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Diving In & Around Munda

The diving in Munda is special - possibly some of the best in the world.  Spectacular walls drop off to over 600 meters. Grey, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef sharks routinely patrol, while eagle rays, barracuda and other pelagics are also common. Encounters with any of several species of big sharks and rays add to the excitement, while for macro fans there are critters such as pygmy seahorses, squat lobsters and fiery dartfish. 

Munda’s reefs are in pristine condition, with lush hard and soft corals and gigantic sea fans. Snorkelers will also appreciate the extensive intact hard 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 US dump site. 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 now offer Enriched Air Nitrox fills. 

SHARK POINT

Shark Point is a 20-minute boat ride from Munda. At the end of a reef protruding over a mile into open seas and bordering on a 600m plus drop-off, the point 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.

KASTOM SHARK CAVE

The Kastom Shark Cave is about an hour’s boat ride from Munda and is accessed via a very short walk onto the island through the mangroves. The entry is a pool water about 2 meters wide, leading - via a vertical shaft - to two large chambers, linked by a 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 the reef wall, where there is a good chance of schools of Bumpheads and a chance to hunt for Pygmy Seahorses. 

We have a policy of only taking experienced divers to the Cave, and prefer to have seen divers on a couple of simpler sites first unless they have very advanced certifications. 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. This does unfortunately mean that we can’t always take customers to the Cave if they are doing a single day’s diving or have fewer than at least fifty logged dives.

MUSHROOM ISLAND

Among a favourite site in Munda, Mushroom Island ‘went off the boil’ for several years, due to a combination of run-off from logging and over-fishing. With the logging ended, however, and the fishing much reduced, Mushroom Island is very much back in business! Dropping vertically for over 500 metres into the waters of Blanche Channel, the point can attract big schools of fish 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 half on eye out on the blue water, though, as migrating Hammerheads can pass by!

HAIPE REEF

ituated off the sparsely populated west coast of Rendova Island, the Haipe reefs are in incredible condition. Huge areas of pristine hard corals along the reef-tops play host to swarms of colourful small fish and provide a feeding ground for big schools of Bumphead Parrotfish, whilst slightly deeper soft corals, fans and whip corals provide a beautiful background for regular Grey Reef shark encounters, plus the occasional visit from Silvertip or Hammerhead sharks. Turtles are often sighted here, and the keen-eyed will find a fantastic variety of crustaceans and molluscs. Plus, 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!

WRECKS

Kashi Maru: This Japanese coastal freighter was caught at anchor by USAAF bombers on July 3 1945. She now lies at 17m, her artefact-filled hold easily accessible to all levels of diver and her engine room penetrable. Please note that this is a ‘kastom’ site and access is unfortunately not always possible, due to ‘ownership’ issues.

The Airacobra: Discovered only 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. 

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.

The Koviki Corsair: This F4U-1 Corsair sits on a white sand bottom just off the 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.

TECHNICAL DIVES

Big Mama’s House: Shark Point is always a good dive, but there are ways to make it better... Starting at 52m just off the side of the point, a deep reef hosts a cleaning station popular with sharks. Not least amongst them is the shark we call ‘Big Mama’, often accompanied by several other Silvertips and large numbers of Grey Reefs. Great Hammerheads are also known to cruise by here.

The Stalk: Dropping to 55m on the point of Mushroom Island gives divers a chance to peer into a true abyss, often in the company of curious sharks and darting tuna. The wall itself is also stunning at depth, with a wealth of soft corals, black corals and fans.

Bob: Part of the Haipe reef system, the wall at Bob slopes steeply down to 55m or so - and then just gets steeper! Visibility often exceeds 60m at depth, which doesn’t explain how it is that 3m-plus Silvertip and Galapagos sharks can sneak up on Grae...

Caves: The Kastom Cave isn’t the only dark hole in the area. Matiana cave is very deep and silty to get into, but has a stunning main chamber, while Wayne Manor is a tight squeeze in places but has incredible speleothemes and a blind exit into a batcave! There’s also plenty of exploration still to be done around the Roviana area, with both sea caves and sinkholes likely. 

There are many other deep-diving possibilities, mostly unexplored. In addition, we’re looking at ways to organise tech trips to the Japanese WWII wrecks at Wickham Anchorage, and further afield - keep up to date with news and plans via Facebook.

Single Tank Dive                             $80USD

Two Tank Dive (with Lunch)          $150USD 

Three Tank Dive (with Lunch)       $200USD

Dive for 5 days and the 6th day is free. 

Snorkelling Gear Rental (mask, snorkel, fins) – available for hire $20USD

Dive Gear (BCD, Regulator, Dive Computer) – available for hire $40USD

We require all divers to dive with a computer.

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