This remote corner of the Solomon Islands is the perfect getaway for those looking to explore a destination less travelled by others. Munda is a peaceful, laid-back haven, and provides visitors with an insight into the life of a Solomon Islander. You will find a quaint community of shops around the airport. But don’t expect a bustling high street! This small village is tranquil apart from on Friday, which is market day.
This island paradise sits between two converging lagoon systems. These lagoons are dotted with sandbanks, small islands and of course flourishing coral gardens. Its remote location means minimal human impact and subsequently flourishing ecosystems for you to enjoy.
If you’re after a destination off the beaten track, where you can relax on island time at the edge of stunning turquoise waters, then look no further.
Munda has a tropical climate with average daytime temperatures between 25°C – 30°C. and evenings 19°C. Seasons are not clearly defined; however, November to April are the wetter months.
A place that sits between two stunning lagoons is inevitably home to some spectacular dive sites. There are spectacular wall systems that plunge to over 600 meters. Here you will find some of the oceans’ bigger inhabitants – mostly sharks and rays! When you manage to tear yourself away from admiring the areas’ pelagics, you will find all kinds of critters hiding in the reef.
You will also find caves, pinnacles, channels and coral gardens. With some of these gardens sitting in shallow water, making them perfect for snorkelers. If you’re more inclined towards wrecks, then you will be glad to hear there are several different WWII wreck sites in the area too, mostly made up of aircraft and dumpsites of the Japanese and American armed forces.
A spectacular wall dive, plunging to 70 meters. There is a good chance to spot hammerhead sharks, silvertip sharks, and the occasional oceanic white tip. Along the wall, there are huge gorgonian sea fans and lush soft corals and thick whip corals. This makes a fantastic early-morning dive as visibility can exceed 40 meters, and the chance to see those BIG FISH increases significantly. Although typically this is a deep dive to see the larger species of shark, the novice diver can enjoy this site as well at a shallower depth.
One of the farther dive sites is located on the north side of New Georgia, about 35 minutes away. When driving into the bay, you immediately see the masts, emerging from the surface. The Kasi Maru, a Japanese freighter, was bombed while anchored and is only twenty meters from the shore. The ship lies in an upright position with a slight list to the port. The bottom of the hull lies in 15 meters, which makes it a good site for snorkelers and novice divers alike. The more experienced divers, WWII buffs and photographers will have much to discover as well.
Douglas Dauntless Bomber
Located off the island of Rendova, about 30 minutes away from Munda. The Dauntless was shot down on the 21st of June, 1943. The pilot, Jim Dougherty, was shot down near Kindu point. He then attempted to fly back to Yandina in the Russell Islands. Unfortunately, the aircraft could not reach the Russells, and Jim Dougherty made a crash landing in the waters just off Rendova. Miraculously, he survived the crash, and managed to swim to a nearby American hospital; all this on his 21st birthday. In 1995, Jim returned to Munda to visit and dive his old plane on the anniversary of the day he was shot down.
Other Notable Wrecks
An American 'Wildcat" fighter plane is located close to the Kasi Maru, this site with well worth a visit as it's relatively unscathed and lies at just 15m.
In the Munda Bay, there are two Japanese bombers; they were called Nell or Nelly (G3M) and Betty (G4M) by the U.S. troops. The Nell is closer to the dive shop in about 4 meters, while the Betty is further west and marginally deeper at 6 meters. The Nell was replaced in service with the Betty by the Japanese Navy. Both are twin-engine bombers. Visibility suffers later in the day, so these planes are best dived early morning.
Munda Bay has two American dumpsites; one in 7 meters, the other in 16 to 20 meters. There lie several trucks and the wings to another Fighter. Visibility is best early in the morning.
Cave of the Kastom Shark
Located about an hour away from the central area of Munda. The cave is a part of local folklore, which tells the tale of a boy who was dragged beneath the reef by a shark for trying to steal a turtle. As the shark let go, the boy rose to the surface to find himself in the middle of the jungle.
To reach the site entrance divers walk with full gear onto the island and through the mangroves. The cave entrance is a pool of freshwater about 2 meters wide. Stepping into the water, you will notice that this freshwater is much cooler than the sea. The top layer of freshwater is somewhat murky and about 3 meters deep. As you descend through the top layer and reach the seawater; it warms up considerably. The cave is large enough to be comfortable, and there is a guideline through the cave for easier navigation. After penetrating the cave for about 12 minutes and reaching a maximum depth of 35 meters, you reach the outer wall of the island. At 22 meters you carry on the dive, enjoying the wall adorned with soft corals and many different fish species.
Culture and History
If you want to explore local histories and culture, then there are a few different guided tours in the area. A visit to Skull Island is a must! Considered one of the most sacred places in the Solomon Islands, the island is home to shrines of skulls of vanquished warriors from bygone days of headhunting. Other notable cultural and historical sites include WWII relics, shrines of idols long forgotten and village walks.
Explore the lagoons by kayak, either on a guided tour or at your leisure. Cruise around the shore, admiring the colourful reefs that slide by beneath your paddle.
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