Categories: History

The Pointless Reason Behind Vanuatu’s Million Dollar Point

Vanuatu is a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean that offers an extravagant scuba diving experience for tourists. One of the most popular diving spots is the Million Dollar Point located off the coast of Espirito Santo. Aside from different kinds of fish and coral formations, a vast number of military equipment can be found underwater. Though one may think that it is eerie to find jeeps, bulldozers, trucks, fork lifts, tractors, and boxes of clothing and food there, the reason behind the huge dump is mostly amusing than scary.

A diver posing on a WWII military equipment.

During World War II, the island of Espirito Santo became a primary military supply and support base for Americans. It also became the headquarters for major navy and army units in the Pacific. At the end of the war, the American government thought that shipping back all the military equipment from the island would be too costly.

Furthermore, it was highly prioritized to send the troops back home. The Americans decided to sell the equipment to the French and British government who had joint sovereignty over the island. However, the latter thought that the Americans would have no choice but to leave everything behind even if they did not shell out a single penny.

American Army stationed in Espirito Santo during World War II.

Much to their surprise though, the Americans retaliated through the deceit. The American Navy constructed a ramp leading to the sea and drove all the equipment into the ocean. They used weights to hold the pedals down and just let go of the handbrakes. According to some Ni-Vanuatu locals, the Americans tried to leave some items like food and other household items, but the British government confiscated and destroyed them. Islanders who received the items were also severely punished.

Map of Vanuatu

Source: Google Maps

Everything that was dumped in the ocean was believed to have cost millions of dollars, thus the name “Million Dollar Point.” And though locals once wept through the sight of destruction of wealth they could have accumulated, it has now become the biggest attraction of their island which, in turn, gives them financial opportunity through tourism.

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