Verdant mountains, white sand beaches, lush rainforests, tranquil blue lagoons, and turquoise waters full of pristine reefs make up the Solomon Islands, a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller isles in an archipelago within Oceania. Lying in the sub region of Melanesia, the islands range from tiny, low-lying coral atolls to greater landmasses that offer a diversity of geography.
Still relatively new to ecotourists, the islands see far few visitors than the more popular dive destinations in Fiji and Vanatu. The Solomon Islands also offers some of the most diverse diving in the world: Reefs, walls, wrecks, caves, and stellar macro sites. The world there above and below the water is truly breathtaking.
The Solomon Islands was made a protectorate of the United Kingdom in 1893 to safeguard its people from the evils of the slave trade. By 1900, the entire archipelago was under British administration, except for Buka and Bougainville, which remained under German administration as part of German New Guinea.
When WWII broke out, most settlers were evacuated to Australia because of the intense fighting thereabouts. The Solomon Islands became a major staging area of the South Pacific for both Allied and Japanese Imperial Forces. Significant operations resulted in naval bombardments and amphibious landings on the islands. The historic Battle of Guadalcanal was just one bloody campaign fought in the region.
After the war, local councils were established. A new constitution came into place in 1970 and the first post-war elections were held soon after. Today the waters below the islands are still home to many submerged relics from those earlier days of conflict though, making them a prime dive location for wreck enthusiasts.
Florida Island Dive Sites
- Gavutu Wharf
During World War II, Japanese aircraft bombed Gavutu Island. US Marines used the concrete wharf there for cover. The US Navy later repaired the structure’s concrete blocks. Detritus around the wharf and wrecks of several US landing barges further offshore make this a prime wreck diving locale.
Maravagi is a place of wonders. Every tiny marine thing imagineable can be found in the coral here. Crystal clear waters reveal schools of oxeye scad flashing in the sun, anemonefish galore, clown fish, dusky, Clark’s, striped catfish, batfish, giant claims, and more.
A regularly weekend getaway for residents, there is a wreck sunken just off its beach, making this an excellent locale for first-time divers to explore a bit of history.
- Tanavula Point
Sandfly Passage near is a beautiful coral garden with big red and yellow sea fans that turns into a dramatic wall at Tanavula Point. Large bumphead parrot fish and various rays are commonly cited amid the diversity of coral and other marine life.
- Twin Tunnels
Named for two large vertical lava tubes in the sea mount covered in fans and whip corals, it’s common to find nurse sharks resting on the sandy bottom of the site. Large groups of fusiliers school around the entrance to the tunnels and reef. Pygmy seahorses, fan corals, hairy squat lobsters, cuttlefish, octopus, and eels live along the edges of its reefs.
Mary Island Dive Sites
- Battery Point
A perfect spot for night dives, small marine life, including mantis shrimps, bobbit worms, snails, nudies, cuttlefish, rays, and hunting squid roam sandy slopes of this site.
- Bonegi Beach
Two large Japanese wrecks from WWII rest in shallow water at this site. Each one is covered with amazing biodiversity, including various kinds of fish, shrimps, nudis, eels, rays, and both hard and soft corals.
- Devil’s Highway
Divers can hook onto the reef and let the fast current take them as manta rays, batfish, cuttlefish, crabs, rays and scorpionfish swim nearby.
- Kavachi Corner
Named for a nearby underwater volcano, this site has gained recent acclaim for the sharks discovered swimming near the volcano’s mouth. The site offers access to mobula rays and giant trevally among other local marine life. When the volcano is active, you can feel the teeth-rattling vibrations too.
- Kokoana Passage
Located along the outer edge of what’s known as Marovo Lagoon, this site offers observations of incredible diversity in marine life to its visitors from large schools of fish, including unicornfish, sharks, rays, and turtles from the massive great hammerheads that are occasionally spotted swimming overheard.
- Leru Cut
This is quite possible the most famous of all the dive sites in the Solomon Islands. It’s an indent in the side of a small island that runs around 12 meters (40 feet). Looking up through the blue you’ll see huge trees with vines hanging down and be welcomed to the surface by the nearby calls of exotic birds. The site offers iconic photo opportunities as the sunlight penetrates the jungle canopy. Dramatic streams of light provide an excellent chance for shots of divers in silhouette as well.
- Mary Island
Also known as Mborokua, this site is renown for its schooling jacks, barracuda, and sharks. Bumphead parrotfish are also a common underwater sight. Easily dropping to below 30 meters (100 feet), coral rubble housing ghost pipefish, leaffish, and shrimp gobies is plentiful down below.
- Mbulo Caves
This series of caves around the island of Mbulo offers extraordinary opportunities for underwater photographers to shoot in caves and make use of beautiful beams of light that shoot down below the waves.
- The Ann
This wreck is an island freighter sunk along a sandy slope from 10 to 30 meters (30 to 102 feet) that is brimming with eels, anemone, and shrimp gobies. The vessel is massively encrusted and home to some spectacular marine life, including coral groupers, blennies, sharpnose puffers, and hawkfish. This is an amazing spot for wide-angle shots with vibrant color and dramatic texture.
- The Cathedral
This is a perfect cave diving location for beginners. Many open passages and awe-inspiring skylights in shallow water amid passageways, a sloping reef, and coral garden littered with cuttlefish make it a memorable diving experience for all levels though.
Russell Island Dive Sites
- Karumolun Point
This popular diving spot is known as the place where pelagics come to feast in the strong currents. Other marine life commonly visible includes coral reef fish, barracuda, jacks, turtles, anemones, nudis, and macro critters.
- Mirror Pond
If you’re an underwater photographer, this site is the one for you. It offers both wide angle and macro opportunities along the reef, a cave for further exploration, and the joy of surfacing below the verdant jungle canopy. The site is also famous for the saltwater crocodile that reside at times in a shallow tunnel that connect the reef face to an inner lagoon.
- The Bat cave
A large cavern near Mirror Pond offers the chance to observe fruit bats flying overheard. Outside the cavern, pygmy seahorses can be seen amid gorgeous sea fans.
- White Beach
Named for an American military base during WWI, this dive site is quite verdant, edged by mangroves. When the troops departed, they pushed everything into the sea, making it possible to explore all kinds of underwater wrecks and pieces of machinery from the era amid incredible macro life, such as nudies, jawfish, pipefish, harlequin shrimp, and mandarin fish.
Join Us Next November
We’re excited to be able to offer a 7-night dive trip to the Solomon Islands aboard the premier live-aboard The Taka on November 9-16, 2019.
The Taka is a 30 meter (100 foot) mono hull live-board dive vessel custom-designed for diving. She is spacious inside and out with generously-sized cabins and shared space for lounging and mingling, including a large and open dive deck that offers excellent storage for all your gear.
Because dives are done directly off the deck rather than off skiffs, more dives per day are possible! You get to pick those you wish to do and relax amid the beauty of the region on the top deck between dives, enjoying delicious food made by the great chefs on board. With up to 5 dives offered per day, including night dives, we believe this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for underwater enthusiasts.
Our adventure in the Solomon Islands will be led by Underwater Photo Pro Ran Mor of Mozaik Underwater Cameras and include an underwater photo workshop with 3 presentations for those interested.