The world‘s finest diving


Vanuatu is still on my list of “want-to-do” destinations. However, there’s quite a story I’d like to tell you about a couple of my buddies who were diving on the SS Coolidge in Vanuatu in March 2015, just 2 days before these islands were devasted by Cyclone Pam. It’s partly their story & partly the story of a long-lost wartime hero.

Happily, I can report that Emery & Tom both flew out just before the storm blew through, but during their stay, they ran into & spent some time with a team of army divers who were there to try to retrieve the remains of one of only two soldiers who lost their lives in the wartime tragedy of the Coolidge sinking (out of nearly 5,000 troops aboard the ship).

A word from Dom

Vanuatu eruption shutterstock 407848897b

Vanuatu Liveaboards

Check out our favourite liveboards in the Vanuatu after decades of exploring!

A Five-star Wreck Dive

Many divers think of Vanuatu diving as just the wreck of the SS President Coolidge, former luxury liner turned into a WWII troop carrier, which was sunk in Vanuatu by a “friendly” mine and which contains a wealth of memorabilia at an easily accessible depth.

But, as you’ve just seen in our summary above, these islands have more to offer if you have time to stay for it. The major resorts have good reputations and offer quality dive operations.


Typical Volcanic Island Geology

The islands themselves are paradisical tropical rainforests, with white sand beaches, hot springs, waterfalls and a refreshing lack of tourism.

As to the diving itself, while the wrecks are certainly the big draw, the corals are healthy, there’s some good fish life on the reefs and the caves, grottoes & tunnels add a bit of unusual excitement and there’s growing interest in fresh-water diving in “blue holes” … natural springs whose waters run through connected sinkholes and caverns.

But, the bottom line is that what draws divers here is absolutely the Coolidge, one of the finest wreck dives the world of diving has to offer.


One of the world’s finest wreck dives in calm, warm waters with excellent visibility the SS PRESIDENT COOLIDGE … immense & magnificent former luxury liner, turned troop carrier in WWII. MILLION DOLLAR POINT … featuring a graveyard of WWII trucks, cranes, bulldozers & more drift dives, grottoes, overhangs, canyons, caves, tunnels, swim throughs, bommies reef dives with soft and hard corals, staghorn corals, reef fish & some reef sharks.








Creating visual excitement for divers are PINNACLES, TUNNELS, fantastic SWIM-THROUGHS, walls and slopes. Add vividly colored CORAL GARDENS & coral bommies which attract schools of barracudas, giant trevally, NAPOLEON WRASSE, snappers, BLUE FIN TUNA, giant moray eels … clown trigger fish, ANGELFISH, rabbit fish, cuttlefish … plus some great CRITTERS: scorpion fish, frogfish, mantis shrimp, porcelain crabs, pipefish, cleaner shrimp, fire dart goby, popcorn shrimp. With all that appetizing prey, you get leopard SHARKS, blue spotted STINGRAYS, MANTA RAYS, even WHALE SHARKS in season.

Diving The President Coolidge

SS President Coolidge

The ship is covered with both hard & soft corals. Before you enter the interior, you’ll be greeted by trigger fish, lion fish, nudibranchs & a resident green moray eel, all in glaring contrast to the cannons they adorn & inhabit. Inside you’ll find gas masks, helmets, ammunition, rifles … all the accoutrements of a soldier’s life including personal items. In the holds, you find major military equipment including trucks, jeeps, ambulances & cannons. You can swim through the control room, see the turbines & shaft and visit the galley where you’ll get a feeling for food preparation on board. Pretty well everything that was used in daily ship life is there for you to ponder.

The doctor’s office and infirmary still have medicines and syringes while in the barber shop, you find the actual barber’s chair still there and the soda fountain has masses of coke bottles.

Perhaps most astonishing in this entire experience are the remnants of a luxury liner. In the midst of all of this military paraphernalia, there remains a beautiful mosaic fountain, a porcelain statue of a lady and a unicorn, a first-class dining room, lobby, library and swimming pool.

The contradictions will almost certainly leave you contemplating the complexities of war.

Adding fascination to the history is the recent expedition of American military divers who found the remains of Army Captain Elwood Joseph Euart, who, after escaping, returned to the ship to free soliders who were trapped in sick bay.  According to records, they all got free with his help but Captain Euart was unable to climb the rope to safety before the ship slipped further into the water, taking him down with it.  DNA results have confirmed that indeed the remains recovered in March of 2015 are those of the heroic army captain ….. and a plaque in his honor has been placed upon the shipe ….

Vanuatu Map

Zoom & click the markers for airports, boat departure points & diving

Search Vanuatu Liveaboards

Our tailor made Liveaboard Finder. It’s the easiest way to see the best offers, check availability in different destinations and get diving quickly!

Contact Us