Which of the many Solomon Islands adventures is for you: would it be the wrecks of Iron Bottom Sound, the fantastic colourful reefs, the points where pelagics swarm, or a little bit of everything?
Most of the known accessible diving in the Solomon Islands is on Guadalcanal and the Western Province – the islands to the northwest.
It would be unfair to say that the different islands of the province are similar, but they do share the same geological formations and surrounding ocean. So you’ll find steep walls and shallow reefs in different parts of different islands and there are wrecks of planes and boats all over the place.
Diveplanit explores each of the Solomons dive destinations, starting in the capital and working north.
Honiara has a number of four-star hotels and the Tulagi Dive Centre right on the jetty at the Port Cruise Yacht Club right in the centre of town. Ideal if you’re not staying for a full week’s diving holiday: you can still dive the famed Bonegi wrecks as a double shore dive, or get across to Tulagi and dive the Twin Tunnels and one of the many wrecks in Ghuvatu Harbour.
Of course, if you are there for some serious wreck diving, Iron Bottom Sound is literally littered with wrecks and Tulagi Dive can mix gases to suit. It’s the best spot for the ‘beyond recreational depths’ wreck diving.
Uepi Island Resort
The next most distant dive operation is Uepi Island Resort, a barrier island on Marovo Lagoon. There are a couple of attributes about its location that make it one of the best spots around for diving. The main one is its location adjacent the deep blue water of New Georgia Sound which means you often get mantas and hammerheads in addition to the usual barracuda, eagle rays and swarms of Jacks. The other is the channel between the ocean and lagoon. The flow of water through this channel drives nutrients into the water which brings in the whole food chain to feast at certain states of the tide at Uepi Point.
The island falls steeply on the ocean side, so there are plenty of walls to explore as well as nearby bays with coral reefs. Uepi Dive also organise day excursions to their local wrecks too, so it does have a bit of everything.
Being a small island, Uepi is home to a small, very friendly and sustainable run resort. It’s a kind of place where guests leave as friends.
This next most distant is Munda only about 70 Kms further north-west. Dive Munda is located within the Agnes Gateway Hotel, but there’s quite a lot for non-divers around Munda including visiting the famous Skull Island and lots of WWII paraphernalia scattered around the jungle. There is also the nearby cafe and a cava bar, and even a sunset cruise.
From a diver’s perspective – Munda has it all: swim through caves, wrecks of planes and boats all within a short boat ride and reefs right in front of the resort where the coral is still in pristine condition. It also has currents and points, as the waters flow around the shallow reefs in front of the resort, creating the conditions required for the feeding frenzy of barracuda and Jacks. Barry’s Breakfast is just one such dive where you can hang in mid-water surrounded by pelagics swarming around you and Titan triggers patrolling the reefs below.
Every day at Munda ends with a perfect sunset best observed with a Sol Brew beer on the Fisherman’s Deck at the Agnes Gateway Hotel.
Heading even further north, the last outpost is Gizo. Gizo has a number of island resorts, like Fatboys, Sanbis and Imagination Island Resort. Dive Gizo will collect from each on its way to the dive sites. Each resort is unique but all have waterfront dining and offer either the best coffee, the best pizza or the best (only) pool table – so you can decide what suits you.
The diving is as varied as the resorts. Choose from Grand Central Station a point which is like any central station in rush hour, teeming with locals and pelagic blow-ins; the nearby Toa Maru is the biggest transport wreck in the Solomon Islands at 440 feet long. Its side is now a sloping coral covered reef, to the shallow Hellcat plane wreck that you can fly around in 9 m of water. The lunches served in the surface intervals are a bit special too: local barbecued fish and fresh veggies served al fresco on the beach on a banana leaf platter.
One place that was skipped over in the trip north-westwards was the Russell Islands – a group of islands about 40 km off the northern tip of Guadalcanal, mainly because it doesn’t have its own dive centre. It is, however, on the itinerary of the MV Taka, Solomons own luxury liveaboard.
The Russell Islands have a number of special geological features that make for iconic dives like the Mirror Pond Cave and Bat Cave where you can surface in an ocean water pool surrounded by jungle or Leru Cut, a slot 20 m deep and three divers wide that penetrates from the rocky coastline deep into the jungle clad island.
There’s also Karumolun Point where you’ll get to see the schooling Jacks and barracuda and if you are really lucky a squadron of devil rays overhead. But it also has its staghorn meadows in the sheltered bays where you can see turtles and a myriad of the moriad clownfish that inhabit the whole of the Solomon Islands.
So you see the choice is not really which Solomon Islands adventure should you choose, simply which one should you choose first because you’ll be back!
Solomons Airlines offer regular domestic flights to all these destinations often connecting with international flights.
If you enjoyed this post you might also like: The MV Taka – a cruisy way to dive the Solomons