Kelly's suggested best
The Russells: May Island.
Uepi: Uepi Point.
Munda: Custom Shark Cove.
Gizo: Grand Central Station.
Gizo: Tao Maru.
Munda: Shark Point.
Central Province: Twin Tunnels.
Tulagi: RM Ward (deep destroyer).
Uepi: Point to Point across channel.
Kiche: Wilderness Lodge.
HAS been a very long time since scuba diving was part
of my holiday activities, brought about by bad sinuses
and a problem equalizing.
I don’t get too green-eyed watching wet-suited folk
flippering backwards into the water, or off the side
of a boat, to go on an underwater adventure.
However, in the clear waters off Uepi Island in the
Solomon Islands’ Western Province, I did get jealous
as a small group of divers made their way into the depths.
had plunged in from one of the Uepi Island Resort’s
longboats, quickly got their bearings and then – trailing
clear bubbles in the blue tinged waters – eventually
we discovered they had a memorable encounter with hammerhead
sharks and had been thrilled by the experience.
were regular divers from America and this was their
second journey to that part of the Morovo Lagoon – the
largest saltwater lagoon in the world.
Resort is well known in world diving
circles not only because of its proximity to stunning
underwater landscapes, but also it is owned by veteran
– and devoted – divers Jill
and Grant Kelly.
Their island alone offers 10 dive sites where you can
come mask to face with all manner of sea creatures including
giant trevally, barracuda, manta rays, turtles and surprisingly
those of us who don’t dive there is always snorkeling
and who could resist donning a facemask and fins to
explore fabulous coral reefs in 28C waters.
like a 3D underwater movie in a giant warm bath and
in waters where, on the bottom, visibility often exceeds
our excursions to snorkeling spots we can see why this
place gets divers of all persuasions reaching for their
masks and flippers.
In almost any direction from the Uepi Island Resort,
off the southern tip of New Georgia, a short boat ride
will deliver dive spots where you can enjoy nature at
introduction to Solomons snorkeling was at Landoro Gardens
where a new world opens up among major coral reefs that
rise close to the surface only to drop away into very
deep trenches. The reef formations are extensive and
made up of so many different shapes and colours of coral
they are impossible to count.
are large platter-like ones, thick stag-horns and others
that look like giant yellow brains.
is an underwater wonderland filled with seemingly never-ending
scenes to explore.
Swimming amid the reef’s contours are brightly coloured
fish that catch your eye as they make their way through
the sunrays spearing down into the water.
out-of-practice snorkelers the difference between hovering
over the shallow coral compared with the deep-blue trenches
is dramatic and can be unnerving, but those moments
are fleeting as the beauty of your surroundings takes
next stop was Roma where we followed a gently sloping
coral expanse along the protected side of a jungle-covered
resort’s longboat followed our progress along the submarine
prairie as we finned above it marvelling at the abundance
of life within its myriad shapes and textures.
Our guide told us the water was not as clear as usual
– following a storm and very heavy rains – but lying
on the surface looking down it was clearer than anything
you’d see off the New Zealand coasts.
with the coral being so close to the surface photographers
can get some great shots with the formations being mirrored
off the water’s surface.
another part of the Western province, this time in the
Vonavona lagoon near the island of Gizo we had the chance
to snorkel over the reasonably intact remains of a WWII
US Hellcat is submerged in about seven metres of water
and can be seen quite well from the surface.
pilot was brought down by friendly fire - that is by
his own side – during a dogfight, but managed to survive
with a textbook splash landing and the help of local
wreck is remarkably well preserved and will appeal to
both snorkelers and those with scuba gear.
you are a diver then the Solomon Islands offers pristine
waters amid wonderfully unspoilt natural beauty.
can explore an area knowing you are one of only a few
people who have journeyed to see what you are witnessing
and that puts a price beyond measure on your adventure.
Solomons also offer a host of chances to dive among
WWII aircraft wrecks and sunken naval vessels allowing
you to witness the devastation war wreaks – even in
such a paradise.
Solomon Island Visitors Bureau website by clicking