Tucked away in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands are a little known, unspoiled paradise. The Solomon Islands are an archipelago of almost 1,000 islands, located between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu – a three hour journey from Australia. These islands are laid-back, welcoming and often surprisingly untouched. From WWII relics scattered in the jungle to leaf-hut villages where traditional culture is flourishing – there’s so much on offer. Then there’s the visual appeal, with scenery reminiscent of a Discovery Channel documentary: volcanic islands, croc-infested mangroves, huge lagoons, tropical islets and emerald forests.
The Solomon Islands have a rich and fascinating history. Some say that visiting the Solomon Islands is like stepping back in time. History and tradition here is alive and authentic. Indigenous Solomon Islanders have their own origin stories, differing between tribes and islands, but commonly indicating that they originated from within the islands rather than arriving from somewhere far away. The first official European contact was the sighting by Spanish explorer Mendana in 1568. It is said that he named the country Isle de Solomon after the riches of King Solomon and the biblical land of gold. Mendana was followed by missionaries, traders, labor recruiters and colonial administrators from many countries in Europe and Asia.
World War II and its aftermath had a significant impact on the islands and people, and the Solomons are a ‘must-visit destination site’ for those with a penchant for history. The Solomon Islands are host to hundreds of ships and aircraft strewn across the sea bed. A reminder of World War II, these underwater sites also provide fantastic diving opportunities. Travelers interested in history, but who prefer to stay above the water line, can enjoy touring Honiara’s U.S. War Memorial honoring fallen Allied soldiers. Down the road from the Memorial is The Solomon’s Peace Memorial Park, built by Japanese war veterans. This year commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, and festive celebrations will be held August 01 – 07, 2017.
With only a smattering of traditional guesthouses and comfortable hideaways, the Solomon Islands are truly tailor-made for eco-tourists. For outdoorsy types, lots of action-packed experiences await: climb an extinct volcano, surf uncrowded waves, snorkel pristine reefs, or kayak across a lagoon. Beneath the ocean’s surface, divers are in for an underwater treasure chest of vibrant marine life and sunken wrecks. The ecological diversity is astounding, the water is warm, and the clarity is sheer amazing.
Visitors can stay at community owned eco lodges, and experience ancient traditional rituals, contemporary village life, and a warm local welcome. People here deeply care about their environment, and will help to make your stay in the Solomon Islands incredibly rich and special.
The capital, Honiara, is a fast growing city of approximately 70,000 people. Modern urban life and technology sit side by side with ancient traditions. The majority of Solomon Islanders still live in rural villages, where they are mostly involved in a subsistence economy, and life can appear a long way from the 21st century. The concept of money is relatively recent in Solomon Island culture and barter and alternative forms of currency, such as shell money, are still practiced. The country’s main food market is the Central Market in Honiara. A hub of noise and color, the market has a huge selection of fish and fresh produce brought in from outlying islands, as well as crafts, jewelry and other items, and it is a fantastic cultural experience for visitors.
AirlinePros partner Solomon Airlines is the national carrier of the Solomon Islands, and flies to Honiara from Brisbane four times per week, from Sydney once a week, and provides weekly flights from Nadi, Port Vila and Port Moresby. From North America, most travelers fly via Los Angeles and either Brisbane or Nadi.