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Top Diving Spots in Vanuatu: Wrecks and Reefs

Vanuatu, a nation spanning roughly 80 islands in the South Pacific, is a diver’s dream with its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and intriguing wrecks like the SS President Coolidge. Far and Away Adventures offers customized tours to explore these underwater marvels, as well as the rich culture and breathtaking landscapes above the waves. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting out, Vanuatu’s top diving spots provide an unforgettable experience both below and above the water.

Key Takeaways

  • Vanuatu is renowned for its diving sites, including the famous WWII-era wreck, the SS President Coolidge, and pristine coral reefs.
  • Far and Away Adventures specializes in bespoke tours of Vanuatu, providing unique experiences both underwater and on land.
  • The best diving conditions in Vanuatu are complemented by cultural immersions, such as traditional village visits and local festivals.
  • Vanuatu’s diverse activities cater to all levels of divers, with options for wreck exploration, reef diving, and encountering rich marine life.
  • Planning a trip to Vanuatu with expert guidance ensures optimal diving conditions, comfortable accommodations, and a taste of Ni-Vanuatu culture.

Discover Vanuatu’s Underwater Treasures

Discover Vanuatu's Underwater Treasures

Dive into the History: Wreck of the SS President Coolidge

The SS President Coolidge stands as a sentinel to history beneath the waves of Vanuatu. Once a luxury passenger liner, this grand vessel was repurposed as a troop carrier during World War II. Tragically, while navigating the Santo harbour, she met her end by friendly mines, transforming into an underwater sanctuary for divers.

Almost completely intact, the Coolidge offers an extraordinary dive experience. Divers can explore the holds and decks, encountering remnants of her past glory and wartime service. Among the artifacts are guns, cannons, jeeps, helmets, and trucks, as well as the iconic porcelain statue known as “The Lady.”

The Coolidge is not just a dive site; it’s a dive into history. Its corridors and cabins are adorned with chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain, evoking images of its luxurious origins.

The wreck is now a habitat for a diverse array of marine life, including turtles, barracuda, and lion fish. Due to its massive size, at 200m in length, and varying depth from 22 to 75m, it is recommended to plan multiple dives to fully appreciate the scale and details of this historical treasure.

Coral Gardens and Caverns: A Diver’s Paradise

Vanuatu’s underwater landscape is a diver’s dream, with vibrant coral gardens and mysterious caverns waiting to be explored. The soft corals teem with life, creating a spectacle that resembles diving in an aquarium. Sites like Cindy’s Reef offer a tranquil drift dive over a kaleidoscope of corals, where the chance to spot turtles and sharks adds to the excitement.

The caverns and swim-throughs at Tutuba Point provide a thrilling challenge for divers, revealing a world of crayfish and endless hard and soft corals. The visibility here is nothing short of incredible, making it a favorite among underwater photographers.

Dive sites in Vanuatu are not just about the natural beauty; they also serve as a window into history. The Aore Plane wreck, resting among the reefs, is a poignant reminder of the region’s past, juxtaposed with the vibrant marine life that has since claimed it as home.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the top dive sites:

  • Tutuba Point: Caves, swim-throughs, and abundant corals
  • Cindy’s Reef: Drift dive over diverse coral beds
  • Aore Plane: Historical wreck amidst a pretty reef

Vanuatu offers an underwater adventure that is both a visual feast and a historical journey, ensuring that each dive is a unique and memorable experience.

The Marine Life of Vanuatu: A Spectacular Showcase

Vanuatu’s waters are a diver’s dream, offering a spectacular showcase of marine biodiversity. From the vibrant coral reefs to the abundant fish species, the underwater world here is teeming with life. Divers can expect to encounter a variety of marine creatures, including turtles, sharks, and an array of tropical fish.

The clear, warm waters of Vanuatu not only provide excellent visibility but also create an ideal environment for marine life to thrive.

Among the top snorkeling spots, Hideaway Island Marine Sanctuary stands out with its pristine conditions and the opportunity to witness an underwater post office in action. Other notable locations include the historical underwater treasures at Million Dollar Point and the natural beauty of Champagne Beach.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the marine life you might encounter in Vanuatu:

  • Turtles: Graceful swimmers and ancient mariners of the sea
  • Sharks: From the docile reef shark to the more elusive hammerhead
  • Tropical Fish: A kaleidoscope of colors with species like the parrotfish and clownfish
  • Coral Reefs: Home to a diverse ecosystem, supporting a multitude of marine species

Diving in Vanuatu is not just about the wildlife; it’s an immersive experience that connects you with the ocean’s mysteries and the history resting on its seabed.

Vanuatu’s Top Dive Sites

Vanuatu's Top Dive Sites

Exploring the Depths of Million Dollar Point

Million Dollar Point serves as a submerged monument to the aftermath of World War II, where the ocean floor is strewn with the remnants of military might. Divers are greeted by an eerie underwater junkyard, a treasure trove of historical artifacts including bulldozers, cranes, and trucks, all piled in aquatic disarray.

The dive site’s name reflects its value, both in historical significance and the sheer cost of the equipment now resting on the seabed.

Divers of all levels can explore this unique underwater landscape, where visibility can range from 18 to 50 meters, offering clear views of this man-made reef. The site is not only a historical journey but also an ecological one, as marine life has claimed these structures as their own, creating a symbiotic relationship between history and nature.

Here’s a quick guide to what you can expect at Million Dollar Point:

  • Historical significance: A dive into the past, where WWII relics tell a silent story.
  • Marine life: A new ecosystem thriving among the wreckage.
  • Visibility: Clear waters for an unobstructed view of this underwater museum.
  • Accessibility: Suitable for divers of various skill levels, with fully supervised dive groups.

As you plan your dive, consider the profound impact of this site, not just as a diving destination, but as a poignant reminder of the past’s intersection with the present.

Champagne Beach: More Than Just Sand

Champagne Beach, located on the island of Espiritu Santo, is renowned for its powdery white sands and sparkling blue waters. But there’s more to this beach than meets the eye. Divers and snorkelers are drawn to the vibrant coral reefs that lie just beneath the surface, teeming with marine life.

  • Crystal-clear waters perfect for underwater photography
  • Picnic spots for a relaxing day on the beach
  • Kayak rentals available for exploring nearby islands

The nearby ‘Blue Holes’ are a natural wonder, where fresh water meets the sea, creating a unique diving experience.

Whether you’re lounging on the beach or exploring the underwater marvels, Champagne Beach offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. With direct beach access from several resorts, it’s easy to spend a whole day here, alternating between sunbathing and diving into the underwater world of Vanuatu.

Tutuba Point and Aore Plane: Relics and Reefs

Vanuatu’s diving scene is a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue, and nowhere is this more evident than at Tutuba Point and the Aore Plane wreck. Divers are treated to a visual feast of caves, swim-throughs, and chasms, surrounded by a tapestry of hard and soft corals. The visibility here is nothing short of incredible, offering a clear window into the underwater marvels.

The Aore Plane, a small 2-seater spy plane from WWII, lies amidst the reef, creating a poignant reminder of the past. Divers can explore the wreckage while also encountering remnants of the era, such as ammunition and Coke bottles, which tell a silent story of the wartime history that once unfolded above these now peaceful waters.

The dive sites around Tutuba Point and the Aore Plane are not just about the relics; they are a testament to the resilience of marine life. The sites have become sanctuaries for biodiversity, where nature has reclaimed the remnants of war, intertwining them with vibrant life.

For those interested in the intersection of history and natural splendor, these dive sites are a must-visit. The juxtaposition of wartime relics and thriving marine ecosystems offers a unique and profound diving experience that resonates long after resurfacing.

Adventure Above and Below Water

Adventure Above and Below Water

Mount Yasur: Volcanic Vistas

Vanuatu’s landscapes offer more than just underwater marvels; they invite adventurers to witness the raw power of nature on land. Mount Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island, is a testament to the earth’s fiery core. Visitors can embark on guided tours to safely experience the volcano’s dramatic eruptions, often glowing against the night sky, providing a spectacle that’s both thrilling and humbling.

The volcano’s surroundings are equally captivating, with rugged trails leading through lush vegetation and offering panoramic views. For those seeking a deeper connection with nature, the Mt. Yasur Volcano Trail is a must-visit. This trail not only promises an active adventure but also breathtaking vistas that showcase the island’s diverse beauty.

The journey to Mount Yasur is as rewarding as the destination itself, with each step bringing you closer to understanding the immense forces that shape our planet.

While the volcano is a highlight, the island’s interior is rife with opportunities for exploration. From bird watching in conservation areas to horse treks across expansive properties, the land-based activities complement the underwater experiences, making Vanuatu a truly comprehensive destination for thrill-seekers.

Cultural Immersion: Traditional Villages

Vanuatu’s rich cultural tapestry is vividly displayed in its traditional villages. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local way of life, experiencing customs and traditions that have been preserved for generations. Engage with the community through their dances, rituals, and crafts, creating a connection that transcends the usual tourist experience.

  • Participate in local ceremonies and witness age-old rituals.
  • Learn about the traditional architecture and the significance of the nakamal, the village meeting place.
  • Try your hand at local crafts and understand the skill and artistry involved.

This is not just a visit; it’s an opportunity to be part of a living culture, to learn and to share, creating memories that are as meaningful as they are unforgettable.

Far and Away Adventures, with over a decade of custom tours, can guide you to the most authentic cultural experiences. Whether it’s a day trip to the Vatthe/Big Bay Conservation Area or a multi-day trek to remote villages, they ensure a respectful and enriching encounter with the heart of Vanuatu.

Jungle Treks to Mele Cascades

After a refreshing dive, the adventure continues on land with a trek through Vanuatu’s lush jungles leading to the Mele Cascades. Embark on a journey through vibrant greenery and experience the natural beauty of the island. The trek is a blend of excitement and tranquility, as you navigate through the dense foliage to reach the cascading waterfalls.

  • Prepare for the trek with comfortable footwear and light clothing.
  • Follow the marked trails or opt for a guided tour to enhance your experience.
  • Enjoy the scenic views and the soothing sounds of the waterfall.
  • Take a dip in the turquoise pools for a rejuvenating experience.

The Mele Cascades trek is an opportunity to connect with nature and witness the grandeur of Vanuatu’s top 5 waterfalls, offering a paradise for nature lovers.

The journey to the cascades is as rewarding as the destination itself, with opportunities to spot local wildlife and unique plant species along the way. It’s a perfect way to complement your underwater adventures with an unforgettable terrestrial experience.

Planning Your Dive Trip to Vanuatu

Planning Your Dive Trip to Vanuatu

Choosing the Right Dive Package

Selecting the perfect dive package in Vanuatu is crucial for an unforgettable underwater experience. Consider the variety of dive sites included in the package, ensuring a mix of wrecks, reefs, and marine life encounters. Here’s a quick guide to help you make an informed decision:

  • Dive Inclusions: Look for packages that offer multiple dives, including both single and two tank dives. Check if equipment hire is part of the deal, covering essentials like fins, masks, snorkels, BCDs, regulators, dive computers, wetsuits, and SPGs.
  • Supervision and Safety: Ensure that all dives are accompanied by PADI Dive Masters or equivalent, with a focus on safety and preservation of the dive sites.
  • Customization: Some operators offer custom dive packages, allowing for a tailored experience based on the number of dives and specific interests.
  • Additional Perks: Packages may include meals, snacks, and even local cultural experiences post-dive.

When planning your dive trip, prioritize packages that align with your skill level, interests, and the type of underwater adventures you seek. The right package not only offers dives at stunning locations but also ensures your safety and comfort throughout the journey.

Accommodation Options for Divers

After an exhilarating day exploring Vanuatu’s underwater marvels, finding the right place to rest and rejuvenate is essential. Arkipelago Divers and Beach Resort offers a variety of accommodations to suit every diver’s needs, from budget-friendly Standard Rooms to the more luxurious Villa Room. Each option is designed with comfort and convenience in mind, ensuring that your diving holiday is as relaxing as it is adventurous.

For those seeking a more comprehensive diving experience, resorts often provide custom dive packages. These can include multiple dives over your stay, with all necessary equipment provided. It’s a hassle-free way to immerse yourself in Vanuatu’s aquatic wonders.

When planning your stay, consider the proximity to dive sites, the quality of facilities, and the level of comfort you desire. Vanuatu’s resorts cater to a range of preferences, ensuring that whether you’re here for the marine life or the Barrier Beach Resort, your accommodation will enhance your diving adventure.

Best Times to Visit for Optimal Diving Conditions

Vanuatu’s waters offer a diving experience that is both comfortable and visually stunning throughout the year. Water temperatures range from a warm 30°C (86°F) in the summer to a cooler 25°C (77°F) in the winter, making it a year-round destination for divers. However, to ensure the best experience, consider the following factors:

  • Water Temperatures: A skin or shorty wetsuit suffices in the warmer months, while a 3 or 5ml full suit with a vest/hood is recommended for winter.
  • Visibility: Averages between 15-25 meters (50-80 feet), with some locations offering up to 30+ meters (100+ feet).
  • Average Depth Range: Dives can range from 5 to 50 meters (16 to 164 feet), catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The optimal time for diving in Vanuatu is during the cooler months of April through October. During this period, the visibility is often at its best, and the marine life is abundant, providing a spectacular underwater show.

When planning your trip, consider the marine life you wish to see. For instance, the cooler waters from July to November attract migrating humpback whales and the spawning of marbled groupers, with June and July being particularly noteworthy. To maximize your chances of encountering these magnificent creatures, align your visit with their migratory patterns.

Beyond Diving: Experiencing Vanuatu’s Rich Culture

Beyond Diving: Experiencing Vanuatu's Rich Culture

Local Cuisine and Culinary Delights

Vanuatu’s culinary scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors, with traditional dishes that are both nourishing and delightful. Savor the unique blend of Melanesian and European influences as you indulge in local specialties. The islands’ fertile volcanic soil and abundant sea provide a bounty of fresh ingredients, from succulent seafood to organic fruits and vegetables.

  • Laplap: The national dish made from pounded root vegetables and coconut cream, often wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earth oven.
  • Tuluk: A savory steamed pudding of grated cassava and coconut milk, filled with minced pork or chicken.
  • Coconut crab: A rare delicacy, these massive crustaceans are known for their sweet, tender meat.

Embrace the opportunity to participate in a traditional feast or ‘nakamal’ where you can experience the full spectrum of Vanuatu’s gastronomy.

Whether dining at a high-end resort or a local beachside bungalow, the culinary experiences in Vanuatu are sure to leave a lasting impression. Prepare with local currency and language basics for a fulfilling experience, and don’t miss the chance to try the homemade French toast on freshly baked bread, a favorite among visitors.

Festivals and Celebrations: The Ni-Vanuatu Way of Life

Vanuatu’s cultural tapestry is vibrant and diverse, with festivals and celebrations that are deeply rooted in the Ni-Vanuatu way of life. These events are not just spectacles but are the living expressions of the island’s traditions and social bonds.

  • Naghol Land Diving: Witness the gravity-defying land diving ritual on Pentecost Island, a precursor to bungee jumping.
  • Tok Tok Vanuatu: A food festival that showcases the rich culinary heritage with traditional dishes and modern twists.
  • Vanuatu Cultural Festival: A gathering that celebrates the diverse cultures of Vanuatu’s many islands through music, dance, and art.

Embrace the opportunity to participate in these festivities; they offer a unique window into the soul of Vanuatu, where joy and community spirit are palpable.

Each festival is a chance to see the Ni-Vanuatu people’s pride in their heritage. From the rhythmic beats of the tam-tams to the mesmerizing dances and the colorful attire, visitors are invited to experience a culture that thrives on shared joy and respect for traditions.

Artisan Crafts and Souvenirs: Taking a Piece of Vanuatu Home

Vanuatu’s vibrant culture is reflected in its exquisite artisan crafts, offering visitors a chance to take home a tangible piece of their experience. Local markets brim with handcrafted goods, from intricately woven baskets to carved wooden sculptures, each telling a story of tradition and craftsmanship. These souvenirs are not just mementos; they support the livelihoods of local artisans and preserve the cultural heritage of the islands.

The art of Vanuatu is a tapestry of ancient skills and modern creativity, a blend that appeals to collectors and casual visitors alike.

For those interested in the specifics, here’s a quick guide to some of the most sought-after items:

  • Tapa Cloth: Made from the bark of mulberry trees, featuring traditional designs.
  • Wood Carvings: Depicting local legends and everyday life, these pieces range from small tokens to elaborate statues.
  • Woven Baskets and Mats: Utilizing natural fibers, these items are both decorative and functional.
  • Beaded Jewelry: Colorful and unique, these accessories make for perfect gifts.

Remember, each purchase not only gives you a keepsake of your journey but also contributes to the continuation of Vanuatu’s rich cultural expressions.


As we conclude our exploration of Vanuatu’s top diving spots, it’s clear that this South Pacific paradise offers an unparalleled underwater adventure. From the historical depths of the SS President Coolidge wreck to the vibrant ecosystems of Chails Reef, each dive site presents a unique narrative of marine biodiversity and historical intrigue. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner eager to experience the thrill of the deep, Vanuatu’s wrecks and reefs cater to every level of expertise. With the guidance of Far and Away Adventures, you’re promised a tailored journey that not only respects the pristine conditions of these aquatic sanctuaries but also enriches your diving experience with local knowledge and cultural insights. So, take the plunge into the crystal-clear waters of Vanuatu, where each dive is a chapter in an unforgettable story of discovery and wonder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-visit diving spots in Vanuatu?

The SS President Coolidge wreck, Million Dollar Point, and the coral reefs at Tutuba Point are among the top diving attractions. Divers should also explore the underwater caverns and abundant marine life around Vanuatu’s islands.

When is the best time to go diving in Vanuatu?

The optimal diving conditions in Vanuatu are typically from April to October, when the water is clear and calm. However, diving can be enjoyed year-round.

Is Vanuatu suitable for beginner divers?

Yes, Vanuatu offers a range of diving experiences suitable for beginners, including shallow reef dives and initiation dives with professional instructors.

Can I dive with the wreck of the SS President Coolidge?

Absolutely, the wreck of the SS President Coolidge is one of Vanuatu’s most famous dive sites and is accessible to divers with appropriate experience and certifications.

Are there any cultural activities to enjoy in Vanuatu besides diving?

Yes, visitors can immerse themselves in Ni-Vanuatu culture by visiting traditional villages, participating in local festivals, and exploring the culinary delights of the islands.

What other outdoor activities can I enjoy in Vanuatu?

In addition to diving, Vanuatu offers jungle treks to places like Mele Cascades, volcano tours at Mount Yasur, and relaxing on beautiful beaches such as Champagne Beach.

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