Vanuatu has more freshwater blue waterholes than any other place in the world.
The most spectacular Blue Holes can be found on the volcanic island of Espiritu Santo, a 45-minute flight from Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila.
When it rains, water flows down the volcanic mountains towards the east, corroding the limestone to create underground streams. The limestone acts as a filter, cleaning the water until the streams resurge back to the surface in coastal areas creating freshwater springs. The water in these pools appears a luminous blue, partly because the base is limestone and partly because the water is so clean. The deeper and more pure the water – the bluer the colour will be.
You can swim in most of Vanuatu’s blue waterholes. These are our top 6 picks for families:
Ri Ri Blue Hole
Ri Ri is considered the prettiest blue hole of all the Santo blue holes. To get there you can drive or cycle down a dirt road or paddle on a kayak rented from nearby resorts such as Turtle Bay or Oyster Island. The journey up the river takes just 15 minutes. Look out for the two blue dugout canoes on the left-hand side of the road – that’s the spot.
Ri Ri is actually two blue holes. One is 5 metres deep, the other is 10 metres deep. Water gushes into both from the bottom. Ri Ri has a platform with a rope swing so you can launch yourself into the middle of the waterhole. The water temperature is around 24C. Bring your goggles so you can check out the marine life below the surface.
Matevulu Blue Hole
The entrance to Matevulu is directly opposite the Oyster Island Resort on Santo. It takes about 30 minutes to paddle up the “crystal river” to this gorgeous swimming spot. Once there, you will find a rope swing tied to a huge banyan tree. Matevulu does have toilets available.
Swallows dip and dive into and around the water, which is surrounded by thick green forest. Matevulu is also home to the rare freshwater hermit crab – bring your goggles and see if you can spot one.
Nanda Blue Hole
You’ll find Nanda or Jackie’s Blue Hole at the top of Turtle Bay. The land is privately owned and only caters for up to 100 visitors at a time. The $5 entry fee includes a coconut to drink.
The owners have built a little bungalow, a bar and a boardwalk for tourists. You will also find a wooden waterslide, a rope and swing platform.
Malo Blue Hole
The Malo Blue hole, on Malo island just off the coast of Espiritu Santo, is surrounded by jungle. This really is an “off the beaten track” adventure. You will not find any facilities here.
Santo Resorts will offer trips to Malo Island. From the beach, it’s about a 20-minute paddle to the Blue Hole. As you paddle up the creek you will see the water change colour dramatically.
Don’t forget your snorkel – this blue hole is teeming with tropical fish.
Hog Harbour Blue Hole
Hog Harbour Blue Hole is also known as the Secret Blue Hole. You will find it about 1.4 km after the turn-off to Champagne Beach. It’s a secret – so don’t expect signposting. All you will see is a hut and some seats on the right-hand side of the road. The walking track here leads down to the blue hole.
The Hog Harbour Blue Hole is one of the only Santo blue holes with a direct connection to the ocean.
Blue Lagoon – Efate
If you are staying in Port Villa – don’t worry. You will find a Blue Hole not far from the capital. The Blue Lagoon has picnic tables, changing facilities and toilets.
You can hire a kayak to paddle around. Most people, however, just come here to swim, snorkel and test out the rope swing.