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Dive Review of MV Taka / PNG Solomon Master in
Solomon Islands

MV Taka / PNG Solomon Master: "Great diving", Sep, 2018,

by Marie Morganez, Zurich, CH ( 1 report with 3 Helpful votes). Report 10521 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We boarded the Taka to a half full boat, for a 10 days trip around the Solomon Islands.

The boat: Dive deck is spacious, although I guess it may feel crowded on a full boat. Camera station, by the dive deck, is small and you may have to invade the dining room tables to set up your equipment, as several guests did. The cameras are handled with extreme care though and the crew makes sure to always protect your camera from the sun while on the tenders. The boat is well maintained, clean, stable. The top deck is nice, with hammocks, it would however benefit from some sort of shade, as it’s impossible to stay in the hammock in full sun without half melting into the hammock itself. The dining room is spacious (again, take my “spacious” comments with the grain of salt that the boat was at half capacity) but has no windows - it can feel claustrophobic to some. Thankfully the weather allowed us to enjoy the lounge deck outside.

The food: it was really good and plentiful! Best liveaboard vegetarian food so far. The non vegetarian guests also seemed happy. Varied buffet options most of the time, sometimes supplies coming from the villagers on their canoe, I always went to bed on a full and satisfied stomach! We had a barbecue night on the upper deck, which was very nice. In hindsight it would have been pleasant to have more dinners on the upper deck outside.

The crew: they are amazing, attentive, really going out of their way to accommodate any diver’s need and we couldn’t have wished for a better crew. It's the best crew hands-down that I have met on a liveaboard so far. They clearly put their heart into their job and their smiles are contagious.

The dive policy: I liked the fact that all buddy teams carry a nautilus (although I guess ideally all divers would have one). Diving groups were split into 3 four-divers group, with a dive leader for each. Entries would be either from the dive deck, live drop or tender. Maximum time was 60 minutes, but was loosely enforced and we did some longer dives. 3 to 4 dives a day, a couple of night or dusk dives offered, looking for (to no avail) the mandarin fish. One night dive took place next to the home of a salt water crocodile, and safety protocols were enforced (tenders cruising and monitoring along the mangrove, safety tips and processes) - ultimately we did not meet the "gecko" but it made for an interesting dive briefing!

The diving: it was amazing, pristine reefs, lots and lots of reef life, caverns, cuts, wrecks, varied and mostly untouched dive sites. It’s even amazing how pristine it is, given the waste management issue you can witness on primarily the main island. Not to blame the people who probably have no other options, but trash is clearly an issue that needs to be tackled by the local government if they want to attract more divers.. Little to no current, aside from one or two washing machine dives. The guides were very good at spotting critters and dive time limit was loosely enforced, which made for amazing dives in the shallows, marveling at endless coral gardens. The coral is so healthy, it is the most preserved site I’ve ever seen. No bleaching that I could see, no damaged coral, endless sea fans, each bigger than the other one. Some dive sites in other part of the world mention “that big sea fan” - these ones were so many it’s impossible to count, and were for the most part bigger than “that big sea fan”. Water temp was about 28 degrees and a 3 mil was perfect. About pelagic: if you’re primarily into big stuff, turning your head left and right to see what next is coming your way, that’s probably not a dive destination for you. While we saw some sharks or turtles on every dive, and overall a couple of mantas and eagle rays, schools of jacks and barracudas, it is not really a big action destination. It may be at other times of the year.

The cabins: not all cabins in a same price category are created equal! We booked an upper deck cabin (nr 1) - yes it was upstairs and had a bathroom, but was the size of a shoe box compared to the other similar cabins (3 to 6), no double bed + bunk, just a bunk, and seriously no storing space for your clothes, or your luggage. We estimate it was about a third smaller than the similarly priced cabins. We ended up living out of our luggage (that we piled up on top of each other) for 10 days. We could not stay the two of us in the cabin when changing or opening the luggage, so one of us had to get out of the cabin or lay on the bed while the other changed. In the other cabins you could easily stand and have space for 4 people (we actually tried). So be aware that if you book cabin 1, you’re the unlucky one who paid a premium for not so much. You’re pretty much better off with a lower deck cabin which is roughly the same size, if you’re willing to share a bathroom (which are on the dive deck by the way), and spare the thousand bucks extra that premium costs. Double bed, one bathroom and lots of space, I’d pay the extra. Just for your own bathroom, probably not.

Overall; an amazing experience and highly recommended operation.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Fiji, French Polynesia, Azores, France, Switzerland, Italy, Mexico, Aruba, Thailand, Tonga, Colombia
Closest Airport Honiara Getting There Flight from Brisbane to Honiara

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 27-29°C / 81-84°F Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility -30 M / -98 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes but loosely enforced
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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