The Solomon Islands experienced civil unrest in 1998 and 2006. Whereas the ethnic tensions, government impunity and runaway crime that triggered the instability have not completely dissipated, substantial progress has been made and there is a relatively clear sense of civil order.
- Lake Te’Nggano – At 50 square miles, Lake Te’Nggano is the largest contiguous body of fresh water in the South Pacific. It lies at the floor of an old lagoon and is surrounded by tall cliffs. The lake’s western end has more than 200 coral islets. Several rare bird species can be seen at the lake including the Rennell fantail and the Rennell white spoonbill. The lake comes alive at dawn and dusk when massive flocks of frigates, boobies and cormorants circle over it.
- Kwaio Villages on Malaita Island – The bush-dwelling Kwaio community inhabits the eastern and central sections of Malaita Island’s mountainous interior. Due to its seclusion and the fact that it is absent from many travel itineraries, not many foreigners ever visit the Kwaio villages. Yet, the 1,000-strong tribe is the quintessential example of a people that have persistently rejected modern lifestyle and closely embraced their indigenous religion and traditions passed down over the centuries. Visiting the village is unsuitable for children since almost all teens and adults walk either completely naked or topless.
- Kwaibaba Waterfall – If you are looking for a cooling, refreshing experience, there are not many places in the Solomon Islands that can beat the spectacular Kwaibaba Waterfalls. The falls are hidden and sit on private land so relying on a local guide is a must.
- Diving – The largest proportion of tourists that come to the Solomon Islands do so for the excellent scuba diving locations. Tourists can choose to launch their diving expedition from the operators based in Gizo and Munda or could do so from a live aboard boat. In particular, Marovo Lagoon is a magnet for scuba divers whether budding novices or seasoned experts. The lagoon is teeming with drop-offs, caves, channels, coral gardens and thousands of multi-colored fish.
- Snorkeling – There is no scarcity of snorkeling sites at the Gizo lagoon and the Kennedy Island.
- Hiking – The Kokoda Track is one of the best known hiking trails in the Solomon Islands. Alternatively, you could go on the exhilarating 2-day climb from Iriri Village to the rim of Kolombangara crater. Almost all major hiking trails in the Solomon Islands stand out for the surreal scenery.
How to Get There
The main international airport is 11 kilometers east of the archipelago’s capital Honiara. The busiest international route is to and from Brisbane, Australia which runs thrice a week. There are also flights to and from the nearby islands of Fiji and Vanuatu.
All visitors require a Visa. Citizens of about 100 countries can however apply for a visitor’s visa on arrival while the rest have to obtain one in advance.
When to Travel
As one of the northernmost island groups in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands are hotter and much more humid than other islands and island groups in Oceania. As such, it is best to visit between April and November when cool south east winds pummel the island and there is less rainfall overall. July through September sees the highest number of visitors.
The cost of living in the Solomon Islands is relatively high and one will see this reflected in everything from calling tariffs and the price of clothes, to grocery and accommodation. This is exacerbated by the fact that the country has a per capita GDP of less than US$700. While there are places you can get accommodation or food cheaply, you have to be ready to spend much more for any decent product or service.
There are several ATMs in the capital Honiara that accept international cards. Given the sheer number of Australian tourists that arrive on the islands each year, several resorts, hotels and businesses accept Australian dollars.
The Solomon Islands’ slow-paced lifestyle, virgin terrain, affordable pricing, gentle people and plenty of attractions outside the tourist trap all combine with the people’s gentle mien to provide an escape to the predictable activity cycle of conventional tourism. Despite being a fairly well known travel destination, the island is still relatively unspoiled. It is the perfect destination for the tourist who has been constantly disappointed by the over hype and anticlimax that comes with many island getaways in Oceania.