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Dive Review of Spirit of Solomons in
Solomon Islands

Spirit of Solomons, Nov, 2004,

by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA . Report 2189.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bimini, Bonaire, Cozumel, Dominica, Fiji, SE Florida (Home!) Guanaja (Bay Islands, Honduras), Little Cayman, Papua New Guinea, Saba, St. Lucia, St. Vincent.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions NONE
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large, two-tiered, sheltered Camera staging table on dive deck. Two large, rubber coated tables for more extensive camera work in salon.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments DIVE DECK: Just behind the bow, the covered dive staging area is quite roomy.
SALON: Just aft, through a hatch, is the salon with two very large, rubber coated tables, two extensive charging stations (120 and 240 volts) and walls lines with reference books. Each diver was offered the use of a plastic basket in which to keep camera/battery/computer supplies.
DINING AREA:At the rear of the boats middle deck is a large, covered dining area with tables for 6, each outfitted with plastic stack chairs. The open sides are fitted with roll-down plastic sheets for inclement or windy weather. This is a delightful area for eating or just hanging out and reading. It was never too hot, and featured two very popular hammocks for snoozing at the stern. Excellent, varied and abundant food served buffet style.
CABINS: Mine was one of the four single-occupancy cabins, below decks all the way forward. It was tiny, right in the bow, but with adequate storage space and a sink. The 4 single cabins share two toilets and 3 showers.
DIVE PROCEDURE:
SCHEDULE: 7:00am-breakfast, 8:00am-Dive 1, 11:00am-Dive 2, 12:30pm lunch, 2:00pm-dive 3, 5:00pm-dive 4, 7:00pm Dinner, 8:30 or later-night dive.
RULES:Nitrox users need to analyze their tank before each dive and record the information on a clipboard, along with max depth after the dive. No restrictions of any kind on diving.A board with two rows of hooks, one for on board and the other row for diving holds tags with each divers name and tank number. An extensive, detailed chalkboard briefing is offered before each dive, with every conceivable contingency accounted for and detailed notes on what to find and where to find it.
ENTRY/EXIT: Divers gear carried to tinnies (sturdy aluminum dinghys). Divers cameras carefully carried on board. Divers board the tinnies. Once underway, one of the divemasters helps each diver into her/his gear. Divers backroll in unison. Two tinnies are always in the water, with one always hovering about the dive site available within seconds when divers surface. Fins are handed up, but not gear (unless so desired). The ladder is a bit challenging, with no substantial handhold topside on the right side, but the learning curve is shallow. Divers are helped to their seats and their tanks slotted in the benches for the ride back to the boat, where divers exit, leaving the crew to haul the gear back on board the spirit and fill tanks for the next dive.
STAFF: Grant and Sonia, boat managers and dive masters are a wonder. Either, or, in most cases, both of them dive every dive, finding lots of goodies and video-taping the dive. Their enthusiasm is very evident. They also have a really great camaraderie with the rest of the crew and treat them as equals rather than employees.
THE DIVING: Unbelievable. This has to be the coral capital of the world. I was blown away by the amazing abundance, diversity and health of the corals, both hard and soft. There were often huge fields of coral, every inch packed with healthy polyps, stretching away as far as the eye could see. Sea fans the size of garage doors. I noticed next to no bleaching.
Fish life was equally stunning, especially in numbers. It was common to come across a veritable river of fish, say 1,000 yellow tails, flowing past for minutes on end. Tornadoes of Chevron barracuda. Cumulous clouds of anthias in every color. Bait fish balls descending like fog. Moorish idols, surgeon fish and all manner of butterfly fish constantly cruising by in pairs or groups. Pyramid Butterflies by the dozens along the walls. Countless anemones of all types with their attendant clown fish. Many encounters with dreamily hovering lionfish, often in pairs, once in a group of five! We found one baby lionfish with a body the side of a lima bean! Bumphead ballets with dozens of the lumbering giants expelling huge clouds of fish poop J . I had an amazing encounter with a small (15-20 foot) whale shark, apparently only the second spotted in years in the area. A manta ray made a fly-by on one dive. White tip, grey, and black tip sharks made numerous appearances. Three crocodile fish sightings, one jet black!
Exotica abounded. A robust pipe fish ( I still swear it was a leaf!) showed up. Scores of nudibranchs in a dozen or more varieties, including doormat size. Lots of gobies guarding their shrimp companions work. Blennies of all types. Hawkfish, Banded Pipefish, pajama cardinalfish, razorfish, pygmie seahorses. Night dives featureed slipper lobsters, hermit crabs, decorator crabs, regular crabs and the evil but strangely beautiful crowns-of-thorns.
Reef structures ranged from sheer walls (often at the perimeter of islands) to pinnacles to gently sloping. The famous Leru Cut is a huge split in the rock which affords breathtaking lighting with shafts of sunlight piercing the depths and an opportunity to surface in the midst of the jungle. Another dive, Mirror Pond, also offers a forest surfacing and the chance to get a great over/under photo (or up to the canopy from below the surface as I got). There were some beach dives and a couple of wrecks. There was not one dud among the 56 dives I did and some, especially in the Morovo Lagoon area, Ill never forget.
TOPSIDE: Village visits are a treat with wood carvings and interaction with generally shy, gentle, welcoming villagers.
ETC: Most of the nights were spent anchored in very quiet or flat calm lagoons. Wed wake up to spectacular island scenery. Only four lengthy steams, those out and back between island groups and only one of those somewhat rough. If youre in the bow as I was, you may find it difficult to sleep in rough seas and if youre prone to mal de mer, as I thankfully am not, so far, youll want to bring the Bonine!
All in all, an amazing trip.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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