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the wilderness lodge
solomon islands

organised tours

island snorkelling trip

aerial image of bulo islandSnorkel the world's best reefs with unrivalled coral and fish diversity in incredibly clear water, plus sightseeing and photography around our three wild, uninhabited offshore islands with local guide. Dolphin pods and tuna schools with frigate birds often encountered on the 15 minute trip across.

Priced per person for 2 hours snorkelling, max 6 adults, 4 in rough weather. Please note this price does not cover fishing trips - expert guided fishing available with or without tackle included, refer to the bluewater solomons website for details.

View the islands and underwater image galleries.

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Biche Village Cultural & Photographic Trip

biche skulls Remote, inaccessible Biche Village, situated on the rugged south coast of Gatokae, is the most culturally intact village in Marovo, with many tambu sites from the headhunting culture which persisted into the 20th century and stunning scenery which very few people see. The community provides an excellent guided tour of the sites and surrounds, including skull shrines, waterfalls, sacrificial altars, birthing cave, the famous tame eels, and custom stories.

We encourage all our guests to experience this unique and stunning place and people. Tour price includes fees paid to the Biche community and village guide.

DURATION: approx 2 ½ hours at Biche, boat transfer approx 25 minutes each way (an excellent sightseeing trip in itself). A full-morning, or full-afternoon trip.

AVAILABILITY: Year round except for rough weather (particularly the mid-June through mid-October tradewind season) when Biche is only accessible by a spectacular 4 to 5 hour roundtrip walk. In fine weather access is by longboat from the lodge. The landing at Biche can be quite exciting when the swell is up, however our drivers and the Biche guides are very experienced and landing will only be attempted if safe. One day's notice is essential to allow notification by HF radio. The feedback from this tour has been exceptional.

EXTENSIONS: Local lunch at Biche, hikes to Mt Matengele fortress site (2 hours steep but clear walk) with fantastic views from 1900 feet, and other historical village and tambu sites can be organized. If you wish to make a day of it, traditional lunch at Biche can be organized at a small cost. Overnight villagestay also available, please ask about what you'll need and what to expect. Refer to the walking and hiking page for more information.

View the villages image gallery.

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Kavachi Submarine Volcano

kavachi volcano The world's only accessible submarine volcano is located 20 nautical miles seawards from the Lodge in a west-south-west direction. Kavachi Volcano often produces spectacular eruptions, and every few years an island event with lava lake that lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Its summit varies from 40 metres underwater to 30 metres above sea level and can change tens of metres in a few days.

During non-eruptive periods there is typically a large plume of sulfur, mud and dissolved gases emitted from the vent. Adrenaline-charged snorkeling a safe distance from the vent with huge schools of pelagic fish, lots of sharks and extremely loud underwater sonic explosions and strange sounds, usually present regardless of eruptive status. Exceptional sportfishing around the vent with state-of-the-art tackle included in cost of trip. Close proximity to the volcano in a boat during eruptions is an absolutely unique and unforgettable experience.

kavachi volcano DURATION: 5 1/2 hours. Extensions, subject to weather conditions, available at AUD$40 per hour. Travel time typically 90 minutes each way, longer in rougher weather.

GEAR: Waterproof jacket, hat that won't blow off at speed, long-sleeve shirt and pants, sunscreen, comfortable mask, snorkel and fins ready to use, still and video cameras with protective bags (keep in mind can get wet in use) preferably waterproof.

AVAILABILITY AND CONDITIONS: Trips to Kavachi Volcano are subject to weather and sea conditions, which are not always apparent from the extremely protected aspect of Peava Lagoon, particularly during the northwest monsoon season. The tradewind mid-June through mid-October tradewind season is usually too rough for access. Decisions on whether to go or not to go, and whether to turn back at any point are the Captain's and are taken in view of prevailing conditions and latest satellite weather data and marine forecast. Eruptive activity is entirely unpredictable and there is no guarantee clients will witness the volcano in an eruptive state. Experience to date indicates that eruptive activity of some type can be expected on at least 50% of visits. The decision on whether to snorkel the volcano remains the Captain's. Kavachi Volcano lies 20 nautical miles west-south-west from the Lodge in the open ocean and conditions can be rough - you will get wet, and the sun is strong. Ensure you are well prepared. There are no nearby islands to stop at in case of seasickness.

Maximum of 4 passengers per boat due to boat size and safety equipment. Please note this trip can be prebooked but not prepaid due to being entirely weather-dependent.

View the kavachi volcano image gallery.

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Kavolavata Cultural and Art Demonstration

dugout canoes

Take a walk just 25 minutes along the coast from the lodge and you will find Kavolavata Village. Organised and run by Kavolavata locals, Apongo Steven and Vince Sesala this tour takes in the cultural aspects of Kavolavata Village life, as well as the surrounding forest.

Master carver Apongo demonstrates the many stages in working the famous Marovo woodcarvings, dugout canoe making, and other traditional crafts. Vince demonstrates the centuries-old stone bowl (mortar) carving tradition of his home village Biche, and the primitive kibo stone figurines, worked laboriously from basalt with primitive hand tools, and other Biche crafts. Apongo's wife Piliani shows how everyday household needs are made from forest materials, including pandanus basket and coconut frond hat weaving, fragrant ylang ylang coconut oil making, banyan bark clothing, and, in season August to December, that mainstay of Marovo life, ngali nut cooking.

DURATION: Approx 3 hours, may vary according to village work commitments and seasonality of some crafts. Easy 25 minute walk each way from the Lodge. Boat transfer available if required.

AVAILABILITY: Subject to Apongo and Vince's movements, not always available but can be prebooked a minimum of one day in advance.

View the villages image gallery.

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Varea and Kumabusi Rivers Tour


The Varea River runs several kilometres from the ridges of Mt Mariu, Gatokae Island's 2900 foot peak, down through lowland and coastal forest to where it enters Marovo Lagoon near Sekisau on the Gatokae's north coast. Varea is a beautiful narrow jungle-crowded river navigable for two kilometres in the longboat, which also serves as a road for the people of Sobiro Village and neighboring communities, with dugout paddle canoes a common sight plying the lower reaches as well as the occasional motorised canoe dugout or fibreglass canoe.

The lower reaches of the Varea are thick mangrove country which hosts rich marine life and a resident population of saltwater crocodiles. Further up the mangroves are replaced by abundant nipa palms (the traditional walling material used on the Lodge) and further up sago palm and lowland forest. The upper navigable reaches are intespersed with small subsistence gardens taking advantage of the mixed alluvial and humus soil, and this mix of habitats makes for a unique array of birdlife, much of which can be viewed from the cool and comfort of the longboat, Your skipper can raise the engine and traverse the upper reaches with a silent paddle which enriches the river experience. A kilometre upstream from Sobiro village is Jojoloro pool, also home to large saltwater crocodiles, with a boat landing and crystal clear shallow rapids ideal for cooling off nearby, also an excellent spot for spotting a range of insectivorous and forest birds.

The Kumabusi River is quite different to the Varea, with no mangrove lower reaches, and different forest and birdlife. Also lovely rapids at the top to rinse off in.

AVAILABILITY: Best done early or late in the, leaving either at 7:00AM and returning to Wilderness for lunch, or departing after lunch and returning to Wilderness for dinner at 7:30PM. Travel time from Wilderness to rivermouth is approx 40 minutes . Dry weather much more comfortable, but wet weather the jungle really comes into it's own.

BOOKINGS: One day in advance essential.

EXTENSIONS: Picnic lunch at tiny Pagupagu sand cay just offshore in Marovo Lagoon also available.

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Varea River Crocodile Tour (night-time)

varea tour

Refer to 'Varea and Kumabusi Rivers Tour' description above.After an early dinner the longboat departs Wilderness at 7:30pm, calling into IriIri (the boat landing used for Gatokae Airfield) to pick up river guide Gary Kituru (Gary is also our mud crab supplier, braving the crocs to catch the tasty crustaceans by hand).

From IriIri the boat runs northwest through Bili Passage, entering Marvovo Lagoon at Tibarene Bay, then heading back south through the Lagoon to the mouth of the Varea River on the north coast of Gatokae, travel time from Wilderness approx 40 minutes. Gary then guides the boat to the favoured haunts of the saltwater crocodiles that call the Varea River home, using spotlight to locate and get close to the reptiles. Gary has paddled, fished, and happily shared the Varea with the saltwater crocs for some 40 years. Boat arrives back at Wilderness approx 11:00PM.

AVAILABILITY: This trip needs to be planned to coincide with a darker moon phase/time and dry weather.

BOOKINGS: One day in advance essential.

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Island coconut crabbing

frigate bird

Malemale or Kicha Island offshore from the Lodge. Your guides prepare the coconut baits in the late afternoon, then return after dark to look for the coconut crabs attracted to the baits.

Please note this is a highly endangered species that is in enormous demand in Asian markets and accordingly we don't serve coconut crab at the Lodge - there are plenty of kakarita [mangrove or mud crabs], chehana [coral crayfish], and chehana pepete [slipper lobsters] to enjoy! Binahere [Cuscus - a Melanesian possum], including rare all-white specimens, are frequently seen along with a host of other nocturnal sights and sounds.

DURATION: Typically departing the Lodge around 7:30PM after early dinner and returning approx 9:30pm.

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See also the walking and hiking page for short, half-day, full-day, overnight, and multi-day trips, activities page for more suggestions. and for sportfishing and spearfishing options.