“I paddled up blue holes, visited nearby island resorts, snorkelled around deserted beaches and even caught a few fish trawling on the way…kayaking around Turtle Bay and the east coast of Santo was an amazing experience,”
Craig Archer (Turtle Cottage guest)
SANTO ISLAND EAST COAST – KAYAKING VANUATU HEAVEN!
Santo’s beautiful east coast features dozens of islands and spectacular fringing reef, stunning blue holes and crystal clear rivers, protected lagoons and rugged, isolated coastline, making it one of the best kayaking, paddling and snorkelling destinations in the whole of Vanuatu. From Suranda and Palikulo Bay in the south to Champagne and Lonnoc Beach in the north there is literally something on offer for everyone. For more information on kayaking Vanuatu, kayaking Espiritu Santo and kayaking Vanuatu islands click HERE .
KAYAKING THE INNER ISLANDS (TURTLE BAY)
Turtle Bay Beach House is located within a protected lagoon off Turtle Bay, about half way along the coast (see aerial shot below). It’s an ideal location for paddlers of all abilities as it is surrounded by an inner ring of tropical islands and is usually calm and protected. The amazing panorama photo above shows the lagoon looking north from Oyster Island Resort towards Turtle Bay Beach House. Some of the islands are privately owned and some have resorts or inhabitants on them but many are also deserted. It’s a fun day out to just play Robinson Crusoe, find a beach and chill out.
BLUE HOLES & CRYSTAL RIVERS
There are also two amazing blue holes with crystal rivers to discover within this inner island lagoon complex at Turtle Bay (see Blue Holes for more information), as well as lots of turtles and dugongs (sea cows) to spot. Both the islands and the blue holes are all within an easy hour or two’s paddle of Turtle Bay Beach House. This is the ultimate area for kayaking Vanuatu in style.
KAYAKING THE OUTER ISLANDS
For the more experienced paddlers, the coastline from Suranda and Palikulo Point in the south to Turtle Bay in the north is on offer (approx. 20km distance) thanks to an outer ring of islands (Mavea, Aesi, Turtle) protecting the entire coastline. Turtle Island is especially beautiful as there is a soft white sand beach with good fringing reef on the western side of the island (*Note Turtle Island was recently sold and has been renamed Dany Island – the owner now charges anyone visiting his island 1000vt each). There are also white sand beaches and coral fringing reef on the NW corner of Aesi and the NW and SW corners of Mavea Island. For more information check out Island Time Kayaking (& SUPs), who specialise in kayak tours.
KAYAKING NORTH TURTLE BAY
If the weather is good, you can sneak around the point past Turtle Bay Lodge (north of Turtle Island) and kayak to the top of Turtle Bay (ideally at high tide) where there is the entrance to a large crystal river. Paddle up the river around 4kms (keeping to the left at the main fork in the river) until you reach the stunning Nanda Blue Hole. There is a cafe here where you can stop and get something to eat and drink (*Note – they will charge you 500- 1000vt each for entering and swimming in this area). If you do not want to pay, stop at some of the other swimming holes on the way up to the blue hole (and there are plenty!). On the way out you can explore the other fork in the river (it goes up another 2-3 kms) but it does not lead to a second blue hole (just a lot of tangled, Amazon-like overgrown waterways!).
KAYAKING TO VELIT BAY
The next point around from Turtle Bay (about 9kms north) is the stunning Velit Bay (see photo below or go to Beaches page for more info). Much of this is privately owned but there are plenty of sandy beaches on the northern side of the bay (away from the main house) where you can relax and swim. You will pass a couple of islands on the way to Velit – firstly Lataroa Island and then Lataro Island. Lataro is privately owned, however Lataroa Island is uninhabited and there is a nice white sand beach with some fringing reef on the western side of the island. Keep in mind, this stretch of the coast is rugged, isolated and features exposed open water, so only experienced kayakers should attempt this crossing. Also note the prevailing winds during most of winter are trade winds that blow steadily from the S-SE (in the summer they generally blow from the N or NE) so a one-way trip north with a pick up would be advisable unless it is dead calm.
KAYAKING TO CHAMPAGNE BEACH
For kayaking farther afield, you can keep heading north from Velit Bay to Champagne Bay (a distance of some 14kms). This is very rugged coastline with no protected bays or beaches to take shelter in so again only attempt this if the weather is perfect and you have plenty of kayaking experience and a good level of fitness. We recommend driving to Lonnoc Beach Bungalows and hiring kayaks from there to paddle around to Champagne Beach (or contacting Island Time Kayaking HERE for a guided trip). The Champagne Bay area is stunning (see Beaches for more info) and well worth a paddle (it’s also sheltered from the SE tradewinds). There’s a beautiful island just offshore (Elephant Island) which has a small beach and some good snorkelling. For more information on islands you can paddle to, check out the Islands page. Whether you are an experienced or a novice kayaker you will love kayaking Vanuatu and Santo as it offers protected waters, dozens of uninhabited tropical islands and plenty of adventure for all levels.
WATERSPORTS AT TURTLE BAY BEACH HOUSE
Turtle Bay Beach House offers a range of on-site watersports. These include double ocean kayaks, single ocean kayaks, stand up paddle boards and a box full of snorkelling gear. For some amazing stories on paddle boarding around Santo click HERE . Extra kayaks can be hired from Turtle Bay Lodge just up the road if so required. We recommend you bring reef shoes for both kayaking Vanuatu and snorkelling on the reef.
SNORKELLING TURTLE BAY, SANTO
There’s some great snorkelling in Turtle Bay and surrounds, you just have to know where to look for it! Because of the huge tides, much of the fringing reef on the inside of the lagoon is exposed to high water temperatures and low tides so you have to pick areas where there are deep water channels and drop offs to find really healthy reef. Some of the best snorkelling can be found directly opposite Turtle Bay Lodge and in the shallow waters off Turtle Island (*please note Turtle Island was recently sold and has been renamed Dany Island, the owner is now charging anyone visiting the island 1000vt pp – including children).There are also patches of coral at the back of Oyster Island Resort . Oyster Island is free to visit.