In the eastern portion of the Coral Triangle, the Solomon Islands offer incredible variety and biodiversity when it comes to scuba diving. Covering around 11,000 square miles, there are boundless opportunities for exploration, and the diving will appeal to those who have a love for adventure. The Solomons offer everything from wrecks and macro, to pristine corals and walls, from pygmy seahorses to sharks. Choosing favorite dive sites here is like picking just one favorite movie or band, but nonetheless we’ve compiled a few of our top picks for the best dive sites in the Solomon Islands.
Where is it: Just outside of Marovo Lagoon on the northern side of Mbulo Island
What makes it special: This site offers cavern and cave diving made easy for beginners, with open passages and awe-inspiring skylights in shallow water. There are also a multitude of unexplored passageways and systems for those with experience and the proper training in overhead environments and tight spaces.
Details: Take a torch with you. You won’t need one to navigate the main passages, but you’ll want to poke around. If caverns and such aren’t your cup of tea, enjoy a beautiful sloping reef and coral garden on the outside while looking for cuttlefish.
When to go: Any time there isn’t a typhoon; the season runs from approximately November through April. Operators will try to hit this site when the sun is high and casts the best light rays.
Where is it: In the Russell Islands group on Mbanika Island
What makes it special: How many dives include World War II trucks and forklifts as well as bullets and Coke bottles? White Beach was an American base during WWII and after it was decommissioned the remnants were left to the sea. Aside from the history, this is also a great site to search for small life such as pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, nudibranchs and mandarinfish, if you come at dusk.
Details: This large site offers wonders from three feet to 100 feet (1 m to 30 m). Conditions are generally manageable and most guides will be happy to let you explore at leisure, but be sure to check in first as occasionally there can be very strong currents and poor viz.
When to go: This is a great site for the early morning, but you’ll want to avoid it at dusk or thereafter due to the presence of crocodiles.
The Devil’s Highway
Where is it: In the Florida Island group on Mangalonga Island
What makes it special: Raging currents on this amazing, high-throttle dive deliver nutrients to hungry mantas and fish, which in turn feed the sharks. Even if the current is light and the big guys aren’t out, unique topography tickles the senses. If you’ve got good air consumption and there’s a strong current, you can make it a two-for-one dive as you exit the channel into Maravagi, which is a stunning protected reef and home to lots of cuttlefish.
Details: Although this is definitely one of the best dive sites in the Solomon Islands, it is not for the faint of heart. Those unable to follow directions or follow dive guides, or those with limited experience. Reef-hook experience is preferred. The channel is quite unique, as it’s comprised of hard rock versus a silt bottom, which makes for amazing visibility. The site’s best if you dive it multiple times to see both sides of the channel. Stay with your dive guides and utilize your BCD to combat strong down currents.
When to go: Late November through March and three days before a full moon generally offer the best opportunity for manta encounters.
Where is it: In the Russell Island group on Mane Island
What makes it special: Constantly changing topography, pristine coral gardens, sea fans and amazing photo opportunities.
Details: The dive site is mainly comprised of shallow caverns and canyons interconnecting among beautiful coral gardens. The mirror is a shallow cove that, if the water is calm, offers a lovely mirror-like reflection of the bottom and harbors beams of light from the overhead sun. Use caution if you decide to surface in the jungle, as this amazing cove is also home to a small 6.5-foot (2 m) saltwater crocodile. Continue through a maze of canyons and secret passageways before ending the dive circling a hard coral pinnacle, wrapped in thousands of colorful anthias. Area fans are home to pygmy seahorses, and there’s a large resident school of black snapper.
When to go: Best enjoyed in calm seas with the sun overhead, but offers an amazing dive every time.
Where is it: Along the outer edge of Marovo Lagoon as you travel north.
What makes it special: Incredible diversity, large schools of fish, sharks, rays, turtles and a swift current. Visit soon as logging operations in the area may destroy it completely.
Details: In few places is it possible to see the stark contrast of a decimated reef due to logging- operations runoff and healthy, vibrant reef in close proximity. Hop in and you’ll quickly pass impacted reef to a corner leading to the open ocean, where the wall explodes with life. Large turtles, curious gray reef sharks, and massive schools of unicornfish and oceanic triggers are fairly safe bets. Keep an eye on the blue and you may be lucky enough to see a massive great hammerhead.
When to go: Soon. With logging operations in the area, this site may not be around much longer. Catch it on the outgoing tide starting from the lagoon going out to the point.
Where is it: Outside Marovo Lagoon on Kicha Island
What makes it special: Kavachi is the name of the nearby (approximately 15 miles away) underwater volcano that rattles your teeth underwater. One of the most active submarine volcanoes in the world, Kavachi made headlines recently when sharks were discovered swimming in the volcano’s mouth. The dive offers fantastic access to open water and the chance to see mobula rays, sharks and unique events, such as giant trevally gathering to spawn.
Details: The dive typically has wonderful visibility due to the open-water environment, and when you listen closely you will hear Kavachi rumbling away. When the volcano is very active, you’ll feel the rumbling more than you’ll hear it. You can sometimes feel the vibrations as far away as Mane Island, 50 miles away.
When to go: The site is nearly inaccessible during rough seas. November typically provides the best conditions.
The Bat Cave
Where is it: Near Mirror Pond in the Russell Island group
What makes it special: Enter a large cavern — big enough to fit an entire dive group with space to spare — and as you surface into the opening above, look up to observe fruit bats flying overhead in the cavern. After you are done inside, come back outside the cavern and check the sea fans for pygmy seahorses. Keep an eye on the blue for passing pelagics as you continue along the wall.
Details: You can navigate the cave without a torch, but a light will bring out more of the cavern’s unique contours. Check some of the horizontal cracks inside as occasionally you may find a litter of whitetip shark pups.
When to go: Late afternoon provides great ambience for the dive and the bats are a little more active as they prepare to depart the cavern for the evening.