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Vanuatu’s blue holes must be seen to be believed. Flashing sapphire amid the lush jungle, the swimming holes seem too perfect to be natural. Many are the product of freshwater springs trickling from the belly of the islands’ mountains, while some oscillate with the tide, filling with fish that dart in their crystal depths like wondrous, native aquariums. The pools range in accessibility through the islands, some almost feeling like your own private outdoor spa, a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Don’t forget to take some cash with you, there’s often an entrance fee that helps cover the amenities provided by the local owners. Here is a quick guide to the best blue holes in Vanuatu.

Matevulu Blue Hole, Santo

Espiritu Santo is home to more blue holes than any other island, including Matevulu Blue Hole, the largest of Santo’s swimming holes, accessible by kayak or 4WD. The water draws its incredible azure colour from the minerals and limestone rock, creating a veritable oasis in the forest. If you’re keen for a romantic paddle, join a kayaking tour and cruise up the river, reaching the lagoon within 45 minutes. Here you’ll find a large swimming hole, complete with a rope swing tied to a large banyan tree, as well as toilets and a change room. 

The extraordinary blue holes of Vanuatu.

Riri Blue Hole, Santo

Santo delivers the goods with this mesmerising lagoon. Riri Blue Hole is south of Matevulu Blue Hole and is often regarded as one of the best swimming holes in Vanuatu. The paddle along the translucent Riri River into the entrance lagoon is like a portal to another world. You can also access the swimming hole by car, around 30 minutes drive from Luganville, or ask the local tour guides to take you via outrigger canoe. Less busy than Matevulu, you can often have the place to yourself, utter perfection for steamy eye gazing and languid soaks.

The extraordinary blue holes of Vanuatu.

Blue Lagoon, Efate 

The Blue Lagoon is Efate Island’s prized swimming hole and a firm favourite among tourists and locals alike. A safe, calm and accessible place to swim, the hole offers rope swings for Tarzan hopefuls and trees to shimmy up straight out of the water. A mere 35 minute drive from Port Vila up the eastern coastline, this tidal lagoon is an exquisite place to spend a day. Laze in the sunshine, luxuriate in the soft, welcoming waters and try to take on the local kids at backflips (we guarantee you’ll lose). Pack a picnic, dive with the fish and marvel at the world we live in. 

The extraordinary blue holes of Vanuatu.

Nanda Blue Hole (Jackie’s Blue Hole), Santo

For those more inclined to sipping a cocktail lagoon side, Nanda is the perfect choice. Boasting a bar and covered areas, this large blue hole is arguably one of the more striking on the list, with a sensational jungle setting. Also known as Jackie’s Blue Hole, it’s at least a 2-hour paddle along a tidal river that offers a distinct, secluded Amazonian flavour. Located at the top of Turtle Bay, the hole can also be reached by car, however, don’t be confused with a second entrance which now exists just south of the main entrance. This leads to a section of the river rather than the lagoon, operated by a different local owner. Nanda will cost you a little more than the other lagoons, but you do receive a free hot drink and cake for your efforts.

The extraordinary blue holes of Vanuatu.

Malo Blue Hole, Malo

Getting to Malo Island is a bit more of an adventure, however, a glimpse of the island’s blue hole will convince you it was worth it! Catch public transport or hire a driver to take you to Malo Landing, around 30-minutes south of Luganville. From Malo Landing you can hire a speedboat and guide for around $30 return, taking the 20-minute journey across to Malo Island to check out this exquisite turquoise swimming sanctuary. Deep and refreshing, this is considered one of the more natural of Santo’s blue holes, located in the middle of the island’s north-facing coastline, opposite Aore and Ratua Island. Once on Malo’s shores, ask one of the locals with a 4WD to take you to the blue hole or organise a kayak tour along the river, which opens into a rarely-visited shallow lagoon framed by a picture-perfect landscape. 

Hog Harbour Blue Hole (Secret Blue Hole), Santo

For an off the beaten track experience, ask around for directions to Santo’s Hog Harbour Blue Hole. Missing from most tourist maps, this gem is squirrelled away further north along the coastline and also goes under the appropriate moniker, Secret Blue Hole. Hire a four-wheel-drive to go exploring and drive around 1.4 kilometres further after the turnoff to Champagne Beach. You won’t find any signs marking the trail, so keep your eyes peeled for a hut and some seats on the right-hand side of the road with a track leading down to the swimming lagoon. Hog Harbour Blue Hole is also one of the only Santo blue holes boasting a direct connection to the ocean, which explains its distinctly salty taste.