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Dive Review of SIDE in
Solomon Islands

SIDE: "Solomon Islands on SIDE Liveaboard", Aug, 2015,

by BRUCE VERSTEEGH, TX, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 8820.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We had a mixed experience on the Solomon Star. We had a great group (Americans, Aussies, Brazilians) - 10 divers total. The boat shows her age - and would be crowded if all 16 passengers were on the charter (SIDE recently put a new boat in service - may fix some issues). Camera workspace is limited as well - and dedicated camera rinse tanks were not provided. Food was plentiful and good, and mainly western dishes. Honor system for beverages - could bring your own liquor if so inclined. We booked a 10 day itinerary that was supposed to go from Honaira to Morovo Lagoon and back - but the boat had been damaged a couple weeks earlier; so we spent the first 2 days diving close to Honaira while the boat was repaired. And rough seas prevented the trip to Morovo lagoon - the signature area for the trip. So we spent time in the Florida and Mary Islands. Mirror Pond was the signature dive (incredible lighting), also did some nice wrecks that were very deep (3 100 ft + dives in one day. The cruise director worked hard to keep everyone happy with all the itinerary changes, and overall provided a good experience. She was the only dive guide and not a critter spotter - so if you are going for photography; you were on your own to find the critters. Lots of healthy coral - but not a lot of tropical fish (compared to Indonesia or Philippines). Did see a nice school of barracuda and Jacks on one dive, and a few sharks in the distance. In summary - was an OK cruise; hard to rate the Solomon's overall as we didn't get to signature areas. The areas we dove were not as good as Komodo or Raja Ampat - much less fish quantity and diversity. Also - Solomon Air limits weight in carry ons to 15 lbs and charges for checked bags over 40 pounds. So we had 200 dollars extra cost for camera gear.
Websites SIDE   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia (North Sulawesi, Komodo, Raja Ampat), Fiji, Philippines, Cozumel, Bonaire, Grand Turk, Cayman, Flower Gardens, Fl Keys
Closest Airport Honaira Getting There through Brisbane Australia or Nadi Fiji. One of guests bags were lost in Nadi - took a week to catch up with the boat

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp -°F / -°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-100 Ft/ 12-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions strictly enforced dive times - 60 minutes max. Did some very deep wreck dives 145 feet max depth
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Overall disappointed with photographic opportunities on the trip. Enjoyed some wreck diving - but depth limited available light so difficult to get nice wide angle shots. Mirror Pond was one of my all time favorite dives - it is a small salt water pond inside the island reached through a swim through. Incredible lighting with well defined sun rays framed by overhead mangroves - highlight of the trip. Also saw a nice school of Jacks and Barracuda in a ripping current - reef hook required to get anything photographed. There were several dives with anthias and anenome fish, but lots of dives with very few tropical fish. Didn't see an abundance of macro life either - a few shrimp/crabs/pipefish and nudis. Lot's of healthy coral; both hard and soft. Based on areas we dove - not worth the difficulty to get to the Solomon's. Komodo, Raja Ampat, and Anilao offer superior photographic destinations.
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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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