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Whether you're a foodie or an adventure seeker, an avid bird watcher or a scuba fiend, there’s so much to see and do on Espiritu Santo.

The largest island in Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo (or just Santo, as the locals call it), is as multifaceted as it is beautiful. It’s a place that harbours fascinating Second World War history, incredible diving and snorkelling and natural swimming holes so blue, even the best camera can’t do them justice. Just want to relax on a tropical beach? Don’t worry, Santo is home to some of the world’s finest beaches, too.

Espiritu Santo - Blue Hole 1

Don’t Miss

  • World-class wrecks shallow enough for snorkelling.

  • Vanuatu’s top beaches.

  • Discovering hidden river systems and blue holes.

How to Get There

Fly direct from Brisbane to Santo-Pekoa International Airport in Luganville, or if you are travelling from elsewhere in Australia or the Pacific, connect in Port Vila and take the short 50-minute flight to Santo. 

Useful Tips

  • Take some sturdy, closed-toe shoes with a good grip if you want to explore the island.

  • Carry cash for entry fees to blue holes and other attractions and for purchases from market stalls.

  • Not sure which Santo activities to prioritise? Your taxi driver, tour guide or the staff at your accommodation can give you some local insights. 

Things to do and Top Attractions in Espiritu Santo 

Dive into Refreshing Water at a Blue Hole

There are almost too many blue holes on Santo to mention, but one thing they all share is electric blue, crystal-clear water, that's warm enough to swim in all year round. Espiritu Santo’s blue holes were created by mountain water filtered through kilometres of underground limestone caves before resurfacing nearer the coast to create these magnificent pure swimming holes. The water from these fresh mountain springs then forms rivers which flow into the ocean. Each blue hole in Espirito Santo has its own unique identity, but one thing many of them have in common is a huge rope swing hanging from the biggest tree for thrill-seekers to launch themselves into the water below. Don’t forget to pack your snorkel to take a closer look at the marine life that calls the blue holes home.

VTO0049 Dive into refreshing water blue hole 1

Relax on Champagne Beach 

As you arrive at Santo’s Champagne Beach, the vibrant colours of the sarongs fluttering in the wind at the beachside market stalls contrast with the bright white sand. Be sure to wave back to the ladies resting under shady trees when they greet you with a friendly ‘hello’ as they wait for their next customer.

Before you know it you will be laying on the sand between refreshing swims, taking in the view, watching the local kids run and jump off the jetty. This is a great place to catch up on your reading, spend some quality time with your partner, or stretch your legs on the nearby bush trails. The postcard-worthy Champagne Beach is about an hour north of Luganville tucked away just before Port Olry on the east coast of Espiritu Santo. 

Espiritu Santo - Champagne Beach

Feast at Port Olry 

People come to Port Olry to kayak to the nearby islands and check out the colourful reefs, but they stay for the mouth-watering local fare. Take a seat in one of the beachside huts, all run by local villagers, and prepare for a tropical feast with a view. Nothing says romantic lunch like tucking into freshly-caught fish with your toes in the sand. As Port Olry is the last village on the sealed road, it is also the jumping-off point for more adventurous travellers to get off the beaten track and explore a lesser-known part of the island. Taxis and hire cars can’t go any further than Port Olry, so engaging a local guide is a must.  

VTO0049 Feast at Port Orlry 1


Explore Hidden River Systems

One thing that surprises visitors to Espiritu Santo is the inland waterways. There are kilometres of hidden rivers connecting to the blue holes for which Vanuatu is more well-known. Kayaking or canoeing is a great way to see some of the more remote parts of the island as you head inland. Why not take a serene trip down the Riri River in a dugout canoe and enjoy watching the fish dart around the boat as you glide along the water?

vanuatutravel 011200110 kayaking

At the end of your journey through the winding river, surrounded on all sides by lush trees and bushes, you will find one of the best blue holes on Santo. Grab a beer from the locally-run hut and dangle your legs in the water to keep cool as you soak up the island vibes at Riri Blue Hole. 

Vanuatu River Systems

Be Brave and Explore Mt Hope Waterfall or Millennium Cave

Want a real Vanuatu adventure to remember? Take the full-day tour of Millennium Cave which begins with a four-wheel-drive trail inland, followed by a bushwalk to a remote village. Once there you will begin the hiking, caving, canyoning and swimming that make up the Millennium Cave experience. From scrambling up rocks to making your way through pitch-black caves, it will certainly be an unforgettable adventure. If the four-hour hike and caving are a bit out of your comfort zone check out the Mt Hope Waterfall Tour. Enjoy a more relaxed trek through the jungle followed by a float down the river while your guide tells you stories about the area and fills you in on the local bird population.

Mt Hope Vanuatu

Experience the Local Way of Life

The culture and way of life on Vanuatu has had many influences over the decades and centuries. The Melanesian and Polynesian tribal influence is still very strong, with parts of Christianity from missionaries, and European influences from the French colonial era all thrown into the mix. There are lots of ways to get to know more about the Ni-Vanuatu culture, and specifically local life on Espiritu Santo, including the Leweton Custom & Cultural Village. Experience the music of the water ladies from the nearby Banks Islands, sample traditional Melanesian dishes, and take part in a kava ceremony while learning about the ancient culture of the Ni-Vanuatu people.

Ride Horses Through the Mangroves

Horses love swimming as much as humans on a warm day in the tropics. Horse riding in Espiritu Santo is not only a great way to get acquainted with these water-loving animals, but also a fabulous way to see more of the flora and fauna of the island. Enjoy a horse trek through the shady trees of the tropical rainforest, the crystal-clear rivers, through local villages, and onto the beach where you can take a dip with your trusty steed in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are several treks and tours available including Santo Horse Adventures, just outside Luganville.

Santo Horse Adventures 4

Visit a Bat Cave on Aore Island

Freshwater Plantation on Aore Island offers daily tours of the gardens, coffee and chocolate plantation, and the natural bat cave. Hop on a ferry from Santo’s main town of Luganville and enjoy lunch made from produce grown on the island followed by a tour and a chance to swim or snorkel before heading back to Santo.

Take a Look Back at Santo’s Past

Santo has had its fair share of drama over the years, from the short-lived coup and independence in the 1980s to the US military operations here during the Second World War. If those trees could talk, there sure would be some stories to tell. Luckily, Santo’s local guides can fill you in on the island’s fascinating history and colourful past. 

Dive the Wrecks

After the Second World War, the Americans dumped millions of dollars worth of military equipment in the ocean off Espiritu Santo — purely to spite the British and French, who were banking on the assumption that, should they refuse to pay for the items, the US military would be forced to leave it all behind for free.  

Fast forward 70-odd years and it has now become a well-known snorkelling and scuba diving site referred to as Million Dollar Point. Located just metres from the beach, it’s great for visitors who are new to snorkelling as well as experienced divers and snorkellers. Another diver’s playground created during the war was the wreck of the SS President Coolidge — hit by a sea mine and sunk just off Million Dollar Point.

VTO0049 Dive the wrecks 1