I just love swimming in the blue holes of Vanuatu and Matevulu is one of the best.
Matevulu Blue Hole is about a 20-minute drive from Luganville. There is a turn-off to the left off the coast road and you travel for another 5-10 minutes along part of what was in WWII, a USA airstrip, and then you arrive at the blue hole.
After our lunch had digested and the squall had died down, we settled ourselves into three kayaks with Archie in the front of one and his father at the back and Archie complaining all the time that it was like towing an anvil because Drew still has his frozen shoulder and couldn’t do much paddling. Arabella and Alfie teamed up to be in another kayak and I kayaked as a single.
It’s not a difficult kayak but it does take around 40-minutes or up to an hour depending on your level of fitness and how many times you need to stop. The hardest part is crossing the strip of water between Oyster Island and Santo but once you start heading up the river, you’re not dealing with wind and currents and it’s an easier paddle.
The water instantly changes too and becomes completely transparent and a lot more shallow and you can see all the way to the bottom. There are many twists and turns and every time you come around the bend you will be stunned by the beauty of the pristine rainforest bending down to meet the river.
At times you have to duck-down to avoid losing your head to an overhanging branch but that’s all part of the extremely scenic experience. Once again there are no crowds and we had the river almost completely to ourselves so it was very peaceful and all we could hear were fish jumping in the water and bird calls.
Turning the corner that revealed the blue hole is like coming across an oasis. The water then becomes absolutely iridescent blue and the shallow water of the river turns to water of around 20mtrs deep in the blue hole.
We were there on a day when it was overcast and sprinkling with rain yet the water apparently doesn’t need any help from the sun to emit its brilliant colour.
We left our kayaks on the side of the bank and because the people of Vanuatu are so incredibly honest, there’s no need to worry about them. We then went to pay the entry fee which is 500 vt per person, (around $6.00).
The Matevulu Blue Hole is one of the largest and deepest in Santo. It also has the most scary rope swing. I have been off it once before and was determined to give it another go so I climbed the make-shift ladder that is nailed into a tree and made it to the platform. The platform is on a lean and the handrail is on the move. Trust me now, it is a lot scarier than it looks and you’re very high up off the ground.
You need to put your arm around one of the branches while you get yourself organised with the rope that’s very heavy and pulling you forward. What you don’t need at this point in time is someone down in the water with a Go-Pro yelling, ‘Hurry up, video’s running’. That’s not helpful. Neither is laughing.
Before you launch yourself into the water, you want to make sure that there’s no way you can become tangled in the rope as you let go because then you’ll be swung back into the trunk of the tree and that could be painful so gather all the rope in a tidy fashion so that you can easily let go of it and separate yourself from it.
Then place your hands above two knots in the rope. You might want to shut your eyes but don’t – keep them open so you know when to let go. Then with the crowd watching on, launch yourself into the water and if you need to scream, feel free.
Let go of the rope. It will be tempting to hold on to it like a security blanket but do let go. And when you do you’ll feel victorious. You’ll drop a long way down into the water which is cool and refreshing and crystal clear and when you surface, you’ll say you want to do it all over again.
When you’re done with the rope swing, it’s lovely to just swim around the blue hole and explore the surroundings. You’ll see a lot more with goggles but even if you don’t have any, the water is so clear you’ll see a lot more underwater than you normally would.
We spent a couple of hours at Matevulu before climbing back into the kayaks and heading back up the river to the sea. We were told the journey back would be easier because of the currents but honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference and it took us 40-minutes both ways.
If visiting Matevulu I would definitely recommend arriving by kayak as the trip up the river is stunning.
Matevulu Blue Hole: Sanma Province, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu