SS President Coolidge, The Largest Easy Accessibly Wreck in the World (Vanuatu)

If you search for the best wrecks in the world, the SS President Coolidge is on the list! In the country Vanuatu, somewhere in the South Pacific, you can dive a huge WWII troop transport wreck and previous cruise ship!



SS President Coolidge The Largest Easy Accessibly Wreck in the World Vanuatu  SSPresidentCoolidgeWreck

Map of SS President Coolidge wreck, Vanuatu! (Coral Quays)

The SS President Coolidge is a World War II troop transport wreck and previous cruise ship. With a length of 200 meters you can easily do 10 different dives without seeing everything! The wreck lays just off the shore, you walk in from the beach, and the sandy/death coral slope brings you down to the bow which starts at 21 meters. The stern is at 60 meters depth, the bottom of the wreck lays in 70 meters deep water!

How does that sound? Walk in the park? Exhilarating? Scary? Easy accessible for sure but can you follow your guide inside this wreck safely? There are some things you should consider before deep wreck diving.
Country Vanuatu
Dive area name Luganville, Santo Island
Dive center Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort/ Absolute Adventures
Famous for World War 2 wrecks!
Price Day trip with 2 dives and full equipment rental: 14.200 Vatu (135 US dollar)
Hotel recommendation Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort


SS President Coolidge The Largest Easy Accessibly Wreck in the World Vanuatu  Vanuatu Ss President Coolidge 1

Securing the flip-flops for our return, history lesson begins!

The wreck is really big! You might have heard of/or been diving on the SS Yongala in Australia (107 meters) or the SS Thistlegorm in the Red Sea/Egypt (128 meters) but this one is different. Not only a lot longer but also very intact, less crowded and still full of cruise ship decorations, furnish and utensils to recognize underwater.

The first dive is always up to 30 meters and without full penetration (going inside the wreck / overhead environments). You can go inside one of the cargo holes as is it really wide and within the 'light zone'. Swim along the side of the wreck, peak through the holes and see showers, toilet bowls and washbasins! As the guides open the oil barrel you can take some 'unique' pictures with gas masks, jars and guns on the top of the wreck.

Our guide was carrying a pile of nameplates of all the different parts of the ship, a very interesting history lesson! After 25 minutes of bottom time it was time to ascent and do several safety stops on our way back to the surface.

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SS President Coolidge Wreck, Vanuatu.



Marine life! Especially on the outside of the SS President Coolidge marine life has formed. It is not full of marine life, but you can see some Lion fish, Scorpion fish, Nudibranchs, Giant Clams and plenty Damsel and Clown fish during your ascent and safety stops. Our guide even found an Octopus! This dive is not about marine life - it's about 'rust hunting' - which is not my favorite part of diving (as you might have guessed) but I have to say I was impressed by the beauty of the wreck!

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Marine life on the SS President Coolidge Wreck, Vanuatu.

Diving the SS President Coolidge can be perfectly combined with a shallower wreck dive site close-by: Million Dollar Point.
This incredible place is a dump yard with millions of dollars worth of goods from the US Army in clear South Pacific waters!

About the organization of Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort/ Absolute Adventures‎

All dive centers around Luganville will offer to take you up to 60 meters on a single tank with basic certification. It will be challenging and deeper step by step, dive by dive (for a about 70 US Dollar a dive). Most dive centers do not have a 'front office', just the equipment storage/repair/compressor area and an administration desk. There are no dive shops to buy equipment or spare parts but you can rent about everything (per dive, NOT per day!).
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Spare tank at shallow depth.



SS President Coolidge, The Largest Easy Accessibly Wreck in the World (Vanuatu)
After visiting several dive shops and searching a lot of information online it was quite clear to me that Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort/ Absolute Adventures was taking the risks seriously and necessary actions to dive safely. This dive center offers technical diving as well and they use the knowledge, safety standards and procedures for recreational diving. It was the only dive center I could find where the guides always dive with double tanks, stage tanks and spare tanks.

Procedures were clear and open conversation about it was possible. Tanks and equipment was well serviced and maintained - or at least they came forward with it where the other dive centers did not seem interested in telling/showing. Some people died diving this wreck, but this does not need to mean diving here is not safe. Are safety standards broken? Well, again, please continue reading about the Important Things to Consider Before Deep Wreck Diving.


Comparing dive destinations

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Bottom structure Reef structure Pelagic
(big stuff in the blue)
Big reef
(bigger stuff on the reef)
Macro
(small stuff on the reef)
Current
(stream)
Flat bottom with bumps/big rocks/pinnacles Hard corals tree-shape
(not moving)
Sharks Turtles Nudibranchs
(snails)
No current
Slope (going down slowly) Soft corals tree-shape
(moving)
Rays Eels/snakes Sea horses and pipe fish Small
(you can easily swim against it)
Wall
(steep but you see the bottom)
Table-/fan-shape Trevally/Jacks/Tuna Groupers Scorpion/frog fish Medium
(you can swim against it for a little while/higher air consumption)
Drop off
(steep and you can't see the bottom)
Anemones Barracudas Lobsters/crabs Octopus/squid Strong/reef hooks
(you cannot swim against it)
Blue
(no reference)
Sponges Sardines/herrings Puffers Shrimps Pumping/washing machine/OMG/hold your regulator
(superman)
* The transparent boxes are the things I have seen down below and / or are spotted on almost every dive in that area.
* The dark blue boxes are the 'things' that are unavailable - things I have not seen and/or that are uncommon in that area.
Click here for more information about comparing dive destinations.



Lonely Planet

Vanuatu and New Caledonia

Have you ever done a wreck dive? What did you like most about it? If not, are you planning on doing a wreck dive? Please share your thoughts below!
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Marlies
Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
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