Positioned between three volcanic craters, our longboat gently sways as it waits for us to kit up for going volcano diving. From the surface the vibrant turquoise surrounds the vertical shafts of deep indigo forming three iconic blue holes. We watch in amazement at the darker water surface ripples, tumultuously turning upon themselves as the warmer waters from below rises more quickly to surface. I cannot believe we are about to dive an underwater volcano.
Upon decent the clarity of the water is immediately impressive. The narrow passage of bright colourful coral guides us to the edge of the first crater and it’s not long before we are surrounded by warm hazy water which is desperately trying to reach the cooler surface. Dodging between the coral pylons and weaving between the sea fans, we creep down the overgrown walls to the canyon floor where steam vents are spattered between the ashen rocks. Fluid and blurry, this playful water has been warmed from the earth’s crust! – A pretty cool thought.
Coral growth is in abundance in these nutrient filled cul-de-sacs. Years ago, the stretch of reef was heavily damaged by dynamite fishing which destroys everything in it’s path. Today, the coral close to the volcanic craters has grown back six times faster than the coral surrounding it thanks to the fertilising powers of the volcanic vents. Flourishing cabbage corals unfold into one another to form a valley, soft corals glow their vivid hues and the sea fans sway over the impressive table corals. Right now the lush coral coverage is exclusive to the craters but it’s tendrils can be seen seeping out into the blue yonder.
Not only are there healthy corals but there is also an abundance of primary level fish species feeding on the adolescent reef. Damsels dance within their staghorn, bashful gobies sneak a peek at the veracious anemone fish and the basslets play fervently around the sea of table corals. During our volcano dive we incidentally swam amongst a bait ball of frenzied sardines playing in the warmer up currents. Their stunning dance only became more intense as they were thwarted by a manta ray, giant trevally and gar fish.
Depth of Volcano Dive: 30m
Volcano Diving difficulty: 2/5 – watch out for the turbulence and wispy up current in the blurred water.
Topography: Within the craters expect small walls, outcrops and taverns.
What to see: The reason to dive here is to see and dive in the craters. Coral is healthy close the vents and primary marine life is abundant. Macro is minimal although several nudibranch and shrimp are present.