Written by PADI Regional Manager, Hans Ullrich.
How many of your students (and even yourself) have dreamed about taking a dive trip to The South Pacific?
For PADI Members living in Australia or New Zealand, these islands are actually closer than you might think! Some of these islands are only a 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney and offer fantastic diving for all levels of divers. Other islands are a little further but are definitely worth the extra travel time. Let’s go on a little tour of the South Pacific so we can show you why you should plan your next group trip here.
Our first stop is Tonga, notoriously known as the destination where you can go swimming with whales. Every year from July to October humpback whales start their migration, from the cold Antarctic waters to the warmer waters of Tonga, to give birth to their calves. Tonga also offers some amazing diving spots worth exploring.
You won’t want to miss out on wreck diving in the Solomon Islands. Yes Truk Lagoon is famous for its incredible wreck diving, but don’t forget about the Solomon Islands. Just a 3 hour flight from Brisbane will get you to the location of where the WWII battle of Guadalcanal took place. Here you will also be able to visit the Iron Bottom Sound wreck, which includes 200 odd ships and around 690 aircrafts that lie within it. Many of these wrecks are too deep for recreational diving. However, the Solomon Islands also offer some of the world’s best and most spectacular wreck sites that are at suitable for recreational diving depths.
Have you heard about the Cook Islands? Voted as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and that’s not even including the fantastic diving! With 15 Cook Islands, a total of 240 Square meters, spread out over 2,200.000 square kilometres of ocean, the island numbers speak volumes. If you’re convinced that there is some good diving here, then you’re right!
Next are the beautiful reefs of Vanuatu, such as Million Dollar Point, the Cathedral, Hideaway Island, Mele Reef and of course the Coolidge. The Coolidge reef is one of the best known wreck dives in the world. Only a 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane to Santo, you won’t want to miss out on visiting this wreck site!
What about Samoa? Well Samoa, also known as the heart of Polynesia, offers diving to both novice and experienced divers. Rich in marine life, the surrounding reefs include around 900 species of fish to look out for. Not only does Samoa have great diving, but it also has plenty of topside beauty to offer.
Our next stop brings us to New Caledonia. New Caledonia has the world’s second largest coral reef stretching to 1,600 kilometres around the mainland forming the world’s largest lagoon. Smaller islands surround the reef including Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines. This French colony has much to offer with European cuisine and shopping combined with the beauty and culture of the South Pacific. The diving and snorkelling here is also are spectacular. Some must-dive sites to add to your travel list include Bay of Prony, Tenia, the Town of Hienghene and the Isle of Pines.
Our final destination is the French Polynesia or Tahiti, as is it mostly known by. The island of Tahiti is the capital of the French Polynesia. Tahiti offers some great diving, but there are many other islands that are simply fantastic for diving and snorkelling. These islands include Rangiroa, Fakarava, Bora Bora, Tikehau and Moorea. Consider this- from the 118 islands in French Polynesia, only 11 have PADI Dive Centers on them!
So, after our tour of the South Pacific, I hope you have a better idea what is out there and how close some of these places actually are. Consider taking your next group dive trip to the South Pacific and explore some fantastic places. For more information please visit https://padi.travel.com or contact your PADI Regional Manager.