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.
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.
However, last week I received an email from Shendel advising many people who had booked holidays on Santo had cancelled.
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’.
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.
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.
You can read about my experience at Barrier Beach House here.
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.
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.
Number 3: Champagne Bay
Surely this is the most beautiful beach in the world.
Number 4: Santo Horse Adventures
Horse ride along roads, through rainforest, along the beach and in the water.
Number 5: Matevulu Blue Hole
Swim in fresh water that’s iridescent blue due to the limestone bottom.
Number 6: Port Olry
See Port Olry and you’ll know you’ve seen paradise.
Number 7: Million Dollar Point
Snorkel through waters where at the end of WWII, the US Army dumped its equipment.
Number 8: Velit Bay
A 1600 acre beachfront property set in a horseshoe-shaped bay with a bar and restaurant.
Number 9: Oyster Island
Spend a day on Oyster Island where you can hire a kayak and paddle to Matevulu Blue Hole.
Number 10: Riri Blue Hole
Take a ride in a dug-out canoe to the stunning 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.