Vanuatu – Espiritu Santo

The island of Espiritu Santo (more commonly known as “Santo”) is Vanuatu’s largest island. It is a SCUBA mecca for divers around the world and for good reason – one of the world’s top dive wrecks (SS President Coolidge) is within easy shore access. Originally, we weren’t planning to dive in Santo at all but were convinced by fellow divers who told us we’d be insane to be in this part of the world and miss out. Sage advice as it turned out because our one dive quickly turned into two and if we had more time here, we would have signed up for repeat dives on the Coolidge. Two huge thumbs up and we highly recommend diving with the amazing Mr. Allan Power – a living legend in the SCUBA community. He’s an Australian who has been living in Santo since 1969 and has personally led close to 30,000 dives on the Coolidge. Luckily, we were the only 2 divers so we had a personal one-on-one tour. After quickly assessing our diving capabilities, we were allowed to enter the Coolidge on our second dive and got up close and personal with the “lady”…phenomenal! SCUBA diving aside, we also signed up for the island’s most popular adventure day tour – a trip through Millennium Cave. In retrospect, this is not a task to be taken lightly…we had no idea how perilous the full day trip could be. Definitely wear shoes with traction because there are lots of slippery bits of terrain to navigate – one bad spill and your holiday could easily be ruined. This is a must do for any waterfall lover! Lastly, we enjoyed our stay at Turtle Bay Lodge with excellent management team of Di and Skye. It is located about 25 km from Luganville and as a result, none of the tour operators will offer free pickup so keep that in mind. Luganville town itself is an easy going city which definitely warrants a visit. We especially liked the market and colorful food stalls by the waterfront. Despite the fact that our visit to Santo was quite rainy, we made the best of it. Unfortunately, towards the end of our stay we learned that Cyclone Donna (possible Cat 4 storm) was coming to town. We did manage to escape Santo before flights were cancelled but keep in mind that Air Vanuatu will shut down all flights for any reason. In any case, we’d love to have a repeat visit to Santo because we missed out on the blue holes and Champagne/Port Orly beaches (lack of sunshine wouldn’t do them any justice), and we didn’t get to snorkel/dive Million Dollar Point.

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