Situated on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu’s largest and most westerly island, Santo is the second largest town in Vanuatu. The town’s official name is Luganville, but locals refer to it as Santo.
A veritable paradise for adventurers, Santo offers visitors a number of thrilling activities such as scuba diving, jungle hiking and cave exploring.
The landscape of Santo is as diverse as it is stunning, with four of Vanuatu’s tallest mountains providing a magnificent backdrop to beautiful beaches, colourful reefs, green forests, and acres of fields. The local people contribute to the island’s charm too, thanks to their warm, welcoming nature and fascinating culture.
Several major cruise lines feature Santo as one of the key spots to stop on their South Pacific voyages. It is a gateway to the tropical wonder that is Espiritu Santo.
Santo’s Main Wharf is located on the south-eastern shore of Espiritu Santo, opposite the island of Aore. The town centre is less than 1 kilometre away from the pier.
The port facilities for cruise passengers are limited, but the pier is in close proximity to the town. The pier is a major export centre and a hive of activity.
Facilities nearby include:
- Souvenir shopping
- Dining options
- Tourism office.
How to Get Around
There are a number of transportation options available for getting around in Santo.
A short walk from the pier will take you past market stalls and historic buildings that have remained standing since World War II, and straight to Main Street, the central strip of Santo.
The town has taxis and mini-buses, as well as car rental and scooter rental facilities.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 10 minute walk to the Vanuatu Tourism Office.
- It is a 10 minute journey to the Santo-Pekoa International Airport
- It is a 9 minute journey to the Million Dollar Point.
- Currency - The currency used in Santo is the Vatu (vt). Denominations are as follows: 200VT, 500VT, 1,000VT, 5,000VT, and 10,000VT notes, as well as 1VT, 2VT, 5VT, 10VT, 20VT, 50VT, and 100VT coins. A small selection of shops in Santo will accept Australian dollars, but some will not.
- Time Zone – Santo, Vanuatu is 11 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Vanuatu does not use daylight savings time.
- Weather – The temperature in Santo is fairly consistent throughout the year, averaging around 30 degrees Celsius for the summer months and dipping to around 26 degrees Celsius during winter. The best time of year for cruising in Vanuatu is during the dry season, from May to October.
- SS. President Coolidge Shipwreck – Get up close and personal with a piece of the island’s history by taking a diving tour to explore the SS. President Coolidge Shipwreck. Originally a transport ship in the 1940s, the SS. President Coolidge struck mines and sank off the island. Diving tours explore areas such as the promenade deck, engine room, swimming pool, galley, doctor’s office and dining saloon. You can still even see the sailors’ belongings on the ship.
- Glorious Beaches – Shimmering, crystal waters framed by delightful coral reefs and pure white sand. Only minutes away from Santo, the surrounding beaches are ideal for snorkelling, swimming, relaxing in the sun, or simply admiring the serene beauty that nature has created on this island’s shore.
- Shopping – There are a number of market stalls selling a variety of goods including fresh produce, handicraft souvenirs and flowers. Located on Main Street, near Sarakata Bridge, the markets are open Monday to Saturday. Santo also has a number of shops selling local arts, carvings, paintings and clothing.
- Blue Holes – The island of Santo is dotted with stunning blue lagoons hidden inside deep craters. These pools are spectacular just to view, while the more adventurous can immerse themselves in the water, usually accessible by either a ladder or simply diving in.
- Millennium Cave – Located 45 minutes away from Santo by car, Millennium Cave is a highly rated experience for visitors to the island. After a trek through lush greenery, you will arrive at the mouth of the cave. Be guided through the unique cave system, which features cascading waterfalls, underground rivers, bats and high rock ceilings.
- Million Dollar Point – Another historical diving site, Million Dollar Point is a unique testament to the U.S military’s presence on the island during World War II. Below the surface is tonnes upon tonnes of wreckage, including cranes, trucks, bulldozers, Coca Cola bottles and tractors. The diving site is located off the coast, approximately 6 kilometres east of the pier.