Spent one week on this amazing island, hard to say why it was so special, where do I start? The moment you arrive you start to relax, for me that is unusual, but you just can't help it. Then there is Marianne and Tork, such lovely people, we felt so welcome. When we arrived we had a fridge full for a couple of days, thank you Tork for the beautiful poulet fish, the BBQ cooked it beautifully. We spent our week swimming, kayaking, snorkling and just exploring this beautiful island. If you are looking for the perfect place to relax, Malvanua is the place!! Thank you Marianne and Tork for keeping Malvanua so pristine and sharing it with us! We'll be back xx
We visited Santo and Malvanua for the first time in April. Had been to Efate before but so much preferred this trip. Torq and Marianne, the owners and hosts are amazing - incredibly thoughtful and caring. We had the best time - fishing for GTs in front of the house, swimming in the incredible water and kayaking over for to Turtle Bay for lunch and beers. Highly recommended. Hope to be back.
We just spent 5 nights in this beautiful place made even better by Marianne and Torq who are brilliant hosts in every way.
The place - from the sublime water outside perfect for early morning wake up dips to the ever changing light and beauty of the natural bush garden surrounding the cottage - all set up for outdoor living and a brilliant pressure shower to wash the salt off at the end of long warm days. Fishing off the beach or in surrounding area is bountiful and fun and so much life everywhere. If you don't want to cook the great local food from the market and fish and local beef, 5 minute hop on the kayak takes you to a local reef and some lovely food and hospitality.
Nothing is too much trouble for Marianne and Torq - they provide great advice and support, stock your fridge for arrival when it's a public holiday (thank you so so much including the home made bread) and ferry you across the water for any day trips you may want to arrange. Best of all they give you complete privacy and space to do your own thing and for a little while, imagine you're on your own island without a care in the world apart from wondering about that fish that got away! Thank you so much - hope we can come again.
We loved Malvanua the first time so much that we returned, for a fortnight this time. It was magic. The boys hit the water and the kayaks right away, setting the pace. Our amazing hosts, Marianne and Torquil, had done a great job of stocking the cupboards and fridge for us with some basics, as we arrived on a weekend. First mainland activity was horse riding with the lovely Megan and it was fantastic to do that again... we wore shorts this time :-) We drank lots of coconuts, ate loads of incredible fresh fruits... not to mention the mouthwatering Vanuatu beef and uber fresh fish. We went fishing and snorkelling twice with Fabrice... and although we didn't catch, we had a brilliant time looking around nearby islands, snorkelling, and hearing about Fabrice's experiences (he is a NiVanuatu and so has a wealth of knowledge). We were also lucky enough to see not one but four dugongs while out the second time with Fabrice!
We got a bit adventurous this time and did the Millenium Caves trip... it was absolutely brilliant. Our guide, Paul, was terrific, with a great sense of humour to boot. We also hired a Jeep one day and toured Santo, snorkelling at Million Dollar Point (brilliant! so accessible even for beginner snorkellers), Port Olry, and Champagne Beach (where my son and I spotted a turtle while snorkelling) and then cooling off at Nanda Blue Hole. We loved Million Dollar Point and Nanda Blue Hole so much that we returned to both spots via taxi the day before we left. We all did lots of kayaking, mostly just in the lagoon. I went around the nearby Oyster Island a couple of times and was amazed to spot a huge greenback in the totally calm water at very close range the first time. Also, my boys and I took the double out one morning (yes you can fit three people on it) and we journeyed out to Mavea Island. That was a very special experience too... the islanders there were very friendly and curious and it was just sooo beautiful. Actually the one mistake I made on that occasion was not bringing a camera along, as from Mavea we had a clear view of Santo's mountains and profile... oh well, next time! In the evenings we enjoyed stargazing, spotting fireflies, and a little evening swimming... fabulous phosphorescence. Thanks again, Torquil and Marianne... you are the best hosts ever! We'll be back again for sure.
Our family had an amazing time at Malvanua Santo is a must see destination. It is remote but still has enough creature comforts to have a great holiday. I'd really recommend a holiday home in preference to a resort. The resorts we saw were quite simple and honestly and understandably meals were reasonably expensive for what was on offer. The supermarket has everything you need for cooking up a storm and sampling the local produce and meats is also a must do experience.
Malvanua Island is owned by Torq and Marianne and they are impeccable hosts. We enjoyed fresh bread regularly from Marianne which we really appreciated and looked forward to. Torq, a Scot, is just a really down to earth man who goes way above and beyond to make sure your stay is great. He does a huge amount of really great work helping the Ni Vanuatuan people.
He met us at the airport, we hopped in his ute ( just in the back tray if you want!) and headed out of town along the east coast of Santo for about 20km, loaded our bags onto a small timber barge which fitted us all very comfortably and motored us across the lagoon to our own home for the week.
Marianne greeted us warmly and had pre stocked our fridge with some items so we could easily BBQ ourselves some dinner and finished off our day of travel with a nice drop of white before retiring to a neat, simple and spacious bedroom with each bedroom having its own bathroom with toilet and shower.
Malvanua has a very homely feel. It's pleasant without being so fancy that you a frightened to let your children touch things! Our family is older, but I remember that feelings of fear that the kids will break some beautiful ornament or dirty a bright white towel with their fishy hands! That isn't the case here. It's comfy and relaxed with a great deck out the front where you spend the majority of your time when you're not out exploring the natural beauty of the island.
Do not stay in the centre of town. I'd strongly imagine you'd be disappointed. The town by Australian standards is really unattractive, basic, rough and on cruise ship days, very, very busy.
The natural beauty is what it's all about on Santo! Fishing was actually quite disappointing. You can't eat what you catch because of a bacterial poisoning risk from the fish. We found it to be very fished out by locals netting and it was too windy to go off shore where fishing is better and the fish are edible. That was the down side.
The rest of the island has so many scenic places to visit and enjoy. Torq drove us places which we were very, very grateful for and we hired a car to take ourselves around on one of the days too. You can paddle 'your' canoe over to Turtle Island and hire a car from there. We paddled to several blue holes (take money with you..there is an entry fee), saw lovely sand and beautifully clear water near Champagne Beach and the surrounding areas. Olry was great to visit too...We preferred the north to the south. It's also a great destination to show your children just how lucky their life is. Life is so simple..no luxury here and even less so in the bush villages. Helps you reassess what is important in life.
You MUST do the horse ride with Megan. It is just such a beautiful trip. Megan is great. Easy going. Very personable. Don't worry if you can't ride. Megan will select a horse suitable to your ability. It's such a unique, picturesque journey. You'll never experience anything quite like this anywhere else in the world. It's not too physically stressful either so it's great for younger or older people.
On the other hand, Millennium Cave tour is a seriously amazing, exhilarating, strenuous, physically challenging experience. I'm not fit (just average and 51!) and this was by far the hardest and most rewarding tour I've ever done. I felt like I was on Survivor:Santo but was fortunate to have a fantastic guide named Simon, who held my hand the entire day. His English was fantastic. He was very knowledgable, chatty and extremely helpful. There is no way I could have done this trip without him. We hiked, visited villages, climbed ladders, boulders, through caves, in gorges, climbed up, down...and had the most wonderful float through crystal clear, cold rivers and sat under waterfalls..spectacular! This wouldn't be good for small children and not older people either. I was really nervous about going and felt like a champion for completing this trip. It was how I'd imagine being in the Amazon..without piranhas! It was just so remarkable.
We went to church here too. We were so warmly welcomed and could follow most of what was happening. Thank you to the congregation. There are lots of churches to choose from as most Ni Vanuatu go to church on Sunday. This is a great spiritual and cultural event to experience.
We loved Malvanua Island Beach House. We were here for a week. It's quite difficult to slow down to island pace when you live a busy life. We played cards and board games, read, took photos and you do have Internet access too! We have travelled extensively and stayed in many different places in all sorts of countries. Torq and Marianne really are exceptional hosts. Location is outstanding. A fantastic holiday!
Marianne and Torq, the owners are just simply amazing, so helpful before we arrived in emails, and continued on our arrival. Fridge was stocked with goodies and lovely freshly baked bread by Marianne, on arrival. The next day we went shopping and shown the market, for anything else we required. Santo beef is the best we have ever tasted, in fact all the food was organic and tasted so much better than home!
Malvanua is equipped with everything you could possibly want, beautifully clean, full kitchen, lovely beds. Just being able to walk straight from the house to the beach, the beach being on the doorstep was a dream for us, water so clear and warm. I could go on and on, but everything has already been said in previous reviews, we loved our stay, and know we will be returning.
If you’re after a big chain hotel with kids clubs & swim-up bars or caravan parks filled with people & their noises, then this is not the destination for you - however if you love an organic, wholesome experience in a luxuriously tropical destination, with total privacy - then look no further! This was our 1st time to Vanuatu & WOW - what a fabulous holiday. We stayed 10 nights in July as a family of 4 with 2 girls aged 14 & 11 & found that we slipped into island life a little too easily! We blissfully spent our days swimming, kayaking, exploring the neighbouring islands, spotting coconut crabs on Malvanua, lots of fishing, sunset drinks with a spectacular view, roasting marshmallows by the fire at night & kayaking to the incredibly beautiful Matevulu blue hole where we swam in the brilliant turquoise water. There are also tours you can easily do from Malvanua or hire a car & go explore Santo yourself.
Torquil & Marianne own & live on the other side of the 25acre island paradise and were like magical forest folk you never see unless you need them. They are such beautiful people & gracious hosts that truly helped make our holiday a memorable & thoroughly enjoyable one. Nothing was a hassle for them - including organising the right antibiotics to be flown up from Port Vila to Santo where Torquil picked them up & brought them back to the island for my husband (whom got a tooth infection on the 2nd day - tip - don’t visit the dentist a few days before travelling). Thankfully they worked quickly & we were able to continue enjoying our holiday.
Food & Drink:
Torquil & Marianne made sure there were staples in the fridge for us when we arrived (which included fresh eggs from their ducks, freshly baked bread, some fresh fruit & veggies & Santo beef) & shopped for extra supplies during out stay when we needed them (expect to pay roughly what you do in Australia). Marianne baked us a fresh loaf of bread every 2nd day & picked us delicious fresh herbs from their garden. We brought a lot of packaged food with us to last the stay (cereal, muesli bars, protein bars, microwave popcorn, marshmallows for the fire, jam, vegemite & some EasiYo yogurt sachets as Malvanua is equiped with a super easy yogurt maker) and bought the wonderfully fresh & local organic produce over there. The Santo eye fillet is seriously the best we’ve ever had! The quality is so good it’s exported to Japan. The beef sausages & mince are also top quality and delicious. You can get dairy easily - the milk is UHF but still good. We picked up a bottle of Cointreau & Limoncello duty free upon landing at Port Vila & took these to the island with us. The local Tusker beer is a really easy drinking beer & a case costs around 4750Vatu which Torq picked up for us on one of his shopping trips. You can also kayak over to and eat at the two different resorts close by, but we didn’t so I can’t say what they’re like.
My husband took a tackle box & a 2 piece rod in a pvc pipe with screw top lids (it was counted as part of the luggage so we didn’t have to pay extra but there is a length requirement so just check before departing what this is again & keep in mind if you get a connecting flight to Santo, domestic is slightly different to international sizing) and during our stay he caught 2 decent sized king fish plus a barracuda straight off the beach. He released them though in case of siguetera poisoning.
We celebrated our daughter’s 14th birthday on the island & we’ll all remember it as one of the best. We had a treasure hunt with the small chocolates I had brought with us, followed by a kayak to the blue hole. It takes about 1/2hr to paddle through the bay to the river & about another 30mins until you reach the blue hole. (Tip - you don’t really want to go at least an hour either side of low tide). Torq & Marianne will explain the way (very easy) & you will need to take 500Vatu p/person with you as entrance fee. The water is so blue & clear & fresh, bring snorkelling gear with you, waterproof cameras & bread for the fish.
I would suggest reef shoes for the beach as parts of it can be a little corally & maybe some light wetsuits (springies or wetsuit top) for the blue hole or if you plan on doing the millennium tour (highly recommend) as the water is a little cool in July at these places. Thank you so much Torquil & Marianne for sharing your island gem - our holiday on Malvanua island was truly sensational & we can’t wait to come back! If only there were more destinations like this - but then again that’s what helps make it so special. You are living the dream & we feel so lucky to have been able to as well, even if for only a little while.
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