Santo, gateway to explore the north
Espiritu Santo, commonly referred to as Santo, is Vanuatu's largest island and the second most developed after Efate . Santo is a relatively easy choice for experiencing Vanuatu 's outer islands with some good attractions from trekking to scuba diving and idyllic deserted beach. The island has Vanuatu 's highest peak, Mt Tabwemasana at 1879m above sea level, and the longest river, the Jordan .
Copra and beef cattle, established along the south and east coasts power Santo's economy. The island's only town is Luganville in the south. It's basically a one street town with banks, trade stores, internet, a hospital and most other services. Santo is a good base for exploring the northern and central islands of Vanuatu . Ambae and Malekula are close at hand with frequent and inexpensive transport links. Maewo and Pentecost are only a little further away. From Santo it is much cheaper to travel to the Banks and Torres islands. Linking Santo and Port Vila there are direct flights and routes that allow you to stopover on islands in-between.
Cruise ships often call at Champagne Beach near Hog Harbour, 50 kilometers north of Luganville. The name aptly describes these sands, and Elephant Island just offshore also resembles its name. Several small ecotourism projects are underway in this area, at Kole 1 and Matantas. There are caves, blue holes, reefs, and war wreckage everywhere for the active traveler to discover
Transport to and from Santo —Pekoa is a busy domestic hub for the northern islands. Note that tourists with a return Air Vanuatu ticket are entitled to a 20% discount. Additionally, Luganville is Vanuatu 's second biggest sea port. Boats to other islands can be found at the Simonsen wharf (towards the airport) and Melcoffee (west of town) wharves.
Transport around the island —Public transports on Santo come into town in the morning and return in the afternoon. Don't expect to find public transport on Sundays although one could wait and hitch a ride. There are two places to find public transport in Santo. If you're heading up the east coast then go to the Unity Store and Pacific Petroleum station (formerly "Unity Shell"). Buses and market trucks leave from 1500H. There are always people waiting here and the pump attendants know all the drivers. Minibuses are preferable for comfort and in case of rain —For South Santo travelers, you can wait on the roadside across from the Luganville market house, in front of the clump of bamboo. It doesn't look like a bus stop but you can find people waiting here from about 1400h. If there are some women from South Santo in the market house, they will know which trucks are in town.