Luganville

Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Vanuatu Espiritu Santo Luganville

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Introduction

Luganville is the largest town on Espiritu Santo and the second largest in Vanuatu. The city is called Santo by people from Vanuatu's northern islands, who use Luganville as their big city. It is called Kanal (from French Second Canal) by rural residents of the large island of Espiritu Santo. The main street that runs through Luganville contains most of the commercial businesses. It is unusually wide as a result of the American base commander insisting that four army tanks must be able to be driven side by side along the road. Small side streets and outlying roads cater for the residential zones. The main street contains the port at one end and the markets and municipal council building at the other end. In the centre there are two main types of stores: tourist boutiques and all-in-one stores (best described as a cross between a supermarket and a hardware store).

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Sights and Activities

  • Open air market - The open air market is one of them, its open 24 hours a day except for Sunday nights and it includes fresh fruit, vegetables and various other wares that the people of Santo bring to the markets from their village gardens. You can't beat the quality of their produce as its all organic and incredibly cheap.
  • Outdoor produce market - Go to the outdoor produce market in the western end of town and buy some of the organic fruit and vegetables.
  • View from the Big Hill - Take a walk up to the top of the big hill and enjoy the view of Sagond Channel and Aore Island

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Events and Festivals

Check the Events and Festivals Website for an overview.

  • John Frum Day - John Frum is a mythical figure associated with a cargo cult which arose on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. Usually depicted as a WWII soldier from the US, John Frum is said to bring wealth and prosperity to those who believe in him. Every year, usually in March, a military parade is held in his honor, signifying that this non-violent cult is still quite active today.
  • ANZAC Day - ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and ANZAC Day, April 25, commemorates the day when Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought and died in the battle of Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire in WWI. The Australian and New Zealand high commissions hold a joint event every year in Port Vila to celebrate the lives of the ANZAC troopers.
  • Fête de la Musique - As with many other cities around the world, June 21st sees performances from both amateur and professional musicians showcasing their talent at different venues across the towns of Port Vila and Luganville. Musical artists donate their time for free and spectators come to see the show free-of-charge.
  • Saint Andrew Festival - The Saint Andrew Festival is a Christian festival in Vanuatu that has been infused with local indigenous traditions. In the Banks region, locals from Rah and Mota Lava have been coming together for more around 100 years now in this festival celebrating the life of Saint Andrew, the Apostle. The three-day event sees both locals and visitors in large festivities and feasts featuring food cooked by geothermal energy. The festival is held every November 29.

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Getting There

By Plane

Internationally, Santo-Pekoa International Airport (SON) serves Brisbane and Sydney with Air Vanuatu. Gaua, Longana, Lonorore, Norsup, Olpoi, Port Vila, Sola and Walaha are domestic places served.

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Getting Around

The town of Luganville is tiny, and with the exception of the big hill, it doesn't present much of a challenge to those who want to walk it. Getting around town can be tricky because often the roads are unnamed but if you know the name of your destination the town is small enough that almost anyone on the street will know what you're talking about if you ask for directions.

Taxis are your friend in Santo, especially if you need to get anywhere in a hurry (or avoid walking in the summer heat, or through a tropical downpour). There are many buses in town as well, and these cost a flat rate of 100 vatu. Don't expect too many tar sealed roads in Luganville (or Santo in general for that matter) and aside from the main road, the road up to the hospital and the road leading up the hill toward the Road to Port Olry, all other roads on the island are dirt or leftover cement roads from the American troops in WWII.

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Eat

For those on a limited budget the outdoor produce market has several vendors who serve up meals with rice these include beef stew, eggs (sort of an omelette), steak (not the best) and fish. With your meal expect a light lemon-aide, and fresh fruit for desert. These meals are 400 Vatu at most and are quite filling.

  • Hotel Santo - Hotel Santo has a fantastic restaurant and serves the best and only pizza on the island (though you'll have to arrange a day or so ahead of time). Hotel Santo has a great bar and friendly staff (its also one of the few places you can get pizza in Luganville for those of you missing a western meal) .
  • Coral Quays (off on the western part of the town's main road) - Coral Quays serves fantastic locally ranched Santo Beef, I recommend the Eye Fillet with green peppercorn sauce and a souffle prepared from scratch for dessert (pricier fair). The beef is raised on a completely organic diet in Santo, and is some of the best beef you'll ever eat.
  • Natangora Cafe - The Natangora Cafe (centrally located) has a good breakfast and lunch menu, and serves up coffee, cappucinos and fresh juices. The milkshakes and burgers are excellent and made with fresh, local ingredients.
  • Nemo Restaurant - The French-run Nemo restaurant is probably the best in town.
  • Chinese restaurants - There are several Chinese restaurants in town as well, one of which serves a westernized style of dish and the other a more authentic style. The latter will prepare Coconut crab depending on the season (this might vary as laws are being put into place to limit the poaching of this endangered species), as well as bush pidgeons and various other dishes. This restaurant can be found next to Aquamarine.
  • Deco stop - The Deco stop deserves mentioning as it serves up fantastic meals with an unbeatable view.

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Drink

Water throughout Santo is quite safe to drink. The local beer is called Tusker and is quite refreshing. You can buy Tuskers at most any of the small stores for 200 Vatu a bottle. You won't get a discount on a buying a case so be prepared for that.

Alcohol isn't that popular of a drink amongst the local Ni-vanuatans and as such there are no real bars. There is a sports bar in town, but its dingy and run down. Your best bet to have a drink in town is at the bar of Hotel Santo. Or you can buy a beer and sit on the shore of the Nemo Nakamal.

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Sleep

There are several hotels in Luganville. In addition to the ones listed below there are several smaller options. Booking in advance is recommended as during peak diving season (which coincides with the cooler dry season) all available lodging might well be booked.

  • Hotel Santo - The Hotel Santo is the most centrally located.
  • Deco stop - Deco stop is halfway up the big hill but is quite a good option.
  • Coral Quays - Coral Quays is on the western edge of town and puts things just outside of convenient walking distance.
  • Moyyan House by the Sea - barrier beach (off the East Coast Road), ☎ +678 30036, e-mail: moyyan@moyyan.com. New and modern boutique resort 2 years old. Wonderful white sand beach. Looks out to Aese island. Great snorkelling as surrounded by reefs.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes can be found in Luganville & Port-Vila. You may also find that some post offices will also provide some kind of Internet facilities, and can be found on the main streets in Port-Vila and Luganville as well as on Espiritu Santo.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international country code for Vanuatu is +678. To dial overseas from within Vanuatu dial 00 followed by the relevant country code and phone number.

Emergency phone numbers: Ambulance (22-100); Fire (22-333); and Police (22-222).

Vanuatu has GSM mobile coverage in Port-Vila and most GSM mobile phones roam seamlessly. You can buy special visitor SIM cards from TVI, which offer considerable discounts over roaming charges. Available at any post office.

Post

Postal services to overseas countries can take weeks. You can send letters and postcards from mailboxes in the streets, however the incoming postal service can be patchy, especially for parcels, so don't rely on people sending you things while you're staying in Vanuatu.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 12:27 on Aug 30, 18 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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