-------------------and now--------------THE DIVING!!
When I first started diving in Solomons in 1990 after 14 years of diving exclusively in Hawaii, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the proliferation of marine life that surrounded me on virtually every dive. It brought new meaning for me to the term "sensory overload". I very quickly became addicted to the sheer drop-offs enticing me to forbidden depths, to gray reef sharks ever patrolling the edges of the reefs, the pugnacious anemone fish guarding their eggs and anemone hosts from danger; to delicate, fairy like shrimps hiding on certain corals, to schools of big-eye jacks so thick it was difficult to see water through them. Not to mention the sheer joy of being able to shed my wet suit and feel the warm water on my skin- much of the time I dove in just my bathing suit; on rainy days a shorty or a Polartec skin were more than adequate.
But I digress- let me save these descriptions for the dive sites and give you a brief run down on conditions to expect. Our corner of Marovo Lagoon offers everything from the calmest, quietest water you could wish for to more challenging current and occasionally surge dives. We are so situated that we can virtually always find protection from weather on one side of an island or the other. I am in the midst of a whole new ocean cycle learning curve, as the moon phases are considerably more evident in the presence of both currents and wildlife here than in Hawaii.
CURRENTS: Chris Newbert once said "Coming to the Solomons to dive and complaining about the currents is like going to Colorado to ski and complaining because it's snowing!!". I love it. Yes, some of our best big animal/ massive schools of fish dives are subject to everything from mild to raging currents. Currents carry the food that starts the feeding at the base of the food chain, and the rest of the chain congregates in the areas where it tends to concentrate for an easy buffet. Can we put you in for a drift dive?? Sure, and we will- BUT- you will miss, or at best get a small glimpse of one of the best shows on earth. What to do! I strongly recommend that you head for your nearest fishing supply store, buy the biggest stainless steel fish hook they have and the strongest handline. Snip off the sharp tip, tie one end of about 10 ' of line very securely to the hook, and the other to a clip that goes on your BCD! PRESTO!! A reef hook. This allows you to pick a spot in the current where the show is at its peak, hook onto a rock, and ride above the reef without disturbing it and enjoy. If you're a photographer, it frees your hands to concentrate on your art. We will have a few available for rent, but I suggest that you customize one for yourself.
SURGE: This is something we actually deal very little with. When the surf does come up, we can almost always find shelter on the other side of the islands from which it is coming. We sometimes deal with it while doing our safety stops on top of a point, which are invariably an entirely different ecosystem from that over the edge where we have spent the bulk of our dive. Should you choose not to deal with it, you can always move out into the blue for your safety stop.
WATER TEMPERATURE: AHHHHHHHH! After 30 years of Hawaii winter waters, I find I deal with the Solomons' huge sauna very easily. Water temps generally range from 82F (27 C) to 86 F (29 C); I generally dive in just a bathing suit, occasionally donning a polartec or a shorty after several consecutive dives or if the day is cloudy and or windy. I have, on occasion, experienced water temps in the upper 70's, and once in awhile on a deep dive dip into a colder upwelling.
VISIBILITY: Like the Galapagos, because of the rich planktonic life that supports the wondrous variety of larger marine life, the visibility can vary quite widely with the site, terrain, currents, and upwellings. Within a single dive it is possible to go from crystal blue vis well in excess of 100 feet to 50 feet in a planktonic bloom. Bottom line, always keep in mind that what divers often refer to as "poor vis" is in reality a rich buffet that supports what they came to see!
I feel privileged to be diving in areas where I know noone has been before. It is a very special feeling. When Allan and I were there in March on holiday, our specific quest was to dive as many new and varied sites as possible. It will take a lifetime and then some to exhaust all of our options.
There are 3 islands that sit just north and east of Peava. Male Male is the closest, Mbulo the biggest, and Kicha the smallest and furthest. Across the bay to the northwest lies the tiny, picturesque islet of Dovelei. Combine the shores of these 4 islands with the shoreline of Ngatokae itself, endless discovery awaits us. Let me share a few of the sites we have begun to explore with you.