If you ask an experienced dive traveler to name the best places in the world to scuba dive, their answer probably won’t include the Solomon Islands…because they’ve never been there. Before the pandemic, fewer than 25,000 people visited the Solomon Islands each year. The number is even lower these days. 

For perspective:

  • 50,000 people per day visit Disneyland or Sentosa (on average)
  • 25,000 visitors is a peak day at the Eiffel Tower 
  • 3 million tourists visit the Great Barrier Reef each year (pre-pandemic)
  • Fiji received an average of 800,000 visitors per year from 2014 to 2019

The Solomon Islands aren’t just off-the-beaten-path, they’re off the radar, and not because they’re particularly hard to get to. You can fly directly to Honiara, the main city, from Brisbane, Australia and Nadi, Fiji. Sure, the Solomon Islands aren’t as well-connected as the Cayman Islands, but they’re well worth the extra effort, especially if you enjoy liveaboard diving.

solomon islands map

Looking back at the ten years of extensive dive travel I did before the pandemic, the Solomon Islands liveaboard trip remains a favorite. It had a little of everything:

  • Bucket list critters, including frogfish, pygmy seahorses and a mantis shrimp 
  • Unusual flatworms and nudibranchs, some of which we couldn’t find in the ID book
  • Manta ray encounters, at two different dive sites
  • Photogenic caverns, with dramatic beams of light shining down from the surface
  • Colorful reefscapes, covered in kaleidoscopic corals and jewel-like fish
solomon islands reefscape

The surprising things that weren’t on my diving to-do list made the trip extra special.

Things like:

  • Black and white clownfish bouncing around in a strawberry anemone
  • Hearing the rumble of an underwater volcano 
  • Seeing a (small, sleeping) saltwater crocodile
  • Throwing bags of popcorn to excited local kids in dugout canoes

If you’re the sort of person who likes to travel because you love immersing yourself in another world, the Solomon Islands could be the perfect dive destination for you.

The Top 8 (Non-Wreck) Dive Sites in the Solomon Islands

Below are some of the best dive sites in the Solomon Islands that aren’t wreck dives.

1. Devil’s Highway (Florida Islands)

There are two places in the Solomon Islands where you can reliably dive with manta rays. On a good day, you can see up to a dozen of these gentle giants at Devil’s Highway. Whether the dive site is named for the “devil rays” or the strong current, I’m not sure.

2. Leru Cut (Russell Islands)

If you’ve seen a photo that shows diving in the Solomon Islands, it’s probably Leru Cut. You swim through a canyon and emerge in the middle of an island with trees towering overhead, vines dangling down and birds flying above you. It seems strange upon surfacing to be in the middle of an island donned in scuba gear! If you like this site, you’ll love Mirror Pond, too (see below).

a beam of light shines into an underwater cavern

3. Mirror Pond (Russell Islands)

Underwater photographers are spoiled for choice here, whether you decide to shoot wide angle or macro. After swimming under the reef, there is a cave which gives access to a beautiful pool under the canopy of the jungle. Light beams make for impressive images, as do the resident archerfish that fire jets of water to ‘shoot down’ flying insects above the surface!

4. Twin Tunnels (Florida Islands)

The twin lava tubes in this sea mount are just one of this dive site’s many intriguing features. You can choose either tube and swim down to where they meet the reef wall. This is in excess of 30 meters (100 feet), so a deep diving certification is advised. There are massive schools of fish, fan corals with pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, hairy squat lobsters on the barrel sponges, nurse sharks and much, much more.

5. Mborokua/Mary Island

This is a bit of a cheat, as there are multiple dive sites at Mary Island, Barracuda Point being the most famous (the name comes from the large schools of barracuda spotted here). Other wide-angle attractions at Mary Island (also known as Mborokua) include schooling jacks, bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks. You may also hear rumbling from an underwater volcano.

6. Morovo Lagoon (New Georgia Island)

Marovo Lagoon is the largest saltwater lagoon in the world. Its most famous dive site is the manta ray cleaning station, but that’s just one of several stunning dive sites in the area.

7. Battery Point (Florida Islands)

If you are making the journey to the Solomon Islands then it would be a shame to leave without making at least one night dive. After the sun has set, this site is alive with a plethora of critters, from bobbit worms, nudibranch, and cuttlefish through to rays and hunting squid.

8. Mbulo Caves (Mbulo Island)

This easy-to-access series of caves and caverns make for some fun and intriguing topographies. Take your time and enjoy the sun’s rays and the tree canopy visible above.

a manta ray at a cleaning station in the solomon islands

Solomon Islands Wreck Diving

If you’re a wreck diving or WWII enthusiast, the Solomon Islands are a must-visit destination. The Battle of Guadalcanal was an important turning point for the Allied forces, and there are historical sites both above and below water, including war memorials and museums, abandoned American Stuart tanks and fighter planes from both sides.

Solomon Islands Ironbottom Sound Shipwreck map
NOTE: Some wreck positions are not exactly known
By User: W.wolny, uploaded from German wikipedia by Vvulto; new version uploaded by Cobatfor,
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33710825

Here are three more Solomon Islands dive sites that are highly recommended for wreck diving enthusiasts!

9. Bonegi Beach (Guadalcanal Island)

Three Japanese WWII wrecks, The Hirokawa Maru, Kinugawa Maru and Kysyu Maru are all within a 30-minute drive of Honiara (where the main airport is located). All three are shore dives with the top of each wreck just a few meters (about 10 feet) below the surface. 

10. Munda (New Georgia Island)

Most people dive the plane wrecks of Munda from a liveaboard, but you can also take a one-hour flight from Honiara and book with a local dive operator. In addition to the WWII wrecks, there are colorful coral gardens and plentiful marine life.

11. White Beach (Russell Islands)

Unlike other dive sites in the Solomon Islands, the name of White Beach does not describe the site. In fact, there is no white beach here at all! “White Beach” was the code name for the WWII American military base located nearby. When the US troops departed from the region, they pushed everything they had into the water, so if you like wrecks and taking a dive into WWII history, this site is for you.

a scuba diver hovers near a plane wreck in the solomon islands

The Best Time to Dive the Solomon Islands

Diving is good year-round in the Solomon Islands, even during the rainy season (Jan-Mar). Water temperatures are consistently 27-31°C/81-88°F and visibility averages 15 meters/50 feet. When I visited (in August) visibility was nearly always 18m/60ft or better. 

The experts at PADI Travel can help you plan the perfect wreck diving or WWII history trip to the Solomon Islands. For a more diverse diving experience (not to mention perspective-changing village visits), I highly recommend a liveaboard, even if you’ve never done one before. 

Go Deeper…

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