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SOLOMON ISLANDS

TREASURED ISLANDS OF MELANESIA

The Solomon Islands Message Forum

Smiling faces and warm Island hospitality are a feature of diverse Solomon Islands culture  

 

The Solomon Islands Group were probably discovered about 5,000 years ago. The first Europeans to visit the Islands were the Spanish with Alvaro de Mendana naming them the Solomons. He also named the Islands of Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal and San Cristobal.

The Solomon Islands Group has an abundance of golden beaches fringed with palm trees, translucent blue waters, spectacular coral reefs and colourful marine life. The Solomons are located south east of Papua New Guinea and only three hours by air from Australia.

           

The islands are covered in tropical rainforest and their steep hilly slopes are interspersed with swift flowing creeks, waterfalls and peaceful lagoons.

The people of the Solomons still practise a traditional way of life, preferring to respect the old customs and traditions, maintaining and preserving their beautiful unspoiled environment.

WELCOME EVERYBODY 

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Solomon Islands male dancer

CAPITALS AND MAJOR CENTRES

The Solomon Islands are made up of more than 990 islands, which together cover a land mass of 28,000 square kilometres. The main islands are Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Santa Isabel, San Cristobal, Malaita and New Georgia.

Volcanoes with varying degrees of activity are situated on some of the larger islands, while many of the smaller islands are simply tiny atolls covered in sand and palm trees.

HONIARA

Honiara, the Capital was born out of war's necessities. Its oldest architectural style, still to be observed in one or two less obvious corners of its bustling environs is the World War II military hut with its distinctive semi-circular roof. Honiara takes its name from the native description of its site: "Naho ni ara", meaning "facing the east and south-east wind", and not even a native village preceded it in its location.

Honiara is centred on Point Cruz, which Alvaro de Mendana named when he landed there more than 4 centuries ago. He also named Guadalcanal, the island on which it is located for a town in Spain, and many of the other geographical features of the Group, which probably takes its own name from his reports of its riches. 

Situated on Guadalcanal, the capital Honiara has a population of more than 30,000 and is located on a coastal stretch overlooking Iron Bottom Sound.  One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the South Pacific is Matanikau Falls, a two hour walk from Honiara.  It has many large pools for swimming and an impressive stalagmite-covered cave which is home to a vast number of swallows. 

Visitors can also climb Mount Austin, passing Solomon Peace Memorial Park with its sweeping view of the Northern Coastal Plains.  Other historical sites include the Red Beach on the Coastal Plain, and the Henderson Tower. 

Traditional dance
 
Point Cruz, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
 
Matanikau River, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

SOLOMON ISLANDS NATIONAL ANTHEM

God save our Solomon Islands from shore to shore.
Bless all her people and her Lands
With your protecting hands.
Joy, Peace, Progress and Prosperity;
That men should brothers be, make nations see.
Our Solomon Islands, our Solomon Islands,
Our Nation, Solomon Islands,
Stands for evermore.

Solomon Islands lagoon

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Scenes from the Solomons

Rusting in peace (WW2)

In an easterly direction from Tenaru is the Tenaru Falls an impressive 60 metre waterfall, and in a westerly direction from Honiara 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 sea shells. Savo Island is a cloud-shrouded place, its waters housing the graves of at least four ships that were sunk during the Battle of Savo.  Today it is an ideal picnic spot and a diver's paradise with its sunken ships, sleepy villages and magnificent crystal waters. 

HOTELS

SOLOMON KITANO MENDANA HOTEL

Situated just fifteen minutes from Henderson Airport and two minutes from Honiara's shopping centre, it is a premier location for business travellers because of its proximity to Honiara's Government and business offices.  The Hotel is the Solomon premier conference venue offering photocopy, telex, e-mail, facsimile and secretarial services.  Gracing the ocean front, the Hotel has a choice of 94 guest rooms which include deluxe rooms with sea or garden views, three luxurious suites, and standard rooms or with air-conditioning, IDD telephones, television with in-house video and satellite TV systems, fridge, tea and coffee-making facilities plus international service to match from the staff.

From the Hotel, it is possible to arrange flights to more than 20 of the outer islands or to join the "off the beaten track" travellers and venture into the wild of the country, dive further afield to coral reefs and war wrecks, observe the diversity of Melanesian culture, fish and sightsee among the battlegrounds of the Pacific.

For more information contact the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel, P.O. Box 384, Mendana Avenue, Honiara, Solomon Islands. Telephone + 677 20071; Facsimile + 677 23942; Email kitano@welkam.solomon.com.sb

Other major Hotels are the Honiara Hotel, the King Solomon Hotel, Iron Bottom Sound Hotel and the Quality Motel.  All these Hotels offer air-conditioned rooms, restaurants and conference facilities.

HONIARA HOTEL

Smiling faces and warm island hospitality are a distinctive trait of the Honiara Hotel which is located in tropical surroundings only a few minutes from the city centre.

With the addition of a new wing perched on a hilltop, the hotel has increased its guest accommodation and set an even higher standard with rooms that feature large balconies overlooking Honiara and the historic Iron Bottom Sound.

All accommodation, except for the budget rooms, features air-conditioning, satellite TV, in-house video, radio, IDD telephones, private bathroom, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities.

The budget accommodation offers fully-screened rooms with ceiling fans, wash basin and share bathroom facilities.

The hotel has an air-conditioned French a la carte restaurant, Poolside Coffee Shop Bar, souvenir shop, boutique and dive shop.

Outdoor activities centre around the swimming pool, squash courts and floodlit tennis court.  The friendly receptionists can also help with inquiries about diving and local tours.  Guests are treated royally with colourful dancers from the Solomon and Gilbert Islands performing a variety of traditional dances around the pool area every Wednesday (BBQ night) and Friday (Island Feast night).

The hotel also specialises in conferences, banquets, cocktail parties and wedding reception.

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Hospitality and service are a feature of the Honiara hotel.

For more information contact Honiara Hotel: P O Box 4, Honiara, Solomon Islands. Telephone + 677 21737; Facsimile + 677 20376 

KING SOLOMON HOTEL

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The new King Solomon Hotel is impressive in appearance, but doesn't compromise on comfort or service and provides a wonderful beginning to your adventure in the Solomon Islands. 

Every room is charming, every detail of the hotel unique - from the cable car transportation, to the tropical landscaped gardens and waterfall.

When you stay at the King Solomon, not only do you get excellent service and facilities, but you also find Solomon Islands culture and tradition blending in with the comforts of a new hotel.

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The two magnificent 'Leaf Haus' which lodge the reception area, gift and dive shop, bar and restaurant, are traditionally built, with high beams and thatched roofs. The friendly warmth and hospitality of the Solomon Islands is reflected in the hotel staff who are dedicated to making your vacation both enjoyable and memorable.

Set one block back from the waterfront, the hotel has 59 guest rooms and self-contained units commanding spectacular views of Iron Bottom Sound and the surrounding islands.  The emphasis is on accommodation that is clean, comfortable, relaxing and designed to make life in the tropics a pleasure.

All rooms are air-conditioned and feature satellite television, in-house video, refrigerators, IDD  telephone, ceiling fans, and tea and coffee making facilities. Most rooms also have the convenience of a small verandah.

Dining and entertainment provide a Melanesian flavour to the hotel's restaurant and Honiara's only nightclub. The restaurant caters for all tastes and specialises in local fresh fish and seafood. The hotel's brasserie will keep you going from the breakfast into the evening.

The hotel also has a duty free, convenience and gift shop for those holiday essentials, as well as hire cars, laundry services, a dive and tour shop, airport transfers and conference facilities. The King Solomon Hotel, in its central tropical island setting, is the perfect gateway to the Solomon Islands.

For more information contact King Solomon Hotel, Hibiscus Avenue, P O Box 268, Honiara, Solomon Islands.  Telephone + 677 21205; Facsimile + 677 21771 

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QUALITY MOTEL

Situated on a hillside, surrounded by lush vegetation and overlooking Iron Bottom Sound, Quality Motel is ideally located right in the centre of downtown Honiara, a one minute walk to the main local market, and a 20 minute drive from from Henderson International Airport.

The central location makes it a perfect base for conducting business in the capital or taking on the sights, sounds and relaxing atmosphere of Honiara's Chinatown, markets, restaurants and central shopping plaza.

There are 30 rooms available, ten of which are fully self-contained units.  All of the 11 air-conditioned and 18 fan-cooled rooms have toilet, shower, tea and coffee making facilities, and refrigerator, as well as garden or ocean views from the large balconies.  Self-contained units include dining table, lounge, TV and fully equipped kitchen with gas range oven and cookware.  Also on premises is a restaurant and conference room for the convenience of guests whether they are staying for business or pleasure.

In addition to the restaurant and coffee shop, the motel also has a general store and an arts and crafts gift shop.

For more information contact Quality Motel, P.O. Box 152, Honiara, Solomon Islands. Telephone +677 25150;  Facsimile + 677 25277

IRON BOTTOM SOUND HOTEL

Named after its historic location, the Iron Bottom Sound Hotel is the perfect place to let go of the hustle and bustle of the world and let the peace of the tropics seep into your pores. 

This is where the US marines landed during World War II and where some 42 warships were sunk.  If history interests you, the Solomon Islands War Museum is just one and a half hours from the Hotel.  The first stage of the luxurious Iron Bottom Sound Hotel has 42 rooms all of which have beautiful sweeping views along the beachfront on Mendana Avenue, ten minutes from the heart of the capital, Honiara and five minutes from the Post Office, Bank and other facilities. Within the next few years, stage two will mean an extra 42 rooms are added to this beautiful beachside resort complex.

There is a choice of twin or double beds, tastefully decorated in cool sea and sky colours and each room contains IDD telephone, fax, air-conditioning, refrigerator and tea/coffee making facilities. TV was installed in March 1996.  All guest rooms are seconds from the beach and surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens that have just enough structure to look as unspoiled and lush as they would in their natural state.  Outdoor activities include swimming, jogging on the jogging course, tennis, island dives, guided tours and visits to historic sites around Honiara.

Dining takes place in the indoor seaside restaurant which serves delicious Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Western style food. There is also 24 hour room service.  Friendly staff are on hand to fulfil your every need as you laze at the swimming pool or enjoy a cool tall drink at the bar.  They are also happy to organize rental cars (ten percent off all Hertz rental cars) and other transport, as well as the free pick-up service from and to the airport which is a twenty ride away.  Additional facilities available within the complex include six convenient shops, a laundry service, hair salon, souvenir shops, news stand and tour agent as well as comprehensive business and conference facilities.

For more information contact Iron Bottom Sound Hotel, G.P.O. Box 1892, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Telephone + 677 25833;  Facsimile + 677 24123 

 

SOLOMON AIRLINES

GETTING THERE

The Solomon Airlines have regular services to five neighbouring Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, Nadi, Fiji, Port Vila, Vanuatu and Auckland, New Zealand.  In addition the Airline services 24 internal destinations which include Santa Cruz, Santa Ana, Auki, Rennell, Yandina, Seghe, Munda, Gizo, Choiseul Bay and Mono.

Solomon Airlines, in conjunction with Air Vanuatu, Air Caledonie International and Polynesian Airlines has developed the popular and economical Visit South Pacific Pass which offers savings of up to 50% on normal economy airfares.

Air Niugini, Air Pacific, Air Nauru and Air Vanuatu also offer flights to Henderson International Airport, Guadalcanal, which is eight kilometres from Honiara. 

NOTE: Solomon Airlines presently connects Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu and islands within the Solomons Group. For its international operations, Solomon Airlines is presently leasing an Air Vanuatu Boeing 737-300 series aircraft, crewed by Air Vanuatu technical crew and Solomon Airlines cabin crew. For detailed information including timetables and fares, please click here.

INTERESTING ISLANDS

The islands which comprise the Solomons are practically innumerable.

A thousand and one, it is said, make up the cluster called the Russell Group and at least as many more festoon the south east shores of New Georgia, centering the whole complex of archipelagoes.

The more practical estimate lists thirteen large islands nearly enclosing a central passage which, ever since the war has been called 'The Slot', and which runs south east and north west between the seventh and tenth degrees of south latitude.

At the top end are Bougainville and Buka. On the eastern side of 'The Slot' are Choisel, Santa Isabel and Malaita; on the western, San Cristobal, Guadalcanal, The Russells, New Georgia, Rendova, Kolombangara, Vella Lavella, The Treasuries and The Shortlands.

In a Central position lies Florida, and to the South well away from the crowd, is Rennell.

THE PEOPLE

The Islanders are smiling, warm friendly people, mostly Melanesians (90%), with some Polynesians, Gilbertese (I-Kiribati), Europeans and Asians.

There is no segregation between races and English is the official language though there are more than 120 indigenous languages, including pidgin English, spoken throughout the Island Group.

 

 

Dame Jane Resture, Ph.D.

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Most of the indigenous Melanesians are extremely dark with fair, tawny hair; but Ocean wandering Polynesians have settled in many of the outlying areas: Rennell, Bellona, Tikopia, Sikaiana, Ongtong Java, Taumako and Anuta.

    

Tulagi, the pre-war capital was located in Florida, a group centred by Nggela an island deeply indented with sheltered narrow waterways, an ideal administrative centre in a period of marine transport. It was turned into a navy shipbuilding and repair facility during the war and was used as the basis of the popular long running TV Series "McHale's Navy".

Florida however contains no possible site for an airfield, and the Japanese landed there in May 1942 without opposition, were not long preparing for a landing on Guadalcanal at a point where wide coastal plains border the Matanikau River.

They began immediately to build a key airbase that could threaten and subdue the long chains of islands to the south and south east, and eventually Australia herself.

 Red_ch.gif (2665 bytes) WORLD WAR 2 - SOLOMON ISLANDS  
 Red_ch.gif (2665 bytes) WORLD WAR 2 - COASTWATCHERS     
Red_ch.gif (2665 bytes) WORLD WAR 2 - IMAGES OF WAR        

The Solomons became a fully Independent Nation on 7th July 1978 and today the country operates under a system of 9 Provinces. The National Parliament consists of a single chamber of 47 elected members presided over by a speaker.

NATURE

Lush tropical rainforests cover most of the Island Group. Exotic orchids, many varieties of extra large frangipanis, colourful bougainvilleas, ferns and palms are found everywhere and butterflies are abundant. There are more than 70 species of reptiles. A variety of trees and shrubs had been introduced along with fruits and vegetables.

THE SIGHTS

In Honiara, there is a bustling Chinatown, the National Museum and Point Cruz Yacht Club. Western Province offers traditional villages, secluded beaches, superb snorkelling and scuba diving.

GETTING AROUND

There are Public Buses, Hired Cars and Taxis, and you can see a lot simply by walking.

For inter-island travel, go by aircraft or boat.

Solomon Airlines flies to about twenty-three destinations throughout the country while Western Pacific Air Services operates flights to the smaller, more isolated airfields in the Solomons.

  FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT

Major Hotels have restaurants and there are International style restaurants in Honiara. Hotels have beer gardens and bars and several private clubs welcome visitors. Island night barbecues are held regularly and are very popular.

ACTIVITIES

Sports activities include golf, tennis, bush walking and a wide range of aquatic sports - swimming, sailing, wind surfing, water skiing, snorkelling and game fishing.

The Solomons is renowned as a scuba diver's paradise with coral, shipwrecks, giant clams, tropical fish and game fish.

SHOPPING GUIDE

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High quality craft work is available and includes ebony and wood carvings, bowls with mother of pearl inlays, shell jewellery, baskets, bags, hats and mats woven with pandanus or coconut palms.

Although the only craft shops are in Honiara, you can buy work direct from craftsmen and women in the other islands. Daily markets are held throughout the Solomons. The Central Market in the capital of Honiara is the largest and most colourful.

The Solomon Islands markets, Honiara

THE WESTERN PROVINCE

GIZO

Kennedy Island (Plum Pudding Island), Solomon Islands

Kayaking in calm, clear water,
 Kennedy Island, Solomon Islands

 

Gizo on the Island of Ghizo is the capital of Western Province which is well renowned for its diving and is the most popular area for visitors.

Here you will find a peaceful tropical haven with islands and atolls to visit, along with traditional villages, secluded beaches, superb snorkelling and scuba diving.

Gizo is a picturesque waterfront village at the head of the VonaVona Lagoon.

Gizo is the perfect jumping off point from which to explore the tiny atolls of the western province.

One of these is Plum Pudding Island where the late President John F Kennedy and his crew were shipwrecked during World War II.

Ghizo Island is not much more developed than it was during the war when thatched huts and small buildings crammed the shoreline.   Fishing in the waters is something to be experienced.

The size and number of fish is an angler's delight.  Here tourists and divers are catered for with the cheap, comfortable accommodation, but the lack of luxury is offset by the proliferation of uninhabited island hideaways and tropical fauna.

Off Ghizo you can hire a private boat and explore some of the magnificent coral reefs and marine life, as well as many war wrecks.  New Georgia Group of islands is another popular scuba diving centre for exploring the waters of Marovo Lagoon (Uepi), one of the world's largest and also Roviana Lagoon (Munda).

For more information contact Western Province Tourist Association, P.O. Box 56, Gizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands. Telephone + 677 30254/60024; Facsimile + 677 39240.

GIZO EXPLORER HOTEL

To experience the true ambience of the Solomon Islands, one must go to Gizo.  For those in search of a quiet escape, and island adventure or a diving dream, a new taste of natural paradise awaits.  Gizo is the ideal place to enjoy a "get away from it all" holiday.

Situated on the waterfront of Gizo, the Gizo Explorer Hotel offers comfortable accommodation, poolside relaxation, and access to some of the most beautiful sights of the Solomon Islands.  The split level open air 'Leaf Haus' restaurant and bar offers a wide variety of fresh local cuisine in the relaxed downstairs restaurants, and fresh ocean breezes and cool drinks in the upstairs bar.   Local entertainment is a regular feature.

Room features include a balcony, ceiling fans, ensuite with shower with half bath, IDD telephone, refrigerator, and tea and coffee making facilities.

Deluxe poolside and sea view wing are also air-conditioned. On-site is a dive and land tour operator to cater for guest activities, and for hire from the hotel are several one and two man kayaks and a range of mountain bikes.

Whether you opt for action or total relaxation, the beauty, peace and adventure of the Solomon Islands is right at your fingertips at the Gizo Hotel.

For more information contact Gizo Explorer Hotel, P O Box 30, Western Province, Solomon Islands. Telephone + 677 60199; Facsimile + 677 60137

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The following are two very useful Links to Web sites about Gizo:

Solomon Islands: Gizo

Dive Solomon Charters: Diving, Fishing and Island Adventures, Gizo, Solomon Islands

AGNES LODGE

MUNDA

Built as a Government rest house on the unspoilt shores of Roviana Lagoon, Agnes Lodge is now a hotel with 12 bedrooms, located in several wings and catering for a range of budgets. The newest part of the lodge, Zazala Wing, has rooms with double beds, separate lounges and private facilities. The Naru Wing has twin beds with en suite private facilities.

The Orchid Wing, with its three beds and no private facilities, is ideal for backpackers who are prepared to share. The Hopei Island is a self-contained cottage on an island 3kms offshore. It sleeps up to six and access is by boat or canoe. The lodge's fully licenced restaurant speciliases in seafood dishes, especially crayfish.

Of course, besides simply relaxing, diving is the greatest drawcard in Munda and the hotel has recently introduced a dive shop, Solomon Sea Divers, which gives visitors the opportunity to explore the calm and clear waters of Roviana Lagoon.

Agnes Lodge also organises a number of tours which include half day trips to explore tropical rainforest flora and fauna, an overnight tour searching for crocodiles, tours to WW2 sites and wrecks, and an island and reef snorkelling and picnic day trip.

Agnes Lodge has recently opened another premises in the fishery village of Noro on Kula Gulf. Noro Lodge provides modern facilities and caters for everyone from the budget traveller to the business person. Transfers between Munda and Noro are arranged on booking.

For more information contact AGNES LODGE, P.O. Box 9, Munda, Western Province, Solomon Islands, Telephone: + 677 61133; Facsimile: + 677 61225

THE WEST HAS IT ALL!

A unique experience for visitors who enjoy new sights and sounds and places to explore. The Solomon Islanders' way of life has remained unchanged for generations. They invite you to leave behind your twenty-first century life style and become part of them. Life in Western Province is unhurried, simple and welcoming.

The Solomon Islanders' diving offers the greatest diversity, with World War II transports and aircraft, plummeting walls, corals and abundant undisturbed marine life, unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Idyllic swimming and snorkelling, white sand islands, crystal clear seas and lagoons.

The rare beauty of the Solomon Islands sunset!

Visitors interested in culture, flora and fauna, can choose from a range of informal tours and visits. These include day trips to custom sites and tambu areas, custom dancing and lagoon trips to war canoe villages. Spend time with local families and experience our everyday life. Climb the extinct volcano or learn to paddle a dugout canoe. Fish in aquamarine waters and sample your catch cooked in a traditional motu (stone oven). Western Province people produce famous carvings and many fine pieces are worked from various woods, stones and river stones. Woven bags, baskets and carpets, using local materials is another fascinating and ancient village art.

Western Province's Festival of the Sea is a frolicking fun filled week of revelry and sport. During the week of 7th December, local communities compete in fishing competitions, war canoe racing and all manner of aquatic competitions and celebrations. A great time to visit!!

There is always something different to do. "No Hurry" the people of the Western Province say. Come and enjoy their way of life. You may want to stay forever....some do!

Find out more from: Western Province Tourism Association, P.O. Box 71, Gizo, Solomon Islands.
Telephone: + 677 6025. 

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Jane's Solomon Islands Home Page Jane's Oceania Home Page Sights Of Solomon Islands
Tuvalu Aspects Of Oceania Kiribati

Solomon Islands Travel and Accommodation Guide

Red Beach Images, Guadalcanal

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(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 9th May 2012)

          

(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 3rd December 2012)