Saturday, 17 August 2013


We find a guy fishing in a canoe that paddles over and tells us the owners have gone across the lagoon to go shopping, this doesn’t sound too bad and the call is made to head over and try to find them.   We make our way across the lagoon, which is sometimes only a couple of meters deep with beautiful coral visible, then just drops away suddenly in patches to who knows how deep,  it’s like nothing we’ve experienced before, such random depth changes. 

We get to the other island and Raymond talks to some villagers,  the owners aren’t here, they have gone to Seghe, one of the main port towns on New Georgia island and a fair distance.  It is unlikely they will be back today.  We go back to Charapoana and the three of us consider staying there alone anyway, the place looks awesome and we are all experienced campers and can look after ourselves. 

 There are chickens we can eat, coconuts, fish and an assortment of other seafood we can go and get.  Our only concern is drinking water, not having beer and the real possibility of nobody coming to pick us up if this is how things operate around here.

We are supposed to have 3 nights here and all decide we can live without water for that period if need be, we have coconuts, but no way are we going 3 nights without beer and Johnny Arrow!  But the threat of maybe being stranded here is real and not one we want to risk after an already bumpy road just to make it this far.  It’s lucky we have Raymond and he takes us further down the lagoon to some random little island that we learn is privately owned. 

This place is another gem in paradise and they have a beautiful home and the usual perfectly manicured tropical gardens and even lawns.  After some translation from Raymond, the old guy takes us up to his radio and we try to make contact with our next destination, Wilderness Lodge on Gatokae Island, as we are unsure what to expect even if we can somehow find our way there.  I think the other 2 boys are getting a little anxious now and the pressure is on again to put their minds at ease.  

With no luck on the radio, Raymond helps us strike a deal with the owner of a boat we see out front.  He agrees to take us on to Wilderness Lodge, but it is not cheap.  Fuel is the biggest expense when you are travelling in the Solomon’s and the journey is quite a long one, around another 2-3 hours I think, and we have been underway for at least 4 hours already with all the stops, back and forth and time spent on this island. 

We transfer our luggage into the new boat, bid fond farewell to Raymond and Troy and thank them immensely for making sure we were sorted and not just dumping us on a deserted island. (something I could actually see happening over there!)

We are hot, tired, hanging for a cold beer, but we are on our way with mixed feelings.  Pissed off at yet again things not going to plan and I’m directing the blame at the people who helped me book places like this, but very sad to have missed out on staying at Charapoana as the place looked so amazing. 

The whole place had so much potential, with more jungle to explore, a promising looking reef section over the other side to fish on, an awesome little bay to swim in out the front of camp, beautiful shallow coral reefs just a quick swim or canoe paddle away and what looked to be the full ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience. 

 We also had plans to snorkel with manta rays that apparently swim past every morning, and I kept talking about swimming across the shark infested channel to Uepi Island.  They are supposedly harmless, but with my track record (and you will learn more about that as the story continues) probably not a bad thing I missed that experience.  If anyone could get eaten by ‘harmless’ sharks, it would be me!

There are no websites for places like this, I saw the channel and the islands on Google Earth and knew I had to stay there.

Uepi Island and Dive Resort at the bottom,  Charapoana Island in the top right corner

You better run, chicken....

Nature's lifesaver

A bit of Charapoana in the foreground