6 wrecks you should dive before you die!

Truly underwater war museums and graves, seeing wrecks give us an opportunity to dive in History.

Each one shows a visible sign of their destruction and loss which makes us divers experience high emotions every time we dive them. Dive with us on this journey  across time!

1. San Francisco Maru in Truk Lagoon

The San Francisco is a definite must-dive in Truk! It is 117 m (385ft) long and lies on the seabed at 60 m (197 ft).

The San Francisco Maru is known as the million dollar wreck. The ship’s holds contains hundreds of mines, bombs, ammunition and torpedoes, as well as trucks and tanks!

A dive on the San Francisco Maru is definitely a deep dive. She rests at 60 m (197 ft), the deck is at 53 m (165 ft.) with the shallower parts around 48 m (140 ft.). On the first descent, just on the main deck, you will discover 3 light tanks and a flatbed truck.

The first two holds are filled with interesting war materials such as mines and aircraft bombs, as well as fuel drums, artillery shells, airplane engines and torpedoes. If you only dive this wreck on your cruise, the trip to Truk is worth it!

2. Saratoga in Bikini Atoll

Known as one of the largest diveable wrecks in the world and the first aircraft carrier available for diving, Sara, as she is also called, rests at a depth of 52 m (170 ft).

It’s possible to carry out penetrations through the aircraft hangar deck area. Here you will find Helldiver planes still situated at 32 m (105 ft) with all dials and controls, bombed up and ready to go, although the deck is collapsing.

The bridge area is another great penetration at 18 m depths (60 ft). Several aircraft lie on the seabed around the carrier and are accessible, however deep: at more than 50 m (165ft).Deep inside the ship, you will find a plethora of artifacts, such as guns, rifles, grenades, even teacups, porcelains, plates, bowls, jugs, trumpets and a diving helmet!

Everything here is perfectly preserved! Light bulbs are still in the sockets, cables are hanging around. The interior is very vast with 7 decks of passageways, rooms, storerooms, accommodation and galleys.

One of the most fascinating parts of the ship is the dentist surgery with its 3 dentist chairs, completely kitted out with drills, rinse bowls, even headphones for the patients. It is, by far, the best penetration diving of your life!

If you also enjoy some close marine encounters, the Saratoga is one of the few wrecks in the world frequented by many sharks: white tip and black tip reef sharks, gray shark and tiger sharks.

3. USS Kanawha in Solomon Islands

The big American fleet oiler AO-1 USS Kanawha sits upright near the entrance to Tulaghi Harbour at about 60 m (200 ft). It could carry up to 350 men.

It’ s 145 m (476 ft) long, 17 m (56 ft) wide and displaced 14,500 tons so even three dives will only just give you an overview of the ship! It is considered one of the best wreck dives you will do anywhere in the world with lots to explore!

The different ship’s decks, at around 40 m depth (131 ft), have big number of hatchways, each one leading to some interesting spots:  AA guns, gas cylinders, coils of rope used for live refueling operations. The bridge is badly damaged due to a big bomb, but the twin five inch, 38 calibre dual purpose guns mounted on the bow still proudly search the sky above in a vain attempt to knock out the elusive dive bombers.

All around the Kanawha you will find many shells lying around. The engine room has been badly shattered by bombs, salvage attempts and earthquakes, so it is rather cluttered with catwalks and other unidentifiable bits and pieces everywhere.

The stern at 45 m (148 ft) has a telegraph, as well as a lot of ammunition, a US Army helmet in reasonable condition, and a number of AA guns which are difficult to find due to the damage and a 5 inch gun on both sides.

The Kanawha is another fantastic example of how ships can become artificial reefs! The wreck is covered in marine live with stunning coral trees hanging from the gunnels!

Check our WWII Wreck Week in the Solomon Islands!

4. Manko Maru in Papua New Guinea

Initially built to be a refrigeration ship, she was later used by the Japanese in WWII as a cargo ship. She immediately sunk in Rabaul in November 2nd 1943 by an American 1000 pound bomb.

Today the Manko Maru is somewhat intact, lying upright in the mouth of the harbor at 24 m (80 ft) on a sandy bottom. Unexploded shells are strewn about the different decks and holds lighten thanks to the portholes, and there are even human remains scattered about some of the decks as well as shoe soles, boxes of wooden fuses, gas masks, beer bottles or jars — a testament to how quickly she was lost.

The huge gaping holes in her hull and the twisted metal superstructure give a clear indication of the forces that sealed her fate when she sank.

The wreck is now covered with corals and home to a tremendous array of fish species, including morays, jacks, rainbow runners, coral trout, stingrays, nudibranchs, squids, anemone fish, octopus.

5. SS Thistlegorm in the Egyptian Red Sea

Located in the Straits of Gubal in Northen Red Sea, the Thistlegorm was attacked by German bomber planes in WWII, this 114 m (374 ft) merchant ship lies at the bottom of the sea.

Once inside, you can explore the ship’s holds where time has stood still. Motorbikes, trucks, guns and wartime cargo, lay stacked where it was loaded back in 1941.

It must be said, that even after several hundred dives on Thistlegorm, such is the allure it holds for divers, that there is always something new to see. Very recently, a new locomotive was discovered some 150 m (492 ft) from the wreck.

6. Kinugawa Maru in Solomons Islands

Also known as the Bonegi 2 or even B2, the 135m (442 ft) long Kinugawa Maru is only 100m up the beach and remains upright. The engine block protrudes from the water and stern reaches down to 27m (89 ft).

The site is fully covered in soft coral, hard coral, gorgonians, and different species of anemone fish and other colorful fish! This wreck illustrates the phrase “there is life after death”. 

The aft section of the engine room is in only 8 m (26 ft) of water which allows strong tropical sunlight beams through frames of the ship’s mid-sections creating a gothic cathedral effect, while schools of fish swim through the wreck.

Tall ladders stretch skywards and huge coral encrusted cooking woks lie on the decks. You will also likely see lots of blue spotted rays on the sand. On the starboard side, you will find a mounted gun, though you could easily miss it as the barrel is now completely encrusted in coral.

This dive will be the delight of both wreck and non-wreck divers alike, especially for underwater photographers.

Check our WWII Wreck Week in the Solomon Islands!

You can explore each one of  these wrecks with Master Liveaboards. Contact us for further information!


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