Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, which is situated on Guadalcanal, has a population of more than 50,000 and is located on a coastal stretch overlooking Iron Bottom Sound.
The town centre has a shopping plaza, cafés, restaurants and souvenir shops. There’s a Chinatown and of course, the Central Markets. Major meeting places can be found in private clubs that welcome visitors.
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the South Pacific is Mataniko Falls, a two-hour walk from Honiara. It has many large pools for swimming and an impressive stalagmite-covered cave which is home to vast numbers of swallows.
Climb Mount Austin, passing Solomon Peace Memorial Park, for sweeping views of the northern coastal plains. Other historic sites include the Red Beach on the coastal plain.
East of Tenaru is the Tenaru Falls, an impressive 60-metre waterfall. And situated in a westerly direction from Honiara town is Bonigi Beach, five kilometres west of Poha. At the eastern end of Guadalcanal is Marau Sound, a coral paradise. Here there are huge reefs of coral in unique and beautiful shapes which are home to a teeming array of tropical fish and fascinating sea life. There are also giant clams and some of the world’s rarest sea shells.
About 250 kilometres south of Guadalcanal is Rennell Island. On the south side of the island, the large Lake Te’Nggano contains some 200 tiny coral atolls and is home to a prolific bird population. Access to the lake is by tractor, canoe and jungle walk.
The Florida Islands are the closest island group to Guadalcanal and was the prewar Solomon capital of Tulagi. It was turned into a navy shipbuilding and repair facility during the war.
Savo Island is a cloud-shrouded place, and its waters house the graves of at least four ships that were sunk during the Battle of Savo. Today it is an ideal picnic spot and a divers’ paradise with its sunken ships, sleepy villages and magnificent crystal clear waters.
Fish is the most popular main item in the Solomon Islands and it is the same in Honiara. It is usually served with rice, sweet potatoes, taro, cassava and vegetables. Some popular dishes are ulu (made from breadfruit and served with other dishes) and Poi (made from taro roots and usually served during a celebration).
Shopping in Honiara is confined to traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. NPF Plaza, close to the museum is a good place to buy these products. Some shops near the Mendana Hotel sell woven baskets. Wooden handicrafts are sold near Rain Tree Cafe. You can also get the items from Central Market, traders from all over the island come here to sell their wares.
Honiara may look like a dusty old town at first glance but if you look closer, you will see that it contains a number of tourist attractions. The mountains around the town were the scene of fierce fighting between the Japanese and Allied forces during World War 2. Some of the sites are well preserved and have become tourist magnets.