Liveaboard Diving in Solomon islands
The definitive liveaboard destination, the remote, unspoiled waters of the Solomon Islands harbour a diverse ecosystem among an astonishing armada of World War II wrecks including ships, aircraft and submarines.
Exploring the Solomon Islands on a liveaboard dive boat is ideal as the region is an unspoiled wonderland. You will discover pristine reefs with high fish counts and over 500 species of hard and soft corals as well as abundant opportunities for wreck diving due to the region's role during World War II. Of the 922 islands that make up this archipelago, only 147 are populated. Uncrowded and untamed, these islands are considered a key Eco-tourism destination in the South Pacific.
From the liveaboard, there are also opportunities for excursions to experience island scenery and local life, such as hikes and visits to local villages where divers were able to buy or trade for wood carvings and other crafts. Liveaboards in the Solomon Islands cater to a wide range of budgets and offer a variety of trip lengths. All depart from Honiara, the capital located on the island of Guadalcanal. The boats can range from $250-450/day depending on the month and style of accommodation.
A recent liveaboard diver to the Solomon Islands reported their experience as such; "The Solomon Islands offered both large and small creatures, structures to swim through, deep and shallow diving, hard and soft coral, WWII wrecks and more! It was the best of everything in one liveaboard trip!" They went on to say that they were able to view both stunning nudibranchs and hammerhead sharks on the same dive.
Dive cruises for 7, 10, and up to 15 days expand your reach and encompass more remote sites. The diving is comfortable and appropriate for a wide range of capabilities as there is no minimum logged dives requirement. Photographers can enjoy a vast range of subjects from macro to mantas. Nitrox is available and approximately five dives are planned per day which may include a night dive. Dives can average well over an hour in length as a typical profile finds you poking around in the shallows at the end of your dive with something to interest everyone.
For most people, the South Pacific conjures up dreams of white sandy beaches fringed with swaying palms trees. As divers seeking warm, clear water with a wide diversity of underwater life, the Solomon Islands are truly paradise below the surface and topside.
Dive Sites and Areas of the Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands are located in the Southwest region of the Pacific Ocean. During World War II, this area was the site of six months of particularly heavy combat, the Guadalcanal Campaign. As a result, there are multiple wreck sites to dive nearby Honiara and spread throughout the region. Here is a very abbreviated list of dive sites that should pique the interest of the adventurous diver.
Florida Islands, also known as Nggela Islands, include Tulagi which was at the centre of the Guadalcanal campaign. This area is appreciated for its wreck diving and has been nicknamed "The Iron Bottom Sound" due to the approximately one thousand wrecks accessible to divers which include ships, submarines, aircraft and more. There are also beautiful reefs, sheer wall dives, and lava tubes to explore.
Florida Islands consists of over fifteen dive sites including 'Garbage Bin.' Here you can dive the bow of the New Orleans which was sunk by a torpedo blow. There are a variety of other wrecks nearby including a Japanese Seaplane which is fully accessible to recreational divers and almost fully intact. The shallows are a macro lover's heaven decorated with pygmy seahorses, colourful nudibranchs, damselfish and more. Ed's and Napoleon's Wall starting just below 20m is swarming with captivating fish. Beautiful canyons frame the shallows with action surrounding you on every side as you reluctantly work your way to the end of your dive.
Mary Island is another popular stop on a liveaboard diving itinerary and is well known for viewing larger creatures and schooling fish. There are three primary sites including Barracuda Point, Anchor Point, and Mary Corner. Massive numbers of Barracuda, Jacks, and Tuna make their home around these rocks. There are also bommies and swim throughs teeming with life.
Russel Islands offers over a dozen lovely dive sites, including some opportunities for cave diving. A popular site with photographers, Custom Caves, opens up inside with room for multiple divers to surface and view the fresh water bubbling in from a nearby stream. Bat Cave is an easy dive where baby reef sharks, harlequin ghost pipefish, and pygmy seahorses may be spotted. Don't forget to check out the bats lining the roof at the back of the cave. On the northeastern edge of the Island, there are smaller islands to explore. Gaze out into the blue to spot pelagic life and take your time in the protected lee to view soft and hard corals, octopus, and giant clams.
Marovo Lagoon is formed by a reef surrounding Vangunu Island. These dive sites lie further northwest of Honiara and also includes the sites around Peava and Mbulo Islands. This area is quite large and includes numerous dive sites with everything from WWII aircraft, ships, and Japanese fishing vessels to lovely reefs, and even some muck diving. Peava Jetty is a key muck diving location with mixed visibility but often rave reviews for critter spotting. Palette is another site nearby with massive, colourful fan coral configurations. Schools of large and small fish such as barracudas and rainbow runners circle this area and the coral heads are adorned with Blue Tangs.
When To Go
Excellent diving in the Solomon Islands is available year around. There is a minimal rainy season from November to April but it is not monsoonal. Cyclones rarely venture into this region.
Visibility and Temperature:
The Solomon Islands are a tropical destination. The air temperature ranges from 23-34 Celsius (74-94 F) and the water temperature averages between 26-29 Celsius (79-84 F). Visibility averages 15m (45 ft) although 21-30 m (60-90 ft) is not uncommon.
Tips For Travellers
Electricity is 240v and access will be with Australian or UK style plugs.
English is widely spoken and the local currency is the Solomon Dollar. There are banks and ATMs in Honiara and Gizo. Credit cards are widely accepted but if heading to the more remote islands it is advised to change some currency.
How To Get There & Ports Of Departure
Honaria is the gateway to the Solomon Islands and is accessible from most regions of the world via Nadi, Fiji, or Brisbane, Australia depending on your choice of airlines and schedules. A passport and a return ticket will be required. Check with your home country regarding visas or visitor's permits.
As with most liveaboards, there may be local taxes levied, please check with your chosen itinerary.