NEW: Live availability - see below
Solomon Island Dive Expeditions is the newest scuba diving live-aboard operator in the South Pacific. Based out of Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, divers are offered set schedule and custom dive adventures on board their 30m dive vessel, Taka, also known as Solomons PNG Master.
Solomon Islands includes over 990 islands spread between the south end of Papua New Guinea and arching down to Vanuatu. With so many islands, it is not a surprise that Solomons offers incredible diversity both above and below water. Itineraries range from 2 to 10 days and include the Florida Islands, Russell Islands and Marovo Lagoon. Iconic dives such as Leru Cut, Custom Cave, Kicha and Mbseari Wall are on the itinerary as are a mind boggling array of WWII wrecks. The marine biodiversity is incredible and the health of the reefs is second to none. Best of all, Solomons is a year round dive destination.
The "Taka" became part of the Master Liveaboards fleet in 2018 and now also runs under "Solomons PNG Master". This 30m vessel with 3 decks, offers ample space inside and out for you or your team. Taka/Solomons PNG Master is equipped with 13 cabins accommodating up to 26 guests and a crew of 12 including your dive team, skipper, boat crew and chefs. There are four cabin classes onboard divided by the Master Suite and Deluxe cabins on the upper deck, and Standard cabins on the lower deck.
The Master Suite is the largest cabin and is located on the upper deck. This spacious suite has a double bed, private sitting area, lots of storage and a full ensuite.
Deluxe cabins, also located on the upper deck are spacious and feature a double bed with a twin bunk above (note: cabin 1 is fitted with two twin bunks only) and are suited towards a couple or buddy team. Each cabin has a small seating area, ample storage and a full ensuite bathroom.
Standard cabins, found on the lower deck each have two twin bunks (note: cabin 7 has a double and a twin) and are best suited towards more economy travellers. 5 bathrooms equipped with toilet, sink and shower are shared.
Meals are served buffet style and the chef offers a combination of local and international foods. Healthy, fresh and abundant are the themes from the kitchen. A wide variety of snacks along with coffee, tea, and bush-lime juice are always on offer. Three warm and hearty meals are served daily and snacks are always ample.The menu will include a selection of local vegetables, pork, beef, fresh fish (often caught right off the boat), chicken, pasta, rice, homemade bread, scones, biscuits and of course, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and all the usual condiments to complete the meal. A sample menu is available here.
Galley staff are also prepared to assist with special menu requirements, but it is best to provide us with plenty of advance notification of special dietary requests, to ensure that arrangements can be made and supplies obtained. The ship is fully stocked with spirits, beer and wine as well as soft drinks, for an additional fee.
Other indoor spaces include a huge dining area and lounge with dedicated spaces for photographers camera gear and charging. Two large screen TVs are in place for divers to share their photos and video. Outside you can relax on the covered seating deck or head up to the observation area and lounge in a hammock as the islands go by.
If you need a few minutes to recharge from diving, you will have the opportunity to visit villages and meet the local people, experience their lifestyle and perhaps buy some local produce or carvings. A fun event is always a swim or a game of footy with the local children. If you like fishing, the crew will gladly take you out for some early morning or evening hand-lining for tuna or wahoo - plan on having your catch for sashimi that evening.
Diving from the Taka/Solomons PNG Master
The huge dive deck has ample room for all divers and has generous storage space, toilets, and is rebreather friendly. Treat yourself to a post dive hot water shower, right on the dive deck! The majority of the diving is done from directly off the deck, as opposed to from skiffs. There is an open dive deck policy which means you can set your own dive schedule. Your only limit is common sense and dive safety. A skiff is in the water at all times to support diver pick up and gear handling and to offer additional comfort and safety. Staff lead most dives, but you are free to explore dive sites at your leisure (within the confines of your training and experience).
‘Valet Diving’ is the norm here; The only time you have to touch your tank is when you’re diving and it’s on your back! Tanks are filled at the end of each dive then rigged for the next one. The crew is trained to expertly handle your tanks and other gear.
Visibility will range from 75 to 125 feet, with occasional sites with much better visibility, some will have dives with visibility less than 75 feet. Visibility is commonly up to 30+m (100') and the water temperature is positively bath-like. Water temperatures range between 28º C - 30º C (82ºF to 85ºF). Many divers find they need a bit more of an exposure suit than they expect, only because they are spending so long in the water every day. Staff wear 5mm full suits but many of the guests find 3mm full suits, shorties or even board shorts plenty warm! Up to 5 dives per day are offered onboard the Taka.
Nitrox is available at $10/fill, or a flat rate is offered if you choose to use it every day of your trip.
Solomon Islands is known, not only for its biodiversity, but also the dive site diversity. You can expect walls, wrecks, bommies, coral gardens, shipwrecks, dumpsites, macro sites, wide angle sites and more; truly something for everyone. From Nudibranchs, Cuttlefish, and sharks, to Pygmy seahorses, Manta rays and schools of Jacks and Barracuda the opportunities are endless, especially for underwater photographers. In some cases visibility may only be 10 or 15 feet, because of all the fish blocking your view!
A range of 2, 3, 7 and 10 night charters are available throughout the Solomon Islands.
The 2 night charters visit the Florida Islands, the scene of the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. You can expect intense fish & coral biodiversity combined with wrecks and WWII history and 75 to 125 foot average visibility.
The 3 night charters visit the Russell Islands, characterized by a series of spectacular steep, coral-covered walls and exceptional visibility. Vivid nudibranchs hide within the coral and several varieties of pipe-fish occur here. Sharks, manta rays and even the occasional saltwater crocodile may be encountered. An exciting cave experience awaits you here too.
The 7 night Central Province Itinerary combines the Florida and Russell Islands, with the addition of Mary Island an exploration of Mbike and Sandfly Passage. This trip is filled with Sharks, mantas and barracuda, walls, wrecks, drifts, caverns, caves as well as Village visits, picnic lunches and WWII exploration.
The 10 night Central & Western Itinerary offers the very best of Solomon Islands Diving with more time in the Florida Islands, Russell Islands, Mary Island and the incredible Marovo Lagoon. Village visits, sharks, manta rays, caves and caverns, fish and coral all in incomparable visibility; it doesn’t get any better than this.
Starting in Spring of 2018, Solomons PNG Master/Taka will start sailing to Papua New Guinea in season. Check below for transition trips, which will cover both destinations.