Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Tasou Pass
Maravagi Resort is located on the north-eastern corner of Mangalonga Island in the Florida Group of islands in the Solomon Islands. The bay in front of the resort is joined to both Iron Bottom Sound and to Indispensable Strait, the waters between the Floridas and Malaita Island. Tasou Pass is the entrance from Indispensable Strait.
The tides here were a bit confusing. It appeared to me that the incoming tide comes from Iron Bottom Sound and passes through Tasou Pass into Indispensable Strait. This is the opposite of what I thought would happen. In any case, you can dive as follows:
On an outgoing tide the water comes in through Tasou Pass, into the bay and out to Iron Bottom Sound. From the dive shop, gear up and walk the 100 or so metres to the native huts to the north of the resort and walk out from the far end of the beach towards the pass. When it is too deep to walk further, done your fins and swim out till the water is deep enough to dive. Drop to the bottom and continue till you get to 7 or 8 metres.
Once in this area, if the current is strong, hold on to a piece of dead coral. Keep an eye out for manta rays as they are commonly seen here. I saw a small one, although not right at this point. We saw some video footage shot two days before we arrived. This had a half dozen large mantas sweeping and whirling over the divers for more than 20 minutes (there was over 15 minutes of footage).
If you do not see any, drop a bit deeper and move with the current. Once again stop. We sometimes spent 10 or 15 minutes at these locations. There are also a lot of sharks, black tip and white tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks. We also saw a couple of large eagle rays as well as barracudas.
Once you have given up the chance of seeing any mantas, you can return to shore or, better still, drifting back in to the dive shop. Keep at a depth of 15 to 10 metres and you will see a lot of excellent fishlife. We saw up to four clown triggerfish, long-finned bannerfish, trevally, humpheaded wrasse, titan triggerfish and many other species. The reef continues south for a while before turning west and heading towards the resort.
Closer to the resort you will see large schools of batfish, firefish, especially near the restaurant, pipefish and sea horses. After an hour or so (assuming you spend 15 to 20 minutes looking for manta rays), you will arrive at the resort. You will see the mooring for the dive boat and then the small reefs in front of the restaurant. Exit onto the beach next to the dive boat and walk 10 minutes to the shop.
You can either do the same dive as above but it will be a bit harder to get back to the resort. If you do, keep shallower (the current mostly appears to be less here) and use your hands on dead coral to pull yourself along. I did not have any trouble doing this, even with a video camera in none hand.
If you have done this dive before, you can enter at the dive boat, spending some time in front of the resort before heading out along the reef. Keep to the 10 to 15 metre depth. After 40 minutes you will arrive at the spot to stop and look for sharks and mantas (the experience of a previous dive will show you this spot). Once you have had enough, go shallow and swim west till you have to surface. Swim back till it is shallow enough to stand and there is no coral to stop you walking.
Walk back to the resort.
These are both very good dives, excellent if you get manta rays. Well worth doing a few times, we did four dives here.