After almost 2 months of travelling from busy SINGAPORE, over paradise COOK ISLANDS, hopping the wonderful YASAWA islands on FIJI and exploring volcanos and ancient tribes on TANNA in Vanuatu, we were facing THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS of our trip. And for that we chose this amazing island in Vanuatu. Which quite unexpectedly turned out to be one of the HIGHLIGHTS of our trip.
Places: Luganville, Million dollar point, Port Olry, Champagne beach, Nanda blue hole
How: plane, boats taxi
Stayed in: tent on a beach in Port Olry
WE VISITED ESPIRITU SANTO WHEN LU WAS 6 YEARS OLD. MOR ABOUT VANUATU WITH KIDS IS COMING UP SOON.
We flew in from PORT VILA on EFATE ISLAND, with AIR VANUATU. It was a short and comfortable flight, which we booked well in advance. We arranged a car to pick us up in LUGANVILLE and take us up north to our accommodation. We had to wait a couple of hours for it, but that made it a little cheaper. There was no real public transport, so TAXI is your best choise, unless you want to rent a car or a scooter.
Even if we wanted to go to a fancy all inclusive resort, we would not have found one in PORT OLRY. Not that we wanted to go to one anyway. What we wanted was a TENT ON THE BEACH. For just 19€ a night, including breakfast. Is that even possible in the South Pacific? Here, yes. And because it was CYCLONE SEASON we got offered the only tent that had a WOODEN CONSTRUCTION over it. Because well, when it rains here, it pours. We knew that much. So we couldn´t say no to that. And the MORNING VIEW was worth a million dollars. No all inclusive resort can do that, at least not in my eyes. Fairytale.
WHAT WE SAW AND DID
LUGANVILLE & MILLION DOLLAR POINT
I don´t want to do injustice to this town, but for us it was more or less just a STARTING POINT, where we spend a couple of hours before moving up north. While waiting for our TAXI we walked up and down the town, found a PLAYGROUND, lots of little SHOPS, BARS nad a few RESTAURANTS, met surprisingly lots of expats, had a yummy LUNCH and an ice cream.
Just a short drive OUTSIDE OF LUGANVILLE we stopped at this interesting place where WWII REMAINS are scattered along the beach. If you are a DIVER it must be interesting to explore the UNDERWATER WORLD as well. We just stayed at the beach and had a quick stroll around. Have to be carefull where you step though as some objects can be sharp.
Finally we were on the way to PORT OLRY, in the northern part of the island. Exactly there, the NICEST BEACHES were supposed to be. Well, lets see. THE DRIVE up there itself was promising. No traffic, PALM TREES everywhere, CHILDREN waving from the little VILLAGES. Here, there are FRENCH and ENGLISH speaking villages and schools. So if you know a little bit of French it might be helpful for general communication. It is hot. There is no AC in the car. Heck, there is not even a seltbealt in the car. Even if i constantly felt like something is going to fall of the car, the little red Ford brought us to our destination safe and sound.
Just as we were leaving TANNA, thinking this was the best part of this journey, ESPIRITU SANTO blew us away just a couple of hours after landing. There was not much information about it online and i just knew we were in for some nice BEACHES. But we´ve seen so so so many beaches already. Did we really had to fly to another island just beacuse we read there are picture perfect sandy beaches? Oh yes, we absolutely had to. Besides, it seemed like the best places to end this mom & son adventure.
I really struggle in terms of how to describe this place now, not sound too cheesy about it. But I really don´t know how to, so here it comes. Port Olry is fairytale. Not only for its DREAM WHITE SANDY BEACH, clear sea and palm trees. But also because there are NO BIG HOTELS to ruin this little paradise. Just a few BUNGALOWS and smaller GUESTHOUSES, our TENTS and a couple of BEACH RESTAURANTS. A little village with one very small SHOP. Sometimes all you need is a bad wifi connection and a cold beer in the evening. We were so happy to see places like this still exist and we felt so lucky and privileged to be there.
We spend 5 DAYS here. Crazy beautiful. I could not believe that we found such paradise. Just the 2 of us. EVERY MORNING we woke up with the most beautiful view. Lu usually slept a bit longer. In his case, this meant until 7 AM. I was usually up around 5 AM, which meant i had the beach all to myself. A cup of coffee and my diary. So PEACEFUL. I think i could have stayed there for a month. This is also one of those rare places where I can say i would happily return once again. Usually I like to always go to a new place, but this. This is somehting special.
Along the LARGE BAY there were a couple of RESTAURANTS where we had some really yummy meals. With a view on the sea so clear we could see TURTLES swimming form sitiing far away.
Every evening the LOCAL KIDS would run down to the beach from the village. During the day they were in schools or had other things to do, but just BEFORE SUNSET it was time to JUMP IN THE SEA. Lu was more than happy to join them at rolling in the white sand, jumping in the sea and runing out rolling on the sand again. They didn´t speak Engligh, Lu doesn´t speak French. But nonetheless they had so much fun. Simple things.
We were feeling kind of victorious so we splurged on a LOBSTER dinner once. In bathing suits and barefoot of course. Cause that´s how you do it over here. On a wooden bench in a little hut. While chatting with the owner´s 8 year old daughter, in my broken French. Good times! We didn´t have champagne though, but we did visit the famous CHAMPAGNE BEACH one day.
They say, this is one of the most BEAUTIFUL BEACHES in the SOUTH PACIFIC and we really could not argue with that, even though we did not visit all the islands in the South Pacific.
A bit unexpectedly we had to pay a small ENTRY FEE to enter the beach, but it was totaly worth it. We basically had a full day here and we were alone the whole time. The whole BAY JUST FOR US. We just had our towels, snorkelling masks, sunscreen and some SNACKS with us. A good book and a camera and that was pretty much all we needed for the day. We also found SHADE, which was perfect to stay out of the midday sun. Because we got there pretty early in the day, we got to see the WATER COLOURS CHANGING hour by hour. Priceless really.
There were lots of EMPTY WOODEN LITTLE STANDS AND HUTS on the beach though, which got me wondering, why? The taxi guy explained to us later, that once in a while a big CRUISESHIP lands here and local people from all over the island come to sell their CRAFTS. Now if you are unlucky and visit the beach at such a day, i guess you are in it for a complete different scenery. We were pretty lucky to have it all to ourselves. Espiritu Santo kept surprising us day by day, really.
BLUE HOLE #1
For a little change we one day set of to explore the so-called BLUE HOLES. They are not filled with salt water and the water temperature is nicely REFRESHING. Some of them are more accessible than the other. We chose to visit one of the less known ones (not even on the map) and were immediately hooked by it.
NANDA BLUE HOLE
NANDA BLUE HOLE is one of the MOST FAMOUS ONES. But despite this fact, we were again the only ones there. We chose a bench, dropped our stuff on it and jumped into this amazingly blue water. This time we were swimming with many fish surrounded by luch vegetation, beautiful flowers and the sunds of birds. Not bad at all
After 5 days here, it was so HARD TO LEAVE THIS PLACE, but it was time to fly back to Port Vila on EFATE ISLAND. Even though we were on the road almost 8 weeks now, we were craving for more. We could have easily spend a couple of more weeks (months?) exploring the South Pacific. I heard the Solomon islands were amazing. Samoa was looking great too. Tonga. New Caledonia. So many islands to discover for the next time we are down there. But let´s not complain. We really have no right to do so. We had an AMAZING TIME IN VANUATU.
If you are just a bit of an AVDENTURE and BEACH LOVER and you have the time and the money, this is the place to go. I really hope I can come again and I also hope it will still be a bit like it was now. Unspoiled by the mass tourism. Just magical.
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