About Dive Munda
Our award winning service - Dive Munda has recently been awarded the Diving Company of the Year Award by Luxury Travel Guide, Global Awards 2016. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in service, employee satisfaction, marketing and branding, local knowledge and cultural understanding. The Luxury Travel Guide Awards represent the pinnacle of hospitality achievement, championing the best in their respective fields; paying tribute to and commending all those who have excelled in the travel & tourism industry.
Our village - We are based in the village of Munda, nestled on the premises of the beautiful and tranquil Agnes Gateway Hotel, on the southern coast of New Georgia Island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, an area renowned for its peaceful beauty and friendly people as well as its amazing reefs and incredible biodiversity. Munda boasts an airstrip with daily connections, stunning, serene and romantic scenery, amazing WWII history, a vibrant local culture and of course, world class diving!
Our dive centre – Dive Munda is an intimate and friendly operation with a customized approach to your diving needs. Our great local staff on board, led by our experienced Instructor Trainer, will offer you incredible diving paired with personalized service. Whether you have never dived before, wanting to become a dive professional or you have already logged thousands of hours underwater, we plan our diving around you. The centre stocks a range of well-maintained rental sport-diving equipment, including Nitrox and our boats are equipped with oxygen and other first aid necessities. We have two 7m fibreglass boats fitted for diving and powered by Yamaha F100 four-stroke outboards.
Diving In and Around Munda
The diving in Munda is very special - 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.
We have a policy of taking only experienced divers to the Kastom Shark Cave. We require divers to have logged a minimum of 50 dives plus an Advanced certification, and prefer to have accompanied divers on a couple of simpler sites beforehand (unless they have very advanced certifications including logged cave and/or cavern dives). Please bring your dive logbook and relevant certifications.
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.
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.
SUSU HITE – 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.
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.
BIGO BIGO - 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.
Kashi Maru: This Japanese freighter was caught by USAF bombers on July 2 1945 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.
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.
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjbmSuYiq7M
The Koviki Corsair: Sunga’s favourite....This F4U-1 Corsair sits on a white sand bottom just off a reef at 54m. 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 speciality logged dives.
Tank 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. Reef fish, Moray eels and Grey Reef sharks are around. Watch this space for more updates and pictures as we explore further.
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.
Toa Maru “Dive Gizo style”: Join our friends over at Dive Gizo for an amazing day trip. Dive Munda will entertain you enroute the beautiful transfer through the lagoon, yes we depart at 6am, just in time to see the sun rise over the Roviana lagoon. Upon arrival in Gizo, we will leave you in the very capable hands of Danny and Kerry to show you the Toa Maru, just 20 minutes away. The Toa Maru is one of the South Pacific's most popular diveable WWII shipwrecks. The reasonably intact Japanese transport ship, 140m long is lying on her starboard side, starting at around 7m deep and slopes down to about 37m. Interesting artefacts adorn this vessel that sunk before it could be unloaded. Some of the trinkets include Saki bottles, medical supplies, office equipment and rounds of ammunition. The larger objects include bombs, a motorbike, a type 21 tank. After another dive, Dive Gizo staff will feed you a local Solomon Island feast and let you wander around and explore Gizo for a bit of local flavour, spiced up with WWII history. We will depart at 3pm in time to watch the sun set over the Roviana Lagoon or catch the Agnes Gateway Hotel sunset cruise at 6pm! Please note minimum numbers apply for this day trip to Gizo.
Tantalizing Tetepare: Tetepare - 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.
THE SERIOUS BIT
No matter how careful divers are, there is always a risk of decompression illness. You don’t have to have done anything wrong - ‘unearned’ bends can and do happen. The mission hospital in Munda is not equipped to deal with DCI: should you suffer a serious hyperbaric injury while diving in Munda, you will need to be evacuated by air at least as far as Honiara, where there is a volunteer-run recompression chamber. This is not a cheap process - a helicopter ‘ride’ to Honiara comes in at around US$10,000, and the chamber costs US$800/hour to operate. For your peace of mind and ours, we cannot recommend strongly enough that you have insurance which specifically covers you for diving and for air evacuation in the event of an emergency. Our requirement is that divers take out Divers Alert Network membership and insurance, or check their travel policy very carefully.