Unspoiled, Rich history, Non-commercial.
Virtually unknown outside of the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands are popular among divers and WW2 history buffs. But there is so much more to explore in this land of unspoilt beauty and fascinating culture.
The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of around 1000 islands. Underwater Volcanoes erupt just below the surface of pristine waters; Megapode birds lay their eggs in volcanic sands; ancient fortified villages hint at the past as they lay in ruin and locals build their own islands out of coral rubble … there’s a lot to be discovered here for the intrepid traveller.
Almost twice as the size of Fiji, the Solomon Islands stretch over a very large area. It’s the fourth largest country in Oceania, after Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. So not only is there much to explore culturally, physically, there’s lots of ground to cover.
Capital city Honiara is hub to all international and domestic flights, with the main domestic destinations being Guadalcanal (where Honiara is located) and New Georgia Province.
One of our favourite means of transport for the Solomons is a luxury yacht: it allows us to penetrate the more exotic reaches. The waters are well surveyed with good shipping channels and plenty of lagoons to excite. There’ some good, sturdy boats available in the country.
The best of Solomon Islands hotels and resorts reside in Honiara and Guadalcanal. There are also some top-class dive resorts in New Georgia Province. Fantastic fresh produce and seafood abound in the Solomons, but expect dairy and other types of processed foods to be hard to come by.
Humans first landed in the Solomons during Papuan Migrations over 30,000 years ago. The advent of the sailing canoe allowed Austronesians to land about 6,000 years ago.
Head hunting and cannibalism was prolific as new technologies led to a boom in population and then the associated conflict. The first European to grace the shores was a Spaniard, Mendana in the 1600’s. After first discovering the Solomons for the Spanish authorities, he surmised there was ‘gold in them thar’ hills’ and bestowed the name of the Solomon Islands upon them in recognition of King Solomon and his fortune of gold mines.
Mendana returned 30 years later with an expedition to settle the Solomons and find gold, but he was confronted by head hunters and tropical diseases and no sign the local inhabitants knew anything of gold or metals. In frustration, his expedition withdrew to the Philippines. Many a historian has pondered how different history would have played out in the Solomons if only Mendana had landed near the current gold mine, on Guadalcanal.
By the late 1800s, the Germans and British had divided up the colonial spoils: they split the northern island of Bougainville off for British Solomons and into German New Guinea, which still is the case today. World War 2 came and saw the islands change forever. The Japanese and the Allies fought a nine-month war which saw horrific numbers of innocent Solomon Islanders killed and displaced.
Independence came in 1970’s and the main centres on Guadalcanal and New Georgia began their stroll towards ‘modernisation’. But elsewhere life today continues on as it has for millennia. Traditions are maintained, ceremonies held and gardens tended: theirs is a simple life, very much to be envied.
Pick of things to do in the Solomon Islands
- See World War 2 ruins in Guadalcanal
- Dive the coral triangle at Munda
- See the Kavachi submarine volcano
- Visit the Pacific’s largest uninhabited island and conservation region.
- Visit John F Kennedy’s site where he saved the men from the fated PT109 in WW2.
- Visit master carvers at their home and learn the secrets to inlaid pearl shell.
- Luxury Super Yachts exploration but really any excuse to cruise through the Archipelago on any boat is worth it.
The best time to visit is….anytime! The driest months are May to November BUT the Solomon Islands are a hot, humid and wet country. The chances of it raining while you are there are near 100%. The rain is welcomed to relieve the humidity. It can be the winds of the region that most affect your comfort, especially when out on the water. What may seem a nice breeze on land can really churn things up at sea. Like most of Melanesia, there is the strong South-easterly predominant from May to November and affects of the North-westerly Monsoon from December to April. Tropical Cyclones can even form as late as June, in some years.
Our seasonal favourites are: April, May, October and November.
Visa and currency
Visa on arrival is available to Citizens from all Commonwealth Countries, USA, Japan and most European countries.
The currency is ‘Solomon Islands Dollars’, and impossible to procure outside of the country. The best option is to get local currency from the ATM’s at Honiara or upon arrival at the airport. While some overseas currencies can be exchanged at major hotels in Honiara, the man on the street wouldn’t know what to do with a greenback. About USD$100 equals SBT$770. As a better indicator the cost of the local beer, Solbrew (and it’s not bad) is about USD$4 bottle.
Solomon Islanders enjoy a worry-free life in an idyllic tropical paradise, but long term health outcomes remain a challenge for the National health organisation. As usual the most prevalent ailment amongst travellers is Sunburn, and without trivialising the rest, it can certainly affect your tropical holiday, always wear sunscreen and cover up where possible.
Always get comprehensive medical insurance which includes Medi-vac. If emergencies arise, we can get you to excellent facilities in Australia within hours. If your Medical insurance doesn’t cover this, it can take days.
Malaria is endemic, talk to your doctor about the best Prophylaxis for you. Dengue Fever and Zika virus occur in some provinces. The best advice is to continually apply repellent.
There is a good hospital in Honiara as well as some good health Clinics around Guadalcanal and New Georgia. There is a hyperbaric chamber located in Honiara for divers.
OEX essential things to know about travel to the Sol’s
- Baggage allowance for internal flights is 16 kg (35lbs). Internationally 30kg. Carry on is 7kg. extra baggage can be purchased
- Get Malaria med’s. The mosquitoes aren’t particularly bad, but they pack a punch.
- Be prepared for delays. The Sol’s are at the very beginning of tourism and hospitality and a country like this will either teach you patience or send you mad!
- Make extra room to buy carvings, they do some of the best inlaid oyster shell designs.
- Get some snorkelling/diving training in before you come, the coral life is sensational!
- Research some war history of the WW2 battles fought here: wrecks and artefacts abound.
Request an insight into our Solomon Island experiences, here.