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Aore Island Resort
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Reviewed 20 December 2011

Having never been to an island resort before, my husband and I were a little apprehensive about what we were going to do at Aore Resort - neither of us are really the sunbaking type. However, Aore delivered the perfect holiday mix of relaxation and activities. After completing our open water diving certifications (with Henry, a very experienced instructor from Santo Island Diving and Fishing), we spent most mornings diving the SS President Coolidge (amazing!) or the numerous beautiful reefs in the area (really amazing!). Then we filled our afternoons with snorkeling out the front of our beachfront bungalow, riding mountain bikes around the plantation or up into the escarpment, swimming in the beautifully clear pool, or catching the ferry across to Luganville to stock up on fresh fruit at the local markets. There was plenty of time for relaxing in the hammock, chilling in the Nakamal with a banana smoothy (delicious) or chatting with the friendly and informative staff. We were lucky to be staying at the resort for one of their monthly Islander Nights - a delicious banquet of local foods and entertainment from a string band and cultural dance group.

The bungalows were in a prime location on the beach with plenty of space between bungalows for privacy. They were cleaned daily and filled with fresh flowers which I thought was a lovely touch. The specials menu changed daily and the food was always tasty. Particularly the Santo Beef - always cooked to perfection! There were of ferries across to Luganville throughout the day, and on Friday nights, so its easy to eat in town if you feel like a change of scenery or food options.

The staff, particularly Ann, Dan and Leah were very friendly and went out of the way to make sure our holiday was just as we wanted it to be. When we inquired about doing a tour of Santo they gave reliable and honest information, and organised a very worthwhile Santo Highlights tour, which I highly recommend.

Overall, Aore resort was a beautiful place for a holiday that can be as relaxed or as active as you want. Well worth the visit.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank catherine h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2011

We have just returned from our honeymoon, which included a 9 night stay on Aore Island Resort. First let me qualify my review by saying that we were also travelling with our 13 month old son. Obviously our experiences are going to be different to anyone not travelling with a small child, but hopefully this review will assist anyone going to this resort!

To say this small private island is relaxing is an understatement! Fairly well kitted out, each bungalow is private and separate and right on the waterfront. The rooms are basic but more than comfortable, the only thing we really missed having was a microwave but the kitchen was more than happy to heat things up on request, although it did make some things with our son a little harder! Our room had 2 fans for cooling and brilliant louvre shutters that were more than adequate.

For the most part we were fairly protected from the mosquito's but if they love you, I do recommend taking mosquito nets for the kids (the resort supplied the portacot) and lots of insect repellent for yourself. I chose to take anti malaria tablets as well due to commonly being bitten wherever we go.

Don't think your holiday in Vanuatu is going to be cheap by any means. Prices for anything other than fresh fruit and vegetables at the local markets are the same as what you would pay in Australia. The restaurant prices at Aore are more than reasonable and generally no more than what you would pay at any coffee shop or restaurant in Luganville or Villa. The restaurant all day dining menu is quite basic and based on traditional 'beachside' fast food, however the daily specials menu is fantastic and the kitchen was always more than happy to accommodate reasonable requests for items off the menu, including making things like poached chicken, rice and steamed vegetables for our little boy.

Diving in Santo is fantastic, with a few different dive operators to choose from. The prices of the Aore Diving Centre are basically the same as the other dive operations in town so don't spend your time searching for the best price if you don't have to! Do some research before you go on good spots to go though as there are so many unique spots it may be hard to choose!

Shopping in Luganville is basically nonexistent. You'll get basic grocery supplies but nothing fancy, especially items like baby food. While we were there we couldn't find any savoury packaged baby food, only desert custards etc, so bring your own if your child won't eat cut up adult food. We were told that you can find them, but obviously the supply isn't reliable. We also couldn't find any common branded nappies so were glad we brought our own supply of those as well. If you pass through Port Villa though, you'll find everything you need there, so take that into account in your packing! For adults travelling without kids, you should be able to pick up most things you need, even in Luganville, although don't count on getting medications, especially for gastro etc... take your own if you can get it before you go.

Aore Island itself doesn't have a lot to do for those looking for adventure but is a very relaxing place to unwind and forget about your 'real world' for a while. There are beaches with snorkelling a metre offshore (make sure you take your reef shoes with you!), a good pool, 2 canoes to use at your leisure, walking tracks through the coconut plantations, a book exchange and a few board games available at the office but that's about it really! If we went again I would stay for about 4 - 5 nights and then maybe move on to Lonnoc Beach or another island to add to the variety.

All in all though we had a fantastic time and agree that the main thing that makes Aore Island Resort so great are the staff! From the owners to the cleaners, managers to the gardeners, no one was without a smile and a helping hand whenever you needed one!

Highly highly recommend this small resort for up to a week stay. Say hi to Anne, Dan, Manson and Ali for us!

Room Tip: Ocean View rooms are right on the water, Garden View rooms are set back about 5 metres. If you have small children, ask for a room further away from the restaurant as the weekly string band nights are quite loud and go quite late for the little ones.
  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank Carley H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2011

This is a small, private resort of around twenty little bungalows on an island ten minutes' ferry ride from Santo. The scenery is beautiful and the privacy is wonderful. Our wooden cottage had a little balcony over the beach. We could walk out and be in the sea snorkelling amongst beautiful fish with in ten seconds. That was truly amazing.

The room itself was lovely, with white fluffy towels, nice bedding and a balcony on which we loved sitting, drinking a Tusker beer and watching the sun set across the bay.

We used the island's diving instructors to take us out for five trips: on the Coolidge, Million Dollar Point and Tutuba. All the dives were amazing. Once we got used to the instructors' seemingly relaxed style (they were actually very smart, experienced and safety aware) we felt very secure and happy.

I would strongly recommend this for a stay of a few days. We stayed for ten (much too long) and found it limiting for the following reasons: lack of variety of food (we ended up taking the ferry to the main island for food shopping to eat in our room); expense of the beer in the mini bar (again we lugged our own from the main island); infrequency of the ferry to the mainland; low quality of the food - it really wasn't worthy of an expensive luxury resort - e.g. the so-called pizza.

But, as I say, it would be perfect for a shorter stay. The location is really lovely. The local staff were also really very warm, friendly, interesting and interested. And the diving is incredible.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank A_Flying_Scotsman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 August 2011

We stayed at Aore Island resort for 5 nights in a beachfront studio, and had a wonderful time. Aore just a short 10 minute trip across the water to the mainland of Santo on the courtesy boat, which was very handy and not at all inconvenient. It was well worth staying at Aore. We purchased the meal plan for the full days we were there, which a great way to go which also included picnic lunches for our daily excursions each day.Tthe owner Anne and staff were great , very friendly & helpfull with organising tours and activities. they couldn't have been more accomodating. After looking around the island and seeing some of the other resorts we believe we made a good choice. Santo is a large island and I suggest you make early starts to see as much as possible. Port Olry and champagne beaches are just lovely, a piece of paradise. We would also recommend the Millenium Cave Trip, we are so glad we wore our reef shoes. It's a beautiful spot and would love to go back soon.

Room Tip: Most of the bures are along the water's edge and look back acrosss the water to Luganville, and are just the right distance apart.
  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank kerrie56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2011

Before providing a review of Aore Island Resort (or any other location), I think it's important to understand our situation and criteria for this holiday; We are a family of 4 (from Sydney) with two boys aged almost 2 and almost 4. With long hours at work and longer hours in managing two hyperactive kids, we were looking for an easy holiday where we could unwind. We also wanted to spend time with our kids, particularly me (dad), as the boys are often asleep when I get home from work. We weren't looking for an active holiday. My wife and I are well travelled (and have both lived overseas in our single days), and we have stayed at a range of hotels and resorts from budget to high end luxury. We have also stayed at resorts in the pacific area on three or four occasions.

So to the review. On stepping of the boat transfer from Luganville to the resort, I immediately felt relaxed. Strange in that it ordinarily takes me two or three days to wind down from work. The host, Anne greeted us at the jetty. A really great lady (also from Sydney originally); Anne was warm, accommodating and attentive. She helped recommend us a trip and then booked for us to go to the Blue Hole (definitely worth visiting); like nothing I've seen in Australia or elsewhere. In fact, we were going to go to the Blue Hole a second time, but my wife was sick so Anne allowed us to leave it to a couple of hours before the transfer to cancel the trip - no fine and no problem. One evening after dinner I asked Anne if we could borrow a torch for our kids to look a the crabs on the beach on the way back to the bure - not a problem.

We found all the staff to be really warm and accommodating and like Fiji and elsewhere, the local staff love children. I recommend Ali for babysitting - he has two kids at a similar age. After spending two hours with Ali collecting hermit crabs and opening coconuts to drink, our 3yo asked if he could be babysat again the following day.

Outside of visiting the Blue Hole, we tended to hang around the resort (by design). There are some really nice pockets of coral directly in front of the resort and a wide array of fish. Be alert (but not alarmed) as we saw a lionfish and a banded sea snake during our swims. Note that the beach on the left (looking from the water) has more sand and less coral from the beach to 1m deep, so it's nicer for kids. The family bures are on the right hand side and there is quite a bit of broken, so we walked the 100 metres along the beach so that the kids could walk on the sand more comfortably.

The resort food was fresh and varied enough to allow you to not get bored during a 6 night stay (as was our case).

Our boys were at their hyperactive best and we were slightly concerned that we might be affecting the experience of other guests, but Anne and the staff took it in their stride, and we clamped down on the boys as required - as you would hope any other parent might. With toddlers and an unfenced pool and open water (and jetty) you always have to stay on your toes, so we had factored that in.

The bure (I think that's a Fijian term, but it's the accommodation) was great. Amazing location right on the beach with a view back across the water to Luganville. The accommodation was private, very well kept and was very comfortable. Awesome deck where you can sit out and watch the kids play on the beach below.

Temperature in mid August for our stay was min 23 / max 28. Water temperature must have been mid 20's. Perfect. We left the shutters open to let the breeze in at night. No need for the fans except maybe in the middle of the day.

There are not a lot of kid specific facilities / activities, but we had factored that in beforehand. That is what TripAdvisor is for.

Overall, we were really happy with our choice. We selected Vanuatu over Bora Bora, Cook Islands and others partially because of flight times and the resort in particular because it looked well run, comfortable and convenient - and it was. For couples (note that there are areas in the resort off-limits to kids) and families looking to relax and properly unwind, I recommend Aore Island Resort highly.

Also note that we did not take advantage of diving (which I heard was sensational) or other tours (such as Champagne Beach which I also heard was great).

For anyone that has a problem with pacific time or not being in a high-activity hotel or getting a bit of sea spray on you in a boat transfer or getting bitten by a mosquito in the evening (insect repellent solves this problem - which by the way is much worse in most parts of Australia near bush and water), then this location (and possibly country) may not be for you.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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7  Thank Darryl G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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