Diving the President Coolidge Aquamarine SantoDiving The President CoolidgeThe Lady of the President CoolidgeDiving the President Coolidge
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Images courtesy of Santo Island Dive and Aquamarine Santo

DIVING ON SANTO ISLAND

Santo is a gorgeous island with stretches of white sand, rivers that begin as inland blue holes and intertwine with the ocean, intact native cultures, and a fascinating World War II history that has remained beneath the water's surface. Wreck divers could easily spend a week diving only the President Coolidge, but the diving is not limited to the wrecks. Healthy reefs abound on Santo, offering diving as varied as the land adventures.

WRECK DIVING

The President Coolidge is a 654 ft 21,936 ton luxury liner that was converted to a military transport vessel at the beginning of WWII. In October of 1942, she departed San Francisco for New Caledonia and Espiritu Santo with over 5000 troops and equipment. On the morning of the 26th, she accidentally struck two American mines in a field deployed at the entrance to the Segond Channel. To save the lives and equipment, the vessel was run aground but 55 minutes later, she slid backwards from the shore, rolling on her port side. The President Coolidge remains in her final resting place only meters from shore with the bow at 20 meters and stern at 65 meters, making her the largest, most accessible wreck dive in the world. Divers can swim with PADI certified instructors through many of her compartments to see the abandoned military equipment and her luxurious amenities suited for a commercial cruise ship.

The USS Tucker suffered a similar fate at the other end of the channel months earlier and the Henry Bonnard was an Island trader purposely sunk as a dive site. Million Dollar Point holds a world of treasure for muck divers as the U.S. Navy decided to sink their equipment rather than spending the money to bring it back home or hand it over to another country. The ocean floor is scattered with large and small debris from Coca Cola bottles to Jeep Trucks. These truly unique wreck dives are rated some of the best in the world.

REEF DIVING

Tutuba Point is located on the northern tip of Tutuba Island, with diving so spectacular people come from all over the world to dive the site and some make it an annual tradition. With depth ranging from 8 - 24 m, divers drop into the water from the boat and enjoy a vista of canyons and coral, caves and swim-throughs. Expect great visibility, reef sharks, lobsters, dolphins, turtles, and an abundance of fish life.

Palakula Point can be accessed by boat or as a shore dive. It is a pristine skirting reef 5-20 m deep that is a living example of coral growth in the tropics. Plate corals, bombies, and canyons completely cover the whole headland offering endless opportunity to explore and discover.

Richards Place is a newly discovered and unexplored seamount with huge gardens of staghorn hiding a multitude of fish species. Cindies Reef is surrounded by steep drops to 100m with large areas of hard corals scattered amongst bombie heads. Aore Wall is sheltered from prevailing winds and consists of a vertical wall covered in hard corals, fans, trigger fish, and passing pelagics. Other dive sites include submarine nets that have provided homes to a variety of macro life and many dive sites yet to be discovered.

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