Luganville became an important base for the Americans during their Pacific campaign in World War II. It was from here that troops were sent into battles around the region. The natural harbour in Segond Channel made Luganville an attractive place for all kinds of ships; one of the largest ships ever built, the luxury cruise liner SS President Coolidge, sank just off the coast when it hit two friendly mines, and has become an important dive site, being one of the best accessible wrecks of that size to dive in the world. At the end of the war, the Americans did not want to ship all their equipment home, and when an offer to donate it to the Condominium, the French-English rulers of the New Hebrides as Vanuatu was called back then, was not answered, they decided to dump the materials in the sea.
Even though it is better to dive on Million Dollar Point, as there are many more things to be seen underwater, I decided to go there at low tide and walk around. I had dived the SS President Coolidge the day before on two truly spectacular dives, and felt I had to saviour the memory of those dives. Just after I left my guesthouse, a drizzle started to come down, and as I walked on, the rain became more serious. Just beyond the wreck of the Coolidge, I saw a small trail towards the beach, and decided to walk it to reach Million Dollar Point. I started seeing old rusty objects exposed by the low tide, but also trash of a much more recent date. After climbing over some fallen trees lying on the beach, I approached the small white lighthouse. Just when I reached it, it started to pour down, and I was happy to find shelter under a roof, waiting for the rain to subside.
It is just off the lighthouse that the Americans built a jetty which enabled them to transport all the excess materials and dump them into Segond Channel. Here, it was easy to spot the heavily corroded, and coral-overgrown, remains of machinery, vehicles, bottles, and much more. I am in no way a specialist on these items, and many of them only left me guessing about their original function or nature. Sure enough, I could recognize a wheel, an axis, or an old Coca Cola bottle, but many other items left me without a clue. Nevertheless, I enjoyed walking around carefully (the rocks were quite slippery), because after decades of being immersed in the sea, the objects were in some cases almost completely integrated into nature, had assumed totally different colours, and left me wondering how long it would take for them to be beyond recognition. Instead of being parts of a war machinery, they have now become photogenic objects that patiently lie on the seabed, exposed to the air for a few hours a day when the sea recedes.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Million Dollar Point. Read more about this site.