Solomon Islands

Pacific Solomon island

Solomon Islands is located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea. The nation is an archipelago, with hundreds of islands spread out over an area of 28,000 square kilometers. The distance between the two furthermost islands on the east and west of the country is close to 1500 kilometers. Honiara is the capital city of Solomon Islands, located on the Guadalcanal province. The country has active volcanoes, coral atolls and two eco-regions within its territory. You can find hundreds of tropical trees and colorful flowers throughout the country. The region has been populated by people since 30,000 B.C.

Culture

Although the population consists mainly of native Melanesians, most of the country’s population has been converted to Christianity over the years. Anglicans are a majority, followed by Roman Catholics, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and other sects of Protestants. There are small tribal populations that have stuck to their indigenous beliefs as well.

English is the official language however very few people in the country actually speak it. Melanesian pidgin is a widely spoken language, alongside with 120 other languages spoken by various tribes around the country.

The people of the country have a very rich culture steeped in tradition. What this also means is that you have to be careful not to disrespect them in any way, knowingly or unknowingly. A few things to keep in mind, do not take photos of people without permission, photos of religious and other places of cultural importance may be sensitive, so ensure it is alright before shooting them, customs vary from community to community, so ask about them and try to follow as much as you can and do not walk around wearing beachwear or bikinis, except within the hotel you are staying at.

Explore

There are loads of things to do in Solomon Islands. There are active volcanoes, WWII wreaks, ancient villages to explore and people of various cultures to interact with as you travel across the country.

Shallow Coral ReefBeing an archipelago, all the popular activities are in and around the ocean. There are many coral atolls in the region, making it a perfect place for snorkeling. Hundreds of sites are scattered all over the longest lagoon in the world, where you can snorkel and take in the beauty of the corals. If you want something more adventurous, you can scuba dive to wrecks and watch rays in their natural habitat. You can also go kayaking or take a lazy swim near the coast.

If you are bored of water activities at any point, there are other exciting activities that you can participate in. The Kolombangara is a perfect cone of a volcanic mountain where you can climb up to the rim, view the crater and get some jaw dropping views of the area from the top. There are a number of other hiking and trekking trails that dot the country.

Otherwise you can go for organized walks. These walks cover villages, markets, parks and other areas of interest that are beautiful, vibrant and brimming with life in all forms. You can also visit lakes and waterfalls hidden among the mountains and volcanic craters.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Solomon Islands is as varied as the people and the culture of the country. There are influences from all over Asia that can be seen in the local cuisines, along with western influences as well which have been infused into the culture over the last few centuries, since the first Europeans set foot in the region.

You can also have traditional Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, French and other international cuisines in cafes and restaurants all over the country. Given the location of the country, you can also get some of the freshest seafood you have ever had, from fish, prawns, shrimp, crabs and many other varieties to tease your palate.

There is no legal age for purchasing alcohol in the country. If you wish to drink at a restaurant or a bar, however, you need to be at least 21 years or older.

The Bamboo Bar café is a happening place and its widely known for its tropical vibrant atmosphere with a casual laid back feel. The daily specials are written on a chalkboard every morning. It is a great place for a lazy breakfast, lunch or snacks through the day. Nings Coffee Shop and Bakery is one of the most hip places in the capital city. It is a small café at the side of the road with wrought iron chairs and fast food options.

Activities

There are not many nightclubs in the country, although you will find a lot of happening places to party. Locals are a vibrant bunch and on most of the bigger islands, they will welcome you to join their parties and gatherings, where you can have local food and beverages and dance away the evening with the locals.

Solomon Islands is an ecotourism hotspot. It is not a typical tropical beach resort type of a destination. Because of this, there are not a lot of touristy markets and shopping areas in the country. The capital city of Honiara has a few shops and markets where you can shop for local goods.

Melanesian handicrafts are beautiful and you can buy them at many shops in the center of the capital city. An nguzu nguzu is a typical carved souvenir which many people take back home from the country. You can also pick up locally printed t-shirts, local music CDs, books about the local culture and history in the capital city, or send postcards with beautiful signs from all over the country to loved ones back home.

King Solomon’s Handicrafts and Melanesian Handicrafts are two really good shops in Honiara to get souvenirs.

Transportation

There are many ways of getting to the country with flights being the fastest and most popular mode of transport for travelers. You can fly and to and from anywhere in the world to the Solomon Islands, except Fiji, which suspended connections due to a dispute. The international airport is located just 8 kilometers outside the capital city of Honiara.

You can also take cruise ships to the Islands. However, these cruises are part of packages and are not be used as a one way transport to the country. There are canoes and boats that can be hired to travel from Papua New Guinea to Solomon Islands, although safety concerns are high in these services.

While in the country, Solomon Airlines offers domestic flights connecting all the major islands and cities in the archipelago. You might need to book flights in advance if you have a very tight schedule for your trip in the country.

Boats ad ships are the most commonly used form of transport by locals in the country. You can take a ship from island to island. The ships are basic but have washrooms, snacks and beverages on board. 360 Discovery, Pelican Express and Fair Glory are some of the services that offer ferry and transport services between various islands.

Essentials

Citizens of all other countries need a passport and a visa to enter Solomon Islands. Citizens of many countries can get visa on arrival, while others need to apply in advance. Check in advance to know what you are eligible for and plan accordingly.

The climate is mostly the same through the year. It is very humid with temperatures averaging 27 degree Celsius. Check the temperatures in the region that you plan to visit as there are a few places which experience extreme temperatures at times. November to April is where it rains more than usual while June to August is relatively cooler. The cooler season is also when most travelers visit the country.

The official currency of the country is the Solomon Islands dollar (SBD). There are ATMs across the country where you can withdraw local currency or you can exchange at one of the many forex places. Australian dollars are accepted in a few hotels and establishments.

Malaria is still quite rampant in the region, so it is advisable to carry adequate medication and mosquito repellants when you go. You should use mosquito nets while sleeping and keep yourself covered during dusk.

Comprehensive travel insurance is required when visiting the country. As theft is a major issue, avoid walking alone after dark and stay away from very crowded places as much as you can.