THINGS TO DO ESPIRITU SANTO
If you want to connect with nature, avoid the crowds and experience the road less travelled, then Espiritu Santo is for you. There are no big multi-national resorts, no kids clubs and no fancy restaurants. Just beautiful uncrowded beaches, amazing scenery, laid back family owned resorts and cute self-contained bungalows and holiday houses like Turtle Bay Beach House!
Things to Do Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo is all about soaking up that authentic Vanuatu vibe and immersing yourself in a range of truly amazing outdoor adventure activities and cultural experiences. From world class trekking, diving, fishing and kayaking to island hopping, horseriding and traditional kastom villages, Santo has it all in abundance. So check out our local’s guide to Santo attractions and get the inside scoop on what to see and do. Follow the links below to our in-depth activities pages or check out our Top 10 List of Things to Do Espiritu Santo. You can also visit the Santo Travel Tourism website HERE.
THINGS TO DO ESPIRITU SANTO – BLUE HOLES
“Santo’s blue holes have to be seen to be believed, they are like natural aquariums or swimming pools and every one of them is a slightly different shade of blue.”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – SURFING
“You can see and hear the waves at Turtle Island crashing on the reef from your balcony, it’s one of surfing Vanuatu’s hidden secrets”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – DIVING
“I’ve dived all over the world and the President Coolidge on Santo is still one of my all time favourite wreck dives…diving Vanuatu is an amazing experience”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – FISHING & SPEARFISHING
“The waters around Santo and the neighbouring islands are rich in many species of game fish. Blue Marlin over 450kg, Yellowfin over 90kg, Dogtooth over 90kg, Wahoo over 45kg and Mahi Mahi over 22kg are all common captures”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – SAILING
“Vanuatu is so diverse that just sailing from one island to the next feels like a voyage across continents. The isolation and extreme geography of the islands is packed with over one hundred languages, a history of cannibalism, and vibrant superstitious rituals. People are still very tribal and there are beautiful villages with houses built from woven grass mats–nothing has changed here for hundreds of years.”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – ADVENTURE
“We walked through villages, jungle, lots of mud, then waded through a river into a huge dark cave and finally we floated down the river through a pristine canyon – adventure Vanuatu style – hard to beat!”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – BEACHES
“Champagne Beach on Santo is arguably the most beautiful beach on earth…this is the magical tropical beach everyone is searching for….”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – HORSE RIDING
“Horse riding in Santo is a wonderful experience, from the farms, to the gorgeous views, through the rainforest and crystal clear stream, then out to the beach”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – KAYAKING
“I paddled up blue holes, visited nearby island resorts, snorkeled around deserted beaches and even caught fish in my kayak…it was an amazing experience”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – CULTURE
“Vanuatu is one of the few places on Earth where you can experience a very ancient living culture and contact your deepest roots and connections with the natural world and feel safe and comfortable at the same time.”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – ISLANDS
“Santo has over 30 small islands surrounding its coastline. But that’s just the start of the story. The Vanuatu Islands archipelago consists of around 83 larger islands, each with their own mini-islands, spread over 1,300 kms of ocean. Add up the total land area and you’re talking about over 12,000km2 of mountains, reef and rainforest to explore….”
THINGS TO DO SANTO – CULTURAL FESTIVALS & EVENTS
“Vanuatu cultural festivals are a living tradition handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Many of the kastum ceremonies are unique and cannot be seen anywhere else in the world, ranging from the death defying Pentecost Land Diving (nagol) to the colourful Tanna Toka dance which goes on for days, the mystical Rom dance of Ambrym Island, where magic and fire rule…..”
OUR TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS TO DO ESPIRITU SANTO
SWIM IN A BLUE HOLE
We recommend Matevulu Blue Hole at Turtle Bay, about half way up the east coast of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. You can drive there but we suggest paddling up the Matavulu crystal river to gain the full 3D experience. It’s like going up the Amazon! You can take the free ferry across to Oyster Island Resort and rent kayaks off them (it’s a short 30 min. paddle up the river), do a guided tour with Island Time Kayaking or you can stay at Turtle Bay Beach House and paddle their free kayaks up to the blue hole. There is a small fee per person for swimming at this spectacular freshwater spring but it’s well worth it (and you get to use the giant rope swing!). On the way out paddle back across to Oyster Island Resort for a cold drink and a swim! One of our top things to do Espiritu Santo!
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. Then a walk, float, climb and swim for another 3-4 hrs through a landscape that looks like it should be on the cover of a National Geographic magazine. Book direct with the Millennium Caves office. If you want the more family friendly version of Millennium Caves, try the Mt Hope Waterfall tour. You get to float down slot canyons, jump off boulders and climb up a waterfall. Book via Oyster Island Resort. An adventurous things to do Espiritu Santo activity.
SNORKEL AND SUNBAKE 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 (named after the champagne-like fizz the powder white sand makes when a wave rolls in!). On the way out stop off at Lonnoc Beach Bungalows restaurant for a cold drink and admire the stunning beach and view. Or visit the nearby secret blue hole (about 1.4km after the Champagne Beach turn off). There is a fee of around $25 per car for entry into Champagne Beach. This is high on our list of things to do Espiritu Santo.
DRINK KAVA AT A CULTURAL VILLAGE
A visit to 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 kava ceremonies, traditional dancing, the famous water music, island feasts and more. Of these, Leweton Cultural Village is our favourite. If you want to experience more of an adventure, try taking a tour to some of the villages in Fanafo (up in the mountains) or check with Wrecks to Rainforest booking agency in Luganville for their 3 day trekking tours to remote kastom villages. An amazing cultural experience not to be missed on your list of things to do Espiritu Santo.
GO ISLAND HOPPING
Espiritu Santo is surrounding by a ring of 35 mini-islands so the choice of islands to visit is huge. If you want a real adventure and a taste of what the real Vanuatu would have been like 50 years ago head over to Malo Island for the day (make sure the weather is calm). A local taxi boat ride over to the island from Malo Landing will cost you around $30 AUD return. Base yourself at the cute Pantanas Bungalows (ring ahead and book lunch there – it’s beautiful). 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. Things to do Santo island style!
DIVE THE COOLIDGE
Espiritu Santo has one of the world’s best wreck dives on its doorstep, the SS President Coolidge, as well as some amazing reef dives around the nearby outer islands. And you can’t beat the famous Million Dollar Point dive (or snorkel) for fascinating WW2 history and accessible reefs and wrecks. There are several companies based in and around Luganville who specialise in Santo diving, our pick is Coral Quays. A great things to do Santo underwater adventure.
FISHING/SPEARFISHING THE DEEPWATER DROP OFFS
Espiritu Santo is renown for its world class fishing and spearfishing. Every large gamefish is on offer thanks to huge drop offs and deepwater channels within throwing distance of inshore fringing reefs. Add to that a multitude of easily accessible seamounts, deep canyons and 30+ offshore islands and it all adds up to fishing heaven. There are a range of fishing boats to suit all budgets– from small local operators like Fabrice Moderan’s Island Fishing Santo right up to Calvin and Julie’s Santo Gamefishing Charters on Fiesta, a live-board 46ft flybridge Cresta cruiser. A rewarding option on our list of things to do Espiritu Santo.
DAY TRIP TO PORT OLRY
Port Olry is a sleepy, picturesque fishing village located at the top of Santo’s beautiful east coast. 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 (Elephant Island) Thion and do the walk up to the lake there 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. A fantastic day trip and one of our favourite things to do Espiritu Santo.
VISIT A WATERFALL
Drive 40 min south of Luganville on a rough dirt across rickety bridges and through beautiful rural countryside to reach Tuffuntari Waterfalls (look for blue posts and a sign just after the school). 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. Take a picnic lunch and make a day of it. You will need to hire a 4WD car to reach the waterfalls but it is definitely worth the effort. A great half day tour for your list of things to do Espiritu Santo.
Take time to chill out and relax at one of the spa/massage centres scattered on Espiritu Santo. We recommend Moyyan Resort, about a 15 min. drive south from Turtle Bay Beach House. They have a range of spa and massage treatments plus a beautiful beachside restaurant you can enjoy a drink or lunch at afterwards. One of the more relaxing things to do Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.