Santo is not an island with shopping and entertainment. You go here to see unspoiled scenery, to dive, snorkel, relax and get away from it all. Coral Quays is a great place to do this. Family friendly (there were two small children in our group), but not kids-oriented, so adults can have a good (and/or quiet) time too.
The rooms are all individual bungalows, surrounded by lush greenery. They are not American-style luxurious (nothing in Vanuatu is, unless you want to stay at Le Meridien or other corporate hotel chains, and then you might as well be anywhere). Bathroom fixtures will be older and the towels won't be fluffy and fabric-softened. But the rooms are very clean, perfectly comfortable and well maintained. Ours was fan-cooled, and we were plenty cool enough. And don't underestimate the value of free wireless internet at this property (if you have a laptop). It's decent speed (but not super fast). In Vila, the internet was phenominally expensive, when you could get it at all!
The resort is a way from town, which we were concerned about in terms of eating and getting to and from various activities. We almost immediately forgot those concerns when we arrived and realised how self-contained the resort was.
The onsite restaurant served dinners rivalling some of the nicer restaurant meals I've had anywhere in the world (and I travel almost 50% of the time for business in the US and Europe). It's a relaxed outside setting, and unlike Vila there are few if any mosquitoes. Prices are roughly the same as eating out in Australia - about $25 for a main meal and around $9-10 for dessert. As beef is a huge part of Santo's (and indeed Vanuatu's) farming production, it's extremely high quality and the main feature of most menus. Of course there's also lovely seafood and chicken.
We ate all three meals each day at the restaurant. Breakfast is the weak link. Continental breakfast is included in room rate, but is little more than rather unceremoniously presented cereal and toast. That said, you can purchase a decent cooked breakfast for less than $10. Lunch and dinner were terrific every day. Good spread of menu selections for both kids and adults, and they were generally happy to customise meals for the kids when asked.
We organised an outing, through the hotel, to visit the Blue Hole - an excellent trip at a very reasonable price. The divers in our party also organised several dives on the Coolidge, again at a reasonable price and with superb service. Others in our party stayed and snorkelled off the hotel's pier, where the tropical fish abound. And everyone enjoyed the pool throughout our stay.
Service is Pacific-style. If you book a massage for 9am, it's probably not going to start until more like 9.30am or even later (and while my massage was relaxing enough and not bad value for $40, it wasn't amazing). Some days your dinner will take a while to arrive. Other days it will arrive in standard time. On all days, it will be delicious.
I usually prefer more upmarket accommodation and will admit to dreading this portion of the family holiday (I didn't organise it) when I was told about it. But I was delightfully surprised.
I get frustrated with reviewers who pan places like Coral Quays for not providing good enough service. Don't go to the Pacific if you want obsequious service and American-style uniformity. Or if you want that, choose an air-conditioned, sterile bubble at a big hotel in Port Vila. Coral Quays was a lovely aspect on the culture and the place that is Santo - laid back, relaxed, high quality food and nice, private accommodation. The service was variable, from superb to decent, but you have to remember that in the Pacific. Nobody will ever be rude or unhelpful. They just may not always move at breakneck rat-race speed. If you want that, why come here?
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- Also Known As:
- Coral Quays Fish & Dive Hotel Espiritu Santo
- Coral Quays Fish And Dive Resort
- Coral Quays Fish & Dive Resort Vanuatu/Espiritu Santo