Vanuatu, an archipelago in the South Pacific, is a tropical paradise renowned for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality. Beyond its white sandy beaches and lush jungles lies an underwater world brimming with marine life and fascinating dive sites. Scuba diving enthusiasts from all corners of the globe are drawn to Vanuatu’s crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and mesmerizing wrecks. In this article, we’ll explore the best scuba diving locations in Vanuatu that offer unforgettable underwater experiences.
One of the crown jewels of Vanuatu’s scuba diving sites is the SS President Coolidge, ranked among the top wreck dives in the world. This former luxury ocean liner, converted into a troopship during World War II, met a tragic fate when it struck a friendly mine and sank off the coast of Espiritu Santo in 1942. The wreck is massive, stretching over 200 meters long, and now rests in depths ranging from 20 to 70 meters.
Diving the SS President Coolidge is a captivating journey into history. As divers descend to the wreck, they are greeted by the sight of the ship’s grand bow, its cannons, and a host of artifacts scattered on the ocean floor. Exploring the various sections of the ship, including the cargo holds, dining rooms, and even the grand staircase, provides a sense of time standing still.
The allure of this dive site goes beyond its historical significance. Over the decades, the SS President Coolidge has transformed into an artificial reef, attracting an impressive array of marine life. Schools of fish, including barracudas, groupers, and lionfish, thrive among the vibrant coral formations that now adorn the once-majestic vessel. This blend of history and marine biodiversity creates a unique and awe-inspiring experience for divers. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
Million Dollar Point
Located also off the coast of Espiritu Santo, Million Dollar Point is another remarkable dive site with a historical twist. At the end of World War II, the U.S. military made an unprecedented decision. Instead of selling or giving away their equipment and supplies, they opted to dump them into the ocean. The result is an underwater treasure trove of trucks, bulldozers, forklifts, and various other equipment scattered across the ocean floor.
Diving at Million Dollar Point feels like entering an eerie underwater junkyard. Yet, it is a sight to behold, with an abundance of military relics lying peacefully beneath the sea. As divers explore the site, they can encounter massive bulldozers, ammunition, and even unexploded ordnance, all now encrusted with coral and surrounded by marine life.
This unconventional approach to post-war equipment disposal created an accidental and fascinating artificial reef. The discarded machinery provided an ideal foundation for coral growth, attracting a diverse array of marine creatures, including colorful reef fish, rays, and even the occasional reef shark. For history enthusiasts and avid divers alike, Million Dollar Point offers a one-of-a-kind diving experience. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
For divers seeking a vibrant and accessible underwater experience, Twin Bommies near Efate, Vanuatu’s main island, is an ideal choice. This dive site features two large coral bommies that rise from the sandy bottom and reach up to ten meters below the surface. The shallow depth makes Twin Bommies suitable for divers of all levels, including beginners and snorkelers.
As divers descend to the bommies, they are greeted by an explosion of colors and marine life. The vibrant coral formations serve as a backdrop to schools of colorful fish, including butterflyfish, angelfish, and parrotfish. The bommies are also home to various macro life, such as nudibranchs and shrimp, adding to the site’s allure for underwater photography enthusiasts.
The site’s shallow and tranquil waters make it an excellent spot for long dives, allowing divers to take their time and fully immerse themselves in the underwater wonderland. The abundance of marine life and the serene atmosphere of Twin Bommies make it an unforgettable experience for divers seeking a laid-back and visually stunning dive. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
For those yearning for a more awe-inspiring and spiritual dive, the Cathedral near Efate beckons. This underwater cave system resembles a grand cathedral, with shafts of sunlight piercing through its openings, creating a surreal and magical atmosphere. The site’s name perfectly encapsulates the sense of wonder and reverence that divers experience here.
As divers venture into the Cathedral, they are enveloped by its grandeur. The interplay of light and shadows adds an ethereal quality to the dive, and the rock formations adorned with soft corals and sponges create a mesmerizing visual spectacle. Divers can encounter various marine species, including reef sharks and turtles, as they gracefully glide through the cavern.
The Cathedral dive is as much a spiritual experience as it is an exploration of the underwater world. The silence within the cave, broken only by the soft sounds of marine life, fosters a sense of tranquility and oneness with nature. Divers emerge from the dive with a profound appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the marine ecosystem. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
For divers seeking encounters with pelagic species and the thrill of drift diving, Orléans Reef near Malakula Island is an unmissable destination. This remote and pristine dive site offers a thrilling experience as divers drift along the vibrant reef, observing the marine life that thrives in the nutrient-rich waters brought by the strong currents.
The reef’s location along the edge of a steep drop-off creates an underwater playground for pelagic species. Divers can spot schools of tuna, barracuda, mackerel, and even pods of playful dolphins. The abundance of marine life in this area is a testament to the health and vitality of Vanuatu’s marine ecosystem.
Orléans Reef provides an adrenaline-pumping experience for experienced divers who relish the excitement of drift diving. As divers are carried along the reef by the currents, they can marvel at the spectacular coral formations and the fascinating marine life that surrounds them. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
For divers seeking a more challenging and adventurous dive, Tongoa Island’s Wall, located near Efate, is a perfect choice. This vertical drop-off plunges to depths of more than 50 meters, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for divers to explore. The site’s location in open water can lead to strong currents, making it a thrilling experience for more experienced adventurers.
As divers descend along Tongoa Wall, they are greeted by a mesmerizing underwater vista. The wall is adorned with beautiful soft corals, gorgonians, and large sea fans that sway gracefully with the ocean currents. The variety of colors and textures make it an excellent site for underwater photography, capturing the essence of the underwater world.
In addition to the stunning coral formations, Tongoa Wall offers a chance to encounter various macro life, such as pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, and nudibranchs. The diverse marine life that thrives along the wall adds to the allure of this challenging dive site. (scuba diving in Vanuatu)
Ideal for divers of all levels, Mele Reef near Efate is a shallow and easily accessible dive site that promises a rich and colorful underwater experience. Its shallow depth makes it equally suitable for snorkelers, providing an opportunity for everyone to explore the underwater beauty of Vanuatu.
Mele Reef is teeming with life, making each dive a delight for marine enthusiasts. Divers can encounter an incredible variety of fish species, including parrotfish, butterflyfish, clownfish, and many more. The vibrant coral formations serve as a habitat for an array of marine creatures, turning Mele Reef into a living kaleidoscope of colors.
This site’s calm waters and abundant marine life provide ample opportunities for underwater exploration and photography. Novice divers will feel at ease navigating through the shallow waters, while more experienced divers will appreciate the opportunity to encounter the diverse marine ecosystem.
Vanuatu’s underwater world is a true paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts, offering an assortment of dive sites that cater to divers of all levels. From breathtaking wrecks and stunning coral formations to encounters with unique marine species, each dive in Vanuatu presents a remarkable adventure. The SS President Coolidge stands as a testament to the island’s history, offering a chance to explore a grand shipwreck teeming with marine life. Million Dollar Point, an accidental underwater junkyard, provides a glimpse into the aftermath of World War II while hosting a thriving artificial reef.
For those seeking vibrant and accessible dives, Twin Bommies offers a kaleidoscope of colors and marine life, while the Cathedral creates an ethereal and spiritual ambiance within an underwater cave system. Orléans Reef provides a thrilling drift diving experience and the opportunity to encounter pelagic species, while Tongoa Wall challenges divers with its impressive vertical drop-off and diverse marine life.
Regardless of their experience level, divers can revel in the underwater wonders of Mele Reef, where shallow depths and rich marine life combine to create a delightful and picturesque dive.
In Vanuatu, the convergence of history, marine biodiversity, and stunning underwater landscapes offers scuba divers an unparalleled experience. Each dive site tells a unique story, whether through historical relics or natural beauty, leaving a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to explore this underwater paradise. So, pack your gear and get ready to delve into the hidden gem of the South Pacific for a scuba diving adventure of a lifetime. Book Far and Away Adventure’s latest packages to experience scuba diving in Vanuatu!
Our Top FAQ's
Mele Reef, located near Efate, is the perfect spot for novice divers. Its shallow and calm waters offer a rich underwater experience suitable for all skill levels.
The SS President Coolidge is a massive wreck off the coast of Espiritu Santo, offering a unique blend of history and marine biodiversity. Divers can explore the ship’s various sections and witness a thriving artificial reef with abundant marine life.
Yes, the Cathedral near Efate is an awe-inspiring underwater cave system resembling a grand cathedral. Diving here offers a spiritual experience with its shafts of sunlight and ethereal atmosphere.
Orléans Reef near Malakula Island is the ideal location for drift diving enthusiasts. Its strong currents bring nutrient-rich waters, attracting schools of tuna, barracuda, mackerel, and playful dolphins.
Million Dollar Point, off the coast of Espiritu Santo, is an underwater treasure trove of dumped military equipment. Divers can explore bulldozers, trucks, and ammunition encrusted with coral and surrounded by marine life.
Tongoa Wall, near Efate, features a dramatic vertical drop-off plunging to depths of over 50 meters. Divers can explore beautiful soft corals and encounter various macro life along this challenging dive.
Twin Bommies, near Efate, appeals to divers of all levels with its two large coral bommies rising from the sandy bottom. Its shallow depth allows for vibrant coral exploration and encounters with colorful marine life.
Even without scuba diving, visitors can enjoy the underwater beauty of Mele Reef near Efate, where shallow waters and abundant marine life offer a delightful experience for snorkelers.