The Florida Islands are located across Iron Bottom Sound from Guadalcanal, with the Russell and Mary Islands (Pavuvu and Mbanika) further north, in the Central Province of Solomon Islands. There are no resorts or dive operators on the islands which are partially covered in coconut plantations and farmed by local villagers. The only way to scuba dive these more remote islands is on a liveaboard such as the Bilikiki or Solomons Master.
The underwater terrain is varied which makes for interesting and varied dive sites: from shallow sandy bays, to steep walls and drop-offs, points and staghorn thickets, caves, cuts and slots to rambling coral reefs – all of which have marine life commensurate with the environment: sharks, pelagics, coral reef fish, turtles, nudis and macro critters. There is a surprising large variety of anemonefish around the Russell Islands (and the Solomon Islands generally).
The Twin Tunnels dive site in Tulagi, in the Florida Islands is perhaps one of the best known dive sites. These twin tunnels are in fact two ancient lava tubes which drop vertically from the top of a coral seamount at 15 metres to depth of around 34 metres. At depth, each tunnel opens up to a cave with a large mouth which opens onto a dramatic wall. Schools of pelagic fish can be found feeding along the wall, and at least eight varieties of anemonefish in hundreds of anemone homes can be found on the top of the plateau.
As mentioned, the underwater terrain is varied. Being volcanic, the ocean has cut deep slots such as at Leru Cut into the island’s side. There are full caves, like the Mirror Pond and Bat Cave where you can surface inside a steep walled canyon hanging with jungle above.
Some barges and other assorted wreckage have been sunk in shallow water at White Beach. There are points, such as Karumolun Point, where pelagics come to feast in the currents, and all around there are coral reefs in excellent condition, with all the marine life – coral reef fish, turtles, anemones, nudis and macro critters – that you’d expect to find there.