Scuba diving inSolomon Islands
- Seldom visited and almost entirely unspoilt dive destination
- Explore a wide selection of incredible WWII wrecks
- Fascinating nation with a blend of cultures and traditions
- Uncrowded dive sites with renowned Coral Triangle biodiversity
Much of the Solomon Islands remain largely unspoilt and completely ‘off the map’ for most tourists. But the beautiful palm-shaded beaches and iridescent seas make this archipelago an exceptional holiday destination, while the wild, well-preserved landscape provides a playground for adventurous individuals. Beneath the waves, things get even better. Divers visiting the Solomon Islands can discover the country’s renowned Coral Triangle biodiversity – including macro species, manta rays, and plenty of pelagic fish – alongside more WWII wrecks than you can count. And you’ll likely have each site entirely to yourselves.
Diving in the Solomon Islands
Manta RaysFebuary - May
Schooling reef fishYear round
Macro CreaturesYear round
Healthy coralsYear round
Walls & pinnaclesYear round
Plentiful reef lifeYear round
Remote and rarely explored by tourists, the Solomon Islands promise pristine scuba diving, biodiverse marine life, unique experiences, and many, many wrecks.
Diving Western Province
Scuba diving in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province largely focuses on the New Georgia Group. Surrounding the southeast section of this island group is the large Marovo Lagoon. The island of Uepi forms part of the lagoon’s northern barrier reef, with the neighbouring Charapana Passage attracting large schools of trevally and barracuda
Kicha Island lies in the far southeast, beyond the barrier reef, and is the site of one of the most popular dives in the region. This impressive wall dive is awash with sea fans, and attracts schools of spade fish, barracuda, and bumphead parrotfish, as well as reef sharks. Your dive may even be set to the atmospheric rumbles of the nearby volcano.
Near the southern side of the channel separating New Georgia and Vangunu, an area known as Nono Lagoon is host to the renowned Upright Wreck. Also known as Taiyo, this 90-metre fishing boat rests vertically against the reef wall, its bow almost touching the surface.
Munda is located on the southwest coast of New Georgia and offers the chance to dive several wrecks. Kashi Maru is a Japanese freighter that sits at a maximum depth of just 15-metres and offers plenty of interest, including the engine room and cargo holds. Situated in the northwest lagoon of nearby Rendova Island, the Bell P-39 Airacobra and Douglas SBD Dauntless are two shallow plane wrecks which can both be explored on a single dive.
Other nearby sites of interest include the superb coral formations and plentiful pelagic fish of Mbigo Mbigo, off the coast of Vonavona Island, and the WWII Toa Maru wreck on the north side of Ghizo Island.
Diving Central Province
The Central Province of the Solomon Islands is made up of the Russell Islands and the Florida Islands, both of which offer some sensational scuba diving. Situated northeast of Guadalcanal, the Russell Islands offer several iconic dive sites, including Mirror Pond, Custom Caves, and the Ann Wreck. In the north of this island group, divers can also explore Leru Cut. This 12-metre deep canyon penetrates almost 100-metres into the interior of the island, offering breathtaking scenery as sunlight penetrates through the canopy of trees and into the gully.
In the east, just off Hai Island, lies a unique artificial reef. At the end of WWII, a US military base – code named White Beach – dumped large amounts of gear into the sea, including trucks, jeeps, tractors, bulldozers, and various munitions. Today, this spot delights both wreck divers and macro enthusiasts alike. Mary Island, also known as Mborokua, lies a little to the west of the main group and is renowned for its enormous schools of jacks and barracuda, with the most famous site justifiably named Barracuda Point.
The Florida Islands lie due north of Guadalcanal and are probably best known for a dive site called Devil’s Highway, where strong currents can attract a dozen or so manta rays at a time. Located in the south of the Florida Islands, Twin Tunnels is another of the Solomon Islands’ signature dives. Here, divers can enter two huge vertical large lava tubes, measuring over 100-metres in diameter, and emerge from the wall at a depth of 37-metres, overlooking the deep blue. Mbike Island and Simon’s Nature Reserve are two other popular dive spots situated within the Florida Islands.
Wreck diving in Iron Bottom Sound
Following WWII, so many wrecks littered the sea bed between Guadalcanal and the Florida Islands, that the entire body of water was renamed Iron Bottom Sound. Incredibly, it’s believed more than 100 ships and over 1,000 planes were lost to the sea in this area alone – though only around 50 of these are accessible to divers, and even fewer lie within recreational depths.
Three of the most commonly explored wrecks in the area are the shore dives of Hirokawa Maru, Kinugawa Maru, and Kysyu Maru – also known as the Ruinin Wreck. Located around Bonegi Beach, not far from Honiara, these dive sites are also often referred to as Bonegi 1, Bonegi 2, and Bonegi 3 respectively. All three of these vessels measure over 130-metres in length and begin at, or just below, the surface offering plenty of interest for less experienced divers. Also located along this stretch of Guadalcanal’s coastline is the wreckage of a 98-metre Japanese I-1 submarine and a Boeing B-17E bomber.
Other, deeper wrecks within Iron Bottom Sound include the HMNZS Moa, USS Kanawha, USS John Penn, USS Atlanta, and the USS Minneapolis, to name just a few.
Reef, wreck, seamount
Beginner to advanced/technical
5 - 40m+
10 - 30m
27 - 30°C
- Some rules in the Solomon Islands may seem strict to foreigners. For example, swearing is considered a crime and can lead to prosecution.
- Travellers should dress modestly while visitiang the Solomon Islands and certain sites may only be visited by men.
About the Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands is made up of two parallel island chains that lie due east of Papua New Guinea, forming the southeast point of the Coral Triangle. Stretching over a thousand kilometres, this archipelago comprises 992 individual islands – only around 150 of which are inhabited – including the six major islands of Guadalcanal, Malaita, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, Makira and Choiseul. The nation's six provinces are roughly grouped around these main islands, with the exception of Central Province, which covers a section of smaller islands and islets.
Home to around 500,000 people, the population of the Solomon Islands is predominantly Melanasian, alongside people from Polynesia and Micronesia. And, while Christianity has certainly shaped contemporary life in the country, the traditional lifestyles of local people are held in high regard to this day. As a result, many cultural practices have endured, creating an interesting amalgamation of customs considered symbolic of the Solomon Islands. These islands are a dream-come-true for adventurous travellers that venture beyond the villages and towns, offering hikes up active volcanoes, dolphin watching in mirror-like lagoons, and a vast number of WWII relics to explore.
The Solomon Islands’ only international airport is located in Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal. Direct flights to Honiara operate several times a week from Brisbane, Australia, as well as Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Nadi in Fiji. Once in the Solomon Islands, the easiest way to get around the archipelago is via domestic flight. Honiara and Gizo are the two main points of departure for liveaboards in the Solomon Islands. Domestic flights from Honiara to Gizo operate daily and take around an hour and a half. Ferries do operate between some of the islands in the archipelago, though many visitors enjoy the experience of a scenic, low-altitude flight.
Where to stay
The Solomon Islands’ tourism industry is still very much in its infancy, meaning there is a limited selection of accommodation on offer. For divers, the Western Province, Central Province, and Guadalcanal Province are by far the biggest attractions. In these regions, visitors will find a reasonable array of hotels and guesthouses located within the city of Honiara, and the towns of Munda and Gizo. Elsewhere, accommodation is few and far between, with the odd resort or lodge secluded amongst the scenery.
With several distinct destinations worth exploring, and limited tourist infrastructure on land, many divers opt for a liveaboard itinerary when visiting the Solomon Islands. Typically, itineraries exploring the Central Province and Iron Bottom Sound will depart from Honiara, while those exploring the Western Province will depart from Gizo.
Thanks to their consistently warm and tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 27°C, the Solomon Islands are a fantastic place to visit throughout the year. Northwest monsoonal winds blow between December and March, which brings slightly hotter and more humid weather. This is also when most regions see the majority of their rainfall. Between May and October, during the southeast monsoon, temperatures drop by a couple of degrees and the nation experiences stronger and more persistent winds. Having travelled across the ocean, these winds can also carry plenty of moisture, causing periodic heavy rainfalls, particularly on the windward side of the islands. Generally, the transitional months between the two monsoons offer a greater chance of calm winds.
When it comes to diving, these islands are fantastic at any time of year, with water temperatures ranging between 27-30°C. Divers can expect a little more turbulence above the waves during the southeast monsoon, though this rarely has much impact on the overall enjoyment.