Solomon Islands, South Pacific
Comprised of six major islands and more than 900 smaller islands, the Solomon Islands are located east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu.
Lush rainforests, waterfalls and mountains are common features throughout the islands. The beautiful local villages and golden beaches paint the region as an authentic tropical paradise. Many of the islands are still rich in traditional culture, with leaf-huts and archaeological monuments dotting the landscape.
The Solomons are grouped into nine provinces, each with their own provincial government, customs and characteristics. The majority of the population lives in rural villages, with many cultures and traditions found throughout the different provinces.
Honiara, the capital city, has a population of over 60,000 people. The city is a strong base from which to explore everything the region has to offer and provides many creature comforts. However, traditional customs sit side-by-side with modern technology.
The Solomon Islands are rich in history, with remnant signs of WWII everywhere, from the jungle to the beach. As the region of Guadalcanal was the site of an important battle, memorials and commemorative plaques dot the islands. Parts of Honiara were built from infrastructure left behind from the war.
The location is renowned for stunning beaches, coral reefs and lingering volcanoes. The clear waters and colourful reefs house an abundance of marine life. The islands are highly sought after destinations for divers, with many wrecks and reefs available for exploring.
The main port regions of the Solomon Islands are Honiara and Gizo, with the majority of cruise ships docking near Honiara, the capital. Honiara is located on the northwestern coast of Guadalcanal, with the Matanikau River flowing through the city. The city is home to the majority of infrastructure and government resources.
The Solomon Islands use a tender port for cruise ship passengers. It is recommended that passengers disembarking take essential items with them. An international port is expected to be completed in 2016.
Passengers transferred to the capital city of Honiara have access to the following facilities:
International currency exchange
Private tour booking kiosks.
How to Get Around
Transport options throughout the Solomon Islands depend on the island you are visiting. Inter-island ferries are available to transfer passengers between islands. Due to the size of the region, travelling throughout the Solomon Islands requires some planning.
Taxis are available in Honiara, Gizo and Auki. The local taxis don’t use meters, so be sure to determine the fare prior to travelling.
Buses run regularly throughout Honiara. Rental cars are also available to hire in Honiara.
Currency - The local currency is the Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD). Denominations are: SI$5, SI$10, SI$20, SI$50 and SI$100 notes, and coins include 10, 20, 50 cents, SI$1 and SI$2 coins. Currency exchange is available at the local bank branches.
Time Zone – The Solomon Islands observe Solomon Islands Time (SBT), which is 11 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Savings Time is not observed in the Solomon Island region.
Weather – The islands have an equatorial climate, with hot and humid weather common year-round. Average temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius. Average rainfall varies across the islands, with 2 distinct seasons experienced throughout the year. The wet season runs from November to April, with falls around 300mm being common.
US War Memorial – Since first opening in 1992, the memorial has become a very popular attraction for visitors to Honiara. The memorial provides detailed insight into battles fought during the Guadalcanal campaign. Just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Honiara, the memorial also offers great views along the northern coast.
Shopping the Central Markets – For a wide variety of fresh food, the Central Market is the place to go. Covering a whole block across the seafront of Honiara, the market sells local crafts, fruit, vegetables and fresh fish. It is open Monday to Saturday until the evening and is a great spot to pick up souvenirs.
Battlefield Tours – Avid historians will enjoy the opportunity to tour the local battlefields near Honiara. All tours take in a number of important WWII battle sites and memorials, including the US Memorial on Hill 73. Tours are led by knowledgeable historians and can be booked prior to or on arrival in Honiara.
Bonegi – The black sands of Bonegi beach are just 13 kilometres west of Honiara. Hidden in the waters are the wreck of Hirokawa Maru and Kinugawa Maru (also known as Bonegi I and II). There is much to explore in the wrecks themselves, as well as the surrounding reef areas.