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SOLOMON ISLANDSWhite BeachNestling in the Central Province of Solomon Islands, some 50km from Guadalcanal, are a group of islands and islets called the Russell Islands. During World War Two, these islands became a very important strategic base for US forces.This base, and the subsequent departure of US forces, has led to one of the most-unique dive sites on the planet… White Beach.
During the South Pacific Campaign, the US built an airbase along with a large pier to resupply their vessels in the area. Once the war was over, rather than packing up and shipping the supplies and working materials back to the US, the military simply pushed everything into the water and onto the nearby reef. While the Solomon Islands is home to many World War Two wrecks, White Beach is different - the site shows a different side of the war effort in the area.
From the second you drop into the water, life is all around, and lots of it. The water is teeming with tiny reef fish, including damselfish, anemonefish and cardinalfish. Above in the blue are huge schools of trevally, patrolling the pristine reef.
Heading down the reef wall and onto the sand, things change. While you might describe this section as a wreck dive, there are no boats, the wrecks are all vehicles. Jeeps, trucks, and even a bulldozer, all scattered in close proximity to each other. Each of these mini wrecks are now covered in life, forming part of the coral gardens. It is difficult to tell where the metal ends and where the coral reefs begin. As you leave the wrecks and head up the reef proper, the hard and soft corals are hugely impressive, with the reef wall boasting an array of large sea fans. Things change again as you hit mangrove. Darting around this area are pyjama cardinals, and the unusual archerfish. Among the rocks, you can also find hairy squat lobster and a variety of crabs.
As dive sites go, it’s difficult to imagine that there is a more varied reef anywhere else in the world.
Did you know?Solomon Islands is an island country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea.Essential informationLocation: Russell Islands, the Solomon Islands Depth: 5m-29m Diver level: Beginner to advanced Who to dive with Master Liveaboards www.masterliveaboards.com
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USNS General Hoyt S Vandenberg
Scuba Diver Magazine
Scuba Diver is an independent publisher of scuba diving magazines in all major English-speaking countries.