Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - North Efate, Vanuatu
The main island of Vanuatu is Efate which contains the capital of Port Vila. Before World War 2, the main town was on the northern side of the island at Port Havannah Harbour. Named by Captain John Erskine in 1849 after his ship HMS Havannah, the Port was the major centre of activity on Efate during the war. Remnants of the war remain, buildings, a half-track vehicle and a water reservoir can be found and below the water you can see the remains of an anti-submarine net across one entrance to the harbour and several aircraft, including a Corsair.
At the western end of Port Havannah Harbour is Eretoka Island. This is more commonly known as Hat Island for reasons which are very apparent once you see it.
|Eretoka Island, better known as Hat Island||One of the numerous huge gorgonias at this site|
I had previously dived the south-western end of the island where the site consists of three coral bommies and a wall. In June 2007 I dived a site on the eastern side, about half way along. The boat tied up to a mooring which is only 20 or so metres off the shore and in about eight metres. In this area there are a number of coral bommies and some sand gullies.
|More of the huge gorgonias at this site|
Once on the bottom, we headed north-east along the edge of the coral reef at about 11 metres. We then gradually got a bit deeper dropping down a sandy slope to 18 metres and then 27 metres. Here there are a lot of reef fingers running north-west to south-east. There are also many bommies shallower. The slope here apparently drops steeply to 100+ metres.
On the slope there are some small coral outcrops. Many of these have very large gorgonias and sea whips. Some of the gorgonias are huge, more than two metres across. Here I went to 36 metres to take some photographs.
Along the reef there was the normal reef life, some clownfish, bannerfish, Moorish idols, one humpheaded wrasse and more. I even saw a very large tuna.
|Some of the sea whips at Hat Island East||Kelly over a smaller gorgonia|
After about 25 minutes we started heading back along the reef to the mooring. As mentioned, there are quite a few bommies here and there is some excellent fishlife and interesting spots.
We had about 26°C here and visibility was about 20 metres. Of interest, we had an earthquake while we were underwater, sounded like a huge cargo ship passing by for about 30 seconds. This is a highly recommended dive site (snorkellers can spend time around the boat).
You can do this dive with Golden Wing.