Join our full day cruise to 3 top dive and snorkel sites in Nor'West Efate, Vanuatu

Sailaway Day Cruise








What We Offer

At SAILAWAY CRUISES we offer a full day cruise on our 42 ft sailing trimaran GOLDEN WING from our Havannah Harbour boat base. 

The priorities on the day are to enjoy sailing between 3 of the top snorkel or dive sites within the UNESCO World Heritage Site area bounded by Lelepa & Hat islands and Mangaliliu village.  The idea is to have a fun day out on the water in a casual ambiance, for people of all ages.  

A sense of adventure and humour helps, as  we have our Fawlty-Towers-in-Paradise  moments.  We have been operating  safely in Vanuatu since 1981. 

Our day sail is well suited to divers, snorkellers, and even non-swimmers with plenty of deck space for sunbathing or relaxing in the shade, which makes it ideal for individuals, or groups who want to enjoy a day out together whilst on holiday. 

While the snorkellers are  enjoying the warm, clear waters, colourful corals and prolific fish-life,  the divers can do 1 or 2 dives during the day and are guided to spectacular drop-offs with huge gorgonia fans & soft corals & swim-throughs & caverns , whilst getting close and personal with a huge variety of fishlife and turtles.

So come and enjoy the freedom & peace of SAILING  with the underwater highlights of 

SCUBA DIVING and SNORKELLING on healthy reefs, with time to RELAX

between 3 stops in the pristine UNESCO World Heritage Site area of NorWest Efate Island.

This is “Paradise” at its Best   (on sunny days rather than cyclonic days)


General Itinerary*

*Depending on weather and seas of the day. Approximate times:

8am Bus pickups from Vila hotels, followed by a 40 minute scenic drive over the mountain range to our mini-marina base in Havannah Harbour.

9.15am Set sail for Hat Island or Parrot Bommies and have morning tea on the 1 hour sail.

10.30am Stop for snorkelling or scuba diving on some of the healthiest coral reefs to be found in the South Pacific.

11.30am Motor  to a calm bay for lunch on board, where three Survivor-type film series were staged due to its remoteness & natural beauty.

After lunch, you can go walkabout ashore or snorkel around the bay.

1.30pm It's off to Paul’s Rock seamount, 10 minutes away. The reef is only 2 metres deep dropping away to 500 metres, thus offering an interesting experience for both snorkellers or divers. As there is a local tabu on fishing it is effectively a marine reserve and the multitudes of fish & turtles know it. Friendliest lot of fish you’ll find anywhere, as they don’t fear *man the predator*.  

3pm Set sail for our return trip with afternoon tea on the way.  Time for animated conversations or contemplation, depending on personalities or how much energy has been expended during the day.

4.30pm  Disembark and bus back to Port Vila, arriving by around 5.30pm.

Things to note:

1.  When raining in Port Vila, it is usually fine in Havannah Harbour.

2.   There is an awning over the top deck for sun & rain protection. For heavier showers, we have an indoor area on our former cruising yacht, which has galley, dining area, beds and a marine toilet.

3.  The snorkelling waters are exceptionally clear often with 50 metre visibility,  little current and are warm; 

25°C (Aug) and 30 °C  (Feb).  

Bring a rashee or extra T-shirt for snorkelling and your own towels, caps, sunnies and sunscreen.

4.   The North-West Efate area offers protected calm-water sailing most of the year.  When the seas are a bit choppy around Hat Island, we visit the more protected  Parrot Bommies  (ex-Turtle Reef) for our first stop.

5.  We aim for smaller passenger numbers, so around 6 to 10 per day and maybe only 2 or 3 cruises a week, depending on demand at the time.

Min. 4 adult pax and max. 24 pax.

6.   This cruise is popular with people of all ages, from infants to grannies.  If you don’t snorkel, then bring a book to read, lay-back & casually watch the antics of the others.

7.  Bookings are best made by email or phone and just pay on the day in Vatu, AUD or NZD.

8.   Scuba diving is an optional extra, for qualified divers only.  Check out our website or go to the VTO website   under PLAY - TOURS - DIVING 

9.  Lunch comprises fresh salads including tomatoes, lettuce, onions,  cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower,  beetroot,  sliced cold meats, boiled eggs, cheese and batard bread rolls.  Tasty, healthy & filling to keep your strength up for the day.  

Optional Scuba Diving and COTS SWAT volunteering

Optional SCUBA Diving

Operating since 1981, Sailaway Cruises has found a relaxing way to combine sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving on its full day cruise from Havannah Harbour, on the North side of Efate Island, the ‘dry’ side of the island, protected from the dominant South Easterly Trade Winds. This has resulted in finding some of the most extraordinary dive sites in Vanuatu, with underwater visibility rarely less than 20m and frequently 50 metres plus. Check out  our underwater gallery below.

We don’t offer Scuba instruction, so we can concentrate on taking qualified divers to legendary dive sites including Hat Island, Paul’s Rock, Tukutuku Caverns, Turtle Reef & Parrot Bommies.  Well-travelled divers and underwater photographers tell us that these  North Efate sites have healthy coral reefs and marine-life comparable to the better sites in the world.

We’re still the only operator to run regular cruises to these prime diving locations.

Recent  cyclones and coral-bleaching events have had minimal impact on coral  reefs in this area and COTS culling programs with volunteer divers a few years ago prevented reef-systems from being eaten out.

The  Sailaway dive boat is the comfortable ocean-going 42 ft trimaran GOLDEN WING operating from a mini-marina in Havannah Harbour and sailing into the pristine World Heritage Site area bounded by Lelepa  & Hat  islands and Turtle Reef (Mangaliliu).

The sites we visit are such that divers can slip over the drop-offs to see huge fan corals, swim-through tunnels lined with soft corals and interact closely with fish & turtles, whilst non-diving partners or family members can enjoy snorkelling on the adjacent, colourful, shallower reefs teeming with fish.

Diving  is a low-cost optional extra for tank, weights & dive guide. Bring  your own dive gear or advise us to we can hire BCD, Regulator & Wetsuit. 

We can carry up to 30 SCUBA tanks and 10 BCDs, regulators, plenty of weight belts, shorty wetsuits and fins, masks and snorkels.

Please present your certification to the Divemaster on board.

“Golden Wing” does not carry underwater torches, computers, or specialty equipment. We do not operate a dive shop, nor do we offer PADI training or service facilities. Our sole purpose is to take qualified divers to the best sites available within a day’s trip of Port Vila. 

*Sailaway Dive is a member of Vanuatu Scuba Operators Association (VSOA)

Vanuatu Scuba Operators Association

COTS SWAT volunteering

SWAT, meaning use of Special Weapons And Techniques. Crown of Thorns Starfish  or COTS are currently found all across the  South Pacific, with infestations coming in regenerative cycles. Vanuatu Scuba Operators have been busy culling these voracious critters eating out coral reefs, using either the hook and flourbag technique or the injection of ox-bile, citric acid or vinegar. SAILAWAY DIVE, with assistance from scuba diving volunteers over the years, has  removed   many thousands of COTS inbound to healthy reef systems and has proven that you can actually stop their movement along coastlines if you are dedicated enough. In mid 2018, although we have no COTS in the areas we take snorkellers or divers, there is a new generation of smaller COTS showing up  in various places around Efate Island and the outer islands. Currently, an aggregation of COTS is moving through Havannah Harbour from East to West, which we would like to eliminate before they get to the really healthy reef sites.  So we are looking for scuba volunteers to assist in culling operations, diving in the 10 - 20 metre depth range.  Saturdays look to be the best days for locals and overseas visitors to participate. We can provide all dive gear, return bus transfers from Port Vila to Jonathan’s mini-Marina in Havannah Harbour and a basic lunch, with morning & afternoon teas. This is for very experienced divers only. Must show Certification card. No novices.  This is hard yakka, with a risk of being spiked by the thorns if you’re clumsy underwater.  For the relatively  small numbers we are currently seeing, we shall likely use the hook and bag method, leave the bags underwater for a day or three, whilst the COTS expire from lack of oxygen, and then we can tip out the bags for fish to feed and effectively recycle the coral polyps.  

For larger aggregations we would use the injection method of culling. 

If interested, email Peter Whitelaw at    or phone at home, after hours, on 23802.

Diving with Sailaway Cruises, Vanuatu

The colourful Kiwi dive charter with attempts at jungle survival

Culling COTs outbreak near Paul's Rock, Vanuatu

Crown of Thorns, a starfish war

COTs culling methods utilised by IRD, New Caledonia, Vanuatu Scuba Operators & Fisheries Dept.

About Us

Your Skipper

Sailaway Cruises was started by Australian skipper Peter Whitelaw in 1981 as a sail-dive boat charter business exploring the islands of Vanuatu. Since then, Peter has sailed literally thousands of people to some of the most remote and beautiful places in Vanuatu, many only accessible by boat.

Peter soon discovered that the best place to take people for a day’s sailing and snorkelling was in the calm sheltered waters of North Efate, just a 40 minute drive from Port Vila.     Protected from the South Easterly Trade Winds, Havannah Harbour was the home base for US Navy warships during WWII.

Being the ‘dry’ side of the island meant days of glorious sunshine and unparalleled underwater visibility, while back in Port Vila it was often raining.     These attributes, along with its relative remoteness, also made this area the best location for the television series, "Survivor Vanuatu" to be filmed.

Subsequently this pristine NorWest Efate area has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, based on the legend of Chief Roimata and the mass-burial site at Artoka Island.

Today, Peter continues to operate full day sailing, snorkelling, and SCUBA diving trips aboard his sailing trimaran, “Golden Wing” in North Efate, catering to families, couples, dive groups, wedding groups, film crews & explorers. You just need a sense of adventure, an interest in the amazing underwater world  and do bring your sense of humour along with you as we have some fun times.

Come and join Peter for what is simply the best sailing, snorkelling, and diving trips available from Port Vila.

The Boat

“Golden Wing” is a 42ft (13m) long, 22 ft (7m) wide , 1 metre draft, sailing trimaran with a carrying capacity of 24 day passengers.

Being a sailing trimaran means passengers experience the benefit of a genuine sailing boat, where engines are used only when anchoring or when there’s little wind, without the disadvantages of ‘leaning over’ that happens on single-hulled vessels. With such a big, clear deck area, there’s a lot of room to spread out, even when the boat is carrying capacity (which is not often & generally only on private charters). The deck is designed so that passengers can sit on the cabin ‘roof’ spanning the main hull and wing decks. Valuables – including kids napping – can be within hand’s reach inside whilst passengers are still on deck.

A deck awning is used to protect people from the sun or drizzle.   The boat can anchor directly over all reefs, so access to snorkelling and dive sites, is as easy as just jumping in.

An experienced Australian skipper and friendly, helpful  ni-Vanuatu crew, all add up to making your cruise a magical experience.

An inflatable dinghy is used for getting to and from shore & acts as a safety device when snorkelling or diving over areas that may occasionally have a current. We provide all snorkelling gear, including floatboards for non-swimmers. We suggest you BYO life rings for small children.

“Golden Wing” is registered under Vanuatu survey, and is fully compliant with all safety requirements.

2018 Prices

Contact Us

We'd love to hear from you!

Have a question about our services? Want to see if your particular vacation is one we can help with? 

Get in Touch!