Espiritu Santo Map
At 3,955 Square kilometers, Espiritu Santo is Vanuatu's largest island. It's one of the South Pacific's last great unexplored islands: Mount Tabwemasana, the country's highest peak, is extremely difficult to climb. All the roads are in the east and south of the island. Only bush trails connect the traditional villages on the western side of the island.
Terra Austrialis del Espiritu Santo was one of the first South Pacific islands to be colonized, by the Quiros expedition in 1606. The Spanish settlement on Big Bay lasted only three weeks, and the island wasn't visited again until Bougainville arrived in 1768.
In the late 19th century, Espiritu Santo became part of the New Hebrides. During the 20th century the island was the site of a huge American military base during World War Two and a secessionist movement in 1980. Vestiges of the ill-fated Republic of Vemarana led by Jimmy Stevens are still visible in Fanafo village.
The airport and most of the roads on Espiritu Santo were constructed during World War Two. The largest accessible wreck in the world, the SS President Coolidge, lies in 21 meters of water in Segond Channel near the town of Luganville. At the war's end the Americans dumped their equipment in the channel nearby at a place now known as Million Dollar Point.
Cruise ships often call at Champagne Beach near Hog Harbor, 50 kilometers north of Luganville. The name aptly describes these sands, and Elephant Island just offshore also resembles its name. Several small ecotourism projects are underway in this area, at Kole 1 and Matantas. There are caves, blue holes, reefs, and war wreckage everywhere for the active traveler to discover.