Calling all divers … jump on board and get geared up ready to venture to Vanuatu's underwater playground.
Although officially named Espiritu Santo, Spanish for the Holy Spirit, Vanuatu's largest island is generally known as Santo. Luganville is its principal settlement and is also confusingly known as Santo. Its three official languages are Bislama, English and French.
Its 180,000 people are predominantly Melanesian with 115 cultures and languages spread amongst them. Most live on the southern and eastern coastal strips where it is reasonably flat and large areas have been developed for cattle grazing and plantations. Cattle, copra and fish are the island's principal income sources.
WWII had an enormous impact on Santo when it was home to over 100,000 allied troops and support staff. There are still remains of crashed B17 bombers, deserted Dakotas and Quonset huts to be found in the thick jungle. Servicemen laid many roads throughout Santo, and four hospitals, five airfields, cinemas and a torpedo boat base were built.
Much of the surplus war material remains and at Million Dollar Point, divers can see everything from bulldozers to drink bottles which were dumped when the war was over.
Diving is extremely popular and fulfilling in the waters around Vanuatu, and the Maskelyne Islands are proving to be a real hit. The strong currents, coupled with protected water, have allowed coral growths and schools of pelagic to flourish.
Silentworld is a new company in the area and is operating a variety of live-aboard excursions. MV Silentone was a commercial research vessel around Australia and the South Pacific and has undergone a major refit for its new venture.
Its spacious deck carries up to 20 divers and individual air filling stations and dive gear storage lockers are provided. There are freshwater showers and camera rinsing rubs and quick Nitrox and air filling compressors. It has a galley and dining room, outdoor bar area, spacious air-conditioned cabins and bathrooms and even E6 film processing facilities. There is a satellite phone on board.
Cabins come in five types, from premium deluxe suites to standard.
Guests can choose from four itineraries but all are six day, six night trips, anchoring in a new spot each day.
Matevulu Blue Hole is always a popular place to stop for a swim. It is 50 metres wide, 18 metres deep and its water is perfectly clear blue.
Champagne Beach is one of the Pacific's finest. It has talcum white sand curving around a turquoise lagoon with a backdrop of a coconut plantation and slopes covered in jungle growth … a perfect place to stop for lunch.
The entire area is one great dive spot after another, but one very interesting dive is 67 metres under the sea around the wrecks of the US destroyers President Coolidge and Tucker.
Santo, 45 minute flight from Port Vila in Vanuatu.
Silentworld runs six day, six night trips costing $2200 per person. They depart each Friday from Santo or Port Vila. Transfers, all meals, twin-share accommodation, on-board entertainment, unlimited diving including tanks and weights are included.
Qantas files eight times a week to Port Vila. Return economy airfares are $701 ex-Sydney; $820 ex-Brisbane; $972 ex-Melbourne; $1186 ex-Adelaide; $1424 ex-Perth and $1682 ex-Darwin.
Air Vanuatu flies to Santo and costs $145 per person one way.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
958 Pacific Highway, Roseville 209
Ph: (02) 9283 5222
Fax: (02) 9419 email@example.com
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13