I have a pet shark. Two really, black tipped reef sharks. They come when I call them (ignore the fish I just threw in the water) and seem to benignly swim by every time I glance into the sea. From my front porch. Have you ever shared your breakfast with your pet shark? Didn’t think so.
If Calgon really could take you away… you would slip beneath the surface of the bubbles and reemerge here – at Oravae Cottage. This private-island paradise gives tranquil a new meaning. Gentle warm breezes rock your hammock as the waves lap the bank, doves coo in the distance, the occasional fish splashes nearby. A Robinson Crusoe fantasy come true.
Most people put the aquarium in their house; the Baea family put the house, on the aquarium. A daily snorkel session off the porch is not complete without a sighting of my favorite shark, dozens of tie die colored giant clams, endless schools of tropical fish, mind-blowing coral varieties and if you’re lucky – a manta ray. At night we hear the splashing and snorting of a sea cow as she shimmies her way off the sand spit. A moonlight paddle is in our future.
These last 10 days have been the polar opposite of our primitive stay in the village of Kagata on Santa Isabel, far more luxurious and solitary. The lovely Baea family gives us the illusion that the island is all ours, joining us in the evening for “story time” where we’ve learned how to fend off an attacking crocodile, how life has changed since everyone got mobile phones and internet last year, and that the plate sized spider that lives in the bathroom is not to be feared. Mmmmm..hmmmm. I’ll use the outdoor shower thanks.
The food is out of this world – curried crayfish, avocado ceviche, deliciously salty sea snails, exotic fruit salads, and mouth-watering bite sized cinnamon sugar crusted banana pancakes. They’re going to have to roll me out of here!
The Solomon’s is a trek. Flights are expensive and for Americans the trip is a long one. But no trip to the South Pacific can be complete without a stay at Oravae Cottage.
- Fly Solomon flies daily to Gizo from Honiara. From there it’s a 15 min boat ride to the island.
- Get to Honiara via Brisbane or Fiji on Fiji Air, Air Niugini, Fly Solomon or Virgin Australia.
- Oravae Cottage. Sunsets are best viewed from an inflatable with cold beer in hand.
- Fatboys and Sanbis resorts nearby but Oravae is one of a kind and you can always hire the boat to go happy hour at the resort if you’re jonesing for a crowd.
- Titiana (left), killer snorkeling below towards the beach.
- Paeloge (right)
- Snorkel right off your front porch!
- Dive with Danny at Dive Gizo. $180 AUD for a two dive day with beach lunch on a stunning private island. We dove the following:
- Tao Maru (WWII wreck) – massive and amazing!
- Grand Central Station – second highest fish count in the world next to Phillipines
- Manta Ray Dive – So many we lost count, highlight was giant sea turtle swimming in the deep and a spotted eagle ray. Followed by a beach dive, stunning coral and sea life along wall. Saw manta here too!
- Hike through neighboring island villages to the volcano for lunch or an overnight stay. Arrange through Oravae.