Solomon Islands, South Pacific

November 2006

Australia, South Pacific and the Solomon Islands

In November 2006 I was fortunate enough to take a four week trip to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. While my main reason for going was to dive some of the World War II wrecks lying in "Iron Bottom Sound," my friends and I would also spend some time diving the fabulous reefs of the Solomons. All together there were six of us: Karen Flynn, Charles "Yoda" Richardson, Matt Walters, Mike Boyle, Wynn McCloskey and myself. The first nine days were spent diving out of Tulagi with Neil Yates, owner and operator of "Tulagi Dive"--surely one of the best "technical" dive shops I've seen anywhere in the Pacific.tulagidive.com.sb Here we dived some fantastic WWII shipwrecks, including what has to be the crown jewel of wreck diving in the Solomons, the destroyer USS Aaron Ward. Following this adventure, Matt and I took a quick land tour of Guadalcanal Island before boarding the Spirit of Solomons liveaboard to get an extended tour of the fantastic reef diving available in the area. Meanwhile, Karen and Yoda began their own extended "island hopping wreck tour" up the Solomons chain.

Shipwrecks of Guadalcanal

Reefs and Marine Life

 
Schooling jacks off Mary Island
Cuttlefish, Morovo Lagoon
wreck of the Anne, Morovo Lagoon
Falco Hawkfish in soft coral

The reefs and marine life in the Solomons are simply fabulous. "Variety" might be a good word to describe the diving in this South Pacific island chain, for the dive sites cover a vast gamut of experiences, ranging from high current animal encounters to quiet coral gardens, from steep walls covered in prolific life to reefs teeming with schooling jacks and barracuda.

Guadalcanal and the Wrecks of "Iron Bottom Sound"

The naval, air and ground battles on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons are legendary in World War II history. Quoting the great naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison from Volume V of his History of United States Naval Operations in World War II: The Struggle for Guadalcanal:

"For us who were there, or whose friends were there, Guadalcanal is not a name but an emotion, recalling desperate fights in the air, furious night naval battles, frantic work at supply or construction, savage fighting in the sodden jungle, nights broken by screaming bombs and deafening explosions of naval shells."

Shipwreck images from "Iron Bottom Sound" can be found in an extended version of the article "The World War II Wrecks of Guadalcanal." Shipwrecks of Guadalcanal This article was originally published in Issue 12 of Wreck Diving Magazine--whose homepage can be found atwreck diving magazine

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