Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Luganville - A Diving Dream That Comes True and Exceeds Expectations
At a mooring in Aore Resort - 31 July to 7 August 2013 - (15.32.28S - 167.10.77E)
It's about 60 miles from South West Bay in Malakula Island to Luganville and we decided for an overnight trip to make sure we arrived in Luganville with enough light to move around and find anchorage or a mooring at the Aore resort.
We had little wind and motored most of the trip, there might have been a counter current for a couple of hours on the tip of Malakula Island but we finally arrived at the Georges Phillipar Passage at 9:00 AM to enter the channel in a West to East direction towards Luganville, the 8 miles on the channel were easy, the channel is quite wide and we found depths always above 20 meters.
We've heard the anchorage in Luganville is very poor and were recommended to stay either at Palikulo Bay anchorage around the corner of Luganville or just across, at one of the moorings in the Aore Resort.
We were surprised to see there are only 4 moorings at the resort, one of them submerses at high tide so it is hard to see and we were lucky not to run over it, two others were taken and after some gymnastics with Oscar in the dinghy and me at the helm we were able to tie to the only one free we could see. Not a friendly mooring.
The resort is beautiful, it has a reasonable good restaurant, all staff is quite friendly and the mooring fees gives you access to the resort facilities including the swimming pool and the small craft ride to Luganville several times a day, for a very small fee. A friendly resort.
Diving Sites - The S.S. President Coolidge and the Million Dollar Point
The main attraction in Luganville is scuba diving the wrecks from the Second World War that are scattered very close to shore just out of town and the main diving site is the S.S. President Coolidge, a huge cruise ship that was converted into a military carrier for American troops and sunk next to shore after taking the wrong entrance into port and hitting a couple of mines intended for Japanese war ships. Oscar enjoyed 7 dives to several parts of the ship.
A Blast from the Past - Finding Sea Fury
She was there, Sea Fury, in one of the Aore Resort moorings. As we approached to get a free one we couldn’t believe Sea Fury was just there.
The special thing about Sea Fury with Roger on board is that we met for the first time somewhere in the big Pacific Ocean in 2010, 1500 miles away from any land on our second week sailing from Galapagos to Marquesas. It was then so unreal to see a white sail in the horizon as it was unreal to find her again 3 years later in a Luganville mooring.
Check our Home page to see the picture that Roger took of Zenitude back then and the page “Galapagos to Marquesas” for more pictures and the complete story.
Sea Fury at the Aore Resort, Luganville
Dives are quite difficult as you traverse different compartments on the ship and some of them with depths up to 65 meters, therefore, it is advisable to use a good and responsible dive operator. Oscar did all the dives with Allan Power, absolutely fantastic and no doubt we do recommend him to anybody looking to dive in Luganville. Allan has an excellent organization with very good and experienced guides. They evaluate your diving skills with easier dives before taking you to the difficult ones. Diving the Coolidge was a long time dream for Oscar and he was thrilled he could finally do it. A fantastic experience that if you ask him about it, get ready for hours of story telling.
Allan Power diving tours
The huge Coolidge under water just a short swim away
Another diving site is the Million Dollar Point.
After the war, the US tried to sell the surplus war material including trucks, jeeps and other vehicles to the local government and unable to agree, the Americans dumped everything into the sea and went home leaving Vanuatu with a unique dive site. It is very close to the beach and it is called the Million Dollar Point as this was the estimated value of all at the time.
We came to this beach by mini-bus, it is 7 km east of Luganville and went snorkelling as many of the equipment is in shallow waters. Quite amazing.
Luganville is the turning point of our trip and from here we'll start our way back as soon as the weather is right. We decided to take the route on the east side of Malakula Island and stop there in a couple of places that we want to visit along the way to Port Vila.
The beach at Million Dollar Point and the wrecks not far from shore
The famous Lady, a ceramic figure at 42 meters depth