Surrounded by slender palm trees and a perfectly manicured garden, Tavanipupu Island Resort is heaven on earth. The beautiful luxury resort is a short 30-minute flight from Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands
House Reef – Tavanipupu Island Corals
From the arrival dock, you can see the extent of their house reef curving around the island out of view. The corals surrounding the island are mostly yellow and creme-colored Porites cylindrica. These thick branching corals form towering colonies up to 2m in height. On average P. cylindrica will grow 1-3cm per year making these colonies at least one hundred years in the making.
What’s really interesting about these corals is you can see in areas large clusters of branches have broken apart. This is a natural process as these corals grow quite large and rely on asexual fragmentation as a mode of reproduction and dispersal.
Porites cylindrica is a tolerant, long-lived, fast-growing coral and acts as a buffer for the coastline around Tavanipupu breaking apart under their own weight.
When you see these chunks, notice how the top of the branches are yellow and the bottom are the old skeletons. This shows us just how very long these coral have been growing around the island, building up their skeleton layer by layer.
Head further into the lagoon, behind the barrier of Porites and you will find a shallow sandy area with seagrass and corals. We found large stands of Acropora, and lots of different leather corals. You can even find some Goniopora boulders and different brain corals. And keep your eyes on the sand as we found lots of cute little pipefish.
If you are trying to snorkel in this area make sure the tide is high enough to pass above the delicate Acropora. We recommend this section for experienced snorkelers with good buoyancy as it would be easy to damage these shallow corals. Be careful!
Marau Sound Coral Farm
Across the channel from Tavanipupu Island Resort is an old coral farm. Recently some training has been done to get this farm up and running again, so depending on when you read this article, you may find more coral than we had the chance to photograph.
There are many bright and colorful coral fragments planted at the shallow nursery and large stands of Acropora nearby. Again we spotted plenty of little pipefish playing in the Acropora branches and lots of smaller fish darting amongst the coral frames.
When you’ve snorkeled around the island, visited the coral farm, and snorkeled everything in between, you’re ready to head out to Sand Island. This island is 15 minutes away from the hotel and located on the outer reef. The staff can set up a picnic lunch on the island for you or just guide you on a snorkeling tour. This picturesque deserted paradise deserves a post all to itself!
Getting to Tavanipupu
Fly into Marau Sound from Honiara. Two flights per week on Solomon Airlines or charter your own plane (8pax) from Air Taxi Honiara. When booking your stay with Tavanipupu Island Resort the hotel staff will come to pick you up by boat from the grassy airstrip in Marau.