Snorkeling the Solomon Islands!

Snorkeling the vibrant reefs of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are a cluster of beautiful limestone and volcanic islands that we visit on some of our Coral Triangle Adventures snorkeling toursThe Solomon Islands are a NW-SE-oriented chain of islands located east of Papua New Guinea and north of Australia. Born of fire, the mostly volcanic islands were formed when the smaller Solomon Plate slid under the larger Pacific Plate (subduction). As part of the cultural sub-region of Melanesia, people of the Solomons share their origins with people of New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, and New Caledonia. Evidence suggests that some of the earliest settlers arrived in the islands over 40,000 years ago, and that the Austronesian-speaking people who arrived roughly 6,000 years ago are direct ancestors to the present-day people of the Solomon Islands.
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Most of the islands, like few other places in the world, are beautiful examples of quiet, unaffected island life. Many of the villages throughout the islands exist in semi-isolation but are full of vibrant activity. Fishing, the primary source of food is performed by the men while the women tend to the family and home. Smiles are easy to come by, especially from the tireless children. The charm of the people is engaging for sure, and is equal only to the magic of the sea that surrounds them.
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The reefs around the Solomon Islands are some of the healthiest and diverse in the world. The islands define the entire eastern tip of the coral triangle, a geographic term to describe the area that possesses the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity. Each island group showcases a wealth of habitats and the beauty of the islands only add to the pageantry of reef life below. Furthermore, because of its geographical location, the islands have a variety of endemic or range-restricted fishes. White bonnet anemonefish and hybrid butterflyfishes are often a treat to see amongst the thousands of varieties of reef fishes that are common within the Coral Triangle. There is no hesitation when we say that the Solomons Islands continue to wow us each and every time we visit. It is why we keep going back!
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ITINERARY

Route map of the Solomon Islands snorkeling tour for coral triangle adventuresOur snorkeling tour begins and ends in Honiara, Guadancanal, Solomon Islands. Historically, daily flights arrive and depart in afternoon, thus a night in Honiara is not required. Our snorkeling journey takes us to the Russell and Florida Island groups, and Mary Island. Please note that weather plays a significant role in determining the overall itinerary, and that the sample below may change as a result of weather considerations.

Day 1: Honiara / MV Bilikiki
Meals provided: L,D
Arrive in Honiara and transfer to our expedition boat, the M/V Bilikiki. After our boat orientation, we begin our cruise to the Russell Islands. Overnight M/V Bilikiki

Day 2 – 3: Russell Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
The Russell Islands consist of two main islands with dozens of smaller satellite islands. The reef types vary from sheltered, shallow coral gardens to exposed fringing reefs. All of the reef types have several things in common: an amazing diversity and abundance of coral and reef fish. Some of the patches of coral are a mesmerizing cobalt blue while others are electric yellow. It will be obvious why two days is not enough…Overnight M/V Bilikiki

Day 4 – 5: Mary Island
Meals provided: B,L,D
Mary Island, a prehistoric-looking, extinct volcano located in open ocean between the Russell Islands and New Georgia Islands (Morovo Lagoon), provides us with a great opportunity to snorkel over exposed seaward reefs. Though the island does not have a true barrier reef, the fringing reefs, in some places just a few meters from shore, plunge quickly into the depths forming vertical walls that are completely covered with marine life. The reefs will easily capture our attention as we search for tiny nudibranchs or special treats like a species of coral hermit crab known only from the Solomon Islands or the red-spotted blenniella. The reefs are usually visited by large schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracudas, and snappers as well as several different species of sharks. If tides and weather permit, we will night snorkel giving us the rare opportunity to night snorkel along an exposed outer reef. The next day, we continue to take advantage of our access to seaward habitats and take a leisurely cruise around parts of the island before departing this gem in middle of the Solomon Sea. Overnight M/V Bilikiki

Day 6 – 7: Russell Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
We are back to the Russells to spend the next two days snorkeling reefs in a variety of unique settings. Leru Cut is located on a small limestone island. The cut is a fissure, forming a canyon-like feature in the island is about 2 meters (6 ft) wide, meanders into the island for about 40 meters (130 ft), and is about 15 meters (45 ft) deep. The jungle above filters sunlight that creates a surreal snorkeling environment. Some of the highlights are the abundance of lace corals at the entrance and cave-dwelling fish such as sweepers and cardinalfishes. Another of our snorkel sites is White Beach, a code name used by the US military during the war. The water in front of the beach contains a variety of military objects that were abandoned after the war. Though not easy identifiable as anything more than scrap, all of the items are encrusted with life. This is a great spot for invertebrates and unusual fish like pipefishes and scorpionfishes. We will also have the chance to visit a local village to learn about Solomon Island life and may be treated to their mesmerizing cultural dance presentations! Our snorkeling sites are immediately in front of the village, where some of the healthiest communities of soft and hard coral, sea grass, and sand/rubble can be found. Overnight M/V Bilikiki

Day 8 – 10: Florida Islands
Meals provided: B,L,D
The Florida Islands are separated from Guadalcanal by Savo Sound, or Ironbottom Sound as it was called during the war because of the dozens of ships and planes that sank there during the Battle of Guadalcanal. The islands are stunning and the reefs, simply spectacular. We will spend at least one day around Maravaghi Bay where no less than six distinct marine habitats converge into one area. Mangroves, sand flats, coral reef flats, seaward reefs, fast moving channels, and a ship wreck. Sharks, rays, including the chance for manta rays, schools of reef fish like anthias and damsels, cryptic critters like scorpionfishes, amazing coral coverage including all of the usual reef fish associates, and six different species of anemonefishes are here! Maybe a full day isn’t long enough? Some of the other areas we will also visit are postcard-worthy Anuha Island, Petrol Point, and Kombuana Island for a chance to snorkel in a lush sea grass community. Overnight MV Bilikiki

Day 11: International flights
Meals provided: B
Disembark in the morning for our international flight connections.

DEPARTURES

Dec 6 – 16, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: M/V Bilikiki
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7300 USD per person, double occupancy
$9900 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
May 15, 2022: $3500 USD / $4500 single
Aug 15, 2022: $3800 USD / $$4900 single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 11
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (lunch & dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 11)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


Accommodations

MV Bilikiki a vessel we charter for our Coral Triangle Adventure snorkeling toursIn 1989 the steel hull M/V Bilikiki sailed as the first full service luxury live aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands. She was also one of the first in the world to offer private showers and toilets in every cabin. M/V Bilikiki has ten deluxe cabins, all with a double bed below and single above. Meals are buffet style with open air dining on the spacious, well-covered deck. She carries the full complement of safety equipment. Her large size (125 ft /38 m long x 24 ft / 7.3 m wide) and a hull that was built for South Pacific seas are two main reasons why guests from around the world still say that “the Bilikiki” is one of the most spacious and comfortable vessels that they have traveled on. For more information about the M/V Bilikiki click here.

 


DEPARTURES

Dec 6 – 16, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: M/V Bilikiki
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7300 USD per person, double occupancy
$9900 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
May 15, 2022: $3500 USD / $4500 single
Aug 15, 2022: $3800 USD / $$4900 single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 11
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (lunch & dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 11)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


What to Expect and Bring

WHAT TO EXPECT

The Solomon Islands define the border between the South Pacific Ocean and the Solomon Sea. The islands enjoy year round tropical weather with temperatures that average 86º F (30º C). Water temperatures in the area average around 84º F (29º C), though cooler temperatures may be experienced. We recommend at least a full lycra skin to protect against the sun and possible little no-see-um stingies that may float by.

Our village visit will usually take place in the morning when temperatures are a bit cooler, and will not involve any significant walking or hiking around the island. Though they are usually a dry landing, having any type of foot protection that can get wet is recommended.

Please read more about our daily schedule here.

WHAT TO BRING

The following list is a suggestion of things to bring and applies to almost all of our trips (specific items on a particular departure will be noted on the departure information).

-A good fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins. If your equipment is brand new, please try it out in the pool. Determining the fit and function of your equipment in the pool includes doing several laps with all of your equipment on. Doing several snorkel dives is also very beneficial. It is also important to clean your new equipment, especially your mask. Cleaning procedures for your mask include light scrubbing with toothpaste or dishwasher soap to remove the light layer of silicon that is used to preserve the mask during shipping and storage. All areas of the mask, both inside and out, need to be addressed. Doing this greatly reduces the chances of having your mask fog. Not doing this, even when using mask de-fogger, usually results in a fogged mask.

-A wetsuit, rash guard, diveskin, or any type of clothing that can be used for thermal and/or protection form the sun. We suggest bringing a full 3mm wetsuit and some type of core insulation like a vest or shirt made of 1 – 2 mm neoprene (e.g., Lavacore or Sharkskin shirts or vests). These items will not only provide thermal protection but protection from the sun as well. For those who feel that a 3mm suit may be too warm, please consider a full body skin or rash guard to ensure protection from the strong sun. With regards to thermal protection, remember the saying: it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have. One that note…

-Head protection in the form of a wetsuit hood, a cap, or even a bandana. Anything that can keep the sun off of your head is extremely important. It is the most exposed part of our bodies when we are floating on the surface.

-Underwater flashlight for our planned night snorkel. The Solomon Islands have excellent opportunities for night snorkeling and we will take full advantage.

-Biodegradable sunscreen lotion. Okay, this is a tricky suggestion. Even many biodegradable sunscreen lotions have been shown to harm and even kill tiny larvae (baby marine life ranging from fish to all types of invertebrates especially coral). It is fine to wear on land, but we highly discourage the use of sunscreen lotions in the water. Having a full wetsuit or skin will do the job of protection from the sun much better than lotions and the suits also help with thermal protection. It is truly a win-win for everyone and the marine environment.

-Casual, lightweight, tropical clothing
-Sunglasses (and a spare in case you lose your main pair)
-Comfortable footwear such as active sandals (Teva, Keen, Merrell, etc.)
-Hats. We cannot stress the importance of a hat in the tropics!
-All of our boats provide items like shampoo, soap, towels, etc. We bring this up because these items represent added weight and if they leak, less-than-fun times during the unpacking stage of the trip.

Other items that may be considered:
-Lightweight rainwear to protect from the occasional afternoon shower

DEPARTURES

Dec 6 – 16, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: M/V Bilikiki
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7300 USD per person, double occupancy
$9900 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
May 15, 2022: $3500 USD / $4500 single
Aug 15, 2022: $3800 USD / $$4900 single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 11
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (lunch & dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 11)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information


Departures

MV Bilikiki a vessel we charter for our Coral Triangle Adventure snorkeling toursDec 6 – 16, 2022 ←Click to request a booking
Accommodations: M/V Bilikiki
Guides: Lee Goldman, Ethan Daniels
Length: 11 days

Prices and Payment schedule:
$7300 USD per person, double occupancy
$9900 USD per person, single occupancy

Reservation deposit: $500 USD
May 15, 2022: $3500 USD / $4500 single
Aug 15, 2022: $3800 USD / $$4900 single

Tour cost includes:

  • Accommodations on day 1 through day 11
  • All meals on days 2 through 10 (lunch & dinner on day 1 – breakfast on day 11)
  • All internal transfers including international arrival and departure transfers
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • All snorkeling and park fees
  • All gratuities

Tour cost does not include:

  • Round-trip international airfare (Please contact us with recommendations for routes or referrals to any of the several travel agents we currently work with)
  • Additional hotel accommodations and meals as a result of travel outside of the program dates
  • Visa requirements including payments
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • International departure taxes
  • Extra / overweight baggage fees
  • Trip insurance (recommended; (we recommend Travel GuardWorld Nomads, or Travel Insure)
  • DAN insurance (required unless personal insurance program has worldwide emergency evacuation services)
  • Additional accommodations while on tour in the event of flight schedule changes or events of force majeure
  • Any required COVID-19 tests
  • Any required quarantine or flight changes due to a positive COVID-19 result

Cancellation policy:
91 – 150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost; 90 days or less prior to departure: 100% of tour cost. In any event of cancellation we will endeavor to find a replacements. In the case we find replacement guests we may be able to offer a partial refund or may transfer some or all payments to another departure.

Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information

Trip Reports


s pink and white bonnet anemone fish in the Solomon Islands
Snorkeling with hybrids in the Solomon Islands It’s not often that we come across a naturally occurring and rather obvious
black tip reef shark in the Solomon Islands - Coral Triangle Adventures
Solomon Islands Snorkeling Tour, 2016 Trip Report Solomon Islands 2016 trip report. The Solomon Islands never fail to amaze us.
Hybrid butterflyfsh, Solomon Islands
Snorkeling with hybrids in the Solomon Islands We saw several examples of hybrids in our recent trip to the Solomon Islands
Blue-green chromis appear to be kissing but are really fighting during a mating event on the reef
Snorkeling with kissing fish in the Solomon Islands Fish that appear to be kissing are not doing so as a
A beautiful reef scene in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands Snorkeling Solomon Islands snorkeling. I can’t help but thinking that it’s never enough.There is never enough time to
white bonnet anemonefish in the solomon islands
Solomon Islands Snorkeling Tour, July, 2015 Trip Report Ah, the Solomon Islands, still one of my favorite snorkeling destinations. If
Spinner dolphins solomon Islands
Dolphins in the Solomon Islands This article on hunting dolphins in the Solomon Islands (see here) hinted at a potential
marine biodiversity, coral triangle, fishes, coral
Biodiversity and the Coral Triangle, part 1 Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is essentially all of the variety of life in