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Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Thursday, August 6, 2009
It's Jason Dundas' turn to show us more of Vanuatu. He headed to Espiritu Santo, the largest island. He'd been told the South Pacific's best beach is there and that was enough incentive for him.

Santo, as it's known to locals, is covered with high mountains and lush rainforest. Its eastern coast has endless safe and beautiful sandy beaches, colourful coral and abundant fish in the warm waters. Inland it has limestone swimming holes, great golf courses, caves and thick jungle.

During World War II the island was a military base for thousands of US troops. One of those soldiers was James A Michener and it was in Santo that he took inspiration for Tales of the South Pacific. The great musical South Pacific was based on his writings.

Wharves, landing fields and military equipment left at the end of the war can still be seen. Divers from around the world go there to Million Dollar point to explore the wreck of SS President Coolidge.

Moyyan

The road to Moyyan on the island's east coast was laid by US troops and it led Jason to Moyyan House by the Sea. Designed for the tropical climate, the small hotel is between the jungle and the beach and is just steps away from beautiful Barrier Beach.

Spacious and architect-designed for the tropical climate, the small hotel's modern farés offer seclusion, privacy and comfort. There is one faré with living and kitchen areas and four with separate bedrooms. They accommodate up to just eight people, so small groups may have exclusive use of Moyyan by the Sea.

Snorkelling equipment at the water's edge allows you to visit several reefs full of vivid coral and tropical fish. Clear bottom kayaks provide a window to underwater life. There's also a rubber duckie for guests' use. The surrounding area can be explored on rugged mountain bikes.

You can borrow clubs for a round of golf, play bocce on the sand or enjoy a board game. All of these activities are included in the tariff.

Meals are prepared from local fresh, seasonal and organic produce. It all goes well with an icy cold local beer.

Locals from Saralatu village are employed at Moyyan so your money helps the community.

A visit to Champagne Beach is a must. It's near Hog Harbour Village, and when you see its sand and "fizzy" water, you will understand how it got its name. You can also sit back and relax as a guide takes you to Blue Hole by canoe. It's 50m across and 18m deep and its azure, clear water is amazing. The water comes from limestone rocks.

It's fun to take a trip along the Riri Riri River in a dugout canoe. The clarity of the water allows you to see marine life and there are lots of blue holes along the way.

A visit to a traditional village is a wonderful experience. You will be welcomed by the village chief and traditional song and dance, and see how all men, women and children have their place and roles in daily life. After a day of work in the village, men and boys spend afternoons in the nakamal, a hut taboo to women. It's where men prepare and drink kava, sing traditional songs and pass the skills of their ancestors to their sons.

Location

Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

Cost

Talpacific Holidays has a Vanuatu package including four nights at Moyyan House by the Sea. It includes breakfast, dinner, airport transfers and a Riri Riri River canoe trip. Prices start at $799 per person twin share and is on sale until August 31, 2009 for stays between November 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. Conditions apply and travel insurance is strongly recommended. Please note that Moyyan House by the Sea accepts guests 18 years of age and older.

Pacific Blue has flights to Port Vila.

Fares from:

  • Brisbane $249
  • Sydney $269
  • Melbourne $339
  • Canberra $349
  • Perth $459

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at August 6, 2009 and are subject to change.

Air Vanuatu has connections to Espiritu Santo. They start at $158.

Prices correct at August 6, 2009.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789
www.virginblue.com.au

Moyyan House by the Sea
Barrier Beach
Espiritu Santo
Vanuatu
Ph: 678 30026
www.moyyan.com

Talpacific Holidays
Ph: 1300 665 737

Visas: Australians do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. An extension of up to four months in a one-year period is possible.

Electricity: 220-280V at 50Hz using Australian-style plugs.

Time zone: GMT +11.

Currency: The vatu.

International dialling code: +678.

Vanuatu
It is recommended travellers to Vanuatu see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.welltogo or www.smartraveller.gov.au.

User comments
We were disappointed that the article on Vila Chaumieres was not included in the Vanuatu segment shown on Getaway 7August, 2009. We believe the crew spent some time there. Perhaps Vila Chaumieres could feature another time.

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