Million Dollar Point – Better Value Than Expected
Millions of dollars worth of old US army equipment and machinery lying just below the surface of the water, waiting for you to explore. Combine this with some picnic tables and warm, calm water and you have a great little spot to visit. Well worth the five dollar entry free!
FIRST – A BIT OF BACKGROUND
Seven decades ago, the US army lined up millions of dollars worth of equipment; including jeeps, 6 wheel drive vehicles, tractors, earth moving machinery and more. It has been said that they placed bricks on the accelerators, released the handbrakes and watched them roll down a ramp to their watery grave less than 30m from the shoreline on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu.
Were they crazy? Why would they waste such valuable equipment?
The answer seems to be purely financial, with a hint of spitefulness. In the Second World War, the US army used Santo as a military supply and support base. When the war was over, there wasn’t enough room to ship both the men and the equipment back home. It was deemed too expensive to return the machinery to the USA, and there was also a chance that a flood of ex-army equipment on the second hand market would damage the economy.
The equipment was offered to the joint English-French government in place at the time for a cheap price. The offer was rejected as the local government believed that if they held out, the US Army would leave it all behind anyway and they would get the goods for free. However, the US Army decided they would rather send it to a watery grave than give it away for free. This included boxes of clothes, coke bottles and other assorted smaller supplies originally designated for the troops.
MILLION DOLLAR POINT TODAY
Today, this site is known as Million Dollar Point and offers fantastic snorkelling and diving opportunities. In fact, if you visit at low tide, you don’t even need a snorkel to see some of this history. Whilst there is more machinery than bright coral to view when snorkelling, the fish swimming amongst the equipment are plentiful. As usual, nature always finds a way and there are spatters of coral and other sea life growing on and amongst the machinery itself.
Trying to work out what kind of machinery you are looking at is part of the fun. Watching the bright coloured fish swim in, out and around a completely submerged tractor only a few metres below the surface is a truly unique snorkelling experience.
As I dive down a few metres with my snorkel, I can see much larger items of machinery out of my reach. Never before have I wished that I knew how to scuba dive, but I desperately wish so now.
Million Dollar Point is only a ten minute drive down a dusty road from the main town of Luganville in Santo, Vanuatu. The entry fee is marked in both Australian and Vanuatu dollars, either AU$5 or 500VT. Don’t complain about the price, the friendly caretaker keeps the beach clean and even offers to keep an eye on your valuables whilst snorkelling. He is also a useful source of information about the best spots for snorkelling and history of the area.
In my opinion, that is $5 well spent.
VISITING MILLION DOLLAR POINT WITH KIDS
If you have older kids that can snorkel, they will LOVE this site. The water was calm and warm when we visited, and I’m told that it’s like that most of the time.
You can still enjoy a visit with younger kids here. Mine were aged two years and four years and enjoyed ‘finding’ things in the sand as the tide went out. They will need to wear some kind of footwear when walking around or swimming here. Hubby and I just took turns going out for a snorkel whilst the other watched the kids.
Even if you are not into snorkelling, there is green grass, toilets and picnic tables here so its just a nice spot to relax for an hour or two. We did not get charged an entry fee for the kids here, nor anywhere else in Santo.
Want to discover more awesome places for your next getaway?
For more blog posts and information on my travels through Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, please check out this page: Vanuatu
For information on all of my destinations, check out this page: My travel destinations
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