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Dive Review of Solomon Islands Dive Expeditions (SIDE) /MV Taka (SIDE) in
Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Dive Expeditions (SIDE) /MV Taka (SIDE): "Beautiful Diving in the Solomon Sea", Sep, 2016,

by Tim Moore, HI, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 5 Helpful votes). Report 9202 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Aloha,

I had the pleasure of taking part in a 10 day adventure in the Solomon Sea onboard the MV Taka operated by Solomon Islands Dive Expeditions (SIDE). You fly into Honaria (HIR) which you may know better as Henderson field on Guadalcanal. Visit their web site for the full details on the boat. I had been on this boat a few years earlier when it was operating out of Cairns, Australia as MV Taka II. For this trip, we had 4 paying guests on a vessel that can carry 20 with 10-11 crew to look after us. the accommodations were clean and comfortable, food was good with fresh seafood and vegetables being delivered by dugout canoe most evenings. The diving was done both from Taka and a skiff (15-16 ft RIB in our case due to the small group). Warm towels and hot showers when we got back onboard. The briefs were thorough and the diagrams picturesque and reasonably accurate. Mostly walls and clean reefs with many caves, arches and cenotes (underwater cave where you swim in and popup under the jungle. There were a couple of reef hook (provided) dives, but mostly relaxing walls and reef with some larger animals just off the drop offs. We did visit a few of the old WW 2 "garbage dumps" and smaller wrecks which were interesting. I am not much of a macro/muck diver, but one of the other guests was an experienced diver with a penchant for the small things. he was very pleased with the small things he (many times the divemaster) found. I did see a lot of the small colorful critters, but not close to the photos he reviewed after some of the dives. But I think one of the best aspects of this adventure was the attitude and performance of the crew. There were a couple of distractions like the fuel barge breaking down, limiting our range for a couple of days, but it was well handled. Communication between the crew and the guests was very good. We knew what was going on and the plans for tomorrow. Questions and comments were well received and addressed. the best part was their attitude. The crew was relaxed and seemed to be enjoying themselves. that made a significant contribution to my satisfaction with the trip. Now, for the bad. Nothing much to report. This is a mid tier operation that exceeded my expectation. No hot tub and you have to pay for your alcohol. Although I was upgraded to an ensuite cabin (there are twin/quad share options onboard) I found the 5 bathrooms w/shower on the dive deck sufficient until I had to get cleaned up to depart. The value I received for my investment ($$$, time and effort) was also better than I expected. Bottom line, this is one I would like to repeat.
Websites Solomon Islands Dive Expeditions (SIDE)   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean area, all around the pacific rim, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand, japan, bali, new guinea, Solomon islands
Closest Airport Honeria (HIR) Getting There Easy flights, Air Fiji, layover for a few hours in Nadi, Fiji

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 78-84°F / 26-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-75 Ft/ 6-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions recreational limits (130 ft, 1 hour, return reasonably close to your buddy, standard stuff)
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 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments relatively small camera table and no dedicated outside charging station. My gear was handled carefully/respectfully during the diving process with a freshwater soak after every dive. I will caveat my remarks in that there were only 4 paying customers with 2 significant photo rigs (one of them mine) on a boat that carries up to ~20. Things may be a little more hectic with a full boat.
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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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