GUEST ARTICLE: The airports in Solomon Islands may be very basic but they’re a gateway to places like the world used to be. The atmosphere was beautifully tranquil, and the scenery breathtaking and snorkeling in the warm waters revealed an amazing array of sea life.
The flight from Brisbane, Australia to Honiara, Solomons was pretty short and only took us about 3 hours. When we stepped off the plane we were overcome with the intense heat and humidity. The International Airport was one of the smallest we’ve been to and equipped with only the bare bone essentials. After going through immigration we made our way to the Domestic Airport, which we found was only a small walk down the road.
Dragging our suitcases in that searing heat along a nicely paved road that soon turned into a dusty gravel one was a shocker (note to self – next time use old luggage!) The Domestic Airport was pretty funny, a mere shack with a few benches and one lone ticketing agent. We soon discovered that the term “Island Time” refers pretty much to all islands. After waiting for an hour and some our little twin engine plane was finally ready, first stop a little place called Seghe.
After about an hour in the air and getting the best aerial view of some pretty breathtaking scenery we started to descend. When we spotted Seghe we were trying to figure out where the runway was and were surprised when we started lining up for a grass field?!
Luckily (but of course) we landed without a hitch and started hauling off our luggage to at the Seghe airport. The ‘airport’ was pretty funny being nothing more than a small shack. Five of us were let off and it wasn’t too long before we were met by a cool looking little Rasta man called Chai. He loaded all of our luggage into a small tinny boat and then we headed to our final destination – Uepi island.
After a 1/2 hr scenic boat ride we arrived at the beautiful little Island of Uepi and its Resort. The whole place looked incredible, lush jungle and water so clear it was like looking into a huge aquarium! The thought of Fantasy Island ran through my mind but instead of being greeted by Tattoo and Mr.Roarke we were met by the very lovely owners Grant and Jill.
They are both Australians who have been running the resort for about almost 30years. Besides ourselves there were 11 other guests. Our bungalow was situated at the very end overlooking the Maravo Lagoon. Seeing as we were literally in the middle of nowhere the bungalow wasn’t the fanciest and equipped with only the bare essentials, no TVs out there! But that was exactly what we were looking for. We were looking for a place like the world used to be. The atmosphere was beautifully tranquil and the scenery breathtaking.
For dinner that night we all met at the main hut and were served all types of delicious fresh seafood and vegetable dishes all done Solomon style. Every dinner was fantastic and varied as were the special lunches that were delivered to our bungalow at lunch. Breakfasts were also great, lots of fresh island fruits and homemade bread and pancakes.
Dinnertime was a great time to get acquainted with all of the other guests who were also there for the same reason – the fantastic snorkeling and diving. Initially we hadn’t actually heard too much about the Solomon Islands but after googling ‘the best snorkeling in the world,’ up popped an enthusiastic diving article that directed us to Uepi Island and before we knew it we were in paradise!
The next morning after breakfast we eagerly went on our first snorkel. After lathering up with sunscreen and putting on our full bodied snorkel suits (which I highly recommend unless you want to fry) we dove in. The water was heavenly and definitely the warmest we’ve ever been in, it literally felt like swimming in a warm bath.
The fish were amazing! We had never seen so many types and of such varied sizes and colors. The most thrilling experience would have to be when we spotted our first sharks (Black Tips about 3-4ft). They are such beautiful stealthy creatures, they were never aggressive but more curious and would sometimes come within feet of us to check us out with their roving eyes – very cool! I think we must have stayed in for 3 hours on that first snorkel, there were just so many wonderful spots to explore around the island.
Every day there was a boat trip organized for the divers and snorkelers to be taken around the island or to other nearby destinations. Uepi is a barrier reef island flanked by the Maravo Lagoon, the longest in the southern hemisphere (if not the world).
On the other side of the island are the great ocean depths and a place they call “The Slot” which has a drop off of 2000m. During one snorkeling expedition while swimming over a field of giant colored sea fans, 5 giant Grey Whaler Sharks (5-6ft) came out of the depths only meters from us. It was such an incredible sight watching how graceful they were and huge!
One day Grant and Jill organized a very special trip for all of us and took us to a nearby village where we got a chance to meet the people of the Vakabo Tribe. It was a wonderful experience and great to interact with some true Solomon Islanders. It was interesting to see that they still live by the land, no TVs there!
They all live in small wooden huts scattered throughout the jungle and the kids have a nice little school accompanied with a big playing field. Some of the resort guests had been there before so this time around they went bearing gifts of books and soccer balls. I hope we get a chance to go back there again one day so we can do the same.
The fishing was also fantastic and we were lucky enough to catch ourselves some barracuda and ocean trout and a few line snappers that I think we’re probably glad we didn’t see! The sunsets were also some of the nicest we’ve seen, rich warm golden hues draping the tropical landscape and the still waters of the Maravo Lagoon…breathtaking.
Our week holiday in the Solomon Islands was a real dream come true. It was so relaxing and full of wonderful memories that we will never forget, we really loved it’s untouched beauty, something that’s hard to find these days. If you you’re an avid snorkel/diver and are looking for an unforgettable trip, this is definitely one not to miss! Find info at www.uepi.com – you won’t regret going.
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking roads less traveled!