Vanuatu diver alongside ship

globe th CopyA small archipelago of only 83 islands, the fiery Republic of Vanuatu, is located nearly 1800 kilometers east of Australia, west of Fiji & south of the Solomon Islands.  The islands are volcanic & are still very active.   The history is long and rich, with evidence of human occupation dating back to nearly 2000 BC.   Vanuatu housed Allied military bases during World War II resulting in fascinating wreck diving for those of you who are inclined ... but also offers tunnels & caves & some nice corals.

Volcanic Vanuatu

Vanuatu Volcano

Vanuatu diving ... the essentials

  • calm, warm waters with excellent visibility
  • the wreck of SS President Coolidge ... immense & magnificent former luxury liner, turned troop carrier in WWII
  • Million Dollar Point ... featuring a graveyard of WWII trucks, cranes, bulldozers & more
  • drift dives, grottoes, overhangs, canyons, caves, tunnels, swim throughs, bommies
  • soft and hard corals - staghorn corals, plate corals, gorgonian fans, the native "potato head" coral
  • lovely reef fish ... and on certain dives, the possibility of seeing reef sharks, groupers, lobsters, dolphins, turtles

Vanuatu Destination Page Vertical Insert

A five-star wreck dive

Many divers think of Vanuatu diving as just the wreck of the SS President Coolidge, former luxury liner turned into a WWII troop carrier, which was sunk in Vanuatu by a "friendly" mine and which has contains a wealth of memorabilia at an easily accessible depth.  

But, as you've just seen in our summary above, these islands have more to offer if you have time to stay for it.  The major resorts have good reputations and offer quality dive operations.


Typical volcanic island geology

The islands themselves are paradisical tropical rainforests, with white sand beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and a refreshing lack of tourism.

As to the diving itself, while the wrecks are certainly the big draw, the corals are healthy, there's some good fish life on the reefs and the caves, grottoes & tunnels add a bit of unusual excitement and there's growing interest in fresh-water diving in "blue holes" ... natural springs whose waters run through connected sinkholes and caverns.

But, the bottom line is that what draws divers here is absolutely the Coolidge, one of the finest wreck dives the world of diving has to offer.


Diving the President Coolidge

Coolidge medical supplies 190SS President Coolidge
The ship today is covered with both hard and soft corals and before you enter the interior, you'll be greeted by trigger fish, lion fish, nudibranchs and a resident green moray eel ... all in glaring contrast to the cannons they adorn and inhabit ... read more ...

Once you're inside, you're going to find gas masks, helmets, ammunition, rifles ... all the accoutrements of a soldier's life (including personal items). In the holds, you find major military equipment including trucks, jeeps, ambulances and cannons.

You can swim through the control room, see the turbines & shaft and visit the galley where you'll get a feeling for food preparation on board. Pretty well everything that was used in daily ship life is there for you to ponder.

The doctor's office and infirmary still have medicines and syringes while in the barber shop, you find the actual barber's chair still there and the soda fountain has masses of coke bottles.

Perhaps most astonishing in this entire experience are the remnants of a luxury liner. In the midst of all of this military paraphernalia, there remains a beautiful mosaic fountain, a porcelain statue of a lady and a unicorn, a first-class dining room, lobby, library and swimming pool.

The contradictions will almost certainly leave you contemplating the complexities of war.

Adding fascination to the history is the recent expedition of American military divers who found what may be the remains of Army Captain Elwood Joseph Euart, who, after escaping, returned to the ship to free soliders who were trapped in sick bay.  According to records, they all got free with his help but Captain Euart was unable to climb the rope to safety before the ship slipped further into the water, taking him down with it.  DNA results will confirm if indeed the remains recovered in March of 2015 are those of the heroic army captain .....