We stayed 8 nights in December. Chose the perfect time as towards the end of our stay we were one of two couples staying in the 18 individual bungalow resort. Most days it felt like we had the place to ourselves. Located only 3km across the channel from the main Santo island, there was always a cool breeze blowing to drive away the humidity.
This was the perfect break before the onslaught of school holidays. By day 3 we had forgotten the day and date – the sign of a perfect holiday.
Great accommodation in local styled bungalows with high ceilings, open ceiling bathroom (too hot if it was a box) with day bed and ocean front balcony with deck chairs. Cleaned daily with fresh dry towels provided. We liked the tiled floors for its ease of cleaning when we trekked in sand and being cool under feet. Aussie powerpoints meant we didn’t need adaptors.
We ate mainly in the Nukamal restaurant as we enjoyed activities around the island and generally returned for lunch during peak heat. The daily specials offered had amazing variety considering the location of the resort. Enjoying scrumptious passionfruit cheesecake, chicken and pineapple kebabs with mango, or a Santo-beef migon on a tropical island is testimony to the talents of the local chefs. Many seafood options included scallops, coconut crab, and freshwater prawns, but if you are just hankering for vegemite on toast for dinner, as I did, the chef is more than happy to make you something that is not on the menu. Very surprised at the quality and options available. Tap water is safe to drink as it is supplied from a well on the island.
Grounds are well kept and landscaped, combing local culture and building techniques with native plants to create a modern, colourfully contrasted resort. After a sweaty trek to the point of Aore Island, a dip in the chlorinated pool helped cool us off before heading to a late lunch. This was our pattern after trips into town, walks or going for a paddle in the ocean.
The ferry service runs five times at day at regular times: 7am, 8, 11, 1.30 and 4pm returning from the Luganville wharf approx. 30 mins later. This is a great timetable allowing you to experience the local town. We went on the 8am and came back on the 11.30am ferry. 3 hours in town was ample to visit the local markets for pineapple, mangos and peanuts, pick up some islander dresses and hand carved turtles, and cool off at a local cafe sipping banana and passionfruit milkshakes. Be prepared for warm temperatures as there was little breeze. Some shops also close 12-1.30pm so it is worth going early in the morning.
We enjoyed the Santo Highlights all day tour arranged through the resort with Santo Heritage Tours. The staff listened to our needs and recommended the best tour option based on what we wanted to experience. This tour is highly recommended for travellers wanted to experience the best of Vanuatu. Snorkelling at Million Dollar Point, basking in the clear deserted waters of Champagne Beach and swimming at Nanda Blue Hole. Our guide Aaron was very knowledgeable of local history and stopped along the way for us to look at jungle plane wreaks, bunkers from WW2 and the copra plantation and processing areas. As an all day tour, the resort provided a picnic lunch. The same company does other tour based on your adventure levels and cultural values.
This tour was the highlight of our stay.
The bungalows have new flyscreens on all the louvered windows meaning insects can only enter when opening the main doors. Take Aeroguard if you are prone to bites but we only used this for dinner on our ankles. The main restaurant use mossie coils at night to ward off intruders though. We didn’t take malaria medications. These would be a must if you are travelling to further remote islands. The regular breeze throughout the day also seemed to keep the mossies at bay.
The staff were the other highlight of the holiday. Local ni-vans are friendly, smiling people by nature, making it a very welcoming experience. No request was too much including a lost-in-translation vegemite sandwich instead of toast. When we were the only diners in the restaurant we could chat with the staff about their life in Vanuatu. They were only too happy to share their experiences growing up and talk proudly about their families. Owner Anne was very helpful and accommodating when my husband was unwell. Anne, Dan and Leah always took the time to chat with us about our day and what we had planned for the following day with suggestions. Nights felt very friendly and relaxed.
After such a wonderful relaxing holiday, we have already determined we will return with our piccaninny. Seeing the ni-vans ease with the owner’s son and others guests experience with children, modifying our usual holiday pattern at this resort would be effortless retaining the relaxed resulting in another wonderful holiday.
Cannot recommend this resort as the place to stay in Vanuatu more highly.
Reasons why you would stay here:
Away from the highly touristy area of Port Vila
Able to experience local culture and mix with locals at minimal effort
Surrounding natural beauty unspoiled by commercialism
Located on private island accessible only by boat meaning privacy
Excellent accommodation and variety of food options
You are supplied with a Mortein bug spraycan daily. Use the whole can at night before you go to dinn...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.