Here is an island that is so attractive is inspired author James A Michener to write his popular novel Tales of the South Pacific which, in turn, was the inspiration for the musical South Pacific. Espiritu Santo is the largest island in the island nation of Vanuatu. It was named by Pedro de Quiros in the 17th century when he thought he had discovered the fabled great southern land, which is now Australia.
The Portuguese navigator may have got his bearings wrong, but he certainly knew a great island when he saw one.
On Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu’s second largest community, which is Luganville, and Vanuatu’s highest mountain Mount Tabwemasana which rises to a height of 1,879 metres (6,165ft) but which is very difficult to climb due to the thick rain forest you need to negotiate before even attempting the mountain’s slopes.
Most people don’t venture to Espiritu Santo to climb mountains, but they certainly do go there to enjoy some stunning beaches and to dive on wonderful coral reefs and some brilliant World War II wrecks.
The best known of these is the “SS President Coolidge”, which is an historical moment suspended in time. For divers it is very easy to reach as sitting at a depth of just 20 metres it’s the largest wreck in the world that is accessible to divers from shore being only a few minutes from the main entry point.
The most popular of the beaches are Lonnoc Beach and Champagne Beach.
Lonnoc Beach is on the east coast of the island and boasts magnificent views with sheltered waters that are edged by ivory-coloured soft sand. The crystal waters are ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Around the corner from Lonnoc Beach is Champagne Beach. This is another spectacular beach with crystal blue water, and fine powdered sand.
Close to both beaches are the Blue Holes, in which crystal clear fresh water comes to the surface through layers of limestone and coral producing water of jewel quality blue. The Blue Holes are an ideal place in which dip in the cool waters and to soak up the pristine beauty of such a magnificent place.
As many people of Espiritu Santo live an authentic village lifestyle there is ample opportunity to arrange to visit some of the remote villages where you watch the ladies preparing, dying and weaving their incredible clothes, mats and baskets, or join the men as they recount their ancient folklore and perform ancient dances and ceremonies.