Espiritu Santo, gateway to the north
Santo, commonly referred to as Santo, is Vanuatu's largest
island and the second most developed after Efate. Santo
is a relatively easy option for experiencing Vanuatu's outer
islands with some good attractions:
- Real primary forest, big mountains and numerous rivers.
- Excellent diving, including the famous S.S. Coolidge.
- Crystal clear freshwater 'blue holes'.
- White sand beaches.
has Vanuatu's highest peak, Mt Tabwemasana at 1879m above
sea level, and the longest river, the Jordan.
and beef cattle, established along the south and east coasts
power Santo's economy. The island's only town is Luganville
in the south. It's basically a one street town with banks,
trade stores, internet, a hospital and most other
Data source: WMO-Vanuatu Meteorological Service
East Santo and Luganville experience the trade winds. The dry season is four months, July to October. February is hot, humid and with regular cooling showers.
is a good base for exploring the northern and central islands
of Vanuatu. Ambae and Malekula are close at hand with frequent
and inexpensive transport links. Maewo and Pentecost are only
a little further away. From Santo it is much cheaper to travel
to the Banks and Torres islands. Linking Santo and Port Vila
there are direct flights and and "milk run" routes
that allow you to stopover on islands in-between.
The are several bungalows along the east coast:
Lonnoc Beach Bungalows, Lonnoc Beach
Beach Bungalows, Champagne Beach
Champagne Beach Camping, Champagne
Unice's Homestay and Bungalow, Champagne Beach
Loru Camping, Loru
Rainforest Protected Area
Vatthe Lodge, Vatthe
Conservation Area, Matantas
Bay of Illusions Yacht Club, Matantas
at Port Olry:
Little Paradise Bungalows, Port
Nokome Collen's Bungalow, Port
Port Olry Beach Bungalow
Village near the Millenium Cave:
on the west coast and in the south is a new thing. Here are
some quiet places to enjoy:
Pandanus Guesthouse, Malo
Vanilla Guesthouse, Malo
View Guest House, Malo
Vetape Guest House, Tangoa
Tasiriki Tuetueni Guesthouse, West
Kerepua Bungalow, West Santo
Lajmoli Guesthouse, West Santo
our walking Santo page for
some excellent jungle trekking adventures.
to and from Santo
Pekoa is an international airport and the weekly Air
Vanuatu service to Brisbane, Australia was still running
in 2012. Pekoa
is also a busy domestic hub for the northern islands. See
the Air Vanuatu website
for schedules and fares. Note that tourists with a return
Air Vanuatu ticket are entitled to a 20% discount.
The Lajmoli airport (west coast Santo) is
serviceable but the schedule has been suspended indefinitely.
The story is that since the plane crash in 2007, people are
afraid to fly. If there are at least 6 people wanting to fly
to Lajmoli then Air Vanuatu will send a plane.
is Vanuatu's second biggest sea port. Ships to other islands
can be found at the Simonsen (towards the airport) and Melcoffee (west of town) wharves. These ships are detailed on our many island pages, accessible via our
Transport around the island
Public transports on Santo come into town in the
morning and return in the afternoon. There is enough traffic along east Santo now that hitching a ride is possible at any time during daylight hours Monday-Saturday (maximum wait about 30 minutes).
groups, chartered trips can be economical and are much more
convenient. You will see trucks and buses driving all about
town, but will not know which ones are available for hire. Your host
in Luganville should be able to help.
are two places to find transport in Santo. If you're
heading up the east coast then go to the Unity Store and
Pacific Petroleum station (formerly "Unity Shell").
Buses and market trucks leave from 1400h. There are always people waiting here and the pump attendants know all the
drivers. Minibuses are preferable, for comfort and in case
of rain. The east coast road has been sealed all of the way to Port Olry (completed in 2010) and taxis can now drive there.
Santo, you can wait on the roadside across from the Luganville
market house, in front of the clump of bamboo. It doesn't
look like a truck stop but you will find people waiting here
from about 1400h. To go to Ipayato and Tasiriki, a strong
pickup is required and four-wheel drive in the wet season.
There are rivers to ford.
from Luganville to
and Big Bay
to Matantas and Big Bay has been improved and two-wheel drives
can now go down there. There are one or two trucks regularly
servicing Matantas. Alternatively, find a bus or truck to
Sara and then pay extra (about 2000 Vatu) to go down to Matantas.
Trucks to Big Bay Bush might also be hard to find in Luganville..
updated: October 2014 by Stephen.