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“Perfect Family Holiday!”

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Oyster Island Resort
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Perfect Family Holiday!”
Reviewed 23 December 2013

My family loves to travel and we have holidayed all over Australia and abroad, but this has to be one of our absolute best holidays to-date. My husband and I took our two boys (11 & 9) for two weeks this December to Oyster Island Resort and fell in love with Vanuatu, Santo, and the community on and around Oyster Island. The weather was brilliant - fine most days (and if it rained it never rains all day), hot (but with a breeze blowing off the water most of the time), and the water was always super warm. Santo is incredible - a pristine, untouched island paradise which caters to both those who want to get away from it all and return to a simpler lifestyle (we brought no computers, iPhones, DSs or "screens" of any kind - and there are no TVs on Oyster Island) as well as those who want some old-fashioned adventure. My boys thought they'd died and gone to Bear Grylls heaven - climbing waterfalls, floating down rapids, riding horses, snorkelling coral reefs & Million Dollar Point with its tanks & jeeps & cannons, kayaking to pristine blue holes through pouring rain, swinging from ropes tied to trees, riding in the back of trucks, playing in the village with the local kids, fishing, turtle-watching...the list goes on. And when they weren't having some astonishing adventure, they were reading or learning how to play canasta.
Oyster Island Resort proved to be a wonderful home-base for the two weeks, central to everywhere on Santo we wanted to go, and with super friendly staff who were always engaging the kids (Tour Leaders John & Daveson were spectacular with them, and Paul showed them how to get the coconuts from the trees, let them see the fresh fish coming in, and let them help with the burn-off fires) and looking after us. Marie, Chris, Aaron & Casper (the FOH staff & Duty Managers) happily helped us organise our trips, washing, special celebrations, afternoon drinking coconuts, fruit snacks for our trips, and anything else we wanted. The dining room/bar staff (Richard, John, Sabrina, Christina, Fiona & Lolina) were always smiling and ready to talk about Vanuatu culture & customs, their lives growing up, and so on ~ adding a real personal touch to their service. The food, overseen by Head Chef Jonas, was really great - huge kids meals (my boys often had leftovers for the next day's lunch) and lots of variety. The Santo beef & Chocolate Ribs lived up to their reputation, and we also really enjoyed all the fish dishes as the fish is caught fresh daily. Kids meals are all VT1,200 (around Aus$14) and mains are VT1,800-3,200 - on average VT 2,400 ($28) ~ pretty much the same as other restaurants on Santo. A bit more than we'd budgeted for, but breakfast is included, which is a bonus, and it was all great quality.
The bungalows are delightful (we stayed in #8), with the water lapping under them through the night - very relaxing. We paid VT19,000 ($218) per night for all 4 of us - great value compared to some of the other resorts (several of which don't even cater to children), esp. when you consider breakfast is included. The kids loved the hammock on the balcony and you can snorkel directly out from your room if you like (there are small steps leading down to the water's edge), and my husband and I loved the wall of glass louvers overlooking the ocean as well as the open-air bathroom where we could see the stars as we showered:) We took a plug-in mossie repellent which we left on in our room and had no problems at all with mosquitos. The beds were firm and great for our backs so we slept like the dead, only very occasionally being awoken by (distant) 4am roosters on Santo. My son was incensed to discover they don't make the cute "cockadoodledoo" sound, but are in fact more like "strangled cats" in his opinion:) There's also a small fridge so you can get some (limited) supplies from the supermarket in Luganville and keep them in your room.
The whole resort is carefully overseen by New Zealand Managers Olly & Dave, who do a great job mentoring and taking care of their staff and who are deeply investing in the local community ~ they are currently helping build a new school in the Turtle Bay area. Olly circulates daily to meet all the new guests, and is fascinating to talk to because of her depth understanding of Island cultures. Her son warmly welcomed our boys and proceeded to initiate them into island life, which they loved. Other fabulous local characters with great stories to tell include Fabrice (who runs the fishing/snorkelling/turtle & dugong watching trips) and Megan (who runs the horse ranch and takes lessons & trail rides).
The highlight of our trip, however, was being invited to Kaito's (one of the staff members) wedding in the local village - a rare privilege and an indication of just how welcoming and generous the people are when you get to know them. A day we'll treasure for a long time.

HOT TIPS: Bring reef walkers (shoes), aerogard & travel insurance:) Our underwater camera got a lot of use too. Thursday nights are great (with the string band, the buffet & the bon fire on the beach!)
RECOMMENDED TRIPS/ACTIVITIES: 1/2 Day Snorkelling; 1/2 Day Mount Hope Waterfall Trip (not for the feint-of-heart but we LOVED it); Kayaking to the Blue Hole (around 45 mins each way); Horse Riding with Megan; Snorkelling & Turtle/Dugong Watching with Fabrice; Full-Day Champagne Beach & Million Dollar Point Tour + lunch at Velit Bay Plantation with Paradise Tours. All the tours & activities range from VT2,500-4,500 per person ($28-$51) - with some kids' discounts. You can also pop across to Lope Lope Resort for the day (where Megan has her horses) and they have lots of other kid-friendly activities including catamarans, quad bikes and paint pall in the jungle!
We left a little bit of our hearts in Vanuatu...but you can be sure we'll be back.

Room Tip: I think all the Delux Bungalows (#6-11) can have bunk beds added to them for kids - just email Olly.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Lynne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
OysterIsland, General Manager at Oyster Island Resort, responded to this review, 30 December 2013
Thank you for your review, we are really glad you enjoyed your family holiday on Oyster and in Santo and really look forward to hosting you back here again in the future. Best of luck for a fantastic 2014.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
129 reviews
70 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 December 2013

We've stayed at four different places during our visit to Santo. Oyster Island was one of them and was okay, but not as special as you could imagine after reading all the reviews. The consensus in our group was that the best thing about Oyster island was the fact that it's an island. The resort itself is okay, but not super pretty. Nothing overly fancy either. Bungalows just okay, could probably benefit from some renovation (we really liked the lovely patio with the hammock though). Food was okay, if not slightly disappointing. WiFi didn't work during most of our stay (and even when it works, it does not cover the restaurant).

Other than that, it's a pretty and peaceful island, a 20-30 minute ride from the airport in the direction of Champagne Beach. You can rent a kayak, hop across to the main island and then paddle upstream to the Matevulu blue hole (45-60 minutes) - this trip was amazing and the biggest highlight of our trip to Vanuatu next to Tanna. The river is just amazingly beautiful, and so is the blue hole with a giant banyan tree with a rope tied to it. There is another, smaller blue hole close to the main road - Nanda - highly recommended as well.

The staff at the resort was very friendly and very very helpful.

There is a taxi driver living next to the jetty - Luis - who is super friendly, knows everyone and everything and we ended up hiring him for entire days. You want to go to a local kava bar - "no problem, just relax boys". Need fresh fruit from the local market - no problem. Want to find a casual place to sit down and eat lunch with the locals - no problem. He was another highlight of our trip.

All in all - I would rate Oyster island 3.5/5. And the Santo island itself is fantastic and by far exceeded our expectations.

Room Tip: The further from the reception the better. Bungalows 10 and 11 are good.
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  • Stayed November 2013, travelled with friends
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1 Thank Lifou T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 October 2013

We stayed in September and had 11nights in this beautiful paradise. The moment we arrived on the little ferry we found the welcome to be very warm and friendly ,the staff very helpful and informative. We loved our room , which was bungalow 11, very private, a nice short walk to the restaurant. The deck was relaxing and beautiful views, we went snorkeling right out from our room, saw lots of fish even saw a lion fish, right out in front of our room. We went for a walk around the island it was lovely ,the snorkeling spot at midway was lovely plenty of fish and some very nice corals.The dinning area was welcoming , quiet, relaxed , and we liked that you could sit at a table for just two people or more if you wished. The meals were awesome, they were very good size meals, very tasty, and very we'll priced. We had no problems with the service at dinner time , our orders were taken very quickly, our drinks delivered fast, and then our beautifully cooked dinner brought quickly and hot. The variety was great and we stayed 11 nights, my husband especially enjoyed the santo steak, cooked to perfection every time he had one (three times, he really enjoyed them). The kayak to the blue hole is well worth it ,the blue hole it's beautiful, please take notice if the staff tell you the cruise ship is in and don't go, go the next day .overall we have stayed lots of places in Fiji and Vanuatu, and rate oyster island as one of the best we have stayed at, the staff very helpful and friendly, the island beautiful, the food delicious, so very quiet and relaxing, we are already looking at booking our next holiday at oyster island.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Waynejojo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisbane
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 October 2013

We stayed on Oyster Island for 7 night's in October 2013 and it was great. We had a deluxe bungalow and it was really nice. The bungalow was so nice with direct access to the water and the sound of the water lapping during the night was just lovely. John the chef in the restaurant was keen to please and the meals were all really nice. The snorkelling around the front of the island was good and snorkelling off the point of the adjacent island was also very good. It was nice just walking around the island and we hired kayak's and paddled to the nearest blue hole , definitely worth it.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank jim t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Christchurch, New Zealand
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 October 2013

My wife and I celebrated 25 years together with a week on Oyster Island and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
From the moment we arrived we found the staff to be friendly and helpful and did not feel that we were being given any more interaction or information than we were happy with.
Whilst the continental breakfast was basic it was more than adequate to start the day and the fresh fruit salad more than compensated for the basic cereal options! The food was generally of a high standard and definitely better value for money than the other resort we visited just up the road on one evening, purely for a comparison.
Our accommodation was excellent and we were very comfortable and had a wonderful week of warm and predominantly sunny, dry weather. The one afternoon when we had a torrential downpour it didn't "dampen" our enjoyment at all and it was still warm enough to swim at Midway beach.
The only cautionary note would be that with strong southerly breeze and torrential rain we did find that the water fairly flowed in under the doors and we fixed this by rolling our towel up and 'plugging the gap!' Obviously we then had to use hand towels to shower with... as walking to reception in the deluge wasn't really an option.
In summary, the location is idyllic, food excellent and generally piping hot, staff pleasant and personable and whilst this is not a cheap destination we would not hesitate to recommend for anyone who has always wondered just what paradise might really look like??

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Craig C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 October 2013

We had four nights at Oyster Island Resort in the deluxe bungalows and thought it was paradise. The rooms were fantastic, clean and spacious. The deck with hammock overlooking the water was so relaxing. There is so much you can do, or you can just chill and relax. Wonderful meals at the restaurant and friendly staff. The kayak to Matevulu blue hole is a must, wonderful to swim there. Also did Riri river blue hole by dugout canoe, and it was also incredible. The island is lovely to walk around and explore, good snorkelling at midway beach.
The resort also organised a 2hr fishing, 2hr snorkelling trip for us with Fabrice from Island Fishing Santo which we thoroughly recommend. We would definitely recommend Oyster Island Resort and hope to be back one day..

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank dreamingAuckland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 September 2013

My family (myself, my husband, and 2 kids 14yo & 11yo) stayed at Oyster Island Resort for 5 nights in Sept 2013. We found the resort to be of an excellent standard, and after reading some of the other reviews on trip advisor, we were more than happy with the overall experience. One of the highlights of the trip was the quality of the food at Oyster Island. My son is a particularly fussy eater and I was worried that the restaurant would not have many meals that were suitable for him. In fact, I found just the opposite. The food was very child friendly, and the size of the meals were enormous (which meant we often ordered 1 meal between 2 people). Depending on the number of people in the restaurant, the staff were sometimes operating on 'island time', but I found that the quality and size of the meals more than overcompensated for the extra time we waited for our meals (compared with typical waiting times in Australia). I would definitely recommend the 'Santo Beef', as it really is as good as people say, and I am sure that my steak was the best I've ever had.

The rooms were beautiful, and the open air bathroom awesome (deluxe bungalow #8). Some of the furnishings are not quite as nice as I'd seen on the website, but were perfectly acceptable and the hammock was a definite 'fav' spot for the whole family. The bungalows and restaurant have recently been re-lacquered and have bought out the beautiful timber used in their construction. The wifi was playing up while we were there and my mobile phone reception, dodgy at best, so we were essentially cut off from everything which was not a really big deal to us as we were in paradise and had so many other things to see and do.

Some of the tours that I would recommend include a kayaking trip to the blue holes (which took us quite a bit longer then the 45mins each way that is suggested) and is quite physically demanding, especially if you are going against the tides. Don't forget to take snorkles, food & water and your mosquito spray (although there were not that many mozzies when we were there). The Matevule Blue Hole was stunning and a lifetime experience, but there is very little there except the blue hole and a few small picnic table/areas. Also, smaller children/ non-swimmers do not have any shallow areas to swim. There is only one small step/rock area where everyone can enter the water.

We also went to Champagne Bay and highly recommend this, but food venues are very limited and I would not recommend the cafe/ hut at Lonnoc. We paid about $50 AUD for our lunch, which took 1hr and 15mins and was cold. The food was not child friendly at all.

The final highlight of our trip was our Horseriding adventure with Megan from Santo Horsriding Adventures at Lope Lope Lodge. She was very supportive of my daughter who had never been riding before and all the horses were extremely well behaved and the tracks were stunning and varied (past villages, up a hill to a veiwing spot of the whole area, down through rainforest and finally out onto the beach and a small blue whole). She even stopped to take photos for us so that we could all be in the photo together :)

My final piece of advice is to make sure that you do take reef shoes as you will definitely need them for swimming at most of the beaches on the island. The beach in front of the reception/ restaurant is fine, but outside the bungalows there is quite a bit of coral which can be sharp on your feet. All in all, I would give Oyster Island 4.9 stars and look forward to coming back again in the near future. Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality!

Room Tip: The deluxe bungalows are definitely worth the extra money if you can afford it :) The numbers go fro...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Michelle H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Oyster Island Resort

Property: Oyster Island Resort
Address: PO Box 183, Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Region: Vanuatu > Espiritu Santo > Luganville
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 9 Speciality Lodging in Luganville
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Oyster Island Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on a private 25 hectare island just 2 minutes crossing from the mainland. Oyster Island Resort resides within a Marine Reserve, abundant in marine and wild life. Sandy beaches, tropical rainforest, coral reefs and war plane wrecks make for fantastic snorkelling. Bungalows line the waters edge, each with private decks or patio's, enjoying stunning views out over the calm lagoon waters. Family Vila allow room for parents and children to enjoy the large grounds and gardens and are set off the water for safety. Skilled Chefs serve the very best of local and western cuisine from our waterfront restaurant. Only 20 minutes from the airport and township. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Oyster Island Hotel Luganville
Oyster Island Resort Vanuatu/Luganville

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