10 Best Dives in the South Pacific Bubble

Diving bootless bay… port moresby, a stopover with a diving difference

As New Zealand and Australia start to flatten the curve and ease restrictions, there has been talk this week of creating a “Trans-Tasman Bubble” to allow travel between the two countries. The concept has now been extended to include our Pacific Island neighbours, most of which are Covid19-free. Let’s hope they open their doors once we have beaten this pandemic – our neighbours can do with our support, some of whom have suffered the double-whammy of Covid19 and TC Harold. To get you dreaming of the South Pacific, here is our pick for the Top 10 South Pacific Dives.

White Grass Ocean Resort, Tanna, Vanuatu offers year round diving and snorkelling in crystal clear waters on pristine hard coral reefs

  1. The Blue Holes, Tanna, Vanuatu

There are several ‘Blue Holes’ along Tanna’s fringing reef, some with names including Pikinini Blue Hole, Blue Hole 1 and Blue Hole 2, others apparently not significant enough for a name. A labyrinth of tunnels and swim throughs that open into blue holes and shallow basins filled with coral gardens. Dive with: Volcano Island Divers, White Grass Ocean Resort.

Heather sutton great white wall taveuni

Photo: Heather Sutton

  1. The Great White Wall, Taveuni, Fiji

Taveuni’s Great White Wall is deservedly famous and cited as a world class dive site. But it is so much more than the white wall it’s famous for. The reef wall itself stretches down to 40 metres, and it’s covered in soft white corals. It is also topped with some of the best hard corals around, soft corals of all the colours of the rainbow and prolific reef fish life. Dive with: Taveuni Dive Resort, Paradise Taveuni Resort.

Diving new caledonia isle of pines garden of eden 9236

  1. Le Jardin d’Eden (Garden of Eden), Isle of Pines

A series of deep fissures that penetrate the top of the coral reef, creating grottoes and canyons, Garden of Eden begins at a depth of about 11 m with a maximum depth 45 m. It features tunnels and swim-throughs teeming with reef fish and crustaceans and a wealth of hard corals and soft coral. Here, you may encounter grey reef sharks, along with banded sea snakes, yellow box fish and densely packed schools of glassfish and anthias. The coral walls drop to around 45m with average depth of 15 to 20 m. Dive with: Kunie Dive Centre.

G a pair of mantas swim round the cleaning station at milne bay aboard the mv golden dawn diving gulf of papua halstead g

  1. Gonubalabala Manta Station, Milne Bay, PNG

Divers are often treated to a visit 10 to 12 mantas at this shallow cleaning station. The site itself is pretty enough, with large coral boulders and bommies and a healthy cover of soft corals scattered over a sandy bottom – perfect conditions for a Manta Ray cleaning station, and indeed for observing mantas at a cleaning station. Mantas have their own timetable and so cannot be guaranteed – but there is plenty of other stuff to see in the sand while you are waiting. Dive with: MV Chertan, MV Febrina (Milne Bay itinerary).

Why munda is the south pacific’s most popular dive site

  1. Cave of the Kastom Shark, Munda, Solomon Islands

This unique dive starts on an island, after a short track through the jungle, where a small clear pool is located at the base of a rocky outcrop. Gearing up here you enter the water and descend down into a narrow passage dropping vertically into darkness. The first section drops to 20m and opens into a larger chamber, followed by a sloping narrow passage that leads to the deepest point at 32m, before hitting the narrowest point of the cave, and out towards a dim blue light, the cave exit on a reef wall. Dive with: Dive Munda.

Coolidge exterior credit heather sutton b

Photo: Heather Sutton

  1. The SS President Coolidge, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

The mother of all WWII wrecks, the SS President Coolidge is HUGE. Many divers go to Espiritu Santo or even Vanuatu just to dive the Coolidge, and spend the best part of the week doing so: starting with an orientation dive, and working their way up (down) to the ‘Lady’ – a porcelain figure of a medieval lady riding a unicorn in the first class dining room, and beyond to the engine room and stern, at 70 m. Dive with: Pacific Dive, Coral Quays Dive Resort.

Uepi island resort bait ball

  1. Uepi Point, Uepi, Solomon Islands

Uepi Point is the Uepi Island Resort signature dive and definitely one of best in the Solomons. The ocean facing side of Uepi drops off in a steep wall. The water from the Marovo Lagoon flows via the Charapoana Passage. The currents are not strong, but carry nutrients which attract the smaller stuff, which in turn attracts the bigger stuff. Though a good dive at any time of day, in the early mornings and late afternoons it can be really going off with large schools of trevally and barracuda, as well as rays and reef sharks. Uepi Island Resort.

Barefoort kuata awakening shark dive thomas vignaud a hero

  1. The Awakening Shark Dive, Kuata Island, Fiji

There are now five shark dives in Fiji, with three in Beqa Lagoon, one on the Coral Coast and this one, The Awakening, in the Yasawa Islands. It’s an intimate experience, with normally only 10 to 12 divers lined up to watch some rather magnificent bull sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks and reef sharks tussle over tuna heads being fed to them by a few of Fiji’s finest shark whisperers. Dive with: Barefoot Kuata Resort.

Leru cut double

Photo: Gerald Rambert for Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises.

  1. Leru Cut, Russell Islands, Solomon Islands

Leru Cut is a long passage cut deep into the land, almost – but not quite wide enough for a couple of divers to swim side by side. Open to the air at the top, though you can’t always see vertically upwards, it is lit by slanting shafts of sunlight in parts – depending obviously on the time of day. At the apex, surface under a rainforest canopy before swimming back through the ‘cut’ to explore the coral wall beyond. Dive with: MV Bilikiki, Solomons PNG Master.

Diving new caledonia noumea abyss plongee diving club turtle credit david tetart

  1. Dumbea Passe, Noumea, New Caledonia

Three dive sites in one, on one side of the ‘passe’ or channel, a site called Canyon Fossil has varied and abundant life, with giant gorgonian sea fans. In season, the channel itself plays host to hundreds of groupers that aggregate in small caverns during their mating season. On the opposite side of the channel at M’Bere Reef, there’s abundant fish life alongside black corals, steep canyons and a large World War II submarine mine. You’ll very likely see reef sharks, including grey reefs, whitetips, leopard sharks, hammerheads and blacktips. Dive with: Abyss Plongee Diving Club.

What’s your pick for the best of the South Pacific?

Obviously, Top 10 lists are controversial. These are our favourites – tell us yours!