SCUBA DIVING HIGHLIGHTS
Too few divers are aware of the riches of Solomon Islands diving: PERFECT CORAL REEFS, wildly colored soft corals, spectacular fans pristine hard corals, sponges, fabulous anemones ....backed up by CAVERNS & PINNACLES, breath-taking steep walls & DRIFT DIVES. Add in a stellar variety of reef fish & larger species (HUMPHEAD PARROT FISH, NAPOLEON WRASSE) huge, swirling MASSES OF BARRACUDA, big-eye trevally & pompano (jacks). No surprise, you'll also find prowling resident white-tip SHARKS & graceful MANTAS ... then at the other end of hte chain, superb "MUCK DIVES" with mantis shrimp, ghost pipefish, pygmy & full-sized seahorses Then, of course .... there are those WRECKS .... the eerie remains of ships, planes, jeeps, trucks, bulldozers, barges and tons of ammunition.
A MARINE ENVIRONMENT EXQUISITE & UNSPOILED
Very few diving destinations on the planet still retain their original sense of wild and exotic adventure .... of untouched cultures and genuinely pristine underwater landscapes.
The Solomon Islands are an exception to the rule and one of the few nations which has truly maintained its paradise ambiance and has managed to fend off, to a large degree, the incursions of modern civilization.
Amongst the impressive masses of superb corals, you will encounter the cast of characters one would expect: the pipefish, blennies, cuttlefish, octopus, shrimps, nudibranchs, porcelain crabs, hairy squat lobsters, ribbon eels and legions of others.
But there is open water diving here, too, with heart-pounding exposure to jacks & barracudas, sharks, mantas & dolphins, whales and even Orcas, if you're lucky!
The Solomon Islands will surely be known well into the future for Guadalcanal and its strategic importance in the fierce push during World War II against the Japanese. The war turned here in favor of the allied forces.
Strangely, the Solomon Islands would have offered divers magnificent opportunities had this war never been fought, but the offensive that was launched at Guadalcanal in August of 1942 sealed the fate of the Solomons for the diving world. The incalculable loss of sea craft & aircraft in and around this chain of islands added hauntingly beautiful wrecks to the already lush underwater habitat of the region.
There are hundreds of airplane wrecks & nearly 50 different warships, half from the allied forces, half from the Japanese forces. While most settled into their watery graves at a depth that prohibits the average diver from exploring them, some are more easily accessible and will be a highlight of your diving experience in the Solomons - both from a historical perspective and from a perspective of sheer beauty.
SOLOMONS DIVING ADVENTURES ... YES, YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL !
Back underwater, you'll be off to dive sites with countless healthy staghorn corals which spread a vision of green and yellow nearly as far as the eye can see and you can explore walls covered with exquisite fans which hide very shy pygmy seahorses. In addition, you'll have more walls & caves & caverns to entice you ... along with black & white tip sharks, rays & lobsters.
Finally, White Beach, home to a major American supply base during WWII, is known for the artificial reef created by dumping trucks, jeeps, tractors, barges, bulldozers and large amounts of ammunition into the water. Covered now with corals and loads of fish, this gruesome reminder of warfare has been softened by time. Saltwater crocodiles have been sighted here several times. Many of the interesting wrecks are at 120-140 feet ....
Swim through either one and you'll find they meet one another and a luscious wall. As you fly through your tunnel, like Alice in Wonderland, you'll pass fans & whip corals, so try to slow down & smell the roses, so to speak. After your tube ride, you'll swim through countless fusiliers and ascend to the reef where you'll search for pygmy seahorses, hairy squat lobsters, cuttlefish, octopus, eels.
Maravagi, in the Florida Islands, is beloved for the “Devil’s Highway” where you'll hook onto the reef (in a very swift current) while above you the manta rays play! Also, in the shallows, divers find colorful fish and a critter haven (lots of juveniles) with cuttlefish, crabs, scorpionfish, batfish, ornate and robust ghost pipefish, waspfish and the ever-present hawkfish.
You'll have a current and if you can hook on you'll be able to watch a fine travelling show passing by. In addition to the trevally, you've got grey reef sharks, dog-tooth tuna, schooling barracuda .... plus surgeonfish, snappers and some whopping bumphead parrotfish.
Of course, you'll have all the soft & hard coral wonders of the Solomons ... plus unicornfish, angel fish & simply millions of anthias.
At times large schools of feeding fish swarm across the reef at the deepest point and into the shallows. The predators, giant trevally, mackerel, wahoo, rainbow runner, big-eye jacks, dogtooth & smaller tuna, sharks and barracuda just cruise around waiting for their next meal.
The coral gardens around the lagoon are graced with anemones, mantis shrimps, coral shrimps and of course a myriad of exotic fish of all sizes ... including butterfly-fish, basselets, angelfish, surgeonfish, fusiliers, wrasses, the resident scorpion ‘firefish’ and clown-trigger fish. Also you get plenty of healthy-sized turtles, super-sized schools of unicornfish, oceanic triggerfish and grey reef sharks.
Currents are swift and drift dives are popular. You’ll float past large gorgonians, huge amphora basket sponges, soft coral trees and small hard corals .... plus those large schools of pelagic fish and abundant reef fish.
A couple of dive sites have resident whaler sharks and around the jetty, you get a bit of nearly everything, including sharks .... but certainly an abundance of smaller fish, clams, decorator crabs, hinge-back shrimp, spindle cowries, basket stars, hawk fish, slipper lobsters and prolific invertebrate life.
The list continues and we can’t do it justice. You’ll just have to see for yourself!
Spectacular in every sense, the Solomon Islands, an archipelago of nearly 1000 islands, is located between Papua New Guinea & Vanuatu & just less than 2000 kilometers north-east of Australia. Born of volcanic eruptions, this nation, with more tropical jungles & white sand beaches than human inhabitants, exudes a feeling of utopia – above & below the water line.