November 15, 2013

An island of Blue holes, Beaches and Beef. Santo, Vanuatu.

Espiritu Santo (just Santo to the locals) is what the Spanish thought Australia looked like. The explorer De Querios 'discovered' Santo in 1606 and believed he had found the great southern continent. Admittedly the mangroves and the hot humid temperatures do resemble far north Queensland, but that is all.

It is a unique island, with interesting geological features such as the Blue Holes (pictured above). These beautiful pure deep water springs give off a deep blue colour, due to being filtered through many layers of limestone. You can swim and relax in the Blue Holes on the east side of the island, or head to some of the best sand beaches in Vanuatu.

Historically, Santo was a vital forward base for US troops in WWII as they fought the Japanese in the Pacific. Much remains on the island from these times, from 'Million Dollar Point' (to be covered in more depth in my next post) to the wreck of the SS Coolidge, a troop carrying ship that hit a mine in relatively shallow waters off Luganville, the main town, and is now one the most easily accessible WWII dive sites in the world.

My personal Santo addiction is the food, to be precise, the beef. When I first went to Port Vila and went to the main markets for lunch with a local friend, he raved about how good the beef was. Admittedly the choice that day was beef or fish, and he had no understanding of why anyone would ever pay for fish. "If I want fish I go down to the water and I spear them" was his response, but the beef from Santo, well, that was worth paying for. And in Vanuatu it is fine dining at a budget price.

Free from injected hormones and not fed from genetically altered crops, these cows roam around the farms in Santo. Being in a remote part of the world can lead to rather tasty food, and this is now being globally recognised with expensive restaurants in Tokyo now shipping in Santo beef as a delicacy. Hopefully there will still be lots left for the locals.

Read more about Vanuatu in this brand new guide book by Far Flung Places. 324 pages packed full of places to see, places to stay and eat, and many handy hints to allow you to see the best of this fascinating country in the most up-to-date guide available to this country. 

Accompanied by a selection of stories about places, events and people in Vanuatu which will transport the armchair traveller to this incredible Pacific nation, while giving more background and details for the intrepid visitor. Available as an ebook or paperback from all good booksellers. Buy it from here and from here 

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