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Vanuatu: Million Dollar Point

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Million Dollar Point | Vanuatu | Oceania

[Visited: November 2012]

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.

Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Rusting part of military equipment exposed by low tide at Million Dollar Point

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.

Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Detailed look of one of the many military objects at Million Dollar Point

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.

Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Rusting military equipment can be found everywhere at Million Dollar Point, especially at low tide
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Large military object exposed by the low tide at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Small and big parts of bottles used in World War II can be found everywhere at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Military equipment exposed by low tide at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Military parts with Coca Cola bottle on top at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Rusting wheel exposed for a few hours during low tide at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Rusting chain in the surf at the southeast point of Espiritu Santo
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): The sea has been eating away at this part of a military vehicle at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Rusty axis of a military vehicle at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Close-up of one of the many objects rusting at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Parts of military machinery dumped at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Detail of one of the many rusty objects decaying at Million Dollar Point
Picture of Million Dollar Point (Vanuatu): Dumped military material exposed at low tide

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