Normally referred to as just "Santo" this is the largest island in Vanuatu. Highlights include the SS Coolidge - you can dive on it but it is quite deep, swim in a crystal-clear "blue hole", visit Champagne Beach and more. We will take you on our short but adventure filled visit to this island.
Our first stop was Petersen Bay, the closest anchorage for access to largest of the blue holes located on the island. Also located here is Oyster Island - of course, known for the oysters. We visited the blue hole as you will see below and also had some local boys harvest oysters for us and Silverfin - the boat we were traveling with. We had some wonderful meals with fresh fried oysters, coconut crab and veggies. All in all an outstanding stop.
Going up this waterway was spectacular. It was quiet and the water as you can see was a crystal clear blue. We found a vine as we were leaving and Rick decided to go for a swing - luckily the vine did not break and he did not end up in the water.
After returning from our excursion up into the blue hole we headed to Oyster Island for a sundowner. There were five boats in the surrounding area and most headed in for that evening hello and drink.
We then spent a few days just lazing around this beautiful and quiet anchorage and eating local oysters and being treated to coconut crabs. Kathleen and Rick when foraging for food and we feasted. As you can see we had oysters, crabs and clams. Lots of work for Kathleen getting those oysters, but oh were they good!
We finished our visit to Petersen Bay with a wonderful experience. We had arranged to hire a truck to visit Champagne Beach (world renown) with a local, Thomas. We met Thomas when he came by the boat after we anchored by Oyster Island.
When we arrived to go to the beach, he informed us his sister was getting married and he wanted us to attend the wedding. Thankfully Kathleen and I both had wraps to put over our shorts so we could attend the wedding. So we were off to, as Rick dubbed it, "Five Weddings and a Beach"
Now, of course our dilemma was we had no wedding gift for either Thomas' sister or any of the other brides. So we decided to pool our pictures and the next day we presented the family with a wedding album and included extra pictures of all the other brides and grooms. This was so treasured by the families as very few people had cameras. We felt we had given them a gift of lasting wonderful memories to cherish.
Well it was time to leave and visit the beach before heading back to the boat. Rick had one last rescue for a little friend. As so typical at parties his little friend got a "booboo".
There was not much time left in the day, but we had to make the trip to Champagne Beach and see what Vanuatu considered one of the best in the world and definitely the best in Vanuatu.
We then returned to our boats after our long day of activity and started planning our move to the main town of Luganville. We would be leaving Vanuatu from here and head back to the land down under - Australia.
Our trip into Luganville took us past some World War II sites. First we past Million Dollar Point. This is the location where the U.S. dumped all their military equipment at the end of the war. The story as I was told is that the U.S. offered the local planters and government a chance to buy the war surplus, i.e, jeeps, bulldozers, trucks, etc.. They stalled even when the price fell to eight cents on the dollar, hoping to get it for nothing. They miscalculated because finally the Americans decided to dump the lot into the ocean. At low tide you will find coral-encrusted axles littering the beach. Rick and some friends snorkeled the spot while I motored around on the boat. Following this adventure, we headed past the wreck of the Coolidge and put up the spinnaker and had a wonderful sail into Luganville.
Rick went off in the dinghy and took photos of us under spinnaker while I manned the helm.
The last photo we have in Vanuatu is the main street in Luganville. This road was built by the Americans. Wide enough to park tanks on both sides of the street and still have room for the commander to drive through in his jeep.
We then spent a lovely week moored at the Aori Resort across from Luganville. This resort allowed the cruisers to use their facilities and take a water taxi to town. We spent time cooking food for passage, making any last minute repairs needed to the boat and then spending each afternoon relaxing in the pool. When we finally got a weather window there were at least eight boats who left heading to Bundaberg. We had a boisterous week Tranquillity did over 1,000 miles in 7 days - quite the accomplishment.
We hope you have enjoyed visiting Vanuatu with us. You may want to check the internet for more information on this lovely South Pacific paradise. See you at our next destination.