Diving & Snorkelling
Santo, particularly around Luganville and the offshore islands, is justifiably famous for its scuba diving and snorkellers will find plenty to see just below the surface. Coral reefs are bright and healthy, the wrecks are world class and dive operators extremely professional, though you'll need to spend some time here to see the best of what's on offer. Look at operators’ websites for some amazing images, such as MV Henry Bonneaud, one of the world’s top night dives; SS President Coolidge, lying in 21m to 67m of water; and Tutuba Point, a spectacular drift dive with brilliant corals and marine life.
There are boat and offshore dives for beginners to experts. An intro dive costs about 10,000VT, single dives are 7000VT, diver certification courses cost from 48,000VT and equipment hire is 1500VT.
Santo's Sunken Riches
Segond Channel was the Allies’ base during WWII. For three years to September 1945, more than half a million military personnel, mainly Americans, were stationed here waiting to head into battle in the Pacific. There were sometimes 100 ships moored off Luganville. More than 10,000 ni-Van came to work for the troops. To them, the servicemen seemed fabulously wealthy and generous.
Unfortunately, SS President Coolidge, a luxury liner turned troopship, hit a friendly mine just offshore where it sank with the loss of just one life. It’s since become the world’s largest accessible and diveable shipwreck. After the war, the USA offered the Condominium government the surplus equipment but the government didn’t respond, so the lot was dumped. Everything from bulldozers, aeroplane engines and jeeps to crates of Coca-Cola went into the sea at what is now Million Dollar Point. The coral-encrusted equipment makes the point a popular diving and snorkelling spot.
Favourite Santo treks are through the Vatthe Conservation Area and the Loru Conservation Area. Wrecks to Rainforest can organise custom treks around the island.