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Delicious, moist, tropical warmth in the Solomon Islands

written by Joe Dallison – Perth Scuba PADI Staff Instructor

My trip to the Solomon Islands began with a reasonably painless red eye flight to Brisbane to meet a connecting flight 3 hours later to Honiara.  Disembarking, the first thing to strike me was the delicious, moist, tropical warmth!  It made me realise that we have had a pretty cold winter and I was excited to get submerged in the 28-degree water of the Solomon’s.  We were taken next door to the ‘Domestic’ terminal and an hour later were airborne again in a Dash 40 seater to take us over to Gizo, a small island around 45 minutes flying time from the capital.

The main town on Gizo is very ‘local’ as is the imaginatively named ‘Gizo Hotel’.  Our diving in Gizo was provided by the imaginatively named ‘Dive Gizo’.  Danny and Kerrie have been diving the waters surrounding Gizo since 1985 so know all the good spots.  We did some excellent diving over the next few days.  A good mixture of reefy squidgy dives and some decent wrecks for the rust lickers in the group.  The highlight of the Second World War wrecks for me was the Toa Maru.  It’s a huge intact wreck over 140m long lying on its side in around 35m of water.  Bombed by the Americans it sank with tanks, bottles of Saki, ammunition and more all still on board.  It was a fascinating dive, one that I felt I could repeat over a series of days if given the chance.  My favourite reef dive was a fabulous site called ‘Grand Central Station’.  An apt name I think aimed at the shear activity going on during this dive.  This site has been described as one of the richest fish diverse sites on the planet.  Apparently on 1 dive a staggering 270 different species of fish were identified!  I certainly noticed it looked like fish soup whilst I was there, with big schools of Trevally, Jacks, Snappers, Batfish and Barracuda in mid water.  We had a couple of nice Grey Reef Shark sightings also.

Turning our attention to the reef we noticed that the general coral growth in this part of the Solomon Islands is very healthy.  This in turn gives home to all of your usual reef suspects such as Anemones with colourful Clownfish, super sized Nudibranchs, Leaf Fish, Crocodile fish, Scorpion Fish, Cleaner Shrimps and more.

We had some good Manta sightings with 2 or 3 individuals circling us on a cleaning station, making for some exciting photo opportunities.

I really enjoyed the diving in the Solomon’s.  It reminded me of a cross between diving I’ve done in Fiji but also with a bit more of a macro feel.  The people of the Solomon Islands are very gentle and relaxed.  The seafood we enjoyed on the trip was sustainable, caught in the traditional way with rod and line.  On one particular occasion the ‘Crabman’ turned up in resort.  He was a wizened old gent who catches the huge mud crabs in the mangroves by hand.  Needless to say they were absolutely delicious!

 It’s a huge paradise like area with world class diving…would I do it again?  Absolutely!

And I will be! Want to join me? Click here for details on our trip returning in 2016.

Solomon Islands by Joseph Dallison

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