You’ll find many different options for accommodation in Santo. Don’t expect this article to list and review all the accommodations in Santo: I haven’t tried them all. And even among the ones I tried and chose to list here – about 15 -, I don’t think one type fits all needs. It all depends on what you’re looking for when visiting Espiritu Santo, and what activities you plan to do there. But I’m sure the tips and reviews in this article from our 10-day stay in Espiritu Santo in 2018 will help you make the best decision to pick the best Santo accommodation for your trip.
Do you have travel insurance? It’s always a good idea to purchase travel insurance so that you can better enjoy risky activities and don’t worry so much about money if an emergency happens. If you pay for your holidays with your credit card, you may have travel assurance included. Otherwise, I find WorldNomads* and Covermore* make it easy to add adventurous activities like scuba diving to your plan. For more information about travel insurance, read this!
1. Santo accommodation options in Luganville
Where to stay in town in Luganville
Opting for accommodation in Luganville while visiting Santo is only convenient for the tours and scuba diving the SS Coolidge without having to plan transport. Otherwise, I don’t recommend staying in Luganville: I found it overpriced and not charming.
If you are going to Espiritu Santo for scuba diving especially, you may be interested in these hotels or resorts in Luganville:
- Deco Stop Lodge*, a diver-friendly lodge with a place to wash, hang and lock up your diving gear. I talked to a few divers who stayed there, and they were delighted with their choice.
- Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort*, a resort chosen by a few foreign dive shops when they organise their international trips to the SS Coolidge wreck. It’s a bit outside the town, in a very quiet area. We did not stay there but went for a couple of dives with the dive shop there and they were very serious.
- The Espiritu*, a hotel with a central location in Luganville (close to the market, the shops and the restaurants). A good friend recommended it but we opted for a more secluded place on Aore Island. The Espiritu has the Pacific Dive Shop on-premises, but I haven’t heard much about their reputation.
But if you want more luxury and the best views to relax at your hotel while you’re not diving, you may prefer to stay on Aore Island.
Other Santo accommodation option: stay on Aore Island instead of Luganville
Choosing your Santo accommodation on Aore Island is ideal if you’re looking for comfort, calm and luxury near an idyllic beach, while not being too far away from the town. Aore is an island in front of Luganville. You can easily arrange transfers with taxi boats to go to the main island for your activities and tours. And except for relaxing and snorkelling, there isn’t much to do on Aore Island.
Our night at Aore Eco-Retreat* was fantastic and we felt lucky to have such a beautiful piece of paradise just for us. We loved the sea view from our balcony and it was the most comfortable accommodation we had during our entire stay in Vanuatu. The hot shower after hiking Millenium Cave and the night dive on the SS Coolidge was divine. There is only one holiday home there so it’s perfect to escape the crowd. The owners live next door and were lovely and helpful to make our stay as good as possible.
We only went to Aore Island Resort* for a dinner with a view, but it looked promising. The staff was friendly and the location was beautiful.
You may be interested in these other accommodations on Aore:
- Aore Adventure Sports & Lodge* have excellent reviews on Trip Advisor* for diving the SS Coolidge and accommodation.
- Two Canoes Island Getaway* looked fantastic too.
2. If you plan to visit Millenium Cave
The tour to Millenium Cave leaves from Luganville in the morning. We already had booked our accommodation and found out too late that it was possible to stay overnight in the village near Millenium Cave, Vunasep. They are used to seeing tourists in Vunasep, but not many choose to spend the night in this remote area. Although the comfort is basic, it sounded like a beautiful experience and an excellent way to learn more about the local way of life on Espiritu Santo.
3. If you plan to visit Champagne Beach
Champagne Beach made it to a few lists of the best beaches in the world. You will have to pay to access Santo’s most famous beach (1,000VT per vehicle). But if you choose to stay in Towoc, the village just before the beach, you won’t have to pay the access fee. Those travelling on a budget may be interested in this small discount! We stayed at Towoc Bungalows* as we didn’t manage to organise a homestay with Unice*. Find more information about Champagne Beach here.
If accommodation in Towoc is full, Lonnoc is your second best option to stay close to Champagne Beach. You will sleep in bungalows in front of the beautiful Lonnoc Beach. Champagne Beach will be a short walk away, and entrance fees will be reduced to 500VT per person. Check out Lonnoc Beach Bungalows*, Lonnoc Ocean View Bungalows* or Lonnoc Beach Lodge*.
4. Other Santo accommodation options in the north of Espiritu Santo
I highly recommend leaving Luganville behind and making time to visit the blue holes and Port Olry, on the north of the east coast of Espiritu Santo. You’ll even have a better experience if you can stay up there for a few days.
We loved our treehouse in Port Olry when we stayed at Serenity Beach*. We felt in paradise for a few days.
Don’t expect the same level of comfort and service you’ll have at a hotel or a resort. It’s simple, but it’s stunning. Those who love nature will fall in love with the magnificent beach. And those who enjoy talking to locals will have an excellent time sharing stories with Angelique, who runs the local business. We could rent canoes or get a spa massage from the shop next door. Our host made all possible efforts to organise fishing and horseriding activities at the last minute for us. Plus, it was cheaper and more authentic than all the other activities offered by hotels in Luganville.
The small treehouse has a double bed mattress on the floor and a lovely terrace. The private bathroom was outside. We loved our outdoor (cold) shower! The big treehouse is perfect for a family with three beds (one double and two single) and a bathroom with toilets and a (cold) shower inside. The bungalows are made for couples and are the most luxurious with a warm shower and toilets inside.
Breakfast and all meals are served in the restaurant with the most stunning sea views. Angelic even agreed to change the menu for us and cook a local dish that we tried before in Luganville.
These photos of our stay at Serenity Beach* will give you a great overview of the beauty of the place:
If you are travelling to Vanuatu on a budget, the best budget accommodation in Santo is a tent at Port Olry Harbour Beach*. It’s cheap because comfort is minimal, just like camping, but the views are still unbeatable.
If you prefer having the services from a hotel, you will have to stay closer to Luganville and upgrade to the Turtle Bay Lodge*. We spent one afternoon in their beautiful settings and the staff was nice. You can snorkel and kayak from the lodge. The beach isn’t as impressive as Port Olry Beach, but still lovely. We met someone who was staying there and he was loving the place.
How was your accommodation in Espiritu Santo? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where are these Espiritu Santo accommodations?
Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu’s biggest island. There are direct flights from Brisbane in Australia to Luganville, the only town in Espiritu Santo. You can also fly to Santo from Port Vila, Vanuatu‘s capital.