During DEMA Show 2016, DeeperBlue.com sat down with Ellison Kyere, the Senior Marketing Officer of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau and Susan Bejeckian, their public relations guru to welcome them back to DEMA after a ten-year absence, and to find out what’s good in Solomon Island diving.
The 900 or so islands of the Solomons are situated on the southwest edge of the Pacific Ocean, nestled between Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. With only 147 of them inhabited, they really are the last frontier of the Pacific. There’s plenty to do for divers of all kinds in the 82-85 degrees F/28-29 degrees C water and infinite visibility. The marine life is plentiful, from tiny nudibranchs to the giant humpback whales that pass through on their route to Tonga, and there are at least 25 species that are unique to the Solomons. In fact, in July 2015, scientists found the first-known instance of a turtle biofluorescing among a population of rare hawksbills (they glow red!).
World War II and other history buffs will know the Solomons for their role in the Pacific Theater, and specifically for the Battle of Guadalcanal, the Allied Forces’ first major offensive in the war. As you might expect, WWII shipwrecks abound, with over sixty known ships from Japan, the United States, and Australia. 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle, and the islands are planning a big celebration to honor the date and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who fought in the campaign.
There are shore dives and boat dives from six of the islands, and for those that crave high adventure, there are some easy cave dives that require only a guide and not a certification. In some spots, you can even enter a site inland and emerge in the open ocean, including the spectacular Custom Shark Cave of Ndokendoke Island where you enter in a fresh pool surrounded by mangroves and emerge on the island’s outer wall. Diving is good year-round, with a wet seasons that lasts from November through April.
If you love a liveaboard, the Solomon Islands boast two that leave from the capital city Honiara on the island of Guadalcanal. Trips can last seven, ten, or fourteen days and go as far as the Florida Islands in the east and Marovo Lagoon in the west and can include a visit to shipwreck-rich Ironbottom Sound.
In October 2017, the islands will host their second-annual Dive Festival in Munda on the island of New Georgia. Interested in attending? There are two main ways to get to the Solomon Islands. The first is via Australia, with four weekly Solomon Airlines flights and two weekly Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane. For folks traveling from the USA, it might be easier to take a flight from LAX to Fiji, and to catch a connecting flight to the Solomons from there.
The currency there is the Solomon dollar, though in some places on Malaita they still exchange traditional shell money. With eighty languages spoken by only 600,000 people of Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian descent, you’ll find plenty of cultural richness to fascinate you topside as well.
Go to www.visitsolomons.com.sb to find out more about planning your trip to the last frontier of the Pacific.
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