A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Scuba diving, horse riding, blue holes, beautiful beaches and luxury camping.

semi-overcast 29 °C

We left Tanna Lodge late afternoon and arrived in Port Vila early evening after a 40 minute flight. We stayed just a short drive from the town in a cute place called Vila Chaumieres. Our room was a little more western than our Tanna home, set in well maintained grounds full of tropical trees and plants in bloom. We ate in their restaurant the first night which entertained us as it was set overhanging the river which had been lit up. Down below were hundreds of fish, crabs and starfish all moving around making the most of all the flies and insects attracted by the lights.

The next day was full of heavy, tropical showers. We headed into town to see what was there and soon felt that we had made the right choice in staying in Vila for only one day. The town is compact and mostly full of tacky souvenir shops ready to sell their overpriced items to people off the cruise liners. We didn’t witness any of the friendly happiness we saw all around us in Tanna. We did however catch up with neighbours of ours who had moved there, due to work, in the New Year. They seem to be settling well and are making the most of island life. Once we got back to the room we headed next door for dinner at Tropicana Lagoon in between ridiculously heavy rain showers. The food was absolutely divine and we were wishing we had discovered it the night before!

Our taxi driver woke us at some ridiculous hour of the morning for our flight to our third and final island, Espiritu Santo. We were met by Shane who is running Barrier Beach House which was to be our home for the next 5 nights. Barrier Beach is gorgeous. Shane and Shendel who run it are the perfect hosts. They are helpful, friendly and totally make you feel at home. The 3 fares (beachside accommodation) are beautiful, clean and spacious and the beach has some great snorkelling off it.
After dumping our bags we headed to the beach to relax and read. Later in the day we went for a walk at low tide, lots of coral reefs were right at the waters edge and you could see hundreds of tiny fish darting in and out of the coral. We saw fish, starfish and even a 2ft long banded sea snake.
After our walk we decided to be even more energetic and took the kayak out for 45 minutes or so. By the time we got back all the other guests had arrived back from their days’ diving so we had drinks, played scrabble and swapped travel stories.

The following day we hired Shane and Shen’s spare car and drove up the East Coast. Our first stop was Champagne Beach. It cost 2000V to enter (approx $25NZD) as it is such a pretty spot. Unfortunately as we got there it decided to pour down so we really didn’t see it at its’ best. We had also gone there to find one of the 3 geocaches that are hidden on Santo. Having the entire beach to ourselves meant that we could really have a good hunt around but we still came up empty handed.
We decided to continue onwards to Port Olry. By the time we got there the sun was in full force and the sea was looking very enticing. While we were eating lunch we could see a turtle swimming along and coming up for air every so often. As soon as we had eaten we headed into the water for a bit of snorkelling and ended up staying far longer than originally planned.
Once we got back on the road we decided our final stop for the day would have to be Velit Bay. The place is very beautiful and, just like everywhere else we have been, quiet and pretty deserted. We sat watching the beginning of a sunset and what looked like another rain storm heading our way as we ate banana cake and ice cream.
As we had the car we headed into Luganville Town for dinner. On the way home we were surprised to have a barn owl fly straight across the road just feet in front of us. Shame I didn’t have a camera as it looked amazing in the car headlights.

Day 3 at Barrier Beach was a lazy one, mostly consisting of laying in the sun on the beach reading and snorkelling the reef. In the afternoon Shane gave us a life into town to book some diving. We had to pass 2 geocache sites on the way there so we told Shane all about it and he said he would like to help us find them. The first one was another fail but after a long search I found the second one. It had nicely adapted to it’s surrounding area making it very hard to spot!

Another early start the next day for our diving trip. The first dive was on SS Coolidge, a 200m cruise liner converted into a war ship that unfortunately sank just off shore when it hit a mine. We only covered about a third of the ship on our dive. We got to see guns, ammo, helmets, boots and even some of the bathrooms still intact with their wash basins and tiles! Obviously there is plenty of life down there too and we got to meet Nessie the long term resident Moray eel. This was my deepest dive to date at 33m.
In between dives we had a good chat with our dive guide and enjoyed the sunshine. Before long we were back in the water. This time for a reef dive at a site called Cindy’s. Here we saw loads of brightly coloured fish, huge starfish, sea slugs, nudibranches and I spotted a lion fish hiding in some coral. Cindy’s is supposed to be home to turtles and leopard sharks but unfortunately we didn’t see either.

We hired the car again the next day to go and find some of the blue holes that are so famous in Vanuatu. The first hole we went to was Matevulu. When you see it for the first time it really does make you go ‘Wow!’ The water is the richest, deepest blue you can imagine. Apparently the limestone in the ground is what causes the colour. Gerald was brave enough to get in, I got in to my shins and felt how cold it was so thought I would stop there!
We then went to Nanda’s blue hole. Again you couldn’t help but be impressed by the water. Nanda’s hole has a lot more fish living in it and despite the water being very deep you can see all the way to the bottom as the water is crystal clear. This time I got my courage up and decided I really should try the water. After a good few minutes on the edge I finally jumped in. It was ‘refreshing’ and I didn’t manage long in there!
The afternoon was spent exploring the rock pools near Barrier Beach. We spent ages watching an octopus hunt for food, he was changing colour every time he moved to a new spot. It was fascinating watching him move around!

The next day was our final destination change, we moved just a couple of km’s down the road to Hidden Cove Eco Resort. The place is a resort for two! It is a HUGE luxury tent on the water front with French style furnishings inside such as a four poster bed. It has everything you could want – a bathroom with double shower and a bath for two, a BBQ and a kitchen with everything you need if you wish to self cater, bikes if you want to go exploring, a plunge pool, TV with enormous DVD collection, books galore and more.
We took the bikes out and visited Lope Lope for lunch and in the evening Sue, the owner, drove us to Turtle Bay for dinner, both of which were very nice.
The next day Sue arranged for me to go horseriding at Lope Lope. I spent an hour or so on Velvet riding through green pastures, past blue holes, through jungle and finally heading back to the ranch through the turquoise waters of the sea.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the pool and paddling in the sea. That night Sue cooked us a delicious three course meal and served it to us at our candlelit table by the pool. A very nice way to spend the evening.

Yesterday Sue drove us into town to get some meat so we could have a BBQ for dinner. Apart from that we did very little, just relaxed by the pool, read our books and enjoyed the views.

Today is our last full day as we fly out early in the morning. We are planning on another totally relaxing day today….Vanuatu it has been a pleasure!

Posted by bumblebum 22:16 Archived in Vanuatu Comments (0)

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