Enjoying Champagne On Champagne Beach

29 October, 2017


It was a super-early morning for the birding party, who went ashore at 4.30 am.
For the rest of us, it was a leisurely Zodiac cruise to the powdery white sands and impossibly blue waters of Champagne Beach, drinking most appropriately, champagne!

Next we were treated to another group of water dancers, however this was a professional troupe who has travelled the world and is sponsored by Universal Studios! The rain on the water made it all the more mysterious, and we tried out hand at making the unique drum like sounds that this dance is famous for.

Back on board, Suzanne our cultural expert, introduced us to the “cargo cults” of Melanesia, a fascinating insight into the custom of trade and complex social structures found throughout the islands.

After lunch, we took a tour of Luganville and the famous sites of Million Dollar Point and the wreck of the Coolidge. Million Dollar Point received its name from the fact that the U.S forces, at the end of WWII, bulldozed tons of military equipment into the water. Why? The U.S. Forces made an offer to the, mainly french, plantation owners and officials of .02 cents in the dollar for them to purchase the equipment.

The French refused thinking the Americans would just leave it and therefore they pay zero. At the end of WW2 there was some friction between the U.S and the French and the local commander carried on the American tradition of, 'nuts to that' and bulldozed the lot whilst the locals looked on.

The' Worlds most accessible ship wreck' Coolidge was a pre-war Trans Pacific Ocean liner converted to a troop carrier for WWII. Upon approach to Luganville it chose the wrong harbour entry - there were three, two of which were mined. The ship hit two mines, the second of which ruptured the hull. The ships captain made the decision to run the ship aground upon the nearest reef. A boiler man had been killed in the engine room when the mine struck. The army captain, Elwood J Euart, of the 103rd field artillery went down to the sick Bay Area and with rope assistance, ensured all patients were hauled topside.

The reef did not hold the ship and it slid down stern first. Captain Elwood was unable to extract himself as the boat was now flooding and he perished the second and final casualty of over 2000 on board. The ship now rests from about 18 meters at the bow to 70 meters at the stern. One can access the dive from the shore line with an easy decent down a fixed line to the bow.

A magnificent day ended with a swim in Espiritu Santo’s famous blue pools.

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