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Scuba Diving Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Dive Site: Jardin d'Eden
Location: Ils de Pins, New Caledonia
Depth: 11 - 45 metres ( feet)
Visibility: 30 metres + (100 feet)
Jardin d'Eden is an aptly named dive site. Essentially a series of fissures atop the expansive coral reef, depth undulates in a series of canyons and grottos before dropping away at the main reef wall. Some of the canyons themselves are as deep as 50 metres. There are tunnels and swim-throughs all teeming with life and the hard coral covering the upper reef is stunningly colourful with layers of acropora straining for position. We made 3 dives at this large site, each one unique in terms of the topography. The visibility was 30 metres + and on our first dive we saw a nurse shark swimming away from us along the reef past some impressive gorgonian fans and large sponges. At 27 metres we swam carefully through a tunnel where soft coral had encrusted the walls.
On another dive we descended over the reef plateau and headed through a series of large ravines towards the deeper drop-off to be met by a 3 metre grey reef shark cruising through the gullies. Then there were several smaller white-tip sharks that swam around us for a few minutes before departing. At 14 metres we found an opening in the reef and ascended through a chimney densely packed with glassfish and bright orange anthias, who seemed surprised at the disturbance. At the end of each dive we made our way to the edge of the reef plateau and simply let the current take us into the blue, whilst deploying our delayed SMB from 6 metres.
After our first dive here we headed back towards the giant blue lagoon which surrounds much of the south side of Ils de Pins. En route we saw a pod of humpback whales which we followed at a distance. It turned out to be two adults and calf which swam close to the mother. Watching these huge creatures breaking the surface before disappearing with a thrust from their huge tails was a perfect end to a great days diving.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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