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Dive Review of Uepi Island Resort in
Solomon Islands/Marovo Lagoon

Uepi Island Resort: "Good diving at a good place to get away from it all", Jul, 2019,

by Tim Helble, MD, US ( 1 report). Report 11023.

Photos Submitted with this Report


Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I have done two 10-day trips in the Solomon Islands on Bilikiki, and wanted to dive another location on Morovo Lagoon for more than just one day, as my favorite sites on the Bilikiki trips were Kicha and Bulo Islands. The corals at Kicha and Mbulo are mind-blowing in their diversity, color, and spatial coverage. Anyone who says they’ve seen great corals in the Caribbean has no idea what they’re missing.

Anyway, last year I happened to be on a Solomon Airlines puddle-jumper flight that had to make a quick stop at the Seghe Airport. Several individuals boarded the plane after diving for almost two weeks at Uepi Island Resort. I asked them how the diving was and they said it was “unsurpassed,” so I set a goal to dive Uepi the next year.

Just the puddle jumper flight from Honiara is an experience in itself. Seasoned Australian pilots flying 1970’s vintage De Haviland Twin Otters fly you across the cloud-studded, blue tropical waters of the Solomon Islands. The views are stunning. You land on a grass runway in Seghe (rumor has it that it will be paved soon), where you are greeted by a friendly resort employee who takes you by fast motorboat to Uepi Island. After a half-hour boat ride, you exit the boat on a dock right in front of the main area of the resort. If you turn around and look down into the water, you can see corals, small sharks and two huge giant clams right below you. This is on the Morovo Lagoon side of the island – the scuba diving mainly takes place on the other (back) side.

The diving setup area is nicely laid out. Each diver takes over one of several setup areas around the perimeter of a covered room. Each setup area consists of a few shelves and hooks for hanging gear. There is lots of space between each setup area, so nobody ever gets in each other’s way. A nice addition would be a small stool at each “island” to sit on when you’re putting on your booties etc. Once you’ve set up your tank/BC/reg, the staff takes care of hauling it out to the boat each day. There is a fresh water shower and separate tanks for cameras and gear rinse. The camera tank has a hard cement bottom, so you have to set your camera in there gently. There is no camera table as such – you have to bring your camera from your room for each dive. Our room had a lot of counter space to the right of the kitchenette sink which served as my camera table. There were also a couple Australian-type sockets there for charging.

The rooms were nice – we’re easy to please – they had all the things we needed. There is no hot water – so you take showers with water at “ambient” temperature. There is a thatch covered area outside each room, where you eat lunch that is brought to you. The covering was nice to have, as it rained quite a bit while we were there even though it was supposed to be the driest time of the year. It rained quite a bit on my July 2018 Bilikiki trip, and there was a full-bore, off-season cyclone just prior to my July 2015 Bilikiki trip, so perhaps climate change is affecting this area.

Generally, Uepi Island Resort has two single-tank boat dives each day, one after breakfast at 9 a.m. and the second after lunch at 2 or 3 p.m. depending on when tide conditions are best. You can pay for extra guided dives if you want and staff is available. Be aware that the resort “controls” the dive sites around Uepi Island, but if you dive a site that is considered to be part of another island, there is a surcharge or “tribute” that the resort pays to the chief of that island. Sometimes they take you to one of those sites and you don’t realize it will cost you extra until you see the surcharge on your final bill. It’s not that much – maybe 5 to 20 AUD, so we didn’t think it was a big deal. One such “off-island” site is called Charapoana, or just “Chara” for short, which is across the channel from Uepi Island. In my opinion, the Chara side of the passage is probably not as good as the Uepi Island side of the passage, which is called Uepi Point. Uepi Point has more things (e.g., fans) that you can put in the foreground of your photos.

Boat trips are very short – the favorite of many divers here – Uepi Point, is only about two minutes away from the dock. Uepi Point is situated at an entrance to Marovo Lagoon between Uepi and Charapoana Islands. Here, huge schools of multiple types of large and small fish sprinkled with a few sharks hang out, waiting for their next meal to drift through the passage. All you do is follow the guide down to about 90 feet and hunker down for 10-15 minutes and watch the action.

The dive briefings were short and to the point. One was the shortest dive briefing I’ve ever heard. The geared-up guide just hoisted himself up to the edge of boat, put his hand on his mask, and said “follow me.”

Several dive sites are on the north or back side of Uepi Island, which only involves a few more minutes of boat ride. The seas always seemed pretty calm, as there are other islands further out which break up the swells. The back side of Uepi is basically a wall dive with some nice corals in the shallows. However, having been jaded by my Bilikiki trips, I never felt that the corals were as quite good as at Kicha, Mbulo, or even Mirror Pond in the Russel Islands. Munda has a few sites (e.g., Mbigo Mbigo) where the corals are slightly better in my opinion. Nonetheless, the wall on the backside of Uepi is a great dive – sharks are common and smaller fish are somewhat plentiful (but not abundant). There is one site named Roma, off neighboring Avavasa Island to the west, which has very nice hard corals. However, I didn’t notice very many fish there, which made it hard to find good photo compositions. Maybe it was just a timing problem.

Which brings up one downside to our trip – we apparently timed our trip during a period of the year – late June/early July -- when the tide isn’t really flushing in and out of the lagoon very much. Hence, the visibility at my favorite location, Uepi Point, wasn’t that good – maybe 50-60 feet. The huge fish schools would be especially stunning when you catch them at a good incoming tide, which would bring vis up to 100 feet or more. The wall dives we did on the backside of Uepi Island and our Roma dive usually had visibility of about 100 feet or more.

A big upside for our trip were owners Grand and Jill Kelly. They helped us on little things that made the trip special. I was having difficulty with my Olympus OMD-EM1 camera basically locking up while underwater. Apparently, the camera body wasn’t communicating properly with my lenses. Grant suggested that I clean the contacts on the camera housing and the lens and presto, no more troubles. If you have any problem with some aspect of your stay, you just let Grant or Jill know and they promptly took care of it. Also, if you tell the dive guide you want to go to a specific site, there's a good chance they'll take you there.
Websites Uepi Island Resort   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Australia, Maldives, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, Sea of Cortez, California, Puget Sound, North Carolina, Florida, Saba, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Cozumel, Roatan, Dominica, Bonaire, Belize, San Benitos (Baja CA)
Closest Airport Seghe Getting There Twin Otter flight from Honiara, grass runway.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 84-86°F / 29-30°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions All dives are guided, but you don't have to stick with the guide.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available?

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments I didn't mind lugging my camera back and forth from my room, but some photographers with big SLR rigs might like it if there was a camera table with charging outlets in a lockable room next to the dive setup area, especially if their cabana is one of the farther away ones.
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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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