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Solomon Islands Trip Report, October 2018

Solomon Islands Trip Report, October 2018
In October 2018 we headed to the Solomon Islands for a 10 night trip on legendary Bilikiki Liveaboard. Bilikiki has been operating in the Solomon Islands for over 25 years and is unrivalled for their experience and knowledge of diving around these Pacific islands. On this trip we were joined by clients from the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and USA. Our trip would take us from the capital city of Honiara out to the Russell Islands, Morovo Lagoon, tiny Mary Island (real name Mborokua Island) and the Florida Islands.

Our first stop was the Russell Islands where highlight dives included the famous Leru Cut and Mirror Pond, sometimes home to a Crocodile. On these dives you get to explore the boundaries where the ocean meets the rainforest! After our excellent dives in the Russell Islands we next headed to Marovo Lagoon for three days of diving. In Morovo Lagoon highlight dives included Kicha where we had amazing encounters with schooling Batfish and playful Cuttlefish and the wondrous Mbulo Caves.

We next headed to Mary Island, a small, remote island in between Morovo Lagoon and the Russell Islands. Mary Island provides some of the very best diving in the Solomon Islands. Characterised by superb visibility in amazingly blue water, there are huge schools of Bigeye Trevally and Barracuda and other big fish such as Dogtooth Tuna and Grey Reef Sharks adding to the amazing action. The diving at Mary Island at sites such as Jack Fish Alley and Barracuda Point is simply world class and not to be missed! Our dives at Mary Island were also accompanied by the underwater soundtrack of explosions from nearby underwater ‘Kavachi’ volcano.

After a day of diving around Mary Island we next headed to the WWII shipwreck graveyard of Iron Bottom Sound. Here we dived two Japanese WWII wrecks, Kinugawa Maru and Hirokawa Maru. Both wrecks were adorned with beautiful corals and plenty of fish life. Next we headed to the Florida Islands where we had excellent dives at sites such as Twin Tunnels, Maravaghi Bay, Devil’s Highway and a Japanese WWII ‘Mavis’ Seaplane wreck. At Twin Tunnels several Grey reef Sharks patrolled close by the wall edge, at one point shooting to the surface and returning chasing a Mobula Ray! At Maravaghi Bay we found a huge school of Bigeye Scad and at Devil’s Highway we watched in amazement as 15 Mantas performed an amazing dance for us in a high voltage dive!

As we dived throughout the Solomons we observed that the hard corals were the most varied and pristine that we’d encountered anywhere in the world. If Fiji is the soft coral capital of the world then the Solomons must be the hard coral capital of the world! There was also an incredible number of different species of both anemone fish and butterfly fish adding to the reef scape. At the top of the reef every now and again a Blacktip Reef Shark would dart past you always keeping you on your toes!

During our trip in the Solomons we also had some amazing experiences visiting villages and been visited by floating fruit & veg markets where the villagers would paddle their wooden canoes to Bilikiki on almost a daily basis to sell their produce. Bilikiki acquire almost all their fruit & veg in this manner making them a true eco-tourism operation!