1st June 2016
When you live on the Sunshine Coast you have access to some of the state's most beautiful beaches and waterways as well as easy access to the Great Barrier Reef just a couple of hours' north. What more could want? Well, the spectacular shores of Vanuatu apparently.
In the coming weeks, a group of eager local Sunshine Coast divers are headed to Vanuatu, to the country's most popular dive resort - Hideaway Island Resort. Arriving at the international airport in the capital of Port Vila, the divers will make the short 20-minute drive to a beach where a small boat will transfer them to the resort on a short but sweet five-minute ride across the waves.
This time of year is perfect for Vanuatu diving. The days are drier than in the summer wet season but remain balmy. The water temperature is a mild 26C, perfect for strapping on a tank and oxygen mask and hanging out in the crystal blue water for hours on end.
The coral reefs that surround the Hideaway Island Marine Park are incredible. They are ideal for novice divers but also offer a number of wrecks for more experienced divers to enjoy in Vila Harbour. Best of all, they're all easily accessible by boat just minutes from the resort. The dive sites surrounding Hideaway Island are teeming with marine life ranging from hard corals and sponges to gorgonian fans, anemones and a variety of fish.
There are a range of styles of dive sites offering everything from great snorkelling right off the shore to night diving, caves formed by lava flows and steep walls that drop off to 97m. The reefs around Hideaway have been declared a marine sanctuary for more than 12 years and have been a popular dive spot for just as long. This means that the fine array of finned creatures that inhabit the dives sites are not afraid of divers, in fact they're quite curious.
Not only will the Sunshine Coast divers treated to some spectacular dives up to three times a day, they have also been invited to participate in a nearby village tour where they will experience first-hand the traditional culture of the friendly locals.