The most extraordinary feature of Vanuatu’s underwater world is not just the superb visibility, warm water, or easily accessible dive sites, but the incredible diversity of diving and dive sites. Diving on Vanuatu is very easy. Most reefs begin in shallow water and drop away to varying depths.
The landscape beneath the waters mirrors that found above: mountainous terrain with plunging cliffs, grottoes and overhangs, huge caves, and intricate interconnecting underwater tunnels formed by frozen lava. Plus there’s abundant sea life: sea fans, soft corals and acropora gardens, plate corals and sponges, and thousands of curious fish. Then there are the wrecks! Planes, an old square-rigger sailing ship, a destroyer, and, of course, the mightiest shipwreck in the world, the SS “President Coolidge”.
There are several dive businesses operating from Vila, each offering something a little different. Beginners can try introductory dives on one of the reefs close to Port-Vila. Internationally recognized full certification courses are also available and the dive stores carry a wide range of equipment in addition to providing hire services.
Dive vessels depart from within easy walking distance of town, with many dive sites close by. For spectacular coral reefs and clear water drop-offs, full day sailing cruises are offered to the offshore islands of North Efate. These cruises are designed to cater both to dive groups wanting to see the famous sites around Tukutuku, Hat Island’s Turtle Reef and Paul’s Reef, and Moso Island, as well as to non-diving families just wanting a fun day sailing, snorkeling, and beachcombing along deserted coves.
The waters here drop away to some of the deepest offshore canyons in the world, so pelagic life and exceptional water clarity are common.
For dedicated divers who enjoy sailing, longer cruises through the islands further north of Efate are available. Here divers can experience the isolation and peace of remote places exploring the world famous Tongoa wall, the edge of a live volcano, or the beautiful Maskelyne Islands.
The island of Espiritu Santo not only boasts some of the best beaches in the South Pacific, it also offers great diving spots, such as Million Dollar Point. Here, at the end of WWII, military equipment was dumped in what is regarded as the most expensive trash pile in the world. Here, too, is the famous wreck of the SS President Coolidge. This 22,000-ton luxury liner converted to troop ship sank fully laden during the war, just a few meters off the beach. The front holds are jammed with the machinery of war. Guns, helmets, gas masks, and personal effects are scattered across the promenade deck and bow.
Espiritu Santo also offers world-class reef dives and one operator specializes in shark feeding dives and freshwater cave dives, using nitrox equipment. As with Port-Vila, all dive sites are readily accessed on either half or full day trips.
There are a number of SCUBA operators in Espiritu Santo offering both shore and boat dives to reefs and wreck