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Vanuatu’s 10 best dive sites and where to find them

November 1, 2017

It’s no secret that Vanuatu plays host to some of the best diving in the world. The combination of warm climate, stunning marine life, plentiful shipwrecks and clear, warm waters make it the ideal location for divers of all skill levels, and those wanting all manner of experiences.

Most of the diving experiences are centred around Port Vila and Efate, though the SS Coolidge, just off the coast of Santo, is an experience that is not to be missed.

Most of these dive trips and diving equipment around Port Vila can be organised through Big Blue Vanuatu, with packages done based on your needs. Visit their site for more information. Dive trips on Espiritu Santo can be organised through a number of operators. Click here for more details.

  • Coolidge – Santo: By far the most popular and famous diving site, not only in Vanuatu, but worldwide, the SS President Coolidge dive site, just off the coast of Espiritu Santo, is an ideal location to see intact World War Two relics and explore the corridors of the former US Naval vessel. It’s definitely a bucket list item for all divers and needs to be seen to be believed.

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  • Million Dollar Point – Santo: When the US Navy vacated Vanuatu after World War Two, rather than send their goods back to the homeland, they dumped it all off Million Dollar Point (with the name coming from the suggestion that the goods collectively would cost a million dollars).

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  • The Cathedral – Efate: A deep cavern just off the Pango peninsula (near Port Vila), the Cathedral’s geography creates shafts of light that play into unusual lighting effects. Divers go down into the cavern and follow the walls to exit through a ‘chimney’ at its rear to reach the middle of the reef.

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  • Ollies Lolly – Efate: Home to a huge variety of fish, as well as numerous types of coral, this area is a dream for photographers, as it’s home to rare red anemone teeming with clownfish. It’s not far from Hideaway Island, making it easily accessible to those staying there or on Efate.
  • Hideaway Island – near Efate: The island is an ideal base for a wide range of diving options, with plenty of reefs within easy reach of the island’s shores. It’s a great spot for beginner divers, as many of the reefs are comparatively shallow.

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  • Mele reef – Efate: In the heart of Mele Bay, there are a number of reefs that play host to a range of marine life and spawning coral. The outer areas of the bay have deep drop-offs and chasms formed over time by frozen lava. Within Mele Bay, there are numerous wrecks that are worthy of their own dive expeditions, outlined below.
    • MV Konanda: The wreck, formerly a ship used to carry sugar in North Queensland, sits on a flat, sandy sea floor, with parts of the vessel just 10 metres below the surface. The ship was damaged in a 1987 cyclone and scuttled for diving purposes. It’s a perfect introduction to diving, and is near to the Twin Bommies mentioned above.
    • Star of Russia: a three-masted ship built in the 19th century, this 90 metre ship is believed to be the only intact square rigged ship of its era. The wooden decking has rotted away over time, allowing divers easy access to the wreck. Since being scuttled, it’s gone from being the home of sailors to being home to many, many schools of fish. This is a dive for the more experienced, as it is in deep water.

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  • Twin Bombies: Near Port Vila (just to the west of Ilfira Island), this pair of bommie reefs boasts a plethora of marine life, with all manner of fish and nudis. The coral is in good condition, and divers are able to easily explore the site in its entirety.

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  • Tasman: This is the site of a sunken Qantas Sandringham flying boat. Divers can easily explore the relatively intact plane wreck just 40 metres below the surface. This is definitely a dive for the more experienced, as conditions can sometimes be dark and murky.
  • MV Semle Federsen: A ship that began its life as a French shipping trawler in the 1950s, before making its way to Vanuatu in 1980 to ferry locals between islands. In 1984, it was found to not be seaworthy, and was thus scuttled just outside Port Vila Harbour

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‘For more information on diving in Vanuatu, click here

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