Don’t you hate it when it rains on a public holiday? Well, Solomon Islands Government certainly do, so much so that they announced a second public holiday just so that everyone could get some Vitamin D on their (second) off day. Australia could learn something from this country!
The resulting 3-day work week left me with no choice but to head across the sea to the Central Islands Province. Given my previous OBM experience, and an unseasonal cyclone, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the journey. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it incredibly calm, but the boat had (plastic) seats!
After two hours we arrived at Maravagi Resort – a series of leaf huts overlooking a turquoise bay. Even before I got out of the boat, I could see several metres below the water to expanse coral beds and a multitude of colourful fish. There was no time to waste before seeing this close up. A mere 5 metres in front of the hotel was an underwater wonderland. Giant clams, big blue starfish, small fish, big fish, tiny fish, many fish. I spent a good hour just in that small 10 metre space.
After a squid lunch (yes, I’m a horrible person), I ventured over a deep, dark, blue channel to another part of the bay. Here I was greeted with a coral wall that stretched from the water’s surface down a good 15 metres. At least that’s as far as I could see….who knows where it really ended. Every metre along that wall was a thriving metropolis of marine life. With so many fish, territorial battles were inevitable, and became a great source of entertainment for this snorkeller.
The next day I ventured to yet another part of the bay and was met with an even more amazing sight. Picture a tropical aquarium, and picture yourself swimming in that aquarium. Then picture an additional 10 million fish being dumped into that aquarium, and you might start to get an idea of what I was seeing. I’m not even exaggerating.
At one point, I was so busy watching dozens of clown fish poking their head out of a single anemone that when I looked up I found myself being totally encircled by a wall of fluorescent yellow fish. Their colours echoed through the water like sunlight reflecting off a crystal chandelier. While being spellbound by this incredible sight, an Eagle Ray just happened to swim by. Five minutes later, a black-tipped reef shark also made an appearance. That’s just how things roll here in Maravagi.
In between all these snorkels, time was spent in a rather challenging manner – reading books on a lounge overlooking the water, taking an afternoon nap in the cooling ocean breeze, chatting with friends, eating various types of animal, and winning at Balderdash.
On the final day, I was determined to squeeze in one more snorkel before heading back to the mainland. I walked out into the water, donned my snorkel mask, and plunged my head under the surface. I got the fright of my life as I had plunged my head into a school of goatfish being herded by four seemingly innocent trevally. I watched as they tightened, spread out, moved left, then right in some sort of beautiful life-sustaining waltz.
I only went about a metre further in the water before I spotted an octopus camouflaging itself against a rock – a rock that also housed a family of three lion fish floating about nonchalantly. I had been in the water all of 10 minutes.
As I left Maravagi with my 529 photos, it’s safe to say my mind is officially blown.