Unlike Efate and Port Vila, there are no large scale, internationally owned resorts on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Rather the resort accommodation on offer is mostly laid back and low key – boutique style bungalows, units and rooms usually owned or managed by ex-pats or local families. For the purpose of this blog we define “resorts” as accommodation offering guests additional amenities and features over and above the standard hotel accommodation (unique location & layout, pool, activities, on-site restaurant etc). If you are after more information on the best hotel accommodation Espiritu Santo click here, for the best cottages and bungalows Espiritu Santo click here or the best holiday houses Espiritu Santo click here. Our top 10 resort accommodation Espiritu Santo listed below is based on a combination of local knowledge, reviews/feedback, location and value for money.
Resort Accommodation Espiritu Santo
1. Bokissa Private Island Resort
Bokissa is one of those magical places where the sum of the whole far exceeds any one of its individual parts. In terms of resort accommodation Espiritu Santo, it’s got pretty much everything you could want in a tropical island getaway – incredible blue water, colourful reefs, delicious food. amazing staff, on site diving and watersports and nearly 175 acres of rainforest to explore – but it’s how the island grows on you that really keep people coming back for more.
Bokissa Island Resort is located between Aore Island and Tutuba Island (about a 35 minute boatride SE of the main town of Luganville). The beautiful tropical gardens are dominated by the large resort pool and the restaurant/bar area. All of the accommodation is made up of individual fares (cottages) from the basic standard beachfront fares to the larger spa fares to the family sized duplex spa villas.
Although the fares are a little dated and by no means luxurious in their fitout, they have all the basic necessities required to keep you happy on your holiday (and let’s face it, you spend 90% of your time outdoors anyway!). Prices start from around $400 per room per night for two adults in a Beachfront Fare. This cost includes all meals and transfers to and from the local airport.
For the money, this is probably the best value island resort accommodation Espiritu Santo style, when you take into account the location, the food, the amenities and the guest feedback (which is generally excellent).
2. Ratua Private Island Resort
Ratua Private Island is without doubt Espiritu Santo’s most picturesque island resort and the epitome of barefoot luxury. The 146 acre island is located in between Aore Island and Malo Island (about a 35 minute boat trip from the main town of Luganville).
Surprisingly, Ratua is not native Vanuatu style but rather Indonesian in origin with the 15 antique wooden villas shared between 3 villages – Fish Village, West Point Village and South Point Village. Many of the villas are almost 200-year-old (they were shipped to Ratua from Indonesia in pieces and specially reconstructed) so the place has a shabby chic, bohemian feel to it. In addition to the villas, there is a beautiful beachside restaurant and dining area (the so-called Yacht Club, the island’s social centre), a hut with a mini-cinema and an overwater spa. Activities on offer include horse riding at their horse ranch, fishing, kayaking and snorkelling.
Room prices vary considerable – they range from around $465 per night (2 pax) for a safari tent up to $810 for the grand villas (3 x 1 bedroom antique houses linked together with causeways – max 5 people). The prices include breakfast but no other meals – be prepared to pay top dollar for additional drinks, food and activities (we recommend you purchase a meal package). Overall, guest reviews for this resort are good with minor complaints about the cost of the food and extras. While there is other resort accommodation Espiritu Santo that offers far better value for money, if you’re prepared to splurge to experience something truly unique then Ratua is worth the effort. *Note – Ratua was recently sold and now has a new owner!
3. Aore Island Resort
This laid back family operated resort is located on Aore Island, directly across the Segund channel from Luganville, the main town. The resort operates a free ferry for guests to get across to the island (takes about 10-15 mins). It has recently been renovated.
Accommodation is in the form of 18 cute bungalows ranging from studio bungalows to 1 bedroom bungalows that can fit a family of 4. The bungalows are fairly basic but have everything you need for a relaxing holiday, including a reasonable-sized balcony. At the heart of the resort is the large nakamal, which features a great restaurant, a bar, a pool and an on-site dive shop (they can even organise fishing adventures). It’s also the defacto social centre of Aore Island, which has numerous ex-pats in residence. There’s a beautiful deepwater beach out front with some nice coral for snorkelling and a day spa at the far end of the resort, offering a range of beauty treatments.
Prices start from around $255 for a garden view studio cottage and go up to around $365 for a beachfront 1 bedroom bungalow. The price includes free wifi, free use of onsite watersports, free push bikes and free continental breakfast each day. All other meals are extra – the restaurant however is quite reasonably priced! Overall guest reviews are mostly excellent with only a few complaints highlighting small faults in the service (mostly in the restaurant).
Although Aore Resort does not match the stunning beauty of Bokissa or Ratua, it is much more accessible from Santo and significantly lower in price. Aore Island is also a great option for families as there are lots of places to explore and have fun.Barrier Beach Resort
4. Barrier Beach Resort
Tucked away in lush tropical gardens and overlooking a stunning white sand beach, Barrier Beach Resort is the ultimate, low key boutique resort. It’s intimate and small with only 12 fares in total, and there are no kids allowed so it’s perfect for couples. (Note* Barrier Beach Resort used to be known as Barrier Beach House and Moyyan House by the Sea however they recently combined!) .
Located about a 15 minute drive north of Luganville, on the main island of Santo, Barrier Beach House manages to be luxurious and laid back all at the same time. There’s an on-site restaurant that caters to guests, a fantastic day spa area offering a range of treatments and massages and a range of watersports including kayaks, stand up paddleboards and snorkelling gear (plus there are free mountain bikes to use!). Accommodation ranges from spacious beachfront fares to luxury garden fares with (or without) plunge pools.
Prices start from around $300 per night for 2 people (air conditioning is available but costs extra). The price includes free airport transfers, free wifi, plus continental breakfast each day.
5. Sunrise Beach Cabanas Eco-Resort
This small, intimate eco-resort is nestled right on the beach in one of the most beautiful areas of Santo’s east coast (near Moyaan and Barrier Beach House). There are a total of three large beach cabanas as well as three guest bedrooms in the main tropical guest house. The cabanas are all octagonal in shape and feature stunning internal wood work. They range from the beachfront Frangipani King Cabana, to the Hibiscus and Tiare Queen Cabanas. All boast comfortable tropical furnishings, indoor/outdoor showers, stocked mini-bars, private dining area and large covered balconies. The guest bedrooms in the main house have
- their own private outdoor sitting areas but also share a common central living/lounge area and a dining room. Prices range from around $425 a night per couple for the king cabana to around $235 a night per couple for the guest bedrooms. The rates include complimentary airport pick up, free wifi, full tropical breakfast and use of all watersports gear. Sunrise also offer the services of an in-house chef with a choice of group or private dining. Reviews are mostly excellent. There is a minimum 2 night stay and no children are allowed. Ideal for couples or groups looking for peace and quiet and personalised attention. For more information and bookings click here.
6. Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort
Unlike many of the other resorts listed here, Coral Quays is not absolute waterfront and is not located near any beautiful beaches. But it does have a number of other advantages which make it a great little resort.
Firstly, the 18 bungalows are set amongst 6 acres of lush, rainforest wonderland (about a 5 min drive south of Luganville at San Michel) and are spacious, private and very reasonably priced. Secondly, they have an in-house diving/fishing operation which is one of the best on the island and finally they have a very reasonably priced restaurant serving great food.
There is also a good-sized resort pool and small beach/jetty area across the road where guests can feed the fish or go for a kayak or a snorkel. Although the resort is not new, it is aging gracefully and the rooms and grounds are kept clean and tidy.
In terms of price, you’re looking at around $150/night for 2 people for a standard bungalow or around $175 for a superior/deluxe bungalow with air-con (which we recommend). Room prices includes a continental breakfast and free wifi. Pros – value for money accommodation, on site dive/fishing centre, close to town. Cons – not absolute waterfront, no nice beaches nearby, mixed reviews on diving/boat charter prices and service.
A good choice for divers, sports fishermen and their families or couples looking for some action and adventure on Santo.
7. Turtle Bay Lodge
If you’re, after basic resort accommodation in a stunning location for a value for money price, you can’t go past Turtle Bay Lodge. Located on 2 acres of land on a small peninsula jutting out onto beautiful Turtle Bay (about a 20 minute drive north of Luganville), the Lodge consists of 10 rooms surrounded by tropical gardens and palm trees. In addition to the ocean view rooms and pool view rooms, the Lodge also has an oceanfront family room as well as backpacker-style bunk bed accommodation. And while there is no real beach as such (just strips of white sand among the rocks and coral), the Lodge does feature some great fringing reef for snorkelling out front and fantastic kayaking in the bay. Food-wise, the guests are catered to very well, with an excellent, value for money on-site restaurant and bar. Room prices range from $50 pp per night for backpacker accommodation to $163 night for the 2 bedroom family room, very reasonable for Espiritu Santo. Reviews are generally good. All up a great choice for families, groups and couples looking for an idyllic, peaceful location in a laid back resort atmosphere.
8. Deco Stop Lodge
Located on the top of a hill overlooking the main town of Luganville and the Segund Channel, Deco Stop is Australian run. It’s popular with divers and sportsfishers due to its close proximity to all the major dive shops and its in-house sports fishing boat. There is a total of 12 hotel-style rooms in all (some with air-con), nothing too fancy but clean and well- appointed with fridges, ensuite bathrooms, screened windows and daily room service. The large pool and restaurant quite possibly has the best views in all of Espiritu Santo and it has good food to match. Other facilities and services include a fully stocked bar, on-site car and motorbike rental, laundry service, free wifi, diving facilities and push bikes for hire. Room prices start from around $150 twin share for a standard double room and go up to around $200 for a 2 bedroom family suite. The prices include breakfast. Overall, basic but comfortable rooms in a tranquil setting with close access to everything and million dollar views.
9. Beachfront Resort
Located in a tropical beach side setting on 6 acres with 150 metres of absolute waterfront lawns and gardens, Beachfront Resort is close enough to the main town of Luganville (approx. 2 kms away) to be handy to shops and amenities while far enough away to avoid the noise and traffic. Although the beach and ocean out front (actually the Segund Channel) is not particularly inviting, the grounds are spacious and well-maintained and the choice of accommodation options is many and varied. There’s also an excellent on-site restaurant, The Coolidge Bar & Grill, which provides first-class food in relaxed Melanesian style, and a large swimming pool to relax and sunbake around.
All up there’s 27 units and bungalows on offer, ranging from 2 bedroom self-contained family units to cute studio bungalows, with most featuring tea/coffee making facilities, fridges, air-con, comfortable beds and covered outdoor patios/decks.
There is also the Starfish Lodge, which has been designed for large groups and can sleep up to 34 people in a variety of rooms and bed configurations. The lodge has its own kitchen, TV room and sitting area as well as BBQ nakamal with an ocean view. Room prices start from around $250/night for an ocean view 2 person bungalow to around $390/night for a Manta family apartment that sleeps 4 people.
Special Mention – Oyster Island Resort
This beautiful island resort would normally be on our Top 10 list but is currently undergoing extensive renovations and will not reopen until 2018.