Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Vanuatu General
Of all the Pacific island nations, Vanuatu is probably the friendliest and most diverse country that you could visit on a dive trip. I have now visited Vanuatu nine times and each has been a memorable holiday. From the capital of Port Vila to the islands of Tanna, Espiritu Santo and Malakula, Vanuatu is a simply amazing place. Where else can you see the largest easily accessible diveable wreck in the world, look down into a violent, active volcano, visit a tribe that worships Prince Phillip and see the world's original bungy jumpers? Vanuatu of course.
While the countries original inhabitants came from the north many thousands of years ago, the first European visitor is believed to have been Pedro Fernandez de Quiros in late 1605. A Portuguese religious zealot in the service of the Spanish, he "discovered" Santo believing it to be the great south land (Australia).
The next visitor was Captain James Cook in 1774 in the Resolution. He mapped virtually all the islands of Vanuatu, naming the country the New Hebrides. The next visitor may have been the Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de Laperouse after he left Botany Bay. However, we will never know as he disappeared with the loss of all lives on his two ships when wrecked in the Solomon Islands.
The beautiful Pacific island country of Vanuatu is located only a few hours flying time from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. The relaxed lifestyle of the Ni-Vanuatu is not really evident on the planes of Air Vanuatu as you fly off to the capital of Vila. The service provided on their planes is very friendly and second to none.
Most divers when visiting Vanuatu spend some time in Port Vila before travelling onto Espiritu Santo. For more information on Vila, see my Port Vila article.
If you are not intending to spend any time in Vila, some flights may enable you to fly straight onto Santo. Otherwise, you will have to overnight in Vila. You can also fly direct to Santo from Brisbane using Solomon Airlines (perhaps via Honiora) and from August 2007, Air Vanuatu flies once a week direct from Brisbane. They also fly once a week from Sydney to Port Vila and onto Santo using their Boeing 737.
Check the availability of flights, as even from Sydney the times vary depending on the day you travel. Likewise, it is possible to fly home without overnighting in Vila or even getting up too early.
Seven nights and eight days merely whets your appetite at Santo. The Coolidge is so large that you could spend months there and still not get sick of it. I would suggest at least seven nights and 12 dives (8 on Coolidge) as the minimum you should spend in Santo. In 1998 I spent 15 nights there and did 17 dives and in 2007 14 nights and did 22 dives.
A good accompaniment to a diving trip is to visit Tanna. Lying 55 minutes south of Vila, Tanna boasts a violently active volcano that you can climb. Amazing.
For more information on Vanuatu, go back to my Main Overseas Index - Vanuatu or see Stan Combs' Web Site.