In the minds of divers, diving in Vanuatu often comes down to a visit to Santo. Efate Island has some great dive sites to offer visitors, and diving in Efate is not just limited to the surroundings of Port Vila, either.
Port Vila is on the island of Efate. It is the country’s capital, the largest city in Vanuatu, and your gateway to Vanuatu. It is a cosmopolitan city that has a lot of charm. You will appreciate the special atmosphere that reigns there, the result of the management of the country by the French and the English simultaneously.
In organizing your diving trip, Efate should, if time permits, be a stopover for a few days to give you a more complete view of diving in Vanuatu.
Diving in Efate and Port Vila
Diving on Efate Island can be distinguished into two major areas. Dives near the town of Port Vila, in Mele Bay, and dives around Moso Island northwest of Efate. The volcanic structure of the country is a great asset for diving because the underwater relief offers deep drop-offs, caves, and overhangs, crevices, tunnels.
Some wrecks are also accessible to divers, both in Mele Bay or towards Moso Island.
Dive sites around Port Vila
The wreck of the Star of Russia is a former 80m three-masted ship built in 1874 by the shipyard that built the Titanic. The intact steel hull is placed upright on a sandy bottom at 34m. The wooden bridge having been destroyed; it is possible to enter the wreckage which is colonized by many schools of fish. A school of batfish is always on the site, and you will surely be able to observe a crocodile fish.
The Cathedral is a large cave, and the atmosphere is magnified by streaks of light from above. It is inhabited by many shrimps, nudibranchs, and leaf fish.
Twin Bommies is a place full of fish. There are two dry twins, side by side, starting at 12m up and going to 30m maximum on the sandy bottom. Incredibly beautiful branches of blue and yellow deer horn coral adorn the walls, and you may come across large schools of butterflyfish, while leaf fish nestle in the crevices of the dry. We often see turtles around the place.
On the Pink Panther site, you can admire superb and colorful corals, schools of small tropical fish, and many fluorescent pink anemones accompanied by their clownfish. The drop-off plunges to 90m, and along the wall, you can see moray eels, lobsters, and undoubtedly many other surprises.
Two other wrecks are of interest.
The wreck of the Tasman, a Qantas company seaplane which struck a reef in 1951. It was rescued on this occasion, but a cyclone then got the better, and it lies 40m deep in the harbor of Port Vila.
For beginners, the wreck of the Konanda can be found in the port of Vila as well. It is a boat damaged by a cyclone in 1987 placed on the sand at a depth of 26m. It is possible to enter the holds, cabins, and various decks.
Dive sites around Moso Island
Moso Island enjoys abundant wildlife. The dive center covers about twenty sites, which are all quite close. It is also possible to dive from the shore.
Moso Drift is a drift dive that you must do at the right time to ensure great encounters. There can be a lot of fish, including sharks, barracudas, eagle rays, etc.
Bottle Fish Cave is another interesting site. There are remains of coke bottles, and crockery left by the American tugs that maintained anti-submarine nets during the war. We often meet exceptionally large groupers and wrasse here. You may also spot underwater hot springs.
Divers love Owens Reef because life is so rich. It is said that there is as much to see here as on many sites put together. The reef has incredibly beautiful corals, tunnels that you can take, and pretty landscapes of gorgonians.
If you like wrecks, you can dive on that of MV Belama, a cargo boat that lies at a maximum depth of 20 m. The wreck is open in some places, so it is possible to enter it, including the cabins.
Paul’s Rock is an oval-shaped reef, which offers a beautiful drop off and many tunnels that you can cross. The site is full of fish because it is taboo by local fishers. You will see groupers, trevally, and many surgeonfish. The coral is exceptionally beautiful, and it is not uncommon to see sea turtles around the reef.
In addition to the sites around Moso, it is possible, depending on the navigation conditions, to go diving on Hat Island a little further south. Visibility is spectacular, there can be more current, and underwater life is active.