After being to Efate and Tanna, it was time for us to land on Vanuatu’s biggest island, Espiritu Santo. Here we had a great welcome and pleasant stay at Village de Santo Resort, which gave us the chance to see the most local areas of the island and get a deeper understanding of the culture of Ni-Vanuatu people.
VILLAGE DE SANTO RESORT, VANUATU
Vanuatu’s capital city Port Vila is located on Efate island. However, the biggest island in terms of dimensions is Espiritu Santo. The main town of Luganville is of great importance for Vanuatu’s commerce and tourism. For these reasons, Santo airport is served as much as Port Vila. Daily flights reach Santo from Brisbane, Sydney, and recently Melbourne too. Village de Santo Resort is located at just 15 minutes by car from Luganville Airport. A shuttle bus will pick you up from the airport.
As the name suggests, Village de Santo aims to build a connection to the culture of the island, focusing on keeping a link between the local Ni-Vanuatu inhabitants and the incoming visitors. This quote by James A. Michener perfectly sums up their philiospohy:
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home”
We are promptly picked up from the airport and get to Village de Santo after driving through the town of Luganville. Village de Santo is conveniently located a couple of minutes out of town in a quiet area, but still at walking distance from the city’s facilities.
Jacqueline at reception welcomes us with a delicious lime juice, and we meet the owner and manager Nabil. Nabil has a long experience in the hospitality business and used to work in other resorts in Espiritu Santo. Thus, he has a good knowledge of the area and knows how to show the authentic side of the island. The bar and restaurant area is at the front of the resort, and has tables both indoor and outdoor, nestled in a colourful garden.
The rooms are located in the inner part of Village de Santo, arranged all around the central swimming pool and Chief’s bar, the best location for a cocktail.
All the accommodation in the resort are spacious two-storey suites. A nice living area is situated downstairs, with a sofa and a table, plus a fridge and basic kitchen tools. The bathroom is also on the ground floor. The bedroom is upstairs where an open air loft takes the scene. The room has typical island style windows which let in air and light, plus there’s a fan per floor. Every room has a front private patio leading to it.
SWIMMING POOL & CHIEF’S BAR
The cozy swimming pool is literally at three steps from the room. It is right next to the bar, which is especially convenient for hot sunny days. The Chief’s Bar and the whole resort are warmly lit up at night time, offering a relaxing overall atmosphere. In Vanuatu culture, the Chief is sort of a leader of the village. He’s in charge to take the most important decisions for the members of the tribe.
ESPIRITU SANTO TOURS
Village de Santo offers daily tours to all the main attractions in the island. Santo is known as a divers paradise and the n.1 diving spot is undoubtedly the wreck of SS Coolidge, an American war ship that was sunk here few meters from the shore. Million Dollar Point is the other hotspot where it’s possible to go underwater and see any kind of war relics, which were dumped on site when WWII ended. Other must do activities are swimming in the spectacular blue holes, natural crystal clear water pools surrounded by the forest. There’s some lovely strands at Champagne Beach, Lonnoc Bay, or Port Olry. For more cultural experiences, the market is at walking distance from the resort. If you want to taste Kava, head to one of the many Kava bars in the town centre.
MOUNT HOPE WATERFALL EXCURSION
As said before, Nabil and Bev believe that showing the cultural side of Santo is a key aspect too. An opportunity not to miss when staying at Village De Santo Resort is taking part in the Mount Hope Waterfall Tour, an inland day trip which is exclusive to Village de Santo guests. It starts from the resort by 4×4, leaving the coast to go inland through an adventurous dirt road. Driving through the thick vegetation, you will witness authentic local life, encountering the Ni-Vanuatu living in tiny community villages in the middle of the forest. Once reached Mount Hope river, it’s time for fun! The guides will provide you with life jacket, reef shoes, gloves and safety instructions on how to face the river descent. After that, you’ll need to jump into the water filled canyon and let yourself be dragged by the gentle current, passing under waterfalls, rapids and narrows, for an experience of pure adrenaline. The descent lasts for more than half an hour. The last part of the trip consists in climbing up the waterfall to reach the path leading back to the starting point. A memorable day!
BREAKFAST & RESTAURANT 1606, VILLAGE DE SANTO
A nice breakfast buffet will help you start your day in the best way at Village De Santo, with a wide choice of both continental and tropical ingredients. Lunch and dinner have a large selection too, with daily specials and seafood dishes prepared based on the catch of the day. We particularly loved dinners at Village De Santo’s Restaurant 1606. The menu offers delicious tapas with meat, fish, vegetarian, and even Egyptian inspired recipes, due to the origins of owner Nabil.
For special occasions, here’s what you get with the seafood lobster platter for two. Bon appetit!
We loved staying at Village De Santo, a locally run accommodation that differs from usual chain properties because of the passion, knowledge and respect of the surroundings shown by Bev and Nabil. We believe these aspects make the difference, especially in a country rich of local tradition like Vanuatu, and we are glad we chose Village de Santo as our base in Espiritu Santo.
Check our Vanuatu guide to plan your next trip to Vanuatu!
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