Famous for a sweeping curve of pink-tinged sand framed against a classic south seas turquoise lagoon, Champagne Bay is perhaps the most famous of Vanuatu's beaches for good reason. It's located on the northeast coastline of Espiritu Santo and gets its name from a natural phenomenon. At low tide, when the water is shallow, it fizzes like Champagne as it passes through volcanic rocks on the sea floor.
Cruise ships dock in the bay and tender cruise passengers to a pier. For most people, it's simply enough to enjoy the sheer beauty of the beach and lagoon and go swimming; snorkelling is also a popular activity there, with reefs teeming with marine life just offshore. The laid-back locals head to the beach, too, when cruise ships are in to sell their local handicrafts and cold drinks, so it's a good place to pick up some authentic souvenirs, including baskets, mats, carvings, shell and bead necklaces, masks and bowls.
From Champagne Bay, you can enjoy a walk through the rain forest or head out onto the water for a spot of fishing. And if you want to venture further, keen scuba divers head for the SS President Coolidge, which hit mines and sank in 1942, for an unforgettable diving experience. If you hire a local driver, you can take a picnic to Lonnoc Beach or have lunch at a waterfront cafe in the nearby village of Port Olry. Be sure to visit Champagne Bay when planning your cruise to Vanuatu.
--By Joanna Hall, Cruise Critic contributor