A dug-out canoe comes towards us with a tall, lanky man and three pikinini.
Patrick, our boatman, turns the banana boat off, and we slow to a stop about 50 m from shore in a patch of the most turquoise blue ocean we’d ever seen. Surely there’s a filter on this?!
Patrick declares we have arrived. “This is Simon’s Bay… And that is Simon.”
I thought he was making a joke, but he wasn’t. Simon, who is still paddling towards us in his dug-out, is the caretaker of the Bay, so, “the Bay is named after him”. It’s not often you meet the namesake of a landmark (unless you’re in the Solomons!).
The mangroves are a little worrying but Simon assures us, “There are no crocs in my Bay.” His pikinini have jumped out to do some snorkeling, a rare sight because my coworker is always laughing about my “Whiteman hobby” of snorkeling. Well if they’re doing it…
Even if there are crocs it is worth taking your chances. The snorkeling is spectacular – one of the best snorkeling spots we’ve ever visited. In the world.
Simon has grown much of the coral in the Bay himself and the care he’s put into it is clear from the health of the coral, and the variety, and sheer volume of fish. This is probably why most of the fish are on the small side as it’s a bit of a fish nursery. Local poaching is an issue and Simon tries his best to educate his neighbours but, “Life hard.” Despite this, there are still so many fish and you’re pinching yourself to remind yourself you’re not swimming in a giant outdoor aquarium.
“The small, blue fish are preeeeeeetty.”
“Did you see the one with the yellow stripes?”
“Is that a parrot fish?”
“Is that fish with the funny fins even a fish?
“Look at this blue, slugy thing!” (It turns out to be the lips of a giant clam).
Obviously, we need a fish book so we can have smarter conversations about fish. I know two fish: lionfish – because you really don’t want to be stung by them – and clownfish – thanks Finding Nemo. We saw many clownfish, and Nid nearly swam into the largest lionfish I’ve ever seen not on TV. I was able to use 100% of the technical vocabulary available in my personal mental Reef Fish Dictionary.
Simon has come out with some coconuts – a free perk that isn’t included in the kastom fee. Nice guy, that Simon. As we fill out his guestbook he tells us that he struggles to try to promote his little enterprise but it’s difficult without a phone and internet, and nothing from the government. I’ve tried doing my own research on Simon’s Bay and can confirm the internet knows very little. Most visitors hear about Simon’s Bay from word of mouth. This is bad for Simon because he wants more visitors, but good for you and me because it is very unlikely we’ll ever have to share our snorkeling space with a stranger.
Our two-cents: visit here where the waters are warm and the fish are aplenty. The snorkeling here will make your eyes bug-out.
If that didn’t persuade you, we have expressed it in an expressful poem of the highest sorts – an elegant haiku.
Bay hem blue tumas
Stakka fishies, no crocs na
Watch fo lionfish
The Dets in less words
The snorkeling is amazing. Best in the world (probably). Gather a bunch of friends, jump in a banana boat and go to hia.
The cheapest way to get there is via banana boat.
Patrick is our go-to boatie – 748 4172
Boat hire. It’s the only way.
$50 per person Kastom fee
$400-1000ish per person for a boat.
The cost of the boat will depend on how many people you have, what kind of boat, and how many stops you make throughout your trip.
An hour’s banana boat ride from Point Cruz, Honiara, on a fast day.