A MOST UNDERSTATED DIVE RESORT
A few years back I sent out a newsletter about booking a trip to the Solomon islands onboard Bilikiki, this was for a trip that would be two and a half years in the future. I had one instance reply asking to confirm and adding a booking to Uepi Island Resort as well.
I feel blessed that this particular returning client who has been diving with me 14 years, also a good friend asked if I could book her to go to Uepi Resort. I hadn’t previously heard about it and after a little research I decided to offer some additional diving for the group who were joining me onboard the Bilikiki.
The online research about Uepi seemed to be all good, what surprised me was at how the resort owners hadn’t blown any proverbial trumpets at all. This place was really fantastic. The bungalows are well thought out and after a night of acclimatising myself to sleeping without air conditioning I was fine. I found the diving at Uepi to be some of the best reef diving ever, the variety of dive sites was fantastic, OK there not masses of critters and they don’t really do any muck diving, though that’s a very different kind of diving altogether. Uepi is not about macro life, it’s about healthy reefs, sharks, schooling fish, great topography, giant cuts within reef formations large enough to swim through, oh and i just in case i didn’t emphasise it well enough I’ll say again – there really are lots of sharks. The great thing is also that you don’t need to go too far too find lots of sharks either. Te resort owners Jill and Grant have done an exceptional job of managing the reefs and working with the surrounding villages to make sure their healthy population of sharks stay healthy. On every single dive we saw sharks, not just little white tip sharks sharks either, there is a really healthy population of good sized black tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and regular sightings of silver tip and hammerhead sharks too. You don’t even need to scuba dive to see sharks here either, snorkeling from around the edge of the resort property is where the best shark action is at. The location of the resort is probably in the best locations in the Solomon islands for healthy reefs and shark action too! Aside from sharks there are also large schools of barracudas, jacks, snappers, masses of fusiliers, unicorns and a great variety of reef fish species too. Uepi resort is not totally without macro life either. There are nudibranch’s, flatworms, ghost pipefish, pipefish, different species of scorpion fish, disco clams different shrimps & crabs and in places colourful invertebrate life life too.
For keen underwater photographers Uepi is excellent. There are often great opportunities for split level, over-under images of shallow coal reefs and tropical scenery above. The reef scenics here are abundant with giant sea fans, soft corals, feather stars, schooling fish, there are shallow water lagoons, mangrove areas all around the resort, shallow giant clams and then there’s all these giant cuts in the reefs that are great for shooting sun rays in dramatic scenery, the list goes on… And that’s not even taking in what they’re is here for land photographers. Uepi resort is a true photographic paradise island with coconut trees overhanging the small white sand beaches, the Marovo Lagoon side of the resort shallow water lagoon, lots of different orchids all around the property and gorgeous flowers blooming all around. There are gorgeous little sun birds, hornbills, lots of different lizard species including some fairly large monitor lizards. The owners offer free use of kayaks and stand up paddle boards which are great fun and for the more adventurous there are even Hobie cats available when there is enough wind and if you want to pay a little extra for this great experience. The views all around the resort property are stunning and they also vary so much during the day as the sun goes up and over the island.
Then there’s the food. I do like my food and I like everything from trying street foods to fine dining tasting menus. The food at Uepi has to be consistently the best food I have ever had at a dive resort. The food is not only very tasty, it also happens to be the healthiest food on offer at a dive resort too. The vast majority of produce is grown, caught and raised locally. Most of the salads are grown fresh on the island, there are really tasty local vegetables, “real” free range chickens, and the seafood dinners here are what many diners only have as one off treats, here at Uepi lobsters, mudcrabs, yellow fin tuna sashimi are regularly served. For breakfasts there are lots fresh fruits, various cereals and muesli and then a cooked breakfast as well, if you really want to go all out. There is very good Solomon islands coffee available whenever you wish. The bar is fairly well stocked and the local beer is said to be chemical free, more than I can say for most other Asian beer.
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Then we headed our onboard the Bilikiki