Deep Blue South

Dive the undived, paddle the unvisited, and otherwise indulge your Pacific island fantasies

Sep 18, 2001
Outside Magazine

Solomon Islands Diving
After the recently launched Solomon Island Aggressor logged 295 nautical miles charting 30 new scuba-diving sites, it became clear that the starring attraction of the Solomons's remote Western Province is...bait balls. These roiling masses of grunts, jacks, and mackerel are frenzied fish parties crashed by assorted billfish, devilfish, dogfish tuna, bumphead wrasses, and reef sharks, all fearless in the presence of the rare diver.

The 107-foot Aggressor, a 16-passenger yacht based in the Solomons just four months a year, aims to ensure that humans feel as relaxed as the fish. The nine-member crew includes a chef with a penchant for gourmet twists on regional cuisine (the cassava with marinated steak is delicious). Carpeted staterooms have private baths, air conditioning, and queen-sized beds or twin lofts. There's a photo center, video library, six-person hot tub, GPS system with Loran C, and safety equipment with integrated nitrox and oxygen capabilities.
July through November, the Aggressor makes seven-day sojourns that explore the geothermal hot spot of Vella Lavella Island, 629 square kilometers of forest, fumaroles, and dormant volcanoes with a coast inhabited by porpoises, sharks, rays, bait balls aplenty, and vast populations of clownfish, cowries, and soft coral. Also on the itinerary are visits with the islanders; a look at topside World War II sites in Guadalcana's capital city of Honiara; and a stay in Gizo in the New Georgias, renowned for radical walls, wrecks, and offshore Plum Pudding Island, where a marooned John F. Kennedy and his IPT-109 crew spent ten long days.

Weekly charters are $2,695 per person (experienced divers only), double occupancy, including meals, diving, three hotel nights, a two-tank Gizo dive, and a tour of Honiara. Contact 800.344.5662.

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