|The Solomon Islands are comprised of more than 990 islands just south of the Equator. Virtually untouched by commercial development, the island group remains a natural paradise. Most of the people still practice a traditional way of life, shunning the hectic pace and material concerns of the outside world.
The climate is tropical. The average daytime temperatures are usually 26-33°C and drop down to 22-26°C at night. The light south east trade winds blow from April to November. This time of the year is characterised by fine dry weather. December to March is the “wet” season - the north west monsoon.
During the Second World War the Solomons became the key turning point in the desperate and bitter struggle by allied forces to repel the Japanese advances in the South Pacific. Most of the fighting was concentrated off the mainland Guadalcanal area and around Tulagi in the neighbouring Floridas Islands.
The violent days are now long gone and the Solomon Islands offer some of the best diving in the World – certainly in our neck of the woods.
What makes the Solomons so popular with divers is it’s diversity. Here you’ll find big wall and drift dives, loads of large pelagic including the razor gang (sharks), a kaleidoscope of colourful fish, plus soft coral and fans forming some of the most pristine reefs in the world. In between dives there is plentiful sighting and snorkelling with pilot whales, dolphins and the odd minke whale.
Add in some big WWII wrecks and you’ll be in “wreckies” heaven. Wrecks like the 170m “Toa Maru” and the USS Destroyer “Aaron Ward” which sank with all guns blazing, the biggest 4 engine float plane dive I’ve ever dived, submarines, freighters, submarine tenders…. All these wrecks are now artificial reefs and home for millions of colourful fish and a kaleidoscope of colourful corals and reef fish.
Now add in the natural beauty of high mountainous islands with picture postcard beaches fringed with cobalt blue lagoons, a lovely 28-30°C water temperature, loads of blue sky days, peace and tranquility with no crowds or rush, and it’s a natural paradise.
Don’t go to the Solomons if you’re looking for 4 star accommodation with a bar on the beach, tennis courts and golf courses, because you wont find any. But if you are looking for amazing diving and basic, comfortable and affordable accommodation and good service, Solomon Islands is the place for you.
Here are some of best Solomons dive destinations:
Uepi Island - Remote and stunningly beautiful: Highly recommended for a non-diving partners.
Hidden among the turquoise waters and peaceful lagoons, Uepi provides a rarely presented opportunity for divers and non-divers alike who are looking to get away from more conventional resorts in the Pacific. Uepi has an ambience other resorts can only hope to mimic. For those willing to go just that bit further and pay just a little more for the finer things in life, we assure you, you will be amply rewarded. It is set on the edge of one of the world's largest lagoons and is listed for world heritage consideration.
Dive sites along the Uepi Island passage and barrier reef drop-offs and bays are on the coral reef ecosystem. The diving is extraordinarily varied with over 10 main dive sites of differing structure and bio-assemblage; including coral gardens with magnificent drop-offs, ledges and gutters, featuring sharks, all manner of light game fish and an enormous diversity of reef fish. Turtles, mantas and eagle rays are fairly common sights, together with the (friendly) Uepi hammerheads seen throughout the year.
I can't give this resort enough praise as it is truly the jewel in the crown of South Pacific dive resorts. Uepi Island has everything you could want: comfortable bungalows on a white sand beach, lovely tropical rain forests, beach on one side of the resort with big drop off diving right in front of the restaurant and dive hut, great food and service.
It’s worth a 3-7 day visit with a 6 – 10 dive package, and can easily be combined with another location in the Solomons.
For more detailed information on Uepi Island visit - Uepi Island Diving »
Gizo - Wreck and Reef Paradise.
If you’re looking to combine wreck and reef diving and don’t mind small boat diving, Gizo could be for you.
Gizo is a tropical treasure-trove blessed with sun drenched lagoons and white sandy beaches. The diving lives up to the setting with spectacular reefs, wrecks and an abundance of fish life.
Some divers say the wreck of the “Toa Maru” is the best wreck dive in the Solomons. Combine this with the big fish action dives at “Hot Spot” and “Grand Central Station”, and you’re in for an amazing 3-4 days diving, or even more.
Gizo and Uepi are easy to combine. But if you want full on wreck diving, do 3-4 days at both Tulagi and Gizo.
Stay at Fatboys, a truly unique resort. The Bar and Restaurant is built 100m out over the crystal clear waters of Babanga Island, enjoying incredible 360º views to Kennedy Island and majestic Mt Kolombangara. The restaurant serves great food with the chefs specialising in fresh seafood dishes.
The Fatboys bar has been rated by ‘GetLost’ Travel Magazine as one of the top 5 Bars in the South Pacific, so you need to check it out!
Or you can stay at Sanbis Resort
Sanbis Resort is Located on a secluded island approximately 7 minutes from Gizo by boat, Sanbis Resort offers Gizo's premier accommodation with each bungalow having its own private beach. "Sanbis" actually means "sandy beach" in the Solomon Pijin language. You will enjoy uninterrupted views accross the lagoon with a fantastic reef right at your door step.
Enjoy snorkelling in front of your private bungalow in 30°C water or join activities provided by the dive team.
You can dive all the great dive spots in Gizo from Sanbis Resort.
Fishing is also available at Sanbis and offers deep sea game fishing around Gizo. The sport is still very much in its infancy in these fish rich waters. These fish do not know what a lure is and they bite hard and fight even harder.
Game fish include Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Broadbill, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin Fish, Rainbow Runner, Dogtooth Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally, Coral Trout, Red Seabass, Jobfish, Sweetlip, Emperor and much more. For the flyfisherman there is Bonefish, Mangrove Jack and Spottail Bass, amongst others.
For more detailed information on Gizo visit Gizo Diving »
MV Bilikiki Liveaboard dive cruise
The ultimate way to dive the Solomons, “M.V Bilikiki” combines good food, comfortable cabin accommodation and great diving off remote islands inaccessible to land based divers, with the fun and camaraderie of a hanging out with a group of fellow divers for a week or 10 day.
“Bilikiki” is the most comfortable and luxurious way to do your diving, with 2 spacious sundecks, a separate dive deck, 2 lounges, and 10 double stateroom cabins, all air conditioned and all with ensuite bathrooms.
They run 4 –5 dives every day, including some night dives, to the best dive sites around the Russell and Florida Islands. Their excellent dive tenders take out small groups of 6-8 divers at a time, and the experienced and knowledgeable guides are great at finding the best action and those tiny critters you would otherwise miss seeing.
“Bilikiki” run many different charters each year, some 7 days, some 10 days and some 14 day trips.
Special Dive Fish Snow Travel Charter at Special Price
Dive Fish Snow is in the process of arranging a special charter, tentatively departing 18 August 2009. If you would like more details on this trip, or wish to register your obligation free interest, please contact Mike: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more detailed information on Bilikiki Liveaboard »
Honiara / Guadalcanal
A wreck divers paradise
Where in the world can you drive for 20 minutes from the capital and find a quiet beach lined with palm trees, coral reef, prolific fish life, and a large WWII wreck lying on the slope from 5 metres down to 58 metres ?
Some of the best dive sites around Honiara:
Bonegi One, Bonegi Two, and Ruanui Shipwrecks
Japanese transport ship. This is a excellent dive site with a profusion of corals and fish life in the shallows to pelagic fish at depth.
The B-17 is an American flying fortress. The plane is missing its tail but the rest of it is basically intact. Features: Two twin 50 cal machine gun turrets can be found, just behind the cockpit.
USS John Penn
The John Penn was a 6500 ton US Troop ship until a Japanese air attack resulted in a torpedo hit to the stern. The wreck is now lying on its starboard side. Huge schools of pelagic fish such as barracuda and Spanish mackerel inhabit the wreck.
I-1 Submarine (1hr drive)
This Japanese Submarine was sunk by two New Zealand Corvettes, the "Kiwi" and the "Moa". At about the 18 metre level you can enter the submarine and penetrate right through the wreck.
Combining diving at Guadalcanal and Tulagi is recommended for one of the best value and ultimate wreckling experience in the South Pacific.
More Detailed information on Diving Honiara / Guadalcanal »
Tulagi - The South Pacific's Ultimate Wreck Diving Location
Tulagi is the place to go for both wreck and reef diving, two sea planes, one Mine sweeper, on Oil Tanker, Corvette cruiser and the Destroyer "Aaron Ward".
Surrounding Tulagi are large number of unspoilt reefs, soft corals, drop offs, huge fans, and giant sponges all packed with an abundance of tropical marine life it make for a perfect wreck and reef location.
Wreck dive highlights:
- Aaron Ward Only discovered in 1995, it's the only diveable destroyer in the Solomon Islands. This impressive wreck is sitting upright and intact on the sandy bottom. Possessing an extensive arsenal of big guns this is one awesome dive. For the very experienced diver. Depth Range 53m - 74m.
- Kanawha: A 478' American oil tanker. Sitting upright on a flat bottom the deck is at 46m and strewn with marine supplies. Penetrations lead into areas such as the engine room, kitchens, tool rooms and crew quarters. Depth Range: 40m - 60m.
- RNZNS Moa is the only diveable NZ ship in the Solomons. The Moa, a corvette was influential in the sinking of the Japanese Sub. Also diveable from Honiara, she's in good condition, upright at a slight list. Depth Range: 35m - 42m.
- Kawanishi H6K5 float planes: A "Mavis Flying Boats:. this 4 engined reconnaissance / VIP transport lies upright intact in 27-31 metres of water.
- Twin Tunnels has 2 vertical shafts at the top of the reef and the tunnel entrance is at 14-16 mtrs. The tunnels meet in a common cavern which exit onto a reef. It is then a short swim to watch the fish action. Large fish frequent this site: tuna, G.T's, sharks, barracuda, humphead wrasse and the odd turtle.
More info on Diving in Tulagi »
Munda - Magic : Reef Wreck and Fishing Combo
Munda has it all and is a quiet little town serving as a gateway to the Vona Vona and Roviana Lagoons. Munda was an important military airfield during WW2 and there are war relics everywhere: in the bushes, on the beaches, in the water. There is great wreck diving available plus variety of excursions by motor canoe can be undertaken from snorkelling, fishing and sightseeing: war relics, waterfalls, bat caves, and cultural sites such as Skull Island where the 'trophies' of yesterday's headhunters were stored.
Munda reefs are in pristine conditions with lush soft corals and gigantic sea fans. Visibility varies from 20 to 40+ metres. In addition to the fantastic reefs and abundant marine life, Munda's seabed is littered with wrecks from WWII that have evolved into gorgeous artificial reefs. There are six fighter planes, a Japanese Freighter, and a small US dump site. There are spectacular walls dropping off to over 600 metres, teaming with real big fish action. Grey Reef, Black tip, White Tip sharks, the occasional 5-metre plus a couple of 4-metre Silvertips that turn up regularly. A dozen species of sharks routinely patrol the reefs. Eagle rays, shoaling barracudas and other pelagic are also commonplace. Occasional encounters with Silkys, Oceanic White Tips, Silvertips and scalloped Hammerheads (Dec-Jun) add to the excitement. On the surface, there are plentiful cetacean sightings, including dolphins, pilot whales and the odd minke whale, plus the chance of seeing Leatherback turtles. One of the most amazing things about diving from Munda is the diversity of dives, along with scenic beauty as the dive boat travels past fishing villages, bush clad waterways and picturesque islands on its way to dive sites. Diving at Munda can easily be combine with Gizo or Uepi.
More info on Diving in Munda »