Paddling from Lonnoc Beach to Champagne Beach Espiritu Santo is without doubt one of the most beautiful kayak tours you can do in Vanuatu. The scenery is magical and the water is an incredible turquoise blue, the kind of blue you dream about when you visit a tropical island paradise. There is also the bonus of having some colourful coral reef to snorkel on in the shallow waters just off Champagne Beach.
The paddle itself is not huge, perhaps a 3.5 km round trip, and takes less than an hour to complete each way, so it’s ideal for the beginner to intermediate paddler. Those with more kayaking experience can continue on past Champagne Beach and paddle all the way to Champagne Point (another 2.5 – 3km further east) or out to Elephant Island (about 4km north).
The tour, which runs every Sunday, starts at stunning Lonnoc Beach, your classic South Seas Island fantasy beach. It features overhanging palm trees framing a curve of white sand and a sheltered turquoise bay (and it faces north so it’s protected from the SE trade winds that blow between June – Sept). Dotted along the beach at regular intervals are quaint local cottages for rent, as well as some basic sea side cafes/restaurants. Lonnoc Beach is located about an hour’s drive north of Luganville, Espiritu Santo’s main town. The Champagne Beach Espiritu Santo kayak tour includes a bus pick up and drop off from Luganville, guides, kayak and snorkel hire, custom entry fees into Champagne Beach and refreshments after the paddle.
From Lonnoc it’s a leisurely paddle around the nearby headland into Champagne Bay. Along the way you will cruise over extensive fringing reef bursting with coral and fish. The views out to nearby Elephant Island and up to Hogs Harbour (the nearest village) are stunning.
CHAMPAGNE BEACH ESPIRITU SANTO
Champagne Beach itself stretches in a lazy arc from west to east and features over 200m of powder white sand so fine it “fizzes” every time a gentle wave breaks on the shore – hence the source of its unique name “champagne”. Steep, rainforest covered hills rise at the back of the beach, giving it a classic ‘Tahitian” feel.
Anywhere else in the Pacific a beach this beautiful would be covered with resorts and bungalows and restaurants but for now it remains pristine, with just a scattering of abandoned bamboo stalls and dozens of towering, ancient tamanu trees providing welcome shade in summer.
At both the west and east corners of Champagne Beach Espiritu Santo there is extensive fringing reef. As part of the 1/2 day tour, we spend about an hour snorkling, sunbaking and relaxing here before returning to Lonnoc Beach for some light refreshments (tropical fruit platter) and an optional lunch at a simple beachside restaurant/cafe.