Outside of the main tourist island of Efate (home to Port Vila), Espiritu Santo is one of the few Vanuatu islands able to offer a range of accommodation options from rustic bungalows to world class island resorts. Here we concentrate solely on Santo’s ever growing list of smaller bungalows and cottages for rent (located both on the main island and adjacent smaller islands). We do not include boutique resorts in this list, even if they feature bungalows as part of their accommodation options (click here for Best Resort Accommodation Espiritu Santo). And for a list of the Top 10 Holiday Houses on Espiritu Santo click here.
To be fair there are two distinct levels of accommodation when it comes to rental bungalows Espiritu Santo style. There are the more upmarket, rental cottages with all the mod-cons (usually built and run by ex-pats) and then there are the basic, island style “no frills” rental bungalows operated by Ni-Vans (local Vanuatu). As such, we have broken up the list into two separate sections to reflect this. Our comparisons are based on a combination of location, price, amenities, cleanliness, service and guest reviews/feedback. Most of the rental bungalows Espiritu Santo are concentrated around 4 areas – Aore Island, a stretch of the east coast from Suranda to Turtle Bay, Lonnoc Beach (near Champagne Beach) and finally Port Olry up north.
Modern-Style Cottages & Bungalows
1. Hidden Cove Eco-Retreat – Luxury Safari Tents, Espiritu Santo
Hidden Cove takes the concept of glamping to a new level with their beachfront luxury safari tents. There are two choices – the 2-storey, 2 bedroom Tree Top Tent, with its entrance suspension bridge, outdoor tub and plunge pool and private beach area. And the 1 bedroom Pool Villa. which is on one level but is made up of three separate buildings, the main 50sq tent, a kitchen/dining room and a bathroom pavilion. It also has a plunge pool and a french tub. Furnishings are French-inspired and include four poster beds, chandeliers and marble appointed bathrooms. And while each tent has all the facilities you need to cook for yourself, the owners also offer an in-house chef by appointment and provide breakfast each morning. As you can imagine, all this luxury comes at a price, with room rates starting from around $550 per couple per night. But the price does include free airport transfers, use of electric bikes, ocean kayaks, daily house-keeping and snorkelling equipment. Hidden Cove is located on the east coast of Santo, about 15 min from the main town of Luganville. Reviews are excellent. Pros – unique concept, personalised service, luxurious accommodation in a beautiful setting. Cons – expensive when compared to other bungalow/cottage accommodation on the island, no air-con. A great spot for couples/honeymooners celebrating that special occasion.
2. Turtle Cottage/Dugong Cottage, Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo
Overlooking the gorgeous turquoise lagoon of the bay of islands (Turtle Bay), these two large self-contained studio cottages are part of the Turtle Bay Beach House property (located approx. 20 mins drive from town). They are directly opposite Malvanua Island Beach House.
Features include traditional, natangora palm thatched roofs, king beds, fully screened doors and windows, ceiling fans, kitchenette and large balconies overlooking a private beach. There is shared access to an overwater deck, a BBQ nakamal hut, free onsite watersports, a laundry and access to wifi. Easy walking/paddling distance to nearby resorts with islands, reef and blue holes all on your doorstep.
Guest reviews/feedback are excellent. House managers/staff very helpful and accommodating. Pros – great location, clean comfortable and value for money. Cons – close to main road, you share the property with other guests staying in a nearby beach house. Pricewise, the cottages are around $135/night for max 2 adults/1 child. If you want touches of luxury for a value budget price tag, then these cottages are a great choice. For more information and bookings click here .
3. Aore Island Waterfront Apartment, Aore Island
A spacious self-contained cottage/apartment located right on the waterfront on beautiful Aore Island (a large island straight across the Segund Channel from the main town of Luganville). It takes about 10 mins by water taxi to get there and costs around $12 each way. Great little deepwater beach out front with some nice snorkelling nearby.
It’s run by long time locals Nanette and Murray who live in the adjacent house. Features 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, free wifi, free kayaks and pushbikes. Pros – Aore Island is laid back, relaxed and the owners are very helpful. Cons – no shops on the island, the house is a little isolated transport wise and the only way to get there is by boat. Guest reviews are excellent.
Pricewise it’s about $100/night for 2 people (although it goes up to around $170 for 4 people). Awesome value for money for a couple looking for beachfront island accommodation, as long as you don’t mind paying for a boat ride to explore the rest of Santo. For more information and bookings click here .
4. Mahi Mahi Villas, Tides Reach, Espiritu Santo
Spotlessly clean, great location, super attentive on-site managers and the choice of two self-contained villas (1 x 2 bedroom, 1 x studio) make Mahi Mahi Villas a popular favourite for holiday makers. The studio cottage caters for 2 people while the 2 bedroom villa can cater for up to 4 people (1 king bed & 2 queens), however they don’t accept children under 10yrs and the minimum stay is 2 nights. Both villas are set back from the beach and have outdoor balconies with sea views.
Located at Tides Reach, there’s a stunning white sand beach out front, however it can be a long walk at low tide to find deeper water for swimming. The gardens are tropical and expansive and there is the bonus of an alfresco-style, open air kitchen you can use overlooking the beach. A short walk away along the beach are a couple of low key beachfront resorts (Moyyan and Barrier Beach House) which feature restaurants and spa treatments.
The villas are a touch on the expensive side when compared to other similar accommodation – around $250 for the studio and $350 for the 2 bedroom, but the price does include free airport transfers, free wifi and free use of on-site watersports. Pros – great location, beautiful beach, attentive on site managers Cons – no shops nearby, beach exposed to trade winds and can be shallow for swimming at low tide. Great for older couples or small groups wanting peace and quiet. For more info/bookings click here .
5. Sands Beach House, Suranda, Espiritu Santo
This cute studio cottage/homestay is surrounded by shady trees and overlooks a beautiful white sand beach on Suranda Bay (about a 15 min drive north from Luganville, the main town). It’s within walking distance of two small boutique resorts, Moyyan House by the Sea and Barrier Beach House, where you can enjoy wifi, restaurants and spa treatments . The cottage is fully self-contained and features a king size bed, basic modern furnishings and a large, covered deck overlooking 40m of beachfront. The space inside is very generous for two people, there are plenty of windows and ceiling fans for cross ventilation and even a washing machine for your clothes. There are no real gardens to speak of, just natural bushland. Genia, the Aussie owner does not live on site but there is a property manager nearby who can help you settle in.
Pros – great location, great beach, spacious open plan living. Cons – beach quite shallow for swimming, no nearby shops and exposed to trade winds (May – Sept). Good reviews from guests. You’re looking at around $200/night to stay here, but it does include complimentary airport pick up. Ideal cottage for couples with no kids looking for complete privacy. For more information and bookings click here .
6. Malvanua Island Beach House, Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo
Even though you can literally swim to this small 25 acre island from the mainland at Turtle Bay, it still gives you the illusion of playing a castaway (Turtle Bay is about a 20 min drive north of the main town of Luganville). The spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom cottage is located on the opposite side of the island to the owner’s house.
It has its very own private beach out front so you feel like you have the whole island to yourself. There’s a good-sized outdoor deck, ceiling fans, screened doors/windows and state of the art solar for electricity. Furnishings are basic but nice. It can fit up to 5 people at a squeeze but is more suited for couples.
Pros – your own island to chill out and relax on, located in a beautiful area. Cons – there’s no easy way to get to the mainland to explore the rest of Santo (unless you ask the owner to take you across) and there are no shops nearby to stock up on supplies. Guest reviews are excellent.
Pricewise you’re looking at around $280/night for 2 people, which goes up to $380 if there are 4 people. The price includes use of kayaks and wifi. It’s a little on the expensive side compared to other similar waterfront cottages but if you don’t mind the isolation, you literally get your own island as part of the package. For information and booking click here .
Special Mention – Santo Vista Cottage, Luganville, Espiritu Santo
Ok, so although this cottage is not on the water or near a pretty beach, it does have a few major advantages. Firstly, it has great views across the Segund Channel to Aore Island and secondly, it’s very close to the main town of Luganville (4km away). In other words, there is easy access to taxis, shops, supermarkets and dive centres and it’s just down the road from the dive sites of Million Dollar Point and the SS President Coolidge. The cottage is fully self-contained, neat as a pin and has a king size bed, a kitchen, laundry, lounge area and a large outdoor covered deck area. More like a mini-house than a bungalow!
This place is perfect for a single or a couple on a dive holiday – in fact owners Tim and Yvonne are experienced divers and great hosts. They even have a locker under the house to store your dive gear. Guest reviews are excellent. Pros – close to town/shops, quiet, serene. Cons – no nice swimming beaches nearby, not on the water.
Pricewise, you’re looking at around $150/night but it includes free wifi and complimentary airport transfers. If you want the convenience of being close to all the action, while still enjoying your independence and a serene location, this is a great choice. For more information and bookings click here .
Island Style Cottages & Bungalows
1. Port Olry Beach Bungalows, Espiritu Santo
A cut above the rest, these three beautifully designed traditional bungalows have been built with love by owner Silverio Tiome using a combination of wood, thatch, bamboo and coral. They are located on stunning Port Olry Beach, about an hour’s drive north of Luganville and are within walking distance of Port Olry village and a few cute beachside restaurants.
The location is fairly isolated (not much happens in Port Olry), but there are islands and reef to explore and the beach is great for swimming. There’s also a shop selling basic food items in Port Olry village. Facilities in the bungalows are basic – there are no screened windows or fans, electricity only in the evenings – but the view is to die for from the large outdoor decks.
The studio style family bungalows can sleep up to 6 people in the same open room (double bed + 4 bunk beds). The price for 2 people is around $70/night, or around $110 for 6 people. A simple breakfast and daily cleaning are included as part of the price, which makes it one of the better value island style bungalows Espiritu Santo. For more information and bookings click here .
2. Lonnoc Beach Lodge, Lonnoc Beach, Espiritu Santo
Lonnoc Beach Lodge is located in a picture postcard setting on Lonnoc Beach, literally just around the corner from the world famous Champagne Beach, and about a 45 minute drive north of the main town of Luganville. The accommodation consists of a handful of cute 2 person bungalows, a larger family house that sleeps up to 9 people and a dormitory that sleeps 12. There is also a small seaside restaurant.
The lodge is tucked away at the western end of Lonnoc Beach, which has much less sand compared to the eastern end but it does have some the best coral for snorkelling just offshore and it’s also well protected from the trade winds that tend to blow fairly strongly from May – September. You can walk to Champagne Beach in around 15 minutes.
The bungalows themselves are well built and fairly new with the pick being three sea side or “honeymoon” bungalows (two of which have open air bathrooms). They even have hot water showers – luxury! Although there are no cooking facilities in the bungalows they do have a BBQ and cooking facilities you can request to use.
The restaurant overlooks the water and serves fresh local produce. Guest reviews are excellent. Accommodation package includes linen, basic breakfast, daily room service, free snorkelling gear and free WiFi.
Pros – amazing location, walking access to Champagne Beach and excellent management. Cons – quite expensive compared to other similar bungalows nearby, isolated location and no nearby shops/supermarkets. Prices range from around $120/night for the beachfront bungalows, deluxe bungalows are around $170/night and the family bungalow is around $180- 200/night. If you don’t mid the isolation and just want to chill out, the Lodge is a good choice for couples or families with a sense of adventure. For more information and bookings click here or here .
3. Vaton Beach Bungalows Espiritu Santo
These two spacious traditional bungalows are nestled in a peaceful garden setting just back from stunning Port Olry beach (near Chez Louis restaurant), about a hour’s drive north from Luganville. There is a smaller bungalow ideal for couples and a larger bungalow for families. Both bungalows have been recently renovated.
The family bungalow is spacious and made from coral with rendered internal walls and solid local hard wood flooring. Beds are comfortable and there is a large outdoor deck complete with carved furniture and tables. Each bungalow has an ensuite with a cold shower, however there are no screens, no fans and no electricity (only solar power). You are given mosquito nets for the beds and you can get free wifi access by wandering down to the nearby restaurant.
The place is owned and managed by husband and wife team Dominica and Henry who built the property in 2011 and live nearby. Breakfast and daily cleaning is included in the price. The smaller bungalow is around $80-90 night while the larger bungalow is $120 night for up to 4 people.
Reviews/guest feedback are good. Pros – locally owned, amazing location, good quality furnishings and well-built compared to other bungalows. Cons – isolated location, not directly on beach, nearest shops about a 15 min walk away (basic supplies only). A great choice if you want to go local and enjoy rustic-style “no frills” accommodation in a stunning location with family-style hospitality. For more information and bookings click here .
3. Port Olry Tree House Bungalows Espiritu Santo
We’ve added these bungalows because they’re unique and who doesn’t love a beachfront bamboo treehouse? At Port Olry Treehouse bungalows, they have two treehouses on offer – a larger family bungalow that can accommodate up to 4 people (double/2 single beds) and a smaller bungalow for couples (double mattress on the floor). Both are perched about 2m in the air on the giant limbs of an ancient tamanu tree.
The treehouses are cute but very basic. There is no kitchen, no electricity (lights are solar), no screens or fans but they do have (cold) shower/toilet facilities. They are within throwing distance of the busy Chez Louis Cafe/Restaurant, which has good food, but slow service.
Reviews are mostly good. Pros – unique accommodation in a stunning location on one of Santo’s best beaches. Cons – very basic facilities, not self-contained and fairly isolated location. Pricewise the cost is around $60 for the smaller treehouse and around $120 for the larger family treehouse. However, this includes breakfast and daily servicing plus all linen. Wifi is available from the nearby restaurant. If you’re willing to give up most of the luxuries for a unique accommodation option, then this is a great choice for a family or an adventurous couple for a few days. For more information or bookings click here .
4. Pantanus Guesthouse, Malo Island
Staying at Pantanas Guesthouse on Malo Island is a little like going back in time. It’s a taste of how Vanuatu life was like before tourism became mainstream. Getting to Malo Island (just off Santo) is not easy – you have travel about 20 mins down a dirt road from Luganville to a river where you catch a very slow water taxi across the channel (this costs around $25 AUD if you charter the whole boat). The crossing takes around 25 mins in good weather (don’t attempt it in bad weather!). But it is worth the effort.
The guesthouse consists of 3 cute bungalows set in an amazing tropical garden just back from a small coral cove. Each bungalow caters for 2 -3 people, they are basic and small but clean. Adjacent to the bungalows is a gorgeous little dining room surrounded by flowers and trees and a separate shower hut with bathroom facilities.
Hosts Vuro and Vomaleh treat you like their extended family, which means that as part of the package they provide you with linen and all meals. Malo Island itself is huge, and a great place to explore, there are coconut plantations, old missionary villages, blue holes, caves and reef. Pros – cute bungalows run by beautiful host family. Cons – not easy to get to, basic facilities, water taxi crossing dicey in bad weather. Cost is around $25 pp per night which is an absolute bargain, considering it also includes meals. A interesting alternative choice for bungalows Espiritu Santo style. For more information and bookings click here .
5. Lonnoc Beach Bungalows, Lonnoc Beach, Espiritu Santo
Lonnoc Beach Bungalows are located on Lonnoc Beach right next door to Lonnoc Beach Lodge (which can be a bit confusing). The property is a mix of smaller, older bungalows for couples, larger newer bungalows which can sleep up to 4 people, backpacker/dormitory accommodation and camping. There’s even a restaurant on site serving basic local fare. Wifi is available in the restaurant for a small additional fee.
Most of the bungalows Espiritu Santo style are set back from the beach, except for the two Bamboo Bungalows next door (which they also manage). A basic breakfast is included in the price, along with linen and a daily service. Although there’s no electricity there is solar powered lighting at night.
Kalmor Vocor and his family run the property, along with a local hospitality and training school next door. The whole place has a very laid back vibe, it’s low key and basic, service is slow in the restaurant, but the location and beach are what it’s all about – and the view is amazing.
Reviews of the property are mixed, some good, some average. Pros – great location, a choice of accommodation options, walking access to Champagne Beach. Cons – no shops nearby, fairly isolated and service/quality can be hit and miss.
Pricewise, you are looking at around $75 for the standard, smaller bungalows, $95 for the larger bungalows (or $150 for a family) and around $100 for the beachfront Bamboo Bungalows. We suggest you spend a little extra and go for the larger bungalows or the bamboo bungalows. If you are prepared to give up the luxuries for the simple necessities and a heavenly location, then this is a great option. For more information and bookings click here .
6. Bay Of Illusions Guest House, Big Bay, Espiritu Santo
We’ve included this guesthouse not because it’s a great accommodation option but because of the location, the people and the fact that it’s next to the stunning Jordan River and the Vatthe Conservation Area, a huge rainforest reserve nestled on the side of spectacular Big Bay.
Getting to Big Bay and the village of Matantas, where the Bay of Illusions Guest House is located, is an adventure in itself and not for the feint-hearted. It involves a 40 min drive up the sealed road from Luganville (the main town) then a crazy 45 min drive down to Big Bay via one of the worst dirt roads you have ever experienced (4WD only). But when you arrive – Wow! A magnificent black sand beach awaits, along with a crystal clear river that flows into the ocean.
Chief Solomon and his wife Purity not only run the guesthouse but are the custodians of the UNESCO listed jungle reserve surrounding them, which has never been logged and is home to rare bird species. In all, there are a total of four thatched huts set back from the beach (one of them 2 bedroom).
The facilities are very basic – concrete floors, thatched walls and roof, foam mattress bed with mosquito net, no electricity, no running water, communal toilet and only limited lighting so BYO everything if possible. Bathing is in the nearby river! Purity is happy to cook all your meals for you providing you give her notice in advance. Price is around $30pp per night including breakfast. For more information and bookings click here and here .