If you’re looking for the ultimate paddling playground in Vanuatu, then you can’t go past the east coast of Espiritu Santo. This stunning stretch of coastline is protected by Palekula Point in the south, Turtle Bay Point in the north and by two large islands, Ais and Mavea, out to the east. Together they create a relatively protected stretch of water about 16km long by 3km wide. However the real jewel in the crown lies nestled within the north-west pocket of this waterway – the Bay of Islands Espiritu Santo (also known as Peterson Bay or Turtle Bay).
Bay of Islands Espiritu Santo
The Bay of Islands Espiritu Santo is a calm, protected turquoise lagoon (4km long x 1km wide) surrounded by five small tropical islands, including the famous Oyster Island (home to Oyster Island Resort). There are reefs, WW2 plane wrecks, white sand beaches and two incredible crystal rivers (Matevulu and RiRi) leading up to amazing blue holes. For kayakers and stand up paddlers this means a range of paddling options suitable for just about every level of experience (from newbies to veterans) and for all weather conditions.
Island Time Kayaking & SUPs
It’s no surprise then, that Island Time Kayaking and SUPs base themselves within the Bay of Islands (opposite Oyster Island – look for the big yellow sign!). They offer a fantastic half day Bay of Islands kayak tour. The tour is all inclusive and usually involves a bus pick up followed by a leisurely paddle across the bay to Oyster Island. From there it’s either a circumnavigation of Oyster island (depending on paddling experience and weather conditions) or a short kayak to another nearby island or white sand beach.
The tour generally lasts for about 1.5 – 2hrs and includes a local guide, a swim on a white sand beach, a snorkel on the nearby coral reef and the option of snorkelling on the wreck of a WW2 American fighter plane. Afterwards there is a picnic with fresh local tropical fruits at Island Time Kayaking’s paddle base.
Island Time Kayaking also do a number of other tours within the Bay of Islands, including a crystal river and blue hole tour to Matevulu Blue Hole and the occasional one-off paddle to Riri lagoon and Riri Blue Hole,
DIY Adventures – Kayak & SUP Hire
For the more experienced paddlers (or the more budget conscious) Island Time Kayaking also offers the option of self-hiring either single and double kayaks or stand up paddleboards within the Bay of Islands Espiritu Santo. Prices start from as little as vt800 per hour (around $10 AUD). Currently we do not do SUP tours but we can arrange them on request. See HERE for more information.
In addition to exploring the 5 islands and two blue hole rivers surrounding the lagoon, experienced paddlers can cross the channel to beautiful Mavea Island, follow the coastline north to Turtle Bay and explore the extensive river system there, discover the tiny coral atoll of Dany Island or paddle from Suranda Bay up to Peterson Bay (bay of islands). You can also combine any of these paddles with a one way boat drop off or pick up – we have a small banana boat and driver for hire at very reasonable prices – see here for more info.
All up, paddling the Bay of Islands Espiritu Santo is great way to experience the joy of kayaking or SUPing in relative safety with the option of some more challenging paddling thrown in. For more information contact Island Time Kayaking or check out their facebook page.