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Polynesia - Espiritu Santo

Espiritu Santo is an 'away from the masses' experience so you can take the opportunity to do as little or as much as you need to in this unrushed region of Vanuatu. It is the largest island in Vanuatu.

Espiritu Santo hosts a wide variety of adventures and experiences. There is a range of places to stay, boutique hotels to island resorts to dive lodges catering for every budget.

Espiritu Santo is truly one of the few places in the world where you can be on a beach alone, dive or snorkel with a thousand colourful fish, explore tribal and ritualistic cultural sites and follow it up with dinner on a jetty overlooking the South Pacific. Perhaps the most unforgettable sites to visit are the Blue Holes, where shockingly clear fresh water comes to the surface through layers of coral and limestone, producing a pristine blue jewel.

Despite the passing of three centuries since its discovery by Europeans, Espiritu Santo's majestic beauty is little changed. It is perhaps best known as the inspiration for James A. Michener's classic 'Tales of the South Pacific', written in World War II while the US Forces were stationed in Santo.

For travelers, the beauty of Espiritu Santo is unmatched. Stunning jewel-like islands lay just a few hundred metres from coconut fringed beaches lined with powdery white sand. Amazing blue water swimming holes are connected by underground caverns and majestic mountains stretching from one end of the island to the other.

Most information on this page courtesy of Espiritu Santo Tourism Association

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Activities

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Diving/Snorkeling SS President Coolidge

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Diving/Snorkeling Tui Tawate

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Nature/Parks/Beaches The Millennium Cave

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Nature/Parks/Beaches Blue Lagoon

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Nature/Parks/Beaches Riri River

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Diving/Snorkeling Million Dollar Point

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Nature/Parks/Beaches Nanda (Jacquie's) Blue Hole

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Diving/Snorkeling Champagne Beach

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Historic Sites Crash Site and Bomber Strip

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Travel Information  Travel Information

Just a short flight north from Port Vila, and now with quick connecting international and domestic flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland arriving five times a week, Espiritu Santo has never been more accessible.

Pekoa International airport is the main airport and is located just 6km from Luganville. Currently, Pekoa welcomes 12 flights per week from Port Vila and is the main feeder airport for access to the northern islands. Air Vanuatu have direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, to Pekoa airport in Santo. Visit the Air Vanuatu website.

There are numerous inter-island boats that provide service to Espiritu Santo. Most are cargo ships so don't expect too much in the way of passenger service. Local boat movements are broadcast daily on Vanuatu's FM Radio station at 1O:30AM and again at 7:30PM. Broadcasts are in Bislama. Ask the locals to listen and translate for you.

Visas are not required for most countries: (All Commonwealth countries, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Fiji, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and U.S.A.).

However you must have a valid, ongoing or return airline ticket and your Passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay.

find flights to Espiritu Santo [SON]Find flights into SON

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History: Espiritu Santo is the largest island of Vanuatu. It was named by Pedro De Quiros in the 17th century when he thought he had discovered the fabled great southern land of Australia.

Europeans first discovered Vanuatu in 1606 when the Spanish explorer, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, sailed into Espiritu Santo's Big Bay. It was another 50 years before the next Europeans arrived but by the mid 1800s, foreigners were starting to settle in Espiritu Santo, capitalizing on Santo's magnificent sandalwood. Unfortunately, black birding came to Vanuatu in the late 1800s and by the 20th century, the indigenous people of Espiritu Santo began to resent European settlers and a resistance movement began.

Resistance was delayed by WWII when the Americans, seeking a secure base for staging action in Pacific, selected Espiritu Santo. With the natural harbour of Segond Canal, it was the ideal location for a military base and the town of Luganville as it is known today was born. During the war, Luganville could accommodate up to 50,000 people and throughout the war years, over 500,000 military personnel were stationed here. In addition to building roads and erecting numerous Quonset huts, the Americans constructed 40 cinemas, four military hospitals, and five airfields. When the war ended, the Americans left almost as quickly as they arrived and Espiritu Santo returned to a peaceful, quiet existence.

By the mid 1960's, resentment of Europeans had only increased and Ni-Vanuatu protests led to the formation of a kastom movement called Nagriamel, led by the charismatic Jimmy Stevens. Through a tense political period, Vanuatu sought independence but just 8 weeks before national independence was achieved, the Nagriamel movement staged a coup in Espiritu Santo known as the Coconut Rebellion. They occupied Luganville and called their new country Vemarana. The land was short-lived, however, as elections went ahead and the newly farmed Vanuatu government recruited troops from Papua New Guinea, who quickly restored order to Espiritu Santo and unity to the entire nation. Today, Espiritu Santo remains a peaceful slice of paradise welcoming visitors from all over the world.

English-Speaking?: YES

Weather: The best time of year to visit Vanuatu is April/May to October, the "dry" season, when temperatures range from 18 to 28 degrees Celsius. Light, casual clothing, plus a sweater for evenings usually suffice. November and December are warm but not unpleasantly so, generally. January to March is hot (26-34 degrees Celsius with up to 90% humidity), often wet and prone to cyclones, but being low season it's also a good time of year to take advantage of travel deals. While you can expect slightly more rain over the wet months, tropical rain showers are relatively common, usually lasting for less than an hour.

Customs/VISA: In Sanma Province (Espiritu Santo and surrounding islands), the urban centre of Luganville is the most developed area of the northern islands. Residents of Luganville are conditioned to tourists and other than at the market, you may not find much in the way of traditional life or customs in town. If you want to view and experience more traditional culture, you'll need to travel beyond Luganville.

Vanuatu is home to an incredibly diverse culture, demonstrated through the existence of over 100 native languages spoken across its 83 islands. In general, the people of Vanuatu largely retained their traditional life and the dances, ceremonies, weddings and funeral rites which vary from island to island -- and sometimes from village to village.

Neither tipping nor bargaining is culturally acceptable in Vanuatu. If you would like to express your gratitude for a service, you might like to give a souvenir from your country. It is neither necessary, nor expect­ed, but such small items are received with much appreciation.

Currency: Vatu

Immunization: Travelers are advised to seek expert advice before travelling to Vanuatu on how to manage their potential exposure to malaria. Divers should be aware that Larium can cause problems for divers and an alternative anti malarial medication may be recommended.

Tours Tours

The Ranch

Santo Safari Tours

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Festivals

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Lukaotem Gud Santo Festival

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Dining  Restaurants and Dining

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Moyyan Restaurant

Nice lounge area near restaurant - Courtesy of www.lopelopeadventurelodge.com The Slipway Sports Bar and Grill

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Baywatch Bar and Restaurant

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Beef House

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Ocean King Cafe and Restaurant

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Natangora Cafe

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Le Jardin des Saveurs

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Chill Restaurant

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Accommodations  Hotel and Accommodations

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com The Beachfront Resort  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Village de Santo Resort  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com The Espiritu  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Turtle Bay Lodge  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Deco Stop Lodge  Check availability and book reservations now

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Hotel Santo

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Migotty Motel

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Tropicana Motel & Backpackers

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Unity Park Motel

Courtesy of OceanIslandTravel.com Lonnoc Beach Bungalows

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Random User Comments

Martin O. wrote about Palawan:

"El nido is a true beauty, and the food and atmopshere at lio villas was a great match.

SPECIALS

Group Tour to Trappist Monastery (2 Days and 1 Night)
Isla Margarita Resort - Group Tour to Trappist Monastery (2 Days and 1 Night)

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