Scuba Diving in Vanuatu: All You Need to Know

Vanuatu is made up of 83 islands in total and is found in the South Pacific Ocean. Famous in the diving world for its stunning coral reefs and historic wrecks, Vanuatu also hosts a variety of marine species, big and small. Diving in Vanuatu is certainly a must for your bucket list, so here is everything you need to know before you go.

How to get to Vanuatu

Vanuatu is around 1,000 miles east of Australia. There are three international airports in Vanuatu: Bauerfield Airport, Pekoa Airport, and Whitegrass Airport. Once you decide which area of Vanuatu you want to explore you can plan which airport is best to fly in and out of. Most scuba diving sites and resorts are at Espiritu Santo and Efate, which is near the capital city of Port Vila.

If you love wreck diving, check out: The Best Dive Sites in Malta’s Wreck-filled Waters.

Scuba diving in Vanuatu

The 83 islands of Vanuatu cover around 800 miles, and 65 of those islands are primarily inhabited by Ni-Vanuatu locals but tourism (diving tourism in particular) has grown over the last several decades.

As mentioned above, the most popular areas for diving in Vanuatu are Espiritu Santo and Efate. There are so many dive spots to explore around the whole of Vanuatu, but here are four of our favorite dive sites in Vanuatu:

1. SS President Coolidge, Espiritu Santo

Said to be the largest diveable shipwreck in the world, the SS President Coolidge was carrying US troops across the South Pacific in World War 2 when it hit two Japanese mines. All of the troops made it onto land safely, but the ship then sank to a maximum depth of 70 meters (240 feet) at the stern and 20 meters (70 feet) at the bow. 
Scuba divers have traveled from all corners of the globe to explore the famous shipwreck of the SS President Coolidge, which has been overtaken by coral and is home to lionfish, barracuda, turtles, and moray eels.

Interested in learning all about sea turtles? Check out the SSI Sea Turtle Ecology Specialty.

2. Million Dollar Point, Espiritu Santo

An exciting junkyard of shipwrecks awaits in shallow water just off the shore of Espiritu Santo. Perfect for both beginners and more advanced divers, Million Dollar Point contains guns, jeeps, trucks, tractors, bulldozers and more.

The US military dumped all of these items so that no one could use them after they left at the end of World War 2, and it was called Million Dollar Point due to the cost of all of the equipment. The dive site sits at 15 to 28 meters (50-92 feet) deep. 

3. Cindy’s Reef, Espiritu Santo

Cindy’s Reef is a dive site that is perfect for newly certified Open Water divers as there is lots to see at shallow depths and it boasts easy dive conditions. The reef is teeming with thriving corals and has plenty to see from 5 meters (16 feet) down to 30 meters (98 feet) deep.

The visibility tends to be very good at Cindy’s Reef, and if you are a fan of macro life, you are in luck! The reef is home to many tiny critters, as well as turtles and blue-spotted stingrays. If you are lucky, you might even encounter a dugong.

4. Star of Russia, Efate

A three-masted, 90-meter (255 feet) long shipwreck; the Star of Russia lies at 33 meters (108 feet) deep and allows easy penetration for those looking to explore inside the wreck. Many varieties of tropical fish call the wreck their home and a key point of interest for divers is the old anchor and the large main bollard.

A fun fact about the Star of Russia is that it was built by the same team as the Titanic, and both ships left Liverpool, UK at the same time. The Star of Russia was heading straight for Australia.

Best time to go diving in Vanuatu

The tropical weather of Vanuatu is around 22°C (72°F) in the winter months of April to September, and averages 28°C (82°F) in the summer months, which starts around October.

Water temperatures peak in February, getting up to around 30°C (86°F), and drop to roughly 24°C (75°F) in August, so even in the winter months, a 3mm-5mm wetsuit should be enough.

When visiting a location with lots of exciting wrecks to explore, it is a good idea to get your Wreck Diver certification before you go.


What language do they speak in Vanuatu?

The main language spoken in Vanuatu is Bislama. However, English and French are also widely spoken.

What time zone is Vanuatu?

The time zone of Vanuatu is GMT+11. This is the same time zone as Sydney, Australia.

What currency is used in Vanuatu?

The main currency in Vanuatu is Vatu (VT, VUV), however Australian dollars (AUD) are also accepted in touristy areas.

What else can I do besides diving in Vanuatu?

Vanuatu is beautiful both above and below the waves. Some options for non-diving activities include lounging on stunning white sand beaches, kayaking, canyoning, visiting volcanic hot springs, or taking a trip to a waterfall for the perfect Instagram selfie.

Do I need a visa for Vanuatu?

If you are from the USA, a Commonwealth or an EU country, you do not need a visa to visit Vanuatu and you will be allowed to stay for up to 30 days. Check updated information to make sure before you go though, or if you are from another country.

Do I have to worry about cyclones?

Cyclone season is between December and April, and Vanuatu does experience some intense tropical storms, so if you plan to go at this time, check weather reports before you arrive.

Which dive center should I go to in Vanuatu?

You can use the SSI Center Locator to help you find the perfect dive center wherever you are in the world. 

Vanuatu has something for scuba divers of all levels. If you are a lover of shipwrecks and flourishing coral reefs, diving in Vanuatu should definitely be at the top of your bucket list!