Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - North Efate, Vanuatu
As I have indicated in other articles on Vanuatu, there is much more diving in Vanuatu than the SS President Coolidge. In coming months I will detail some of the better dives that you can do in Vila and Santo.
The main island of the country is Efate which contains the capital of Port Vila. Before World War 2, the main town was on the northern side of the island at Port Havannah Harbour. Named by Captain John Erskine in 1849 after his ship HMS Havannah, the Port was the major centre of activity on Efate during the war. Remnants of the war remain, buildings, a half-track vehicle and a water reservoir can be found and below the water you can see the remains of an anti-submarine net across one entrance to the harbour and several aircraft, including a Corsair.
Two dive charter vessels, the Golden Wing and the Coongoola, operate out of Port Havannah Harbour cruising the North Efate coast. During a recent trip to Vanuatu I had the pleasure of again going on the Golden Wing, a 42 foot trimaran owned and operated by Australian couple, Peter and Sonny Whitelaw. For more information about their operation, Sailaway Cruises, see their Web Site.
The trip starts at 8am when you are collected from your hotel by a taxi bus and taken on a scenic 45 minute trip to the Golden Wing's mooring. The trip out to the boat raised a laugh with us when one of the Golden Wing’s Ni-Vanuatu emplored “just one more” person to get into the inflatable boat so many times it became the catch phrase of our trip.
Soon we were underway and the sails were raised to take advantage of the very fresh breeze. We sailed out past Lelepa Island and the Ni-Vanuatu village of Natapao through Hilliard Channel towards Eradaka Island. More popularly known as Hat Island because of its shape, Eradaka is an excellent dive location. On the way we had morning tea and experienced dozens of flying fish racing (and beating) the boat.
On arriving off Hat Island we did our first dive.
After the dive, we sailed the short distance to the mainland where we anchored off a fine beach. A smorgasbord of hot and cold dishes was soon ready for us to eat and we were not shy in eating our fill. After a short period to let our food settle, we were all back in the water snorkelling over the small bommies near the beach and just cooling down.
After a good surface interval we motored the few hundred metres to the second dive site, Pauls Rock.
Back out of the water, it was time to sail home and enjoy the late afternoon sun. Afternoon tea is served and before we knew it we were back at the ship's mooring.
Another trip by bus over the only road around the island returned us back to Port Vila and our hotel by about 6pm. The whole trip had taken 10 hours, we had seen 20% of the Efate's coastline, both from the road and water, had a quality lunch and even better still, we had dived two world class dive sites for a very reasonable price.
Trips can be organised as part of your total dive trip before you leave Australia or you can organise it when you arrive in Vila. Non-divers are most welcome and they will have a great time. Snorkelling gear is provided free of charge and even those who do not want to get wet will still have a top time. Contact Peter and Sonny Whitelaw by email if you have any questions.
Highly recommended for all divers.