Diving in and around Munda
Our Hammerhead season just started and we already had 7 confirmed sightings. The season runs until the end of April, so be sure to come visit!
The diving in Munda is very special and magical - possibly some of the best sites in the world. Spectacular walls drop off to over 600 meters. Grey, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef sharks routinely patrol, as do Hammerheads. Eagle rays, Dogtooth Tuna, Barracuda and other pelagics are also common. Encounters with any of the species of big sharks and rays are always exciting, and divers who prefer macro subjects will be enthralled by the smaller critters such as Pygmy Seahorses, varieties of Anemone fish, Spiny Lobsters and Fiery Dartfish.
Munda’s reefs are in pristine condition, with lush hard and soft corals and gigantic sea fans. Snorkelers will mesmerized by the extensive, intact coral gardens in the shallows. In addition to the reefs and abundant marine life, Munda’s seabed is littered with wrecks from WWII, with fighter planes, bombers, a Japanese freighter and a recently discovered dump site with tanks. Visibility varies from 15 to 40+ meters. Our wet season tends to begin late December and tapers off in March, although we dive year-round.
For divers who want to extend their bottom times or increase their safety margins, we offer Enriched Air Nitrox fills. Do keep in mind we are in a remote area and Nitrox fills are not always available.
Dive Munda offers in excess of 30 dive sites in and around Munda and the surrounding reefs. We regularly explore and locate new and exciting sites. So keep an eye on our Facebook page for our latest discoveries. Here are some of our favourite sites.
Shark Point is a 20-minute boat ride from the dive shop and is one of Dive Munda's signature sites. Situated at the end of a reef protruding a mile out into the Solomon Sea, it drops off more than 600m and can be dived at any depth from 10m to 60m. Shallower dives here offer pristine corals and large schools of fish, reef sharks and turtles. More experienced divers can venture deeper on the point itself. Species seen here include Grey reef, Black tip, and White tip reef sharks at all depths plus the chance of meeting Great Hammerheads and large Silvertip sharks deeper down. Depending on the time of day and the state of the tide, currents can be strong, but that only brings in more fish! And it's not just about the big fish: drift along on the current and take in the incredible Gorgonian fans, soft corals and whip corals.
Titan Trigger fish lay their eggs in the shallower sandy spots and can be seen darting about protecting their nest from predators. Divers have had some close encounters with this fearless tropical fish!
THE CAVE OF THE KASTOM SHARK
Frequently described as the “Perfect Dive” by our guests. The Cave of the Kastom Shark is a 40 minute boat ride from Munda and is accessed via a very short walk onto the island through the mangroves. The entry is a pool about 2 meters wide, leading down a vertical shaft to two large chambers linked by a narrow tunnel. There is a guide line throughout to help with navigation. After penetrating the cave for about 10 minutes and reaching a maximum depth of 35 meters, divers exit onto a spectacular reef wall where schools of giant Bumphead Parrotfish swim and sharks and turtles are often sighted. There is a chance of encountering the elusive Pygmy Seahorses that have been found here.
There are many potential dangers inherent in diving in an overhead environment, such as silt, disorientation, loss of light, and no direct access to the surface in an emergency. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to the Kastom Shark Cave if they are doing a single day of diving.
For the less experienced diver, we also offer the main exit chamber as an incredibly beautiful alternative to the full tunnel penetration dive. This is an epic cavern dive at 20m, afterwards we continue to dive the amazing cave wall.
We have a policy of taking only experienced divers to the Kastom Shark Cave. We require divers to have logged a minimum of 100 dives plus an Advanced certification (including proof of diving deep and overhead/cave/cavern/wreck penetration or technical diving) and prefer to have accompanied divers on a couple of simpler sites beforehand. Please bring your dive logbook and relevant certifications. GROUP BOOKINGS - PLEASE NOTE WE TAKE NO MORE THAN 6 DIVERS THROUGH THE CAVE AT A TIME
MUSHROOM ISLAND (Tombatuni)
A 25 minute boat ride from Munda, this island is ringed by sheer drop offs of over 500 metres into the blue waters of Blanche Channel. The point can attract big schools of fish, turtles, and passing pelagics. Naturally, the resident sharks (Blacktips, Whitetips, Greys and - deeper down - Silvertips) patrol to keep an eye on their ‘larder’. Turn your back on the passing parade and you’ll see masses of barrel sponges, beautiful soft corals and fans, populated by an array of colourful and hard-to-find critters such as nudibranches, molluscs and crustaceans. Keep an eye out on the blue water though, as migrating Hammerheads can pass by!
Situated off the remote west coast of Rendova Island, the Haipe reefs are in pristine condition and are another signature Dive Munda site. Huge areas of hard corals along the reef-tops play host to swarming schools of colourful small fish and provide a feeding ground for big schools of Bumphead Parrotfish, and we often see turtles. Deeper down, soft corals, fans and sea whips provide a beautiful background for regular encounters with Grey Reef sharks, plus the occasional visit from Silvertip or Hammerhead sharks. Manta rays have been sighted here when the current flows.
For those interested in the smaller stuff there is a dazzling variety of crustaceans, Nudibranchs and molluscs. From June to September, the reefs usually play host to juvenile Grey Reef sharks, with anything up to 60 or so perfectly formed foot-long sharks schooling over the coral!
Near Shark Point is another dive site exposed to the open ocean where pelagics, Spotted Eagle Rays and sharks are always on the menu. A coral reef shelf starts at 25m and drops down to over 40m. Currents are often flowing here and more experienced divers will enjoy the show.
BARRY'S BREAKFAST - A fifteen minute boat ride from the dive shop, Barry's Breakfast is a relaxed dive starting at 25m following along a wall where reef fish, Moray Eels and turtles feed. Pelagics and sharks are often seen out in the blue. We work our way to Susu Hite island, along a shallower reef fringing the island, featuring several varieties of Anemone fish, Crocodile fish, Spiny Lobster and Trumpet fish. Finish the dive in the sandy shallows where hundreds of Garden Eels thrive.
A spectacular wall on the Blanche Channel, featuring massive Gorgonian fan corals, Spotted Eagle Rays, Bumphead Wrass, Napoleon Wrass, Green Moray eels and plenty of Nudibrancs and other smaller critters for the macro lovers. The dive that has it all. A 20 minute boat ride from the dive shop.
This can be a serious shark dive with regular sightings of Bullsharks and Silvertips behaving in an inquisitive fashion. Definitely not for the faint of heart! A pinnacle situated off Ndokendoke island makes for spectacular underwater topography, where the coral encrusted summit starts at 22m and the sides drop down to over 60m. Gorgonian fan corals and a stunning variety of hard and soft corals jostle for space on the rock. Schooling pelagics frequent this area as to Leatherback turtles and Green turtles. Visibility can often exceed 40 meters.
Our favourite night dive spot! - Susu Hite island is a picture-perfect little tropical island and is a popular night dive for its abundant after hours life and easy access of the white sand beach. Catch the Moray Eels out hunting, reef octopi on the prowl, and Spiny Lobsters out in the open searching for their midnight meal.
There are several varieties of Anemone fish found here in the shallows (True & False Clownfish, White-bonnet anemone fish - endemic to PNG & the Solomons - as well as Spinecheek, Clark’s, Pink Skunk, Red & Black, Saddle-back, Orange-fin & Orange Skunk Anemone fish) making this a very popular daytime snorkeler's site just 15 minutes from Munda.
Another Dive Munda wall exposed to Blanche Channel and the deep blue waters of the Solomon Sea. A sensational, healthy reef dropping off to several hundred meters. Occasionally prone to a bit of current so it's an ideal slow drift dive with plenty of pelagic action.
This point drops off hundreds of meters deep and is renown for the frequent Hammerhead sightings. 40 minutes boat ride from Munda, the reef is in excellent health and is the home to schools of Bumphead Wrasse, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks and giant Maori Wrasse are also seen. A sheer drop down into the blue with a sharp point to the reef similar to the bow of a ship, makes for dramatic underwater scenery. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to Aussie Point if they are doing a single day of diving.
A protected sloping reef to 25m of coral gullies canyons and pinnacles makes this an ideal site for less experienced divers who want to see all the beauty of a pristine, healthy reef. The underwater topography is phenomenal and we have seen families of Spotted Eagle Rays and a docile, giant Nurse Shark has been sighted passing by. A 15 minute boat ride from the dive shop makes this an easy, relaxed dive.
So good they named it twice! - About 45 minutes boat ride from the dive shop is this spectacular reef off Parara Island features gullies and canyons among the coral. Equally interesting for snorkelers as the reef formations in the first 10m are out of this world. Divers drop down to 25-30m and follow the wall for plenty of pelagic action. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to Mbigo Mbigo if they are doing a single day of diving.
Discovered by the well known Melbourne based freediver Marlon Quinn from Watermaarq, this sloping coral wall is abundant with hard corals and reef fish. Crevices and caves run deep into the wall providing spectacular swim throughs for free divers and snorkelers. Scuba divers can explore the deeper reef, keeping an eye out for schools of Giant Trevally, Greater Barracuda and reef sharks. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to the Marlon's Crack if they are doing a single day of diving.
A delightful tranquil dive site well protected from the South East Tradewinds. A sloping coral reef beginning at 2 meters descending to over forty meters. Excellent for snorkelling, free diving and scuba. There are many swim throughs, gullies and small caves to explore as the Bump Head Parrotfish pass by, turtles rest and feed, reef sharks cruise past with Spotted Eagle Rays.
Near Kolombangara is a reef with the most spectacular variety of hard and soft corals across the top. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to Dream Island if they are doing a single day of diving.
Kashi Maru: This Japanese freighter was caught by USAF bombers on July 2 1943 while unloading a cargo of trucks and fuel to nearby troops based on New Georgia Island. She lies at 17m in Mboroko Harbour 45 minutes boat ride from Munda. Her artefact-filled hold is easily accessible to all levels of diver and areas of the hold are penetrable. The wreck now hosts abundant corals, clams, Moray Eels, Octopi and masses of juvenile tropical fish and crustaceans. This is a truly spectacular dive for WW2 enthusiasts and wreck divers. There may be times that the Kashi Maru would not be diveable due to Kastom Land issues and disputes. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to the Kashi Maru if they are doing a single day of diving.
F4F-4 Wildcat: Close by the Kashi Maru, this US fighter plane rests in 14m on a spectacular coral reef named Alice in Wonderland. The plane lies upside down and bears the marks of shrapnel and AA gunfire prior to being shot down. We explore the wreck for 10-15 minutes then slowly work our way along the gently sloping reef admiring massive Plate Corals hundreds of years old, Elephant Ear sponges, and the teeming life forms they support. Unfortunately we can't always take guests to the Wildcat if they are doing a single day of diving.
The Airacobra: Recently discovered in April 2011, little is known about this American P-39 fighter, but we believe it is one of two aircraft lost by the USAAF 68th Fighter Squadron during a raid on Shortland on September 6th 1943. She lies in about 27m of water on a sandy bottom and hosts schools of Sweetlip, Lion fish, Coral Trout and thousands of tiny baitfish.
The Dauntless: This Douglas SBD-4 Dauntless dive bomber was hit by AA fire during a raid on Munda, on July 23 1943. Pilot Jim Dougherty put his plane down in Rendova Harbour, where she still rests at 13m. There is an amazing story of the pilot coming back on the 50th anniversary, at a ripe old age diving his actual plane with Dive Munda and our very own guides Sunga and Brian. Check out the YouTube link “Lost warriors of the South Pacific” a heart warming and emotional story.
The Koviki Corsair: This F4U-1 Corsair rests on pristine white sand at 51 meters. It is fully intact with minimal coral growth due to the depth of the water. Forty to fifty meter visibility is common, making this a phenomenal photographic subject. A giant Grouper has taken up residence and there are often solitary Napoleon Wrasse sighted at the plane. Although we have not yet managed to uncover any details regarding this aircraft, its being an early ‘Birdcage’ model suggests that it was flown by one of three squadrons - VMF-222, VMF-224, the famous ‘Black Sheep’, or VF-17, the ‘Jolly Rogers’. In a stunning setting and almost completely intact, this is a great example of one of the classic aircraft of WWII.
Please note the Corsair is an advanced and deep dive site, deeper than recreational dive dept limits and will only be offered to experienced and suitably qualified divers with documented certifications and deep dive and deco-dive speciality logged dives.
Dozer at the Bar: We recently discovered what appears to be a WWII dump site with several half-tracks sitting in 28m during a staff explorer dive day. There is a strong possibility of finding more jettisoned hardware in the vicinity as we are yet to fully explore this site. A bulldozer dating from WWII rests at 33m upside down at the Munda Bar reef entrance to Rovianna Lagoon. It was probably used for repairs and maintenance to Munda Airstrip and cast overboard from a heavily loaded transport ship attempting to cross the bar at low tide. Nearby are discarded caterpillar tracks and a smaller troop transport vehicle. Green moray eels often take up residence in the wrecks, Grey Reef Sharks, Chevron Barracuda, Tuna, Trevally and other pelagics enter the lagoon at this passage and are abundant when the tidal currents flow.
Corsair fighter: This Corsair lies in about 8m of water in a silty bottom just a few hundred meters out from the dive shop. Visibility can be challenging depending on tides and wind so early in the morning is the best time to explore this fully intact wreck.
Japanese A3M Nell: She also lies in the shallows of the Roviana lagoon near the dive shop. Extensively salvaged over the years only the cockpit and superstructure of the body remain, but still a fascinating snorkel dive for history enthusiast.
Japanese Zero fighter: This mostly intact Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane rests on a sandy bottom at 17m near Kolombangara where the Japanese had a stronghold and airstrip in 1943. The plane has recently been rediscovered by the Dive Munda team after its precise location had been lost many years ago. Now home to Sweetlip, Coral Trout, schools of baitfish, varieties of shrimp and invertebrates. The colours of the soft coral growth makes this wreck a terrific photographic subject.
American Dumpsite: As WWII came to an end the US military dumped thousands of tons of hardware as it was less costly than shipping it back to America. Situated on a reef 10 minutes from Dive Munda is a dump site featuring military trucks and jeeps, aeroplane wreckage, a sunken barge and assorted coral encrusted machinery in 5m to 20m. Visibility can be challenging as this site is inside the lagoon, but the fish life is spectacular with schooling Trevally, Lionfish, Sweetlip and Snapper.
Sasavele Passage: Another WWII dump site featuring giant steel pontoons of a former US Navy base scuttled at the end of the occupation. Assorted machinery of the war and a quantity of live ordinance scattered about the sloping wall that drops to 40m. A history enthusiast dive site 15 minutes from Munda.
OTHER SITES AND DAY TRIPS
Dive Munda had the incredible privilege to explore Tetepare with Klaus Obermeyer. Klaus, Director and founder of LA headquartered and explosively cool Rocket Film, is an avid surfer, scuba diver; kite-surfer and lover of all things ocean (oh, and did we mention he is one of the most amazing, inspirational visionary leaders and ocean advocates we have ever met?!) was on a film/dive expedition for Canon in Munda filming the first bio-fluorescent turtle night dive after renowned biologist Dr. David Gruber had stunned the world when he discovered this phenomena in the Solomons in 2015. Klaus dived Tetepare (with Dive Munda) and recalls the profound experience of realizing his childhood dream of being the first to discover and dive completely virgin and never before seen underwater landscapes. Three new world-class dive sites were established together with Belinda around Tetepare and we (in true Dive Munda fashion!) insisted that Klaus name them.
Tangerine Fields: In Klaus’ words: “Our first was “Tangerine fields,” inspired by the Beatles song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” written about a psycidelic journey to an otherworldly place, which is exactly what that amazing dive felt like.”
Magic Fingers: “Then “Magic fingers” which is a dive through tight fingerlike canyons that extend out from shore and provide a brilliant labyrinth of discoveries and amazing photographic opportunities."
The Blue Wall: … and finally “The Blue Wall,” which was my personal favorite as the picturesque wall descends into the abyss, where tides move massive amounts of water from deep open ocean into and out of an epic island chain. We saw a large Hammerhead shark, and many others feeding at dusk. The wall itself was covered in amazing coral structure and felt healthy and teaming with life. I wish I could dive it everyday!”
The last wild island! Departing at 6am for a sunrise cruise to the incredible Tetepare Island, the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere, covered with primary rainforest and surrounded by pristine reefs and lagoons protected by a permanent Marine Protected Area. Much of Tetepare's wildlife and culture is found nowhere else on earth. We start the day with two scuba dives on the Tetepare reef (Tete Point and Yawana Reef – beaming with schools of reed fish and pelagics) and finish off the afternoon with a snorkel guided by the Tetepare rangers for a chance to spot the highly vulnerable dugong or the critically endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Untouched and unspoilt! Have lunch with us at the local village and spend the afternoon exploring the land wonders. We depart around 3pm for a sunset cruise back to Agnes Gateway Hotel. Please note minimum numbers apply for this day trip to Tetepare - WEATHER PERMITTING
Babata Passage & The "TAIYO" Wreck
Dive Munda typically combines these two great dives sites on a full day trip from Munda leaving at 7am. Babata passage entrance hangs off a wave shaped cliff and drops down into oblivion - an amazing dive coupled with an impressive sinkhole cavern entrance just below the surface on the lagoon side of the passage and an impressive exit at about 20m on the open ocean wall. The remains of a USA barge can be found resting on top of the reef drop at about 50m. Spectacular above and below the water line! The Taiyo fishing vessel sits in about 40m of water around the corner from Hele Bar. An "amazing sense of wonder dive" - she sits completely upright (vertical) against the reef with her bow sprit just below the surface and her stern resting on a small coral plateau dropping off into the blue. An amazingly eerie and unworldly experience - a photographers heaven! Please note minimum numbers apply for this day trip to Babata and the wreck of the Taiyo
** PLEASE NOTE THESE SITES ARE OPEN OCEAN SITES (OR WE HAVE TO CROSS OPEN OCEAN TO REACH THEM) THEREFORE THEY MAY NOT ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS.