02 Nov 2019
Beautiful Beaches and Blue Holes at Espiritu Santo
Champagne Beach was a perfect crescent of soft white sand, lapped gently by translucent blue water. It was a perfect place to start our day on the island of Espiritu Santo. It was made even better by the glass of bubbles we enjoyed as a surprise. We spent a relaxing couple of hours here, swimming, snorkelling and lazing on the beach. We were then entertained by a group of women with an extraordinary performance of 'water music'. They stood waist deep in the sea and moved their bodies in synchrony, slapping the water with cupped hands to create a rhythmic percussive beat. It was a mesmerising and unique performance.
After lunch we set off to explore the WWII history of Santo, once a huge US military base during the war in the Pacific. As a result, today it has the world's largest shipwreck accessible for divers, the SS President Coolidge; crashed warplanes in the forest, and Million Dollar Point where vast quantities of mechanical wreckage were dumped into the sea when hostilities finished. In town, wartime Quonset huts made of corrugated iron are still in use and there is also a small war museum. It was a fascinating glimpse into a time when hundreds of thousands of troops would have passed through this quiet tropical island.
We finished the day with a swim at Matevulu Blue Hole, a deep spring-fed pool surrounded by forest. The colour of the water was an almost unnaturally intense blue. As dusk fell we left by Zodiac, gliding down the river to the sea. Bats were just emerging. Overhead flew giant Pacific Flying Foxes, slightly smaller Vanuatu Flying Foxes and many microbats too. With vegetation overhanging the water, dark sky above, the silhouettes of many bats and the rhythmic buzz of insects, it was an eerie and atmospheric end to our day on Espiritu Santo.
Image (c) N.Nightingale, Heritage Expeditions
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