Uepi Island Resort is a family run resort and feels like it. It is very much diver focused but they understand that you are there for a relaxing holiday often with friends.
The diving at Uepi is spectacular, it’s a great place to experience the fantastic marine life that the Solomons has to offer; and for a very good reason: it’s a barrier island between Marovo Lagoon and the deep blue sea beyond. The resort sits at the end of the island next to the narrow channel between it and the next where a significant amount of water flows between the ocean and the lagoon attracting every size of fish.
So whilst diving on the outer wall, it’s not uncommon to see pelagics or eagle rays cruising by. The channel is patrolled by reef sharks. Going for a snorkel there between dives can be quite exhilarating: without the apparent protection of scuba gear, just a stinger suit and a snorkel, you realise just how much you are a tolerated guest in someone else’s home.
The signature dive at Uepi (pronounced you pee in case you were wondering), is Uepi Point, the corner of this channel and the wall that faces the open ocean or Slot as it is called – being the deep trench that runs right through the middle of the Solomon Islands.
No two dives on the Point are the same: one, because the great variety of terrain, from the steep outer wall, to the bottom of the channel, to the top of the reef in the shallows and all the coral covered sloping terrain in between; and two, because of the time of the tides and phase of the moon. Depending on whether the currents are going in or coming out and what time of day that occurs you could see anything from hammerheads to resting white tip reefs, schools of snapper or barracuda, plus all the usual reef fish down to the humble humbug.
And don’t even get me started on the flatheads, nudis, seastars, hermit crabs et cetera. Fortunately, the resort has plenty of FishID books some even specific to the region.
As well as a dives that are on the resort’s doorstep, just five or 10 minutes by covered boat, Uepi also offers daily excursions which can include a series of different sites on plane or boat wrecks and reefs around the area, customised to the desires and abilities of the group.
When not diving you can enjoy the comfort of the resort knowing it has a small eco-footprint. The water comes off the roof, the veggies from the gardens, and the succulent grilled fish from the sea. There are a variety of bungalows in different configurations, and meals are communal, especially dinner, a multicourse affair in the main house.
Everything is built by locals from local timbers. The resort’s owners, the Australian Grant family, also support a number of education and health initiatives for the local community you can read more about that on their Facebook page. (Look for Solutions pa Marovo under Uepi News>>)
As commutes to the local dive sites are so short, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the other activities on the lagoon: kayaking, stand-up paddle or Hobie cat. There’s also a marked nature trail and beach volleyball before dinner.
If you are there for a week or with a group, you’ll get to enjoy a kitchen band night with the surreally melodic sounds that the Solomon Islanders managed to coax out of oversized panpipes with the help of worn out flip-flops. It has to be heard to be believed!
Uepi is surprisingly accessible: you can get a connecting domestic flight to Seghe on arrival into Honiara with Solomon Airlines. Uepi Island Resort will collect you in their boat for the approximately 40 minutes trip across the Lagoon to the resort. For availability and to book, check out their website directly. The memories you take home will be of Uepi Point. Whether it was the rays, the sharks, the schools of snapper or the cute little crocodile flatfish, it’ll be a place you’ll have a hankering to get back to.