Espiritu Santo’s Best Tourism Attractions

In March of this year a Category 5 cyclone devastated Vanuatu.  Our family was fortunate to holiday in Santo in January.  We stayed at the Barrier Beach House and became friendly with Shane and Shendel who own and manage the boutique resort.

Rope swing

Rope swing at Barrier Beach House

Vanuatu is made up of 83 islands spread out over 12,000 square kms and 67 are inhabited.  Upon hearing of the devastation of Cyclone Pam, I emailed Shendel and asked if she, Shane and their staff were all okay.  I was relieved to hear Santo had escaped the forces of the cyclone.

Sunrise

Sunrise

However, last week I received an email from Shendel advising many people who had booked holidays on Santo had cancelled.

View from Fare 2

View from Fare 2

Shendel wrote, ‘This has impacted the tourism industry in a massive way with all hotels receiving large numbers of booking cancellations resulting in many hotels having to reduce staff numbers or limit staff working hours to cope with this change.  The lack of tourists to Santo will in effect, further devastate the local community who rely on the income to assist their families in the affected areas of Vanuatu’.

Reclining before dinner

Reclining before dinner

Most of the holiday accommodation on Santo is owned by either Australians or New Zealanders.  They employ local people to work in their establishments and teach them new skills.  In every case we came across, they pay them above the award wage and go above and beyond by meeting additional needs including medical care, pre and post natal care, dental care and education.

A good spot for lunch

A good spot for lunch

The current risk is that without tourism, the people of Vanuatu are really going to suffer.  If you are considering a holiday in 2015, why not look at Santo.  Barrier Beach House is currently offering a ‘Recovery Package’ where there is 25% discount off the normal rate.  A night in a beachfront fare including breakfast will cost just AUS$240.00.

Fare 2

Fare 2

You can read about my experience at Barrier Beach House here.

Outdoor dining

Outdoor dining

And to let you know what this pristine patch of paradise has to offer, here’s my Top 10 list of the Island’s attractions…

Number 1:   Millenium Cave Tour

This is an all-day tour with local guides requiring a moderate level of fitness.

Watch your step

Watch your step

Number 2:   Diving the SS President Coolidge

Lying in just 20mtrs of water at its bow and 60mtrs of water at its stern, this is one of the most accessible dive sites in the world.

It's a completely undisturbed shipwreck

It’s a completely undisturbed shipwreck

Number 3:   Champagne Bay

Surely this is the most beautiful beach in the world.

Champagne Bay

Champagne Bay

Number 4:   Santo Horse Adventures

Horse ride along roads, through rainforest, along the beach and in the water.

Santo Horse Riding Adventures

Santo Horse Riding Adventures

Number 5:   Matevulu Blue Hole

Swim in fresh water that’s iridescent blue due to the limestone bottom.

Matevulu Blue Hole

Matevulu Blue Hole

Number 6:   Port Olry

See Port Olry and you’ll know you’ve seen paradise.

Paradise is found at Port Olry

Paradise is found at Port Olry

Number 7:   Million Dollar Point

Snorkel through waters where at the end of WWII, the US Army dumped its equipment.

Million Dollar Point

Million Dollar Point

Number 8:   Velit Bay

A 1600 acre beachfront property set in a horseshoe-shaped bay with a bar and restaurant.

Velit Bay

Velit Bay

Number 9:   Oyster Island

Spend a day on Oyster Island where you can hire a kayak and paddle to Matevulu Blue Hole.

Transport to Oyster Island

Transport to Oyster Island

Number 10:  Riri Blue Hole

Take a ride in a dug-out canoe to the stunning Riri Blue Hole.

Riri Blue Hole

Riri Blue Hole

And the Island of Santo has plenty more to offer.  To find out more about the Recovery Package being offered by Barrier Beach House, you can email them at their website.

Related Post

Comments

  1. I thought of your trip when I heard about the cyclone. It is really sad to hear how it affects a country in so many ways – glad to hear the part you visited is still ok and I hope they get more tourist bookings – sounds like a great place to visit

  2. 🙂 nice……. 🙂

  3. It is such a beautiful place. I remember your posts and the fun you all had there. I hope that the tourists will reconsider. If we only lived closer I would certainly plan a trip!

  4. The beaches are so beautiful! I’d love to visit. I hope the resorts make it through this.

  5. I do hope this post has made a few people rethink! Bad weather is seasonal: I would say from now [May] to late November the weather in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga etc should be just perfect. What a pity to miss if you have a chance to go and let your hair down 🙂 !

    • Yes, Eha, definitely now is a great time to visit – cyclone season is over! I do hope Aussies tour these places as they really need our tourism dollars.

  6. I LOVE Vanuatu and when one visits, one realizes why the people have been deemed The Happiest People On Earth Charlie!
    Always looks like you really enjoy yourself there as a family!

  7. I wondered how they were doing in Vanuatu. Thanks for letting us know how your new friends are doing. I would love to visit there after seeing your posts.

  8. It would make for a gorgeous holiday as you have well well showcased! 😀

  9. It’s wonderful you wrote this post, I have actually also started writing my own to remind everyone to keep visiting this gorgeous country…sadly the hotel where we stayed in Port Vila is closed for 6 months, however so many other properties still need our support now…I love your holiday images, x

  10. I’m so glad you wrote about this, Charlie. I’ve been thinking about Vanuatu often since the storm, wondering how the businesses are doing, how people are going to get back on their feet without tourism to provide their wages.

  11. So good of you to promote this wonderful holiday destination! It’s just gorgeous!

  12. I’m sorry to hear that tourism has been impacted so badly. A lot of these small places run on a bit of a shoestring, without any leeway to cope with this kind of disaster. This is a great post Charlie -I hope it helps them.

  13. I love Vanuatu and it’s so sad to think how the locals are so adversely affected after this kind of disaster. Great post, Charlie!

  14. So sad! I do hope the word gets out and people will begin booking their vacations to help the people of Vanuatu.

  15. I hope they recover quickly! So sad that they’ve had to lay off staff. It’s very good of you to spread the word – I hope they get an influx of visitors soon!

  16. So sad how they are suffering. Lovely of you to put this post together Charlie.
    Have a great week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  17. This truly does look like paradise. And how kind of you to suggest travel here now given all those cancellations.

  18. If we are nearby, this will be a wonderful destination for our family… it looks really perfect for what kids like to do and not to mention how gorgeous it is. It’s sad to hear their tourism is affected. Hopefully they will regain more tourists coming months.

  19. You are an angel, Charlie, to promote Vanuatu tourism. With all your lovely photos which speak to lovers of natural beauty and fun, I bet the Barrier Beach House and other places are going to soon put up a no vacancy sign =)

  20. The Blue Hole looks like one of the most magical places. Wish I could tap my toes and wiggle my nose and be there now. Loving all the feet up relaxed looking toes, what a brilliant trip you had. Although, if you are anything like me, holidays feel like they were years ago. Sigh!

  21. I had so enjoyed your travels when you and the family visited Vanuatu, and when I heard of the cyclone I was so concerned for the people you had mentioned. I’m glad to know that the friends you made are safe, but it’s devastating to hear that they are struggling with maintaining a healthy tourist trade. You’ve certainly reminded everyone of how beautiful those islands are, and let’s hope Cyclone Pam doesn’t do further damage! 🙁

  22. We’re planning a trip to Vanuatu later in the year, and I for one definitely plan on building the local economy by spending up big 🙂 Seriously though, I do hope there is a turn around with the tourism industry soon, there are such limited opportunities for good jobs and decent wages that this must be devastating. You’re a wonderful ambassador Charlie 🙂 xo

  23. Canceled bookings sounds familiar. We had such a bad tourist season too in Goa, it was horrible and it will take 2-3 years to recover, so I know how it can be.
    I wish I could ever afford a night on such an island, the place looks incredible!

Speak Your Mind

*