Sep 7, 2012 1:06:18 PM
Diving in the Solomon Islands
World-class diving awaits you in the underwater realms of the Solomon Islands. The marine biodiversity is exceptional, incredibly healthy reefs look like a Garden of Eden and the absence of crowds is a prime draw. Another clincher is the mindboggling array of WWII wrecks – ships, aircraft and even submarines. Best of all, the Solomons are diveable year-round.
Straight out of the hot-off-the-press Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands guide book, here’s a short selection of the Solomon Islands’ diving wonderlands.
With world-class sunken WWII vessels lying close to the shore, Guadalcanal is the obvious place to start your diving adventures. Most sites can be reached by car from the capital, Honiara. Some top draws:
- Bonegi: about 12km west of Honiara, a giant-sized Japanese merchant transport ship, also known as the Hirokawa Maru, lies just a few fin strokes offshore.
- Bonegi II: also known as Kinugawa Maru, the upper works break the surface a towel’s throw from the beach, about 500m west of Bonegi I.
- Searpens: a big ship that lies upside down, east of Honiara.
Easily accessible from Honiara, Tulagi is a must for wreck enthusiasts, with awesome reef dives as well. Try one of these remarkable dive spots:
- USS Kanawha & USS Aaron Ward: a 150m-long oil tanker sitting upright, and a 106m-long US Navy destroyer noted for its extensive arsenal. The catch? They lie deep, very deep (the Kanawha in 45m and the Aaron Ward in 65m), and are accessible to experienced divers only. Visibility is not the strong point here; expect 15m on average.
- Manta Passage: boasts regular sightings of huge manta rays.
Munda offers a good balance of wreck and reef. The wildlife highlights for divers are:
- Shark Point: a 25-minute boat ride from Munda, this sloping reef seldom fails to produce sightings of grey reef sharks, silvertips, devil rays, snapper, batfish and turtles. You’ll have to go deep (around 50m) to see the marauding sharks.
- Susu Hite: a relaxing dive, this lively reef sits in less than 20m – perfect for novices.
- Mbigo: features beautiful hard and soft corals and, quite often, Galapagos sharks.
South Marovo Lagoon
South Marovo rewards divers with a host of very scenic sites off a cluster of three lovely islands – Kicha, Mbulo and Male Male Islands – accessible by 15- to 30-minute boat rides from the village of Peava.
- Kavolavata Treasure (Gatokae Island): a unique combination of muck diving and reef diving, with rare species of fish and invertebrates.
- Toana (Mbulo Island): a scenic drop-off dripping with luscious corals and sea fans. Another highlight is the dramatic underwater terrain.
- Picnic (Kicha Island): a constant parade of reef tropicals, dramatic drop-offs and scenic ridges.
With so many underwater wonderlands, we don’t have room to list them all here – but luckily you’ll find plenty more for diving experts and undersea novices in Lonely Planet’s brand-new Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands guide book.
Don’t need the whole book? Pick and choose your favourite PDF chapters for your next trip.