Diving the Solomon Islands: The Best Dive Sites

The Solomon Islands remain largely undiscovered by travelers, offering quiet dive sites with some of the world’s highest fish counts. Marissa Toohey shares her tips on where to go diving, underwater photography and what to know about the history of the wrecks.

A giant starfish can be seen on the seafloor of the Solomon Islands Photo © Getty Images/Peter Pinnock

Without the limitations of large diving groups and with the support of flexible operators, divers in the Solomon Islands can tailor itineraries to their wants and needs. Beginner divers can marvel at exquisite landscapes of wall dives, experienced divers investigate wrecks and caves, underwater photographers enjoy both wide angle and macro opportunities, but all divers will experience the rush of being close to sharks.

Top Dive Sites

Gizo and Munda in the western region of Solomon Islands, offer colorful reefs, corals, fans, large schools of fish and dozens of wrecks. 

Gizo

Gizo is the second largest town in the Solomon Islands, and is accessible via a one hour flight from Honiara. The township has basic services and markets and its underwater offering includes the famous Toa Maru II wreck and the deep channel of Hot Spot.

Munda

Munda is a 1.5–4 hour boat ride from Gizo, or a one hour flight from Honiara. You can enjoy diving Shark Point and Aussie Point, as well as spending surface intervals relaxing on uninhabited islands throughout the region.

A busy, colorful reef. Photo credit: Shea Pletz

Wrecks and History

Dozens of wrecks are scattered across the sea floor throughout Solomon Islands as a result of battles between Japanese and Allied forces during World War II. Divers can explore ships and aircrafts at varying depths, depending on their level of experience.

North of Gizo township, a Japanese freighter around 426ft (130m) long called Toa Maru II lies on its side, with the top of the bow less than 32ft (10m) from the surface and the bottom of the stern around 131ft (40m) deep. This positioning allows Open Water divers and students to explore growth on the top of the ship, while experienced divers check out the cargo holds below. The Toa Maru II was torpedoed by American planes in the early 1940s. Today, divers can discover an army tank inside the wreck, as well as medical supplies, sake bottles, timber and other cargo.

Evidence of the war continues above water, with the famous island that John F. Kennedy was rescued from near Gizo following the sinking of PT-109. Barney’s Museum in Munda also features grenades, bombs, guns, bullets, helmets, medical supplies and other remnants from both the Japanese and Allied forces.

Frumman F6F3 Hellcat from WW2. Photo credit: Shea Pletz

Marine Life

Pilot whales and turtles bobbing on the surface of the water signal the exciting and diverse species living in the depths below.

Arguably the most popular dive site in the country, Grand Central Station has one of the highest fish counts of a single dive in the world. The ornamental wall is covered in brightly colored fans surrounded by soft coral and batfish, with large numbers of barracuda and trevally frequently appearing from the blue.

Clowh fish in the Solomon Islands. Photo credit: Shea Pletz

Several shark species are sighted throughout the region, including common whitetip and grey reef sharks. Shark Point at Munda, for example, is a wall dive that can be explored at any depth, with reef sharks in the shallows and silvertip sharks at greater depths. Advanced and adventurous divers often go to Aussie Point at Munda in search of hammerhead sharks. Even if you don’t see a hammerhead, the hypnotising blue water, stunning wall and busy marine life make the dive site a highlight of any diving trip.

A grey reef shark in the Solomon Islands. Photo credit: Shea Pletz

Underwater Photography

It would be a shame to dive the Solomon Islands without an underwater camera, as the marine life, colors and shapes offer countless macro and wide angle opportunities.
Here are some basic tips to help you maximise your underwater photography in the Solomon Islands:

  • The walls, wrecks and outstanding visibility of Solomon Islands create good conditions for wide angle photography. Shea used a Tokina 10-17mm fish eye lense.
  • Use dual strobes to properly light landscapes. Shea used dual Inon Z240 strobes.
  • Wide angle photo opportunities include walls with fans, large schools of barracuda, eagle rays and reef sharks.
  • Macro photo opportunities include ghost pipefish, pygmy sea horses, leaf scorpion and nudibranchs.
  • Check your airline’s weight restrictions if you’re planning to carry heavy photography gear.
Toa Maru II. Photo credit: Shea Pletz

About the Author

Marissa Toohey is an Australian writer who enjoys busting through her comfort zone by traveling, going on adventures and volunteering around the world.

About the Photographer

Shea Pletz has been diving since 2004 and enjoys taking photos. Shea grew up in Newcastle on the east coast of Australia, and regularly dives along the coast of southeast Queensland. Shea has also been diving in Europe, Asia, The Middle East and Africa. See more of Shea’s photos on Flickr.

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1 Comment

  • lisaf said

    Beautiful photos and article. <br><br>Suffering from holiday hangover after spending loads of time snorkelling around Flores and Pemuteran (Bali) - my antidote is planning my next trip and the Solomon Islands look perfect!

    Reply

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