SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

 

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Welcome to Tranquility Island

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Weather coconut

SCUBA diving in Vanuatu! I am jittery-excited! Our short, energetic dive-master Claudia turns her attention to me, “So when was your last dive Ben?”

You know when you should lie but don’t. 

Hesitation, “Umm, three years ago in Thailand.”

“Oh, and you’ve only done a few dives total right? Well, I think you should skip the first dive and do a refresher with me.”

“That’s cool, I can keep Jette company on her test dive.”

We are on Tranquility island, a large, slightly detached island in the northern reaches of Efate. Jette, a keen snorkeler, is going to do her first dive to see if she likes it enough to do the course and I had planned to do two reef dives. I am somewhat comforted with the focus on safety here. Last time I went SCUBA diving in Thailand it was only my third dive after completing my certification. We went straight down to 35 meters (15 meters deeper than I should at this level) and into a sunken boat where we pulled ourselves through tight spaces. My qualification is for an open diver. That means I need open water above my head and shouldn’t be bumping tanks around inside boats or caves. That experience was rather intense, but I loved it!

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Tranquility Island Dive Resort

As the others set off for the reef Claudia starts enthusiastically gathering tanks, regulators and other gear for Jette and I. Soon we are kitted up, waist deep off the beach. I can tell that Jette is not entirely comfortable with the equipment but she gives it a good go. We kneel down underwater so that J can practice breathing through the regulators.

Sadly, the waves trying to flip her over, the mask fogging up and the weird, asthmatic feel of regulator breathing increases Jette’s discomfort to the point where she decides to give up and try again elsewhere. Maybe in a pool. We watch Jette waddle off up the beach. Normally Jette moves with a rather feline grace but, under the weight of all her SCUBA gear, she is now waddling. It looks hilarious. Looking up the beach I see the Turtle sanctuary is doing a release. Maybe we will see one.

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Lost turtle

 

With my skills proven Claudia and I decide to try a small reef dive near the resort. As we descend slowly to 15 meters I am amazed at the wealth of sea life surrounding us. Claudia proves to be an attentive and comforting dive buddy, unlike the Thai chap who often left me stranded as he disappeared to chase fish. We dive past WWII antisubmarine bouys like rusting aquariums they are filled with tiny Nemos and other fish. Then we spot a lonely looking turtle. We swim over to check his tag and realize that this little chap is one of the guys that was just released. He sits on a rock looking rather confused and, no doubt, wondering where all his friends have gone…

Suddenly I feel bubbles all over my torso and my buoyancy feels wrong. I get Claudia’s attention (thankfully not hard) and lift my arms so she can check me. The purge button on my spare regulator has stuck on and is letting air out. A quick fiddle with the regulator thankfully fixes the problem and we wind our way up and back to the beach.

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Ben SCUBA diving

Following an amazing barbecue I leave Jette to happily go about exploring with her trusty snorkel and jump into the boat for another dive. I am buddied up with a lovely, chatty school teacher who, like me, is happy to go slow and take in the sights. We dive down to 20 meters right into a veritable Atlantis. Big fish, small fish, turtles, coral, Clown Fish hiding in anemone and the occasional sea horse make the 50 minute dive feel like five. I was sorry to have forgotten the waterproof backing for my Go-pro and sad to leave when my buddy signaled that she was low on air, time to go up. It was amazing how far we traveled underwater, right back to the resort.

If you read the word ‘resort’ and think swim up bars and mini golf, I should clarify. The Tranquility Dive resort is a few bamboo buildings hidden under tall trees right on the beach. They have a cold water shower, a toilet, and a rusted barbecue. Real Robinson Crusoe stuff. It is perfect, not to mention that they run the Turtle sanctuary and so earn their stripes as an eco-lodge.

I am not surprised when Jette starts planning another try at SCUBA diving on our return boat trip to Efate. The girl is stubborn, in a good way. Just another reason I married her!

 

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Boat on Vanuatu

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Wife on boat on Vanuatu

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Tranquility Island

grey SCUBA diving Vanuatu at Tranquility Island

Vanuatu beach

 

 

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