Here’s a secret: If you want a world-class, unspoiled dive destination all to yourself, consider the Solomon Islands.
Situated between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in the south Pacific, this tropical archipelago of almost 1,000 islands has remained almost untouched by commercial development.
Since the islands are in such a remote area, the diving remains unspoiled as relatively few divers make it to this area, nor are the reefs overfished. Children and villagers in dugout canoes still paddle out to interact with visiting boats.
The Solomon’s saw a lot of heavy action during WWII , which explains the mindboggling selection (as in 200+ ships, 690+ aircraft, a submarine, and countless boats and barges) of wrecks litter the ocean, making it a top spot for wreck diving.
The pristine reefs teem with the entire food chain of marine life. They also provide spawning grounds and migratory routes for more than 1,000 reef fish species, rays, sharks, dolphins and six of the world’s seven sea turtle species.
Featuring numerous wrecks from WWII, Tulagi also offers pristine, unspoiled reefs. In addition to the wrecks, you will find cave diving and a spectacular reef. Watch reef sharks at Twin Tunnels or explore the reef’s soft corals, fans, sponges and abundant varieties of fish. The dive sites in Tulagi provide outstanding photography opportunities.
One of the fiercest WWII battles took place here between the Allied Forces and the Japanese and was a turning point in the war. You’ll find a number of wreck dives including ships, airplanes, tanks, cannons and even a Japanese sub sunk by New Zealand warships. Known as “Iron Bottom Sound,” the abundance of war debris in the water between Tulagi and Guadalcanal is stunning history lesson.
This small island in the western province features white sandy beaches and lagoons. The reef is pristine and teeming with fish life. As with all of the water around these islands, you’ll find wrecks to dive here too. The crystal clear water houses fabulous hard and soft coral, along with giant gorgonians and sea whips. Watch for sharks, turtles and eagle rays as they frequent the reef along with massive schools of reef fish. Gizo offers a number of outstanding photography locations.
Uepi offers a number of stunning diving locations with a wide variety of features, including drop-off, walls, ledges and coral gardens with a huge diversity of reef fish. Eagle rays, mantas and turtles are often spotted, along with hammerhead sharks. On the edge of a large dormant volcano, the visibility is outstanding.
This is a largely unexplored area until recently and divers find new sites regularly. Plummeting walls dropping to infinity, with a multitude of big fish including a variety of sharks and pristine reefs are what you’ll find here. Silvertips, eagle rays and barracuda are frequent visitors as well. Visibility is outstanding.
Due to the remoteness of the location, accommodations are somewhat limited here. A few small hotels and liveaboards are the choice divers have.
When not diving, you can find a host of cultural activities and opportunities to mingle with the locals and observe the native customs. Outdoor adventures, such as hiking to waterfalls, birdwatching, kayaking, sailing, surfing, climbing a dormant volcano and big game fishing can keep you plenty busy. Malaria is common here so make sure you’re prepared.
Honiara International Airport has connecting flights from Australia and Fiji. Flights are available to Gizo, Munda and Uepi Island. Tulagi can be reached by boat.
Traveling by boat is the most common means of transportation. Public minibuses can only be found in Honaira. Riding in open-backed trucks or tractor-drawn trailers is a common means of transportation.
When to Go: You can dive all year long in the Solomon Islands. Temperatures range form 78-92⁰F in the daytime to 72-79⁰F at night. The rainy season runs from January to March.
Average Surface Water Temps: 80-85⁰F
Average Visibility: 50’ is average but it can reach 60’-90’ in some areas.
Image attribution: http://www.diveplanit.com/dive-site/b17-american-bomber-wreck/