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97 Wairau Road
Ph: +64 9 444 7698
We were very proud to recently receive the shop award from PADI Asia Pacific in recognition of "Outstanding Contribution to the Diving Industry".
Jen Clent PADI Regional Manager for New Zealand presents the award to Malcolm Kidd - MD Dive Centre Ltd.
At the same time Jen also presented Matt Shortall, Dive Centre's long serving Instructor with the "Outstanding Contribution to Diver Training Award" due to his consistent excellent work and issuing almost 200 certifications last year!
Jen Clent PADI Regional Manager for New Zealand presents the award to Matthew Shortall - Dive Centre Ltd Master Instructor.
We also became New Zealand's first PADI Tec Rec Training Centre! Offering a wide range of Technical, Deep, Mixed Gas and Solo Dive courses - Phone Matt Shortall for more info on 09 444 7698 now!
Go deeper and longer than you ever have before!
Read the trip report below!
Galapagos Trip Report: Once in a Lifetime Dive Trip!
Text & Images by Malcolm & Barbara Kidd
The two days flying and sitting around airports with barely any sleep are forgotten...
The earthquake we experienced in the Santiago Airport is but a distant memory…
The 17 hour crossing on our liveaboard dive boat from the main island to get here is not even in my mind...
I’m sitting just 14m underwater on a shelf on the southern side of Wolf Island in the Galapagos looking at something I’ve waited my whole life to see... schooling Hammerheads... not just a few... hundreds!
Apart from the hundreds of Hammerhead’s parading in front of us, there are curious Galapagos sharks (looking more intimidating than the hammerheads), schools of the biggest eagle rays we’ve ever seen circling so close we could touch them, cruising turtles, and so many fish that they photo bomb the photos we’re trying to take of the sharks. This really is a diver’s dream and enough to make even decades-experienced divers beam with joy and wax lyrical about all they saw once back on board the boat.I eventually stop taking pictures on my new camera system, stop shooting video through the GoPro attached on top, and I just let myself take it all in... I’m underwater in the Galapagos Islands and they’re here! It was the start of an amazing 8 days of diving and land tours that we’d planned for almost two years and saved for just as long.
Galapagos isn’t easy – it’s one of the hardest dive sights to get to, and the conditions are not perfect flat calm diving like your normal tropical destinations. But all that is forgotten when you hit the water – and for a kiwi diver it feels familiar and even looks similar to many Hauraki Gulf Islands both above and below the water (apart from the inhabitants!)
The reason it’s such good diving is that there are seven different oceanic currents that hit the Galapagos, but the main one is the largest upwelling system in the world, called the “Humboldt” cold water current. This is the most productive on earth with almost 20% of all fish caught on the planet bathed by its flow! This, combined with warm tropical currents, is why there’s so much life here and why we have to be prepared for temperature ranges of 14 – 25 degrees underwater!
We visit an island to see Land Iguana’s and are amazed at how close we can get without startling them – great pictures are almost embarrassingly easy! Sea Lions lie ignoring you on the sand while you take pictures of “Blue Footed Boobies” (yes, that is their real name!) performing mating rituals and making nests and tending to eggs while Frigate birds with huge red waddles try and attract mates in front of beaming people glued to their cameras! We look out to sea and watch acres of dolphin leap and play in the water surrounding the island – this place is just so full of life you don’t know where to look or point the camera!
Then we’re back to the main boat to travel another 6-7 hours north to Darwin Island and more importantly Darwin’s Arch. For me, this is the focus of the trip – it can make or break the whole two weeks if they’re not there!
I shouldn’t have worried... 4 minutes into the first dive – the guide suddenly frantically signals and points before disappearing as fast as he can into the blue. We follow, kicking as fast as we can – all scared we won’t see her... But there she is – a 15m pregnant Whale Shark – she’s huge (even for a Whale Shark!). And we get closer than I thought we would – I get so close I’m being pulled along in her slipstream, and I can slow my kicking right down and glide with her like I’m a remora. One of the coolest moments I’ve ever had underwater!
I look to my buddies and they’re all having a blast, I look to the huge schools of big eye Trevalley, the Hammerhead and Galapagos Sharks in the distance, the Turtle posing for pictures, and the millions of other fish that surround us all at once and think... This is what diving is all about!
We end up seeing a total of 14 Whale Sharks during our dives at Darwin’s Arch and on the last dive – like most trip organisers before me – I have a quiet sigh of relief that it’s all been so amazing... then I turn back to my camera before I miss the next shot. You can never have too many Whale Shark pictures!
We're back from the Galapagos Islands now and it was the best dive trip we've ever done! There is something we got wrong though... “Once in a Lifetime” isn’t correct - we are so going back!
A common item on most divers bucket list is to get to dive the "President Coolidge" wreck in Santo, Vanuatu. We went there in July 2012 and did just that!
A sprinkling of 83 tropical islands from volcanic beginnings, Vanuatu lies peacefully in the warm waters of the South Pacific, only 2 hours 45 mins from Auckland.
Santo is a mecca for divers from all over the world because of the diversity of the diving offered, ranging from live coral to spectacular wrecks.
It is the final resting place of the 22,000 ton liner turned troopship "SS President Coolidge" and the destroyer "USS Tucker", both victims of US placed mines.
Due to the close proximity of surrounding islands and the tropical climate, dive sites are well protected and the waters remain calm and warm year round. Water temperatures range from 25 to 30° C with visibility from 10m to 40m. All dive sites can be reached within 15 to 30 minutes of departure from the resort by boat.
Aore Island Resort is a magnificent beachfront resort set on a private and secluded tropical island just 3km across the bay from Luganville town and aquamarine.
The accommodation was at Aore Island Resort is in comfortable well appointed bungalows built along the beach surrounded by lush tropical gardens. All rooms have private bathrooms, fridges, electric fans and tea/coffee making facilities. The resort also features a quality open air restaurant and bar on the beach, which provides you with stunning views.
The Deluxe Gardenview Bungalows are the same as the Deluxe Beachfront but set back from the beach in the garden. They are surrounded by tropical plants and lawn.
The Large Nakamal with a wide balcony is the centre of the Resort. It houses the Bar, Restaurant and Lounge Area. Lunch can be eaten in the Nakamal, on the veranda or around the pool. Evenings are relaxing and guests can wander down from their bungalows and sip cocktails as they watch the sunset or relax in the Lounge area and listen to a Local String Band. Dining on the veranda with the lights reflecting across the water from the town creates a special ambiance unique to Aore Island Resort.
Families are also well catered for with lots of non diving activities and plantation walks. A regular free ferry takes you across the bay in a few minutes to access dive operators and facilities in town.
If you are doing shore based dives, the free ferry will take you to town to meet the dive operators, who will transport you by van to the dive sites. Total time from Aore to the dive sites is approx. 30 minutes.
We did boat dives, and so the dive boats departed directly from Aore Resort to the dive sites!
It's not just all about wrecks! There are many local reefs boasting colourful corals and prolific fish and marine life to be explored.
A beautiful and relaxing drift dive over a bed of bright, colourful coral and an abundance of fish life. Divers see a tremendous variety of stag horn corals, large plate corals and our very own "potato head" coral which is unlike anything you've seen before. There is also an abundance of fish life and turtles and sharks are often spotted.
A dive not to be missed, this is one of the most stunning reef dives in all of Vanuatu. This highly protected dive site ensures calm waters, little to no current and crystal clear visibility. You'll see an amazing variety of coral and this is a great dive for spotting crayfish, turtles and sharks.
This dive has it all - caves, swim throughs, chasms, crayfish, and an abundance of spectacular hard and soft corals that seem to go on forever. Incredible visibility makes this a favourite reef dive among our divers
SS president Coolidge
The "SS President Coolidge" is a "must" dive. This luxury ocean liner was converted into a US troopship during WWII and sank off the coast of Santo after hitting a mine.
Lying on her port side with the bow in 18 metres of water and the stern in 73 metres, the 198 metre long wreck is a very impressive site. Almost completely intact, you can swim through the numerous holds and decks viewing the reminders of her glorious days as a cruise liner and the remnants of her days as a troop ship. There are guns, cannons, jeeps, helmets, trucks and personal supplies left by some of the soldiers, as well as the beautiful porcelain statue of "The Lady," chandeliers and a mosaic tile fountain. The wreck is covered in coral and is the home to a plethora of sea life such including turtles, barracuda, lion fish, and a host of reef fish.
Most divers only get to dive from the shore but we will be using boats for all our dives which makes the diving much easier, especially with camera gear! Moorings have been placed at intervals along the wreck to allow quick and easy access to the various parts of the wreck, thus saving both time and air, and allowing more time to explore the Coolidge. There are 20 different dive spots to choose from, so it doesn't matter what the weather is like, good diving is easily found.
Million Dollar Point is not far from the President Coolidge. This amazing dive site is where the US Navy dumped tonnes of valuable machinery and supplies after the war. From the shore down to 35 metres you will find scores of colourful corals and fish that have taken up residence in bulldozers, cranes, engines, large trucks, tyres and all kinds of auxiliary earth-moving equipment. Truly a unique dive.
Espiritu Santo is world renowned for its magnificent reefs, World War II wrecks and memorabilia. It is the new frontier in diving adventures, and home to the President Coolidge, one of the largest and most accessible wreck dives in the world. Santo Island Dive and Fishing is the only operator able to offer dive enthusiasts access to some of the extraordinary reefs found in Espiritu Santo.
They pride themselves on being Santo's most flexible dive operator, offering friendly, personalised service, and specialising in customised dive tours.
Commencing operations in Vanuatu in early 2006, Mal and Tony bring together all the experience gained from operating successful diving, fishing, and commercial dive business's in South East Australia for many years. Santo Island Dive and Fishing's guides are all highly trained and qualified. Recruited locally, they are rich in local culture and history.
All dives with Santo Island dives are boat dives, and the emphasis is on safety, fun and comfort. Each day we do double dives and so we are provided with refreshments during the surface interval. On most occasions it can be enjoyed on a tropical beach with many shady trees.
So there you have it, some great diving at a beautiful resort! If you would like to do a similar trip phone Steve at Dive, Fish, & Snow Travel on 09 479 2210 to secure your spots of tropical diving heaven now!