The Solomon Islands never fail to amaze us. Every time we visit, now our fourth, we are constantly amazed by the natural beauty and rich history of this South Pacific island group. During our 10-day journey we experienced the beautiful reefs of the Florida and Russell groups, as well as a stop at Mary Island and Morovo Lagoon.
In the Florida Islands, we snorkeled in Maravaghi Bay and explored a new area that included an exhilarating swift-moving passage. Maravaghi Bay still ranks up there as one of the best destinations in the Solomon Islands due to the variety of habitats including mangroves, coral reef, sea grass beds, and two wrecks within a relatively small area. Our exploration of a narrow channel was a complete success! With nearly unlimited visibility, we watched life on the reef unfold as we soared over the reefs due to the strong currents in the channel. Though the currents may be hard to predict, our new discovery will certainly be included in our future programs.
Our next destination was the Russell Islands and we made the best of our planned one day before heading up to Morovo Lagoon. We snorkeled two reefs that really showcased the incredible diversity and abundance that the Solomon Islands are known for. Not only did we see almost every variety of anemonefish, including the local species—the white-bonnet anemonefish—we saw the beautifully colored coral hermit crab that ranges throughout the Solomon Islands.
The good weather that produced flat seas allowed us to spend our time snorkeling on some of the reefs that lay outside of Morovo Lagoon, but for our guests clearly the time spent inside with the black-tip reef sharks were the highlight. We also were able to visit several of the famous carving villages where we had the chance to look at and purchase some of the magnificent wood carvings available from the local artists.
Heading back eastward towards the Russell Islands, we stopped at Mary Island a small volcanic island that rises form the deep about midpoint between the Russell group and Morovo Lagoon (New Georgia Islands). The reefs around the island are exposed to oceanic currents and attract a wonderful variety of fish form tiny damsels to large sharks such as grey reef and black-tip. Schools of big-eye jacks, chevron barracuda, and bumphead parrotfish roamed along the shallow reefs that grew along the island. Some of us were even treated to a silvertip cruising along the bottom!
Returning to the Russell Islands we spent our final three days exploring the variety of marine habitats that can be found in the network of jungle-draped islands. Lush fringing reefs that possess a dazzling assemblage of both soft and hard corals, narrow caverns that allow trickles of sunlight inside to offer an eerie, yet spectacular snorkel session, and exposed reefs that seem to have a representative from every species of tropical marine fish that can be found throughout the archipelago. We also were treated to a village visit that included exhibitions of local song, dance, and music.
Local dance in the islands
Coral hermit crab
We cannot wait to return to this amazing part of the world. In 2018, we will visit the Solomon Islands as part of our Melanesian snorkeling tour.