If you want an easy weekend getaway from Honiara, Maravagi Resort on Mangalona Island in the Central Islands is a great option.
✔ Nice beach
✔ Great snorkelling
✔ Not Honiara
To get to Maravagi, it takes around two hours by banana boat. You could do it in a day trip if you take a fast boat, or detour here if you’re on your way to Nugu. But if you’re going to stay the night, Maravagi has their own boat decked out with stylish bucket seats for all your lumbar support AND life jackets for everyone!
The accommodation at Maravagi is pretty basic.
The guesthouse is a 4-bedroom house with two single beds in each room. Each bedroom has mosquito nets and a pedestal fan that can be used when the generator is on from 7 pm to 3 am. Not going to lie, it gets pretty hot in there and you’ll probably wake up in a puddle of sweat as soon as that generator goes off. As for the bathrooms, you probably don’t want to take your jandals off but there are four shower/toilet cubicles so you won’t have any morning traffic jams.
It’s a bit rough round the edges but it’s right on top of this beach.
Foodwise, you can either bring your own pre-prepped food or buy your meals from the kitchen for around SBD 100 per meal. The meals are pretty good with generous portions. Lunches are usually a choice of a chicken or fish with rice or kumara chips. Dinner is a three-course degustation of pumpkin coconut soup, a chicken or fish main, and fruit salad for dessert. Breakfast is a hearty, bacon or sausage, toast and eggs. Just let them know when you book if you’re intending on buying meals so they can stock up the kitchens. Cold Solbrews and soft drinks are available if you let them know in advance but bring your own snacks and cocktails.
But you’re not coming here for the accommodation or the food.
You’re coming here, probably, because someone told you the snorkelling was good. And it is pretty amazing snorkelling. Like snorkelling in your own Blue Planet docco. There is a reef you can see from the dining house only a few fins kick from the shore and a boat wreck that was sunk a few years ago. Bring fins because the current at Maravagi can get quite strong.
One of the highlights from our last stay was seeing a huge cuttlefish camouflage from one coral to another. Of course, this was when the GoPro packed up and was like, yeah nah, no cuttlefish footage, or ANY Maravagi underwater footage for you or the blog 😒
You can also surf at Maravagi but we don’t even surf so what do we know. We did meet a weathered Australian on our last visit to Maravagi who has been visiting the lodge every year for the last 10 years for month-long surfing trips. His existence must mean the surf’s good?
Another big ‘Why you should visit Maravagi’ is for the manta rays. Seeing manta rays depends on the currents and you will need to stay the night as the best time to see them is usually around 5 pm. Not that we’ve ever been lucky to see any in the four times we visited. If you want to see the mantas, make sure you ask. The first time we visited we had no idea there were manta rays out there and none of the staff thought that would be an interesting little factoid to tell us. The mantas aren’t always around and the boys will check before they take you out. If there are mantas around, you’ll be dropped off in the current for a drift swim with the mantas. Apparently it’s a pretty amazing experience, but obviously, dangerous swimming in currents if you don’t know how to swim good.
As it was our fourth time without seeing any mantas, John the Manager came up with a new evening activity for us – the sunset cruise. The boys loaded us up (with beers) and took us for a tour around the island. We found the surf on the other side of the island, found a beach with a rope swing, did mean bombs off a tree, and stocked up on naes memories with good frens.
So if you’re feeling cheap and looking for an easy and convenient escape from Honiara, Maravagi is a pretty solid option that doesn’t take too long to get there.
Best of luck in seeing the mantas!
Ring John on 710 5842 or Joyce on 768 5514. Pick up is usually 8:30 am from the jetty by Tenkai Japanese restaurant. John and Joyce will get their boatie to meet you there.
Give them a heads up if you’ll be ordering meals and drinks.
Usually, if Maravagi is on the cards, so is Nugu. Which one’s better? Some say the accommodation is better at Nugu but it’s probably not in our opinion. They’re both equally lacking which makes them both equally charming, right? Just make plans to do both. However, the snorkelling is better in Maravagi and you can surf at Maravagi at the right time of year. If you have kids, Nugu is probably better because Maravagi has strong currents.
- SBD 2,500 for the entire banana boat for pick up in Honiara and drop off in Honiara.
- SBD 250 per room, which can sleep two people.
- SBD 90 for breakfast, SBD 100 for lunch, and SBD 130 for dinner. They are huge meals.
- SBD 150 for the sunset cruise per person