adventurous traveller.
Hoot and Aore Island Resort are offering a six night package including return airfares with Air Vanuatu; return airport transfers; accommodation in a studio garden view bungalow, twin share; breakfast daily; one 30 minute massage, plus free use of resort kayaks, push bikes and stand up paddle boards. Travel from 1 June to 26 June, 2016; 13 July to 18 September, 2016; 6 October to 27 November, 2016, blackout dates apply. Prices start at AUD$990pp ex Brisbane and AUD$1199pp ex Sydney. Book by 31 May 2016. *terms and conditions apply. To book visit: www.hootholidays.com.au/Vanuatu/Santo/Aore-Island-Resort/Relax-and-Unwind-on-Santo
Spacifica Travel is offering a six night package including return airfares with Air Vanuatu; two nights’ accommodation staying in a harbour view room at The Grand Hotel & Casino; five nights’ accommodation staying at Ratua Private Island; breakfast daily; twin share; and return transfers throughout. Prices start at AUD$1,949pp ex Brisbane and AUD$1,999pp ex Sydney. Book by 31 May, 2016 and valid for travel from 1 August,2016 to 11 September, 2016; and from 16 October, 2016 to 2 December, 2016. To book visit www.spacificatravel.com or call Spacifica Travel on 1800 800 722 (quote 148450).
Allways Dive Expeditions in conjunction with Air Vanuatu and Coral Quays Resort are offering the ultimate seven night diving getaway with two free nights’ accommodation and two free dives on the SS President Coolidge. Includes return Air Vanuatu airfares ex Brisbane to Santo via Port Vila; return airport transfers; accommodation in a garden bungalow; breakfast daily; govt. value added taxes; eight boat dives plus two free shore dives of the SS President Coolidge wreck; tanks, weights, airfills, light refreshments and the use of a professional dive guide; complimentary use of wifi and non-motorised water sports. Travel from 10 May, 2016 to 10 July, 2016; 19 to 31 July, 2016; 25 to 31 August, 2016; 1 to 18 September, 2016; 5 October to 23 December, 2016; and 5 January to 13 April, 2017. Prices start at AUD$1,914 per diver and AUD$1,386 per non-diver. Book by 30 May, 2016. *terms and conditions apply, all prices are subject to change. To book visit www.allwaysdive.com.au/quote, call 1800 338 239 or email email@example.com.
Air Vanuatu also offers an add-on island hopper domestic fare starting from AUD$110 return and available for purchase from June, 2016. Head to www.airvanuatu.com for more details on the latest fares and holiday packages.