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Santo, Vanuatu was our first port of call on our 7 Day South Pacific Cruise with Carnival Cruise Line.

We weren’t originally planning to go to Santo but as our itinerary was changed so this was now one of the stops.

When arriving in Santo we were greeted by the locals doing a traditional song and dance. These locals stayed singing and dancing from the moment our ship was pulling in to after our ship started to depart. They were a mix of all ages.

About Vanuatu:

Vanuatu only recently graduated from being one of the least developed countries in the world. Although It felt very run down when we were there. The average wage is around 99,500 Vatu per month which is roughly 1200 AUD or 730 EUR.

We passed through customs and there was markets on at the time. I believe the locals mark up their prices when they see a cruise ship coming as a way to make extra money. I don’t see how the locals on a monthly salary of 1200 AUD could afford to live at the price changed in the cafes and shops. 

Costs and what to do:

Like most tourist hotspots the taxi drivers try to overcharge you. We asked a taxi man to bring us from the town to the local Blue Hole which was roughly a 20min journey. He wanted to charge us $100 (€60) one way. We were advised to haggle with them and as we had changed our money over in the cruise terminal we offered him 4000 VATU which works out as roughly $50 Australian dollars. This was half the price and he waited for us and brought us back. It is their law that a taxi driver must wait and bring you back, he cannot bring you one way and leave you or he will get in trouble.

 

We spent about 1 hour at the blue hole. You had to pay an entrance fee of $10pp or 2000 Vatu. It’s on private property so the owner charges you to enter but this is well worth it.

This trip cost us a total of $70 – including the taxi there and back and the entrance fee. We were allowed as long as we liked at the blue hole but due to the weather being so wet and cold we didn’t stay too long.

If we were to book the same excursion through the ship it would have been $105 per person and we would have had a time limit.

The taxi driver was very friendly and told us lots about living in Santo, many of the locals can speak 4 languages with English being their second language and spoken fluently.

The locals expressed to us that they would prefer tourists to pay in Australian dollars rather than their own currency as it is stronger. I’ll be keeping this in mind next time I travel and not changing it over so much with the bank when I land in the country.

About

Hi Im Ana, I’ve created the blog Irishtravelgal.com to share all my travel experiences. Im currently in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. 

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