With a dedicated camera storage and charging room, the MV Bilikiki offers a luxury liveaboard service to the Solomon Islands. She features huge sun decks and 10 en-suite, air conditioned cabins.
What to Expect On a Florida Islands Liveaboard
A Florida Islands liveaboard is the most comfortable and efficient method to explore the beautiful Solomon Islands. The dive sites around Florida Islands, otherwise known as Nggela Islands boast a stunning array of diversity. There is something here to enthral everyone onboard and divers will literally see and feel World War ll history while on their liveaboard dive cruise. This region and particularly the expanse of water from Honiara north to Florida Islands was the site of one of the most prolonged, intense, military campaigns during the war. The seabed is littered with every type of wreck from that era imaginable; thus the nickname, "Iron Bottomed Sound." In addition to amazing visibility underwater, lucky live aboard divers have reported seeing pilot whales while sailing. As with the rest of the Solomon Islands region the water temps are warm (80-84 degrees) and weather tropical making for generally pleasant diving and cruising conditions.
What You Can See
There are at least 200 varieties of watercraft and well over 600 aircraft scattered across the floor of this channel from the shores of Guadalcanal to the beaches of the Florida Islands. Many wrecks are accessible to recreational divers, while some can be enjoyed by snorkelers in the turquoise shallows and tech divers in the deep blue. Over the seventy years since this area was crawling with military personnel, the remains of their struggle have become living beings. Reefs, teeming with high fish counts cover many of the metal skeletons. Some of the wrecks are quite intact and with a bit of imagination, you can imagine them in use before they sunk to their watery grave. Naturally occurring underwater structures due to volcanic activity in the area, such as lava tubes and caves, make for engaging dives in the Florida Islands.
Dive Sites of the Florida Islands (Nggela Islands)
At the northwest corner of this grouping of islands a sea mount, Passage Rock, is an exposed, weather dependent dive site. If conditions allow, hang on and enjoy watching sharks and other pelagics cruise by.
Ed and Napolean's Wall is a sheer drop off with two lovely spots you can linger at about 20 meters. Enjoy the schools of rainbow runners that appear to flow down the wall. On the way up from the dive, take your time in the canyons and watch the action unfold on both sides of you starring eels, many varieties of anemone fish, stonefish, sweetlips and more.
Mbseareri and Tanavula Points are both wonderful wall dive opportunities with an abundance of critters and lovely sea fans.
In the northern passage of Nggela Sule Island lies a small island called Tulaghi Switzer. This laid back drift dive is a nudi lover's dream.
The dive site Garbage Bin appeals to both history lovers and macro seekers alike. A torpedo removed the bow of the USS New Orleans and it lies here along with multiple munitions and other interesting wrecks along the sea floor. The area has grown into a hide out for the usual macro suspects if you are willing to poke around the sea urchins.
Gavutu Wharf is another favourite of macro photographers. The wharf was utilised as a dumping ground during the war. Over the years it has turned into an activity centre for macro life including, crocodile fish, pipefish, and nudibranchs. There are also huge schools of reef fish swarming about.
Maravagi has multiple liveaboard dive sites including Devil's Highway. This is an exciting site when luck is on your side. Divers kick down the reef and find a spot to hang on in the usually brisk current. The pay off for your efforts is the chance to view massive mantas cruising above your head. The work is worth the reward if you love viewing these beauties.
Some of the key wrecks to dive near Tulagi include: Kawanishi Sea Planes- Several Japanese planes were sent to the bottom of the sea by the US Navy during an airstrike during the height of the Guadalcanal campaign. One plane lies at approximately 30 meters and is a fascinating dive opportunity.
RNZN Moa is the only New Zealand Navy vessel accessible and lies in 36-42 meters of water. It is an interesting dive with moderate visibility due to a silty bottom underneath but the depth is ideal for extended exploration.
USS Kanowa is 40 meters to the forward deck and 45 meters to the aft. The visibility is usually good and is a very interesting dive for the capable diver.
The wreck of the WWll bomber Catalina is fairly intact as it was only recently discovered which makes it a unique and wonderful dive opportunity.
For deep divers, the USS Aaron Ward is considered one of the world's top wreck dives. It lies between 60-70 meters and visibility averages 20-30 meters.
Although the wrecks are a huge draw to this area, one of the most famous dives is Twin Tunnels. This dive involves entering one of two lava tubes at about 12 meters and descending until the limited space opens into a cave at just more than 30 meters. Explore the fish and creature filled cave then make your way back up the other tube to the top of the reef. The entrance to the tubes and the reef itself are brimming with life. Sea fans, barrel coral, and all the animals that love to hide among them such as pygmy seahorses, eels, and cuttlefish can usually be spotted on this dive.
Getting to Florida Islands
The port of entry for Solomon Islands liveaboards is the capital, Honiara, on the Island of Guadalcanal. As our dive cruises depart from Honiara the Florida Islands are easily accessed by live aboard dive boat. Florida Islands is a short sailing cruise directly north and away from the hustle and bustle of Honiara, across the famed Iron Bottomed Sound. Liveaboard dive boat itineraries include the Florida Island in their longer cruises and shorter trips are focused here due to easy access combined with incredible dive sites.