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“Could be so much more” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Turtle Bay Resort

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Turtle Bay Resort
2.5 of 5 Small Hotel   |   Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu   |  
Hotel amenities
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Could be so much more”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2010

We did enjoy our stay on Santo and thought it was the best part of Vanuatu. Turtle Bay has a great location even though it is 20km from Luganville. With awesome views over the ocean, reef out the front, a bay around the side, only 10 minutes drive or an hour paddle to the Blue holes and 40 min drive up the coast to Champagne Beach, we found it to be great for our needs. The restaurant serves good, tasty, reasonably priced food and the drink prices are also very reasonable. Unfortunately we did find the resort itself to be a bit rundown and in desperate need of maintenance. The bathroom shower was terrible and in real need of new fittings, we couldn't even get the shower head to stay up and it was not a shower as much as just a running tap. There are glass louvres all through the buildings with many missing and alot being loose. My son touched one in the bar and it luckily fell forward into the window mesh rather than onto him, they are dangerous especially if you have young children like we do. They path are cracked, raised and in some places covered with slime where water is leaking across it. I managed to kick my toe taking off a fair bit of skin on the bottom of my toe as well as slip on the slime covered cement behind our room hurting my knee.They have a major problem with ants and any rubbish or food scrap was soon crawling with them even in the rubbish bin and you could not leave any dry food in the kitchen cupboards if you had opened it because it would just be attacked. it would of been good if there were some sealable containers to use so we could keep food.
Other than the manager, the staff are unable to give you basic information. We asked how to get to the Blue Holes and where was the best place was to snorkel and even though it is just out the front of the resort the other staff couldn't tell us. We had the same simple breakfast order for 3 days and the lady serving us still got it wrong everyday. However the worst thing is the 3 dogs at the resort that have access to all the common areas including the bar, restaurant and we even saw the small one in the kitchen. I'm not against dogs in a resort but they should be restricted on where they can play and roam. They would sit beside you while you were trying to eat your meals in the restaurant even though the staff and i, myself continually told them to go, also the couches in the bar were covered with dog hair and stunk like the dogs. They would also continually follow around my son while he was trying to eat a biscuit or have a drink which drove myself and my wife crazy. Two of the dogs a quite large too and it really is an unacceptable and unheigenic to have the dogs around the places where you eat and drink.
This resort could be so much more with a bit of attention and care, it seemed such a waste of the beautiful spot it has to see the state the place was in. Such a shame.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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134 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (27)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Canberra, Australia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 23, 2009

Went to Turtle Bay Resort to stay for my second trip to Vanuatu for a nice romantic holiday with my partner with a bit of diving on the side. If you are considering staying at Turtle Bay then you need to know a few things. Firstly, it is a fair drive out of town along a dirt road and in the middle of nowhere. The website says its only 20 minutes out of town but it is more like 30 - 40 mins along a very bumpy road. It is also expensive to travel into town as the only transport is a contracted driver so if you're planning on diving don't stay at Turtle Bay because the local dive shops won't come out and pick you up and it becomes expensive paying 1500 Vatu each way to town. The resort itself is more along the lines of a caravan park with cinder block rooms instead of caravans, the oceanfront double room is in concrete block of about 8 rooms with a basic double bed and very basic ensuite bathroom with no TV. Under the bottom drawer in the kitchen i also found a rats nest that should have been picked up by housekeeping. The website also has very clever photography, the pool and dining deck as featured on the main page are tiny and i highly doubt anyone would be able to spend the day 'relaxing' by the pool, the deck resembles something that would be in a backyard in Australia, not a resort. The restaurant in the resort is also very small and very expensive for the limited menu. The downside is that if you are staying in a dorm room there are no cooking facilities and not even a kettle or tea and coffee so you are totally dependent on the restaurant for everything which, as some fisherman staying in the dorm discovered, becomes very very expensive. The resort grounds have no facilities and the beachfront is ok for exploring but there is no sand to lie on and it is very rocky. The owner's Matt and Patricia are lovely though and very welcoming, the downside to this is they are not very professional and the resort feels more like a bed and breakfast, there isnt even a reception desk and the bar feels like you are sitting in their loungeroom. I felt like Matt and Patricia were more interested in their lifestyle in Vanuatu than servicing the guests needs at the resort, this was also reflected in their dress and behavoir with Matt walking around with no shirt or shoes on most of the time. Now, an important thing to remember is that this is Vanuatu and more importantly Santo where facilities are limited no matter where you are staying. I am by no way a snob and i truly love South Pacific countries and, as a seasoned traveller, I dislike 5 star resorts but Turtle Bay did not live up to my expectations which is disappointing because i did not expect much at all. When i return to Santo i will stay at the Deco-Stop Lodge which is close to town, within range of the dive shops and has better facilities. I hope this has sounded like an impartial and objective review of Turtle Bay because that is my intention, if you have read all of this and still are condiering staying there then go ahead because above all, Santo is a beautiful place and I have good memories of my time there even though some things weren't as expected. To be honest though, i'm suprised at the reviews from other people who guided me to book my holiday with Turtle Bay in the first place.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2009

My wife and I travelled to Turtle Bay on Santo with our three kids aged 9,7 and 4 and spent 10 days in absolute bliss. Turtle Bay is like staying with friends. The owners and their staff were delightful and made our stay really special. From the moment we walked in to background tunes of David Grey "Sail Away" playing in the bar, we thought it was perfect. Paradise found ! The place is clean, homely, kind of cool, well laid out with some special little areas if you want to lie back with a drink and read or relax overlooking the lagoon. Beautiful gardens and a magical deck with a few tables overlooking the lagoon for meal times.
The food was good and we thought reasonably priced.
The kids loved giving the family puppy a pat and found something interesting around every corner. Amazingly in 10 days they never once missed any of their electronic gadgets or the TV. (A true holiday)
If you're a person who loves natural wonders, a perfect climate and want to truly relax in paradise.... Turtle Bay is delightful. The place is great for couples or a family although if you're single and want night clubs and plenty of social interaction Santo is not for you. Santo is a place you go to chill out and do relaxed stuff. Some people say Vanuatu is expensive. We thought many things were similar to Australian prices. Our take on it was.... If you can afford to holiday in Australia you can afford to holiday in Vanuatu.

Highlights... Not neccasarliy in order. We loved doing all these things !!
Snorkelling every day outside our front door with the kids over the most spectacular coral gardens and fish we have seen. (And we have seen plenty throughout Australia, Indonesia and the Pacific)
Kayaking to the Blue Hole across a lagoon, up a spectacular fresh water river through rainforrest. (Take your mask and snorkel - it is an extraordinary natural experience)
Our seven year old paddled the whole way and back in his own kayak and was very proud. Our 4 year old came in my Kayak and loved it. All the kiids felt very grown up
after their big adventure !!
Snorkelling at million dollar point with our kids looking at all the WW2 American left over equipment that was bull dozed into the sea . The bigger kids are old hands at snorkelling but our 4 Year old just loved it.
Matt's Thursday, Theatrical, Thircus Thpectacular. Matt the owner is a circus performer and put on the most wonderful acrobotic and magic performance for the guests.
(On a Thursday if you hadn't worked that out)
The kids were spell bound and talked about it for weeks. Not sure if this happens every week but if you ask nicely ....
Matt's circus training session. Matt and Patricia have a circus tent on site and give circus lessons to the local children on weekends. Our kids joined in and it was fantastic.
To watch the local kids and our kids doing all sorts of circus acrobotics was very special.
A dive on the Coolidge in Luganville. (The dive site is about 2km out of town)
If you have a dive ticket this is a must do.
It is a US military supply ship that hit a mine and sank just off the beach in the 1940's loaded with all sorts of fantastic military stuff. (Lots of artillary shells, big guns, trucks, jeeps etc)
Dinner at the most delightful French restaurant in Luganville. (Can't remember the name
but there is only one French restaurant and you can't miss it)
If you want a night out this place is fantastic. Run by a heavily accented French woman from New Caledonia and her Chef husband .. the food was to die for.
Watch out for the Jugged Flying Fox on the menu. I was assured it was fantastic but chose instead to sample the famous Santo beef from the island and several other treats. Many of the dishes are inspired by the local produce and I don't think I have enjoyed better in the best restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney or Paris for that matter.
Subtle flavours. Beautiful sauces. Perfect presentation. The Creme Brulee was done the way only a French Chef can. We enjoyed it so much we went twice !
Trip up the East Coast to Port Ollry ? and Champagne Beach. Beautiful white beaches and the classic tourquise blue water that the South Pacific is famous for.
Breakfast every morning on the deck overlooking the lagoon.
Listening to the waves washing gently up on the coral 20m from our door as we drifted off to sleep every night. Magic !
Swimming / snorkelling across the lagoon to little islands and relaxing under the
shady tropical trees overhanging the water.
Fossicking on the reef at low tide. Looking at all sorts of interesting and exciting things.
Watching our kids really enjoy all the natural wonders that a place like Santo has to offer.
Not once did they get board or run out of things to do.
Even if it was simply mucking around in the pool.
Santo was wonderfully quiet. No one hassling you to buy things all the time. No traffic.The locals are completely laid back and relaxed.
Turtle Bay Resort was also great in that it is a smaller place that is quiet and relaxed.

Hope this feedback helps you research your next holiday.
You are always a little unsure when booking a holiday but we are delighted to report
that we have travelled extensively and don't remember coming home
quite so relaxed. Turtle Bay made a great base and it suited us perfectly.

Enjoy !!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2009

Excellent hosts, food and staff and the view is to die for. Matt and Patricia mixed with you and made you feel completely at home. Staff very friendly - big smiles always. Food excellent, great variety and well priced and presented. Short walk or paddle to marvellous "Blue hole" beautiful swimming hole. Safe for kids and short walk/wade to offshore island and snorkeling reef. Tours available to Champagne Beach, Port Olry and million $ point or further afield for the adventurous. The whole package was thoroughly enjoyed with no low points.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2009

We have just returned from our time in Vanuatu and my partner loved the trip to Santo for the amazing diving on the SS Coolidge. Aquamarine is a professional fitout and they also looked after me as a snorkeller the day i went out on the reef near the wreck. You can't see the boat but the fish are plentiful, its interesting watching the divers and the diving guides feed the fish on their return to the surface. If you are only there for the diving though, it probably is worth staying somewhere closer to Luganville.

Turtle Bay is a cute resort but slightly disappointing after our beautiful time at Breakas in Port Vila. The dated rooms are designed with a self sufficient kitchenette, however despite having a stove (which was not connected to the gas) and the odd pan or cup, there was no kettle to make even a simple cup of tea, so a bit pointless. The rooms were pleasantly appointed but we couldn't regulate the temperature of the shower which was rather frustrating.

The size of the resort was fantastic though, only about 7 rooms, it meant it was quiet, we all knew the other guests and made Matt's endearing little circus show on Thursday night all the more intimate and fun.

The resort is a good 30 minutes drive from Luganville, but as the town is a bit of a dump, this mattered not a bit, as the secluded setting with reef and lagoon is picture perfect. However, because of this isolation I think the owners could attend to a few details to make guests more comfortable. For example, at most other resorts internet is free. At Turtle Bay they had one fixed price for unlimited internet which was about $15. Like most guests, we only wanted to look up a nearby restaurant or dive shop so this is exorbitant. Perhaps they could offer a minute by minute charge. Given a tsunami hit Samoa in the time we were there and we had no idea because we were so cut off from the world, is a bit of a worry.

I also think that things like kayaks and snorkelling gear should be free particularly when the quality of kayaks was not that good. In saying that, the kayaking to the Blue Holes is really recommended. It is beautiful and not difficult, and you can kayak to your own private deserted beach to swim and relax.

The restaurant has decent food and a large range, but perhaps they could have an all day snack menu, free coffee and tea, or a fruit basket for in-between times given you can't pop down to any shop for a piece of fruit or packet of chips. The breakfast was very average (fruit and white toast) whilst competing resorts provide a breakfast buffet included in their room rates.

Despite all these small complaints, the location is fantastic, the snorkeling is a bit tricky with the waves and getting in at the right tide level, but certainly worth it. And the pool is relaxing, the restaurant on the deck idyllic. The local staff were extremely hospitable and friendly and made the stay.

As other reviews have stated it does cost a bit to get around as there aren't as many local buses like in Port Vila, but we also found it was quite easy to fill the days on site as it is a great setting.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2009

A holiday away from home that had a personal welcome from the management and staff every day to make you feel at home in 'Vanuatu time'. Most pleasant and relaxing atmosphere all day, enough to leave a note for 10 reasons to stay 10 days at turtle bay in the guest book.
The five of us spent 10 days at Turtle bay (which is isolated in a stunning shoreline and bay area) with our trip orientated to relaxing so we spent the days in and around the resort, the beach, the islands and the coral shoreline, whilst simultaneously enjoying the food at the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and the evening specials. On request for two special birthdays during our trip the staff put their hearts into the presentation of fruit ornaments for the table, flowers and personal greetings - we felt special.
When we did venture out Matt & Patricia (owners) assisted us with travel and places to go such as the local blue hole which you can kayak in just over an hour or walk in much the same time. Matt & Patricia are keen to develop the resort with the environment. They have both learned to be sustainable in the running of the resort and in the provision of local fresh food such as oysters for the restaurant, they pay great care and attention to the landscape and spectacular coral shoreline they have access to and how they wish to develop this new venture to maintain and improve the facility.
Matt and Patricia work with the children of the local community through their Lunar Circus and sometimes Matt may do his 15 minute fatso's Circus on an evening - very enlightening and fun. Once again it shows one of their personal commitments to all visitors to the resort, the community they are in and everyone who comes to Turtle Bay.
There are holidays when you can get away from all that Jazz of the modern world, but a stay at Turtle bay offers you a chance to truly become yourself and simply unwind and become a human again. Enjoy, we did and we are going back. Thanks to everyone at Turtle Bay and those who work with Matt & Patricia from all us holidaymakers.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2009

This is not the best place to stay if you plan on visiting Santo for diving. It is a fairly long drive into town and they dont have any transport from the resort. A local contractor is brought in to take you to town it works out at about AUD$30 return. it adds up to quite a bit of money to do this every day.
There is no sandy beach at this resort be prepared to walk over sharp coral to get a swim in. Food was OK but pricey. Dogs are quite noisy at times and take over the dining area

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Turtle Bay Resort

Address: Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Espiritu Santo
Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 B&Bs / Inns in Espiritu Santo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Turtle Bay Resort 2.5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Turtle Bay Resort, Santo boasts 2 acres of gardens and 120 meters of waterfront. The resort grounds have been designed to provide plenty of secluded areas in which to lose yourself. All our rooms are waterfront, spacious and tastefully decorated with a luxurious island theme. We have an array of activities to suit every taste and fill every day with fun. How about canoeing to the neighboring island, cycling to the fabulous blue holes or snorkeling on the northern reef? ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Turtle Bay Hotel Espiritu Santo
Turtle Bay Resort Vanuatu/Espiritu Santo

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