Santo

Santo is Vanuatu’s largest island rich in pacific culture with a unique but equally fascinating history. Its landscape features Vanuatu’s highest mountains, pristine beaches and alluring blue holes that need to be seen to be believed. It is a mecca for divers from all over the world because of the diversity of the diving offered, ranging from live coral to spectacular wrecks.

Overview

Santo also has plenty of world-class diving. One of the many highlights of Santo is the SS President Coolidge – reportedly the largest wreck dive in the world.

It is the final resting place of the 22,000 ton liner turned troopship “SS President Coolidge” and the destroyer “USS Tucker”, both victims of US placed mines. Fresh water cave diving is also becoming popular, with the recent discovery of connecting sinkholes and caverns.

Due to the close proximity of surrounding islands and the tropical climate, dive sites are well protected and the waters remain calm and warm year round. Water temperatures range from 25 to 30° C with visibility from 10m to 40m.

Dive Sites

SS President Coolidge
A “must” dive. This luxury ocean liner was converted into a US troopship during WWII and sank off the coast of Santo after hitting a mine. Lying in 18-73 metres of water, the 198m wreck is virtually intact. Swim through numerous holds and decks viewing the reminders of her glorious days: guns, cannons, helmets, trucks and personal as well as the porcelain statue of “The Lady,” chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain. The wreck is covered in coral and is the home to a plethora of sea life such including turtles, barracuda, lion fish, and a host of reef fish. There are 20 different dive spots to choose from, so it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, good diving is easily found.

Million Dollar Point
This amazing dive site is where the US Navy dumped tonnes of valuable machinery and supplies after the war. From the shore and down to 35 metres you will find scores of colourful corals and fish that have taken up residence in bulldozers, cranes, engines, large trucks, tyres and all kinds of auxiliary earth-moving equipment.  Truly a unique dive.

Chails Reef
A dive not to be missed, this is one of the most stunning reef dives in all of Vanuatu. This highly protected dive site ensures calm waters, little to no current and crystal clear visibility. You’ll see an amazing variety of coral and this is a great dive for spotting crayfish, turtles and sharks.

SS Tucker
Struck by friendly mines, the SS Tucker is a US Destroyer resting in about 20 metres of water. The wreck is spread along the sea bed making it possible to swim from stern to bow stopping at “wreck bombies” along the way.

Coral Diving
Iit’s not just all about wrecks! There are many local reefs boasting colorful corals and prolific fish and marine life to be explored.

Cindy’s Reef
A beautiful and relaxing drift dive over a bed of bright, colorful coral and an abundance of fish life. Divers see a tremendous variety of staghorn corals, large plate corals and our very own “potato head” coral which is unlike anything you’ve seen before. There is also an abundance of fish life and turtles and sharks are often spotted.

Tutuba Point
This dive has it all — caves, swim throughs, chasms, crayfish, and an abundance of spectacular hard and soft corals that seem to go on forever. Incredible visibility makes this a favorite reef dive among our divers.

Best time to Dive

You can dive all year round in the idyllic dive destination of Vanuatu. Water temperatures range between 26ºC with the dry season (Winter) between April and October.

Other Activities

Adventure Trekking
The Trek takes a full day and is rated as Medium to Hard Adventure trekking. A drive deep into the jungle of Santo, followed by a half hour walk crossing a bamboo footbridge gets you to the starting point. There you meet the Chief and his sons and commence the adventure. An hours trek to a steep decent to the mouth of the cave. Cut vines assist the descent. The size of the cave is awesome and takes half an hour to wade or swim through.. Inside the cave there are waterfalls and absolutely spectacular features.

The cave opens to a hidden gorge and meets the river. Here you begin your biggest challenge. The next three hours of clambering across boulders, wading, swimming down the flowing river leaves you totally inspired, for filled and exhausted. The river is only 10 to 20 metres wide and is bordered by sheer cliffs. Again waterfalls are a feature together with the lush rainforest vegetation.

Once you start the swim, there is no turning back. It is truly an Adventure you will never forget.

Other tours and activities:

  • Enjoy a Melanesian Massage.
  • Go fishing in the waters around Aore Island. Sports and reef fishing are available.
  • Canoe in a traditional outrigger down one of the local rivers to a spectacular Blue Water Hole.
  • Visit a local village and learn about traditional Melanesian customs that are still followed today.
  • Nature lovers can visit pristine areas with tropical vegetation and see many varieties of orchids, birds and butterflies.
  • Take a tour. For the historical minded there are tours around Santo looking at relics of the Second World War.
  • Water ski from the beach.
  • Explore the coastline in a kayak or the island on a mountain bike.
  • Walk through the plantation on a guided tour learning the secrets of this tropical island.
  • Snorkel in clear blue water among coral and abundant fish life.

Getting there

Santo is located on Vanuatu’s largest island.
Fly into Santo from Port Vila or directly to Santo’s International Airport.

Accommodation

All accommodation options available.

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