BY GEORGINA KEKEA
SOLOMON Islands might not be one of the best place to live in the world but it sure has something which Solomon Islanders can be proud of.
In the recent DIVE Travel Awards 2018, Solomon Islands has scooped three awards. Only one was mentioned in Island Sun’s Friday’s edition. It was for the fifth position in the best scuba diving destination in the world.
However, two other awards were also received by Solomon Islands. One was for the Best Dive Centres and Resorts in the World while the other was for the ‘pick for the boats’, the best Liveaboards. In this category, Bilikiki Cruises scooped fourth position, while Uepi Island Resort scooped 10th position for the best best Dive Centres and Resorts in the World.
For the Best Dive Centres and Resorts in the World, Uepi Island resort was described as one of the best resorts in the world. Uepi Point and its near vertical reef corner is coated profusely with corals – especially gorgonian fans and colourful spiky soft corals was described as a MUST see site in Solomon Islands.
DIVE described the 30m coral peninsula that juts out into the deep blue, providing the stage for a spectacular procession of pelagics which turn to hunting and feeding at certain points during the tide, creating a lot of exciting underwater action.
Giant trevally, mackerel, wahoo, rainbow runner, big-eye jacks, dogtooth & smaller tuna, sharks, barracuda and others cruise are said to relentlessly move back and forth waiting for inattentive smaller fish to become their next meal. The explosive sounds and sights of a large number of fish all taking evasive action at the same time fill the water. Families of garden eels, arrays of colourful gobies and a diverse collection of invertebrate life inhabit the sand patches of the shallows. All these are what was described as Uepi island resort, must see locations.
Uepi island resort has six bungalows, two units and two guest rooms. They are said to offer clean and comfortable accommodation with a 26-bed maximum capacity. All the rooms are spaced throughout the resort’s tropical gardens for privacy.
Most of the dive sites are only a few minutes away from the dive centre, dived either from the shore or just a short boat ride away. Uepi island resort is an SSI dive centre and offers the full range of training programs up to divemaster level.
At the same time, Bilikiki cruises that won fourth position in the ‘Liveaboard’ category has been operating in Solomon Islands for 28 years, offering trips from seven to 14 nights around Florida and Russell islands, Marovo lagoon and Mary Islands.
It can take up to 20 guests in the ten air-conditioned ensuite cabins. All trips starts and finishes in Honiara.
The Solomon Islands remains one of the last scuba diving wildernesses, with incredible biodiversity in terms of both the reefs and the critters that inhabit them. The topography varies from the shallow and sheltered coral gardens of the lagoon to vertical drop-offs in an area known as The Slot, stretching 2000m to the sea floor and where passing pelagic species can be spotted. DIVE described Solomon Islands as an area where divers can enjoy the wrecks of WW2. Solomon Islands lies at the southeastern corner of the Coral Triangle and boasts some of the dynamic biodiversity that attracts divers from around the globe in search of everything from tiny hermit crabs that make their homes in the corals, to swirling schools of fish.
The DIVE Travel awards 2018 is an initiative of DIVE Magazine, one of the most popular scuba diving magazine in the world.
The awards won by business operators in Solomon Islands is a boost in the right direction for Solomon Islands tourism sector.