Family Cruise: Champagne Bay, Vanuatu
My family has taken two different South Pacific cruises, and each time our favorite port of call was Champagne Bay, Vanuatu Island (part of Espiritu Santo). Here’s why we love getting to spend the day on this little patch of paradise.
3 Things To Do on a Cruise Stop at Champagne Bay
One of the most beautiful beaches in the world
Champagne Bay is simply stunning, even at first glance from the cruise ship. The gorgeous white sand running a ribbon between deep green jungle and crystal blue water, dotted with colorful sarongs that clash (wonderfully) with one another is impossibly perfect.
When you step off your cruise ship tender boat and arrive in port, you plunge into a different world. Beautiful native songs and dances of welcome drift seductively to your ears and eyes as you try to take in beauty beyond words. Locals step up, offering live, tamed wildlife for photographs–lizards, snakes, even turtles. Local women call to braid your hair in intricate patterns. This idyllic paradise is what I came on a South Pacific cruise for. It’s enough to spend the day foraging through the fascinating market for souvenirs, or lying on the pristine beach gazing at the ocean.
But the true beauty of Champagne Bay lies beneath the surface; to swim and snorkel here is a treat that shouldn’t be missed during your stop here. The water is so blue, it’s almost as though someone decided to pour in food coloring. Bright coral and colorful fish are everywhere. Gentle, shallow water means that our youngest family member could view the underwater spectacle with a pair of goggles.
The Blue Lagoon
There are several local excursions you can do inexpensively on your own. We opted to hop in a ute taking people to the Blue Lagoon, one of several fresh-water pools on the island. Several people were standing on the back of the truck but with kids we opted for a safer seat inside the cab.
After a short drive we paid a small fee to the local tribesman, then took a short, steep-ish walk to a beautiful blue waterhole. It reminded me of gigantic, very deep aquarium; I couldn’t reach the bottom. We had a couple of hours to swim and expolore before returning to Champagne Bay.
Meet the Locals
The local people have given us some of our best memories of Vanuatu as a port of call. They flock to the port to sell their wares whenever a ships pulls in (which is only every couple of weeks). They come across as friendly and welcoming and at the same time shy, appreciative and humble. They’re not demanding or rude. And some and the prices for their lovely arts and crafts were so low, I found myself supplementing them in an attempt to give them their worth.
At one point, when I was buying a souvenir, I lost sight of one of my children for a moment. Seeing my worry, the shopkeeper dropped everything, left his shop and recruited surrounding stall-holders to help me find her. She was playing just metres away, of course, but their help for those few scary moments mad me feel like family.
Champagne Bay is an outstanding port of call and it’s worth planning your next cruise around a visit here. See it for yourself, and I’m sure you will agree it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.
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