Vanuatu visitors flock to Espiritu Santo, the large northern island famous for its pristine beaches, minimal crowds, and laid back atmosphere. A parallel to this paradise environment is a small hidden resort, Sunrise Beach Cabanas.
The owners, Clare and Michael originally from Hawaii, fell in love with the country’s culture and beauty. With a background in woodcrafting and building luxury cabanas, they were able to secure their own slice of paradise and share their vision with visitors today. Clare explained their focus on creating an eco-resort in order to maintain a harmony with nature. They admired the local Ni-Vanuatu culture and by working with locals guests have a chance to experience a bit of the culture as well.
Flying in from Port Vila continuing my trip Pacifying the Pacific, I was curious to see the difference in atmosphere between the two islands. My transfer driver was waiting for me at the airport and soon we were driving down dirt roads flanked by coconut palms. On arrival Clare was there to meet me and introduce me to the cabana facing the sea. I immediately noticed how well manicured the garden was. The sand path walkways blended in seamlessly with the natural environment. The resort consists of three private stand alone Cabanas and four newly opened Guest Bedrooms.
The Frangipani, a raised cabana at the end of the path sitting right on the beach was to be my home for the next few days. As I stepped up onto the circular balcony, my eyebrows raised in awe at the spectacular view. The cabana was seemingly surrounded by 180 degrees of water with only the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore.
The interior of the cabana was very spacious with high ceilings and a wrap-around structure with the bedroom in the center. The kitchenette and the bathroom were “behind” the room. The main bedroom included a seating area, flat screen TV, a mobile phone for convenience, phone dock, working desk and of course access to the balcony. The bathroom had a unique glass walled shower looking out onto the sea. The kitchen had all the modern appliances one could need on a vacation, though I couldn’t imagine who would want to cook given the creative offerings of the restaurant.
Outside there was a breakfast nook with two raised chairs and a seating area for two at the front of the balcony. Breakfast was set up each morning at this table.
Lunches and dinners were served right on the beach facing the sea. For dinners candlelight replaced the pink and blue light of the sunset sky. The cuisine was a really special offering of fine dining with creative local fusion dishes.
The team at Sunrise was another reason my stay was unforgettable. Clare’s passion and care allow guests to feel completely at home during their stay. Even with a bad leg injury, I felt completely at ease. Everyone I had the pleasure of dealing with echoed the same positive attitude.
Besides enjoying the beach or walking around the private island, guests can take advantage of the snorkeling, paddle boards, or kayaks to explore the area. Other activities such as scuba diving can be arranged through the resort. The concierge service was very helpful in organizing my dive of the SS President Coolidge and a WWII tour with Santo Heritage Tours.
By the end of my stay I felt more like like I was staying with family than at an eco-luxury resort. For me it was a perfect relaxing break from my intense travels but on my next visit I will surely be traveling with a partner to share this lovely experience.
As I stood there on my last evening I was presented with an extraordinary sunset and view of Bali Hai in the distance. I could see what inspired James Michener, author of Tales of the South Pacific to write:
Like most lovely things, one had to seek it out and even to know what one was seeking before it could be found.
Sunrise Beach Cabanas
Address: 9 Barrier Beach, Champagne Coast, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Telephone: +678 36060