Central Province - November 26 to Dec 3, 2016
We welcome back Kevin and Susan, the Iowa reefers and welcome on board Simon, all the way from the UK for our latest seven day adventure. We are a small but mighty team!
We awoke to find ourselves in Tulagi, having steamed after dinner to the Florida Islands. First dive for our newest explorer Simon (and his first ever wreck dive) was at the Garbage Patch, where he an Mike rummaged around in the WWII and fishing debris to find nudibranch and sweetlips along with the many boats located there. Second up was a first for Simon, with Mavis, his first ever plane wreck. And what a beauty she is. Next up we headed over to Ghavutu where our critter experts, Kevin and Susan were on the hunt for small treasures in the sand. This time they came up with a juvenile blue ribbon eel, while Simon honed in on another first; first cuttlefish! For our final dive of the day we headed to good old Baby Cakes, where Simon found his second cuttlefish and an octopus. What a day he had.
Overnight we steamed to the Russells and began our tour of them at White Beach for a double dive; heaven for macro duo Kevin and Susan. Two octopus, harlequin shrimp, egg laying squid and a host of archer fish were among this week’s finds. Third dive of the day was at Hanasivi Island; The Funnel. Glassfish galore and massive elephant ears make for a relaxing dive along the edge of the postcard perfect island. Next we headed over to crowd favourite, Karamulon Island. Kevin and Susan opted for the sandy entrance to the village which they have nicknamed Raymond’s Front Porch, while Simon and instructor Jax headed out onto the wall. Life was all around in many different forms; sharks, morays, ghost pipefish, conspicuous seas cucumbers and a friendly Maori wrasse. Happy divers. Finally Simon and instructor Mike headed out to Cabbage Patch for a night dive. Chief Raymond’s island kept delivering with a whole variety of marine night time creatures.
An early morning dive on the front porch yielded another ghost pipefish for Susan and Kevin and a white tip for Simon. Then it was time to visit the village, where Simon decided he would like to move in. He fell in love with the place and the people of Karamulon Village, especially Chief Raymond and the kids. The dancers put on an excellent show for our sole explorer. It was almost impossible to drag him away! But the diving must continue, and so it did at Bat Cave. No bats here today, but plenty of big fish hanging around outside, including Spanish mackerel and dogtooth tuna. After lunch we headed for NE Wall on Mane Island where our divers enjoyed a relaxing slow drift along one of the island’s many great sites. For the night dive Mike and Simon headed out into Mane Bay where they found parrotfish sleeping in their mucus bubbles and brokenback shrimp galore as well as a well camouflaged flounder.
The weather was looking rough for Mirror Pond but that didn’t stop us from enjoying Blue Wall on a double dive where we spotted batfish, star puffers, a family of jawfish and some Maori wrasse along with the spectacular scenery of course. We then headed for a staff favourite; Custom Cave, where we found a stingray hiding in the shallows. The cave itself was as spectacular as always with crystal clear waters and amazing sunlight patterning the walls. The weather had us running but what better place to run to than the amazing Karamulon. A new dive site this time at the Karamulon lagoon, where Simon spotted the biggest four painted lobsters ever, and an eagle ray as well as some super cool nudis and a black tip. Mike and Simon ventured to the point for the night dive, where they were treated to a baby cuttlefish, giant nudibranchs and a spectacular display by the flashlight fish.
As if it hadn’t amazed us enough already the point delivered again for the morning dive when over 15 sharks, 200 trevally and 250 barracuda decided to come join the party. What an amazing dive to wake us up in the morning! We head off to world famous Leru Cut next where Jax was happy to discover rockmover wrasse and Simon loved checking out the unusual anemonefish all around the place. Fourth dive of the day was at Ta Island, where Susan and Kevin hung out in the shallows circled by red bass and sweetlips. And then it was back to White Beach (their favourite) for open dive deck. Signal gobies became Simon’s new favourite fish as he joined Kevin and Susan on their quest for small cool stuff! Then it was time to steam off into the sunset (ahhh!) to the Floridas for our final day of diving.
The final day began at Mbeasiri where Kevin was overjoyed with all the little cracks and crevices in the reef for he and Susan to check out. Next up was Switzer which was incredible for the sheer volume of fish life. Simon was in his element watching the 4 giant morays and two mantis shrimp he found, and he loved watching a banded sea krait make its winding way along the reef. Finally we headed to Tanavula for our last dive, where we were surrounded by rainbow runners and Maori wrasse in our swim along the reef top.
What a trip – thank you guys for such a fun week!!