Every so often in life there is a flawless moment where it all seems so perfect that you would swear you are part of a movie set, picture postcard or magazine cover. Champagne Beach, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.
Cast your thoughts to a pristine, un-spoilt, tropical island in the South Pacific. The sky is so vividly blue that not a fluffy white cloud can be seen on the horizon. The only intrusion to the never-ending blue is the softly swaying palm dancing along to the pulse of the island. A gentle breeze whispers over your warm sun-drenched skin, cooling you down just enough and leaving behind the faintest scent of frangipani blossom. You are draped on a beach that is so white and pure that you can’t even comprehend its fine, clean perfection nor do you want to, you are happy just to be here in this beautiful moment. The kids happily play in the azure lagoon, which of course happens to be the perfect temperature to spend the day lost in its gentle surging movement, exploring and experiencing with those you love the most.
The best part about this snapshot of your Vanuatu family adventure is that you have the world-renowned Champagne Beach all to yourself. Not a single other traveller in sight, just the odd cow and friendly local to keep you company if you fancy breaking the moment and having a chat.
It is these perfect snippets in my travel life that I refer back to time and time again in my mind’s eye, when I am back to reality and doing the day-to-day life of a busy working mum.
Champagne Beach sits on the east coast of Espiritu Santo, less than an hour away on a sealed road from the main town of Luganville. Santo is the largest island in the Vanuatu archipelago but the least densely populated and Champagne Beach is a large, shining jewel in the crown of this island paradise. Known by locals and tourists alike for its popping, fizzing sounds caused by volcanic gasses escaping from under the sand and its powdery white beach, it certainly perfectly embodies the South Pacific dream.
In the earlier days of tourism, Santo was promoted to the world as a divers’ wonderland, with its plethora of post-war wrecks and untouched reefs to explore. Nowadays, the word is well and truly out to travellers that Santo has a whole lot more besides its underwater wonders. Daily flights run from Port Vila to Santo but perhaps the biggest advance for Santo’s tourism industry has been the addition of direct flights from Australia several times a week.
With such stunning natural resources on their family’s land, many Ni-Vanuatu families around the Champagne Beach area have seized the opportunity and worked together to create new, small scale, tourism businesses. For as little as 3,500vt per night, you can now stay on the adjoining beaches to Champagne Beach, in several island-style bungalows sitting right on the beach.
Champagne Beach itself has enjoyed a thriving economy due to the cruise ships that regularly moor in the bay, giving its passengers the chance to jump ashore and enjoy the pristine beach. On cruise ship days, the little traditional huts dotted along the beach come to life, offering visitors locally made sarongs and handicrafts, food and ice-cold drinks. But rest assured, that barring cruise ship days, you will have the whole beach pretty much to yourself.
If you would like to make a day of your visit to Champagne Beach, there are several options to get there. Different tours operators offer a variety of options, and you can book direct with your accommodation. If you like to explore at your own pace, car rental is always an option, and there are many other beautiful spots to visit on your way and around Champagne Beach. The East Coast of Santo, is filled with natural wonders and one day is really not enough to experience and enjoy all that this part of the island offers. So if you plan for a few days exploring this slice of paradise, you will not regret the extra time.
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