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From deep blue holes to private beachfront bungalows, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu’s largest island, has so much to offer. A visit to Santo will leave you feeling nourished from the inside out.

What to Expect

  • Dive into crystal clear blue holes surrounded by dense jungle.

  • Head out on a day trip to Mount Hope and float down the tranquil river.

  • Dine on fresh seafood with your feet in the sand.

Fast Facts

  • Time: 4 days

  • Distance: total distance 200km

  • Transport: Car or local pickup truck, boat

  • Nearest major city: Luganville

  • Price: $ $ $


Take a deep breath and recharge your batteries on Espiritu Santo. Explore an abundance of white sand beaches, dive into blue holes and even explore a world-class scuba diving site. Sleep in a treehouse nestled in the rainforest canopy or teak wood bungalows just steps from the ocean. Start in Luganville before spending some time on a private island off Aore. Later, head up north to Port Olry and Champagne Beach. 


Day One: Santo’s Blue Holes


Jump on the first flight to Santo from Port Vila, or fly direct from Brisbane, before making your way in to Espiritu Santo’s main town of Luganville. Start the day off with an invigorating swim in Santo’s iconic blue holes. Cocooned in the lush rainforest, these freshwater pools appear an iridescent blue colour thanks to a combination of filtration through underground limestone and minerals in the water. There are plenty to choose from on Santo, each with a different shade of luminous blue. Head up the Champagne Coast's East Coast Road until you reach the sign for Matevulu Blue Hole. Locals will help ferry you up the river system until you reach the grotto. Embrace the cool, crystal water and jump from the rope swing that hangs from an old banyan tree for the ultimate refreshing experience. After Matevulu, head further upriver to the Riri Blue Hole, arguably the most beautiful blue hole on Santo but we’ll let you be the judge of that.  Most of the blue holes on Santo (Matevulu and Riri included) offer wooden decks and amenities, so take your time and relax into island life.



After lunch, arrange your transfer to Ratua Private Island. This romantic Vanuatu resort is a 35-minute scenic speedboat ride from the main island of Santo, just offshore from Aore. When you arrive your bags are taken to your room and you’re serenaded in Bislama while you sip a welcome drink. Settle into your beachfront villa and make a mental note of how many steps separate the canopied bed from the ocean, likely less than twenty. The spa at Ratua is located in an overwater bungalow directly above the reef. Spoil yourself with a luxurious massage or facial while listening to the ocean lapping at the wooden base, cocooning yourself in a deeply ritualistic kind of relaxation. Enjoy dinner with your toes in the sand at Ratua’s restaurant, dining on lobster caught fresh that day. 

If Ratua Private Island is a little out of your budget, neighbouring Aore Island Resort also offers luxurious beachfront bungalows, complete with amazing service and local touches.


Day Two: Diving Shipwrecks on Santo


Experience some of the best diving in the world off Aore Island. From Ratua, dives will be organised through Aore Adventures. Even if you’ve never dived before, the team at Aore Adventures can get you ready and suited in no time. Dive the wreck of the SS President Coolidge, a US troopship sunk by mines in 1942 which sits 20 metres down. All but two people survived the sinking, but Captain Elwood Joseph Euart wasn’t amongst them. After rescuing his men who were trapped behind one of the sea doors, he was unable to escape himself and went down with the ship. Nearly 80 years on, the wreck is still mostly intact, with guns, trucks and even gas masks scattered across the site, as well as coral gardens and plenty of reef fish of course. While the Coolidge makes for a spectacular single dive, you’ll probably need at least two or three dives to traverse the whole wreck.

After a morning spent diving, recharge and reflect with a long lunch at Aore Island Restaurant. Aore Island Restaurant sits on the waterfront looking out to the main island of Santo and serves an assortment of local Vanuatu food and international cuisine, as well as plenty of beer and cocktail options. Renowned as some of the best in the world, Santo's beef is a must try here. This prime cut is both lean and full of flavour, and the locals sure know how to cook it!


Once you return to Ratua, organise a kayaking trip up to Malo Island and head up river to Malo Blue Hole. Malo is probably the most untouched of the blue holes around Santo and is both deep and very picturesque, even being likened to the wilderness of the Amazon. If you’re lucky, you may even have this blue hole to yourselves. Make your way back to Ratua as the sun sets.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the blue holes, Ratua offers a horse riding experience like no other. See the island on horseback, galloping across the sand, past an emerald lagoon, through centuries-old banyan trees and dense coconut plantations. After circumnavigating the island, this tour delivers an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss this opportunity to take off the saddles and swim bareback with your horse across the lagoon.

Day Three: Mount Hope Waterfall Tour


Jump on the boat back to Luganville early for a half-day tour to Mount Hope Waterfall. After a short drive to the Oyster Island turnoff, your four-wheel-drive will take you inland towards the Mount Hope property, passing picturesque coconut plantations, cattle farms and local villages as you go. After you’ve arrived, strap on your life jackets and navigate through the rainforest to the banks of the river. Once in the water, you'll start to float downriver through a limestone gorge overhung with large ferns and vines. The gentle flow of the water is enough to guide you downstream, so all that’s left for you to do is lie back and listen to the bird songs. Sit under Mount Hope Waterfall and make the most of the intimate adventure, spending quality time away from the outside world and embracing the island’s rugged beauty.  


Once you’ve made your way back from Mount Hope, drive up the Champagne Coast's East Coast Road for about an hour to reach Port Olry, which provides a great base for the rest of the trip. Get the real Melanesian island experience and spend the night in a treehouse. Port Olry Tree House offers the opportunity to wake up amongst the canopy of the natural rainforest just metres from the beach. 


Day Four: Port Olry & Champagne Beach


Spend the morning of your final day exploring the incredible part of eastern Santo that is Port Olry. Pronounced ‘Port Lory’ by locals, the essence of this area is very laid back and is known for its rolling green hills, unspoilt stretches of white sand and outstanding snorkelling. Port Olry is a nature reserve, so once you’ve tracked down a snorkel you’ll be swimming with dugongs, turtles and plenty of friendly reef fish. If you’ve still got some exploring left in you, rent a kayak for between 500–1000 vatu from one of the beachfront restaurants. Island Time Kayaking also has guided tours around this area, showcasing the best Port Olry has to offer. About one kilometre from Port Olry (fairly easy paddling distance) is Malmas Island which is also great to snorkel from. This stretch of beach and the surrounding islands epitomise a tropical paradise, so be sure to spend a few hours just chilled out under a palm tree with a good book. Don’t forget to dive into a mouthwatering plate of coconut crab for lunch at one of the local beachside shacks before you leave.


If you’re up for it, spend the afternoon at Champagne Beach. Voted one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world, Champagne Beach offers more than just white sand and a crystal clear ocean. The name hails from the volcanic rocks that pepper the shoreline at low tide, releasing gas that makes an irrefutable fizzing sound when washed over by the rolling waves. Around the beachfront, you’ll also find plenty of stalls selling fresh fruit and seafood, handicraft markets and several beachfront bars. 

Spend a final night in your treehouse before heading back to Luganville in the morning to catch your internal flight to Port Vila or international flight to Brisbane.