Diving in Solomons
The Solomon group includes six major island that align in a row running some 700 miles from southeast to northwest, surrounded by nearly 1,000 smaller islands. The majority of diving activity take places in the central island group, and international travelers arrive at the capital of Honiara on the primary island of Guadalcanal. From there, liveaboards provide access to sites around a half-dozen additional islands, and inter island flights connect to dive lodges serving Marovo Lagoon and the north-province settlement of Gizo. Guadalcanal was the site of some of the fiercest land and sea battles of World War II. The channel between the Florida Islands has earned the nickname Iron Bottom Sound due to the 200 ships, 690 aircraft and countless landing barges that sunk there during many months of battle. Experience wreck divers come to Honiara to explore a number of historic warships that lie at the lower limits or beyond the normal range or recreational diving.There are also a number of mid-depth wrecks in the area, including a trio of Japanese ships that sit in shallow water and can be accessed as shore dives. Liveaboard cruises originating on Guadalcanal visit sites around the Florida Islands, Russell Islands, Mary Island and Marovo Lagoon. This region provides a tremendous diversity of landscapes that includes pinnacles, caverns, long lava tubes, shallow coral gardens and walls. Another common feature of these islands are rock promontories that project into blue water. Done as a drift, or by hooking into the reef when currents are strong, visits to these structures yield sharks, big schools of tuna, trevally, barracuda and bumphead parrotfish. The most famous point dive is at Uepi, where currents flowing from Marovo Lagoon carry nutrients that attract a food chain that starts small and through large schools of trevally and barracuda, to rays and reef sharks. Other popular options are Barracuda Point on Mary Island, where clouds of jacks and barracuda numbering in the hundreds form swirling clouds, and Devil's Highway, where mantas gather. The Russell Islands are known for deep, cave-like clefts in the reefs that extend shoreward into the jungle canopy. One of the largest and dramatic of these is Leru Cut, which is included on most all itineraries. A different type of cave is found in the Florida islands. The seamount, known as Twin, is perforated by a pair of large lava tubes that lead divers through the reef wall to a dramatic exit point at a depth of 110 feet. Like a number of sites in the Solomons, the upper lip of this wall leads to shallows covered in hard corals and soft corals that reach almost to the surface. These reef tops allow for long multi-level dives that end with extended searches for finds such as pygmy seahorses, hairy squat lobsters, cuttlefish, octopus and nudibranchs. Prime sites for critter and artifact hunting can be found around abandoned piers from the war era. Here, among the twisted remains of small war wrecks and discarded ordinance, divers can find banded pipefish, crocodilefish, nudibranchs of all sizes and colors, schools of glassfish, mandarinfish and more. Calm water can also be found in Marovo Lagoon, which is surrounded by a rare double barrier reef—one of only six known formations of this type in the world. It is also thought to be the world's largest saltwater lagoon. It's interior is filled with coral bommies and patch reefs that will provide hours of fish watching. Channels leading into the lagoon also become gathering points for reef sharks during tide changes. Gizo offers a good mix of healthy reefs, wrecks, and diverse marine life. This region is steeped in WWII history, including the island where John F. Kennedy and crew met a Japanese torpedo aboard PT-109. Among the top dives, is the 442-foot Toa Maru, littered with artifacts from sake bottles to ammo, and covered in substantial hard and soft corals. Kennedy Wall is a great place for pelagic action, and Grand Central Station for a potpourri of marine life in every niche.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
All U.S. citizens are required to present a valid passport which must be valid at the time of entry into the country. Proof of onward or return ticket may be required. No visa is required, a visitors permit is issued for stays less than 42 days. All persons leaving the Solomon Islands, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately $13 U.S. which should be included in your international ticket.
No immunizations are required for entry into the Solomon Islands. You should check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
In an age of global culture and instant connectivity, the Solomon Islands provide an oasis of iconic cultural traditions, and a chance to rediscover lost reminders of the 20th Century's greatest conflict. This is one of the least densely populated Pacific Island Nations, where thousands of square miles of jungle remain untamed, and human settlements are found on fewer than one in six of the nation's 990-plus islands. At a majority of villages, life continues as it has for centuries—minus the practice of headhunting, which went out of vogue in the early 20th century. Today, Solomon Islanders are not cut off from the outside world, but neither are they in a rush to embrace it. When a village elder greets you while wearing a grass skirt, it's not an affectation staged for tourists, but rather a part of everyday dress. Shamans and sorcerers still hold sway in matters of birth, death and healing. And while islanders may go to church on Sunday, when it is time to go fishing, they will pray to the shark spirits for a bountiful catch. Visitors will find these people to be welcoming and friendly, though communications are often confined to smiles or the serving of a shared meal. English is the country's official language, fewer than two in 100 speak it, and islanders communicate in various pidgin dialects that bridge the gaps in the more than 70 unique languages spoken on different islands. Elders may recall the days when American and Japanese forces fought pitched battles on land and sea, and on most every island you will find abandoned reminders of the war.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in the Solomons is 230 volts, 50 cycles, so an adapter will be needed for U.S. visitors. The outlets use 3 flat pins similar to Australia. The
country code for the Solomons is 677. Check with your cell phone provider for international plans that may include data, texting and voice. Some resorts offer WiFi.
It is recommended not to consume the local tap water. It is best to drink bottled water.
Language & Currency
English the official languages, however most Solomon Islanders speak their local language and pidgin. The local currency is the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD), referred to locally as S$. Click to check the currency rate. There are 2 branches of banks, MSP and ANZ with ATMs in major cities and major credit cards are accepted for purchases.
The Solomon Islands utilize SBT which is Solomon Islands Time. It is 11 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+11 GMT). The Solomons are located west of the International Dateline and they do not observe Daylight Savings Time.
Location, Size and Population
The Solomon Islands are located in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia. They encompass over 11,000 square miles and a total of 3,301 miles of coastline. The Solomons include 6 major islands and over 900 smaller islands. Islands include Guadalcanal, Malalta, Santa Isabel, San Cristobal, Choiseul, New Georgia and the Santa Cruz Group. Honiara, the capital, located on the island of Guadalcanal, and is approximately 8.5 square miles.
The population of the Solomon Islands is 583,591 (2015).