SOLOMON ISLANDS: SIGHTS

HONIARA AND GUADALCANAL

         

GUADALCANAL is the largest island in the Solomons with an area totalling 5,302 square km. Main sightseeing attractions include:

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THE NATIONAL MUSEUM: Found opposite the Mendana Hotel, the National Museum houses the finest collection of custom and traditional artefacts, photographs and historical materials.

CULTURAL CENTRE: The different traditional architectural styles of the eight Solomon Islands Provinces are seen in the leaf houses built behind the museum in a parkland setting.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES: The most extensive collection of historic material in the country is collected and maintained at the archives next door to the museum and is open to the public.

NATIONAL ART GALLERY: The former Old Government House has now been newly converted to a National Art Gallery and Cultural centre.

Exhibitions of paintings and other displays have been made possible by the artists themselves and other interested people. Café facilities are also available on request.

PUBLIC LIBRARY: Situated on the main highway just behind the office of the Public Works Department.

BOTANICAL GARDENS: Found close to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) studios in front of the gate to the prison at Rove. Go through the prison gate and follow the road to the gardens.

MARKETS: A thriving and busy collection of market vendors selling vegetables, fruits, fish, betel nut and custom shell money and jewellery can be found Monday to Sunday at the main market near the wharf and at Rove and Kukum, a short distance from town. Rove market opens on Sundays as well.

CHINATOWN: One of the first established trading centres in Honiara, this busy commercial centre just across the Matanikau Bridge is still today a predominantly Chinese centre of business activity. Chinatown's main street is lined with stores built in the traditional 'colonial' style with verandahs and iron roofs.

FISHING VILLAGE: People originally from Lau in Malaita have established a fishing way of life on the main highway approximately five kilometres from town. Their fish market operates every day except Saturday.

OUT OF HONIARA …

BEACHES: Honiara, set on the foreshore of Iron Bottom Sound, has many fine swimming and diving beaches as close to the city as Rove, or Rain and Tomb Holiday Beach Resort, a short ride to the west.

GOLF: Tee off under the lavish shade trees on Honiara's seaside golf course. Enquire about fees.

ICLARM CLAM FARM: An experimental station for the study of the declining species of giant clams, known throughout the South Pacific Region and beyond.

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BETIKAMA: Situated in the grounds of the Seventh Day Adventist School, this handicraft centre has a fine display of pottery, copper work and wood carvings for viewing and sale, as well as a museum of war relics. This may be as close as you can get in Honiara to a live crocodile.

TENARU FALLS: Described as one of the finest waterfalls in the South Pacific, this is a day's expedition involving travel by vehicle and walking on a track into the bush of Guadalcanal east of Honiara on Lengo and Malango mountains.

MATANIKAU FALLS: Take a vehicle to Tuvaruhu, a suburb of Honiara and ask for a guide at Lelei Village to find the waterfall on Galloping Horse Ridge.

VIHONA FALLS: Deep in the rainforest of Guadalcanal in the Lhamas mountain range, these splendid waterfalls are accessible only by helicopter.

MAVASERE CULTURAL CENTRE: An hour and a half drive east of Honiara takes you to the home village of the Moro movement, which seeks to enshrine the physical and spiritual values of traditional life.

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KOMUVAULU VILLAGE: On the Guadalcanal weather coast, this village is the headquarters of the Moro movement. Accessible by boat or domestic plane to Marau or Avu Avu.

WORLD WAR 2 BATTLEFIELDS, RELICS AND MEMORIALS abound on Guadalcanal.

DIVING: There is an amazing collection of WW2 wrecks within 15 minutes drive of Honiara Centre. Dives for the experienced or beginners can be arranged through a number of dive operators.

VILU VILLAGE WAR MUSEUM: For history buffs Vilu has a good collection of World War 2 wreckage.

Map Of The Solomon Islands Provinces

MALAITA PROVINCE

The second largest and most densely populated of the Solomons, many of the inhabitants live in the jungle-clad interior.

AUKI is the main town and administrative centre and can be reached by ferry as well as regular flights from Solomon Airlines and Western Pacific Air Services from Honiara.

LANGA LANGA LAGOON: The artificial islands are home to the famous shark callers, and Laulasi which has large spirit houses with high-pitched roofs. There are organised day trips from Honiara and Auki.

LILISIANA: This village is home to a unique culture which originated on the artificial reef islands in Langa Langa lagoon. Observe shell money being manufactured and enjoy the golden beaches.

AOFIA, MAE'AENA, ANOANO AND ALITE: These cultural villages can be visited by arrangement.

MANA'AFE, AUMEA AND URU: These villages can also be visited by arrangement in a day trip from Auki.

BUSU CULTURAL VILLAGE: This is one of the unique areas where visitors can arrange to see cultural demonstrations.

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For further infomation, contact: Cultural Tourism Officer, Auki, C/- Malaita Tourism Associations, Malaita Province; Telephone: +677 40250, Facsimile: +677 40017

WESTERN PROVINCE

By far the largest in the Solomons, Western Province is 8,573 square km and has 19% of the population. Famous sights include:

MAROVO LAGOON: The world's largest lagoon is under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Western Province has some of the best diving in the world with spectacular underwater cliffs, wrecks, a submarine volcano, turtle beaches, game fishing, visits to ancient skull caves and altars, bushwalking and war relics (including Kennedy Island).

For further information, contact: Western Province Tourism Association, P.O. Box 56, Gizo, Western Province; Telephone: +677 30254/60024, Facsimile +677 39240.

CHOISEUL PROVINCE

Formerly part of the Western Provincial set-up until it gained its Seconded appointed day on 25th February 1995.

There are many coastal villages and it is possible to take a week long trip around the Island by boat.

For further information, contact: Choiseul Province, P.O. Box 92, Choiseul Province; Telephone: +677 60042, Facsimile: 0061 1451 10203.

ISABEL PROVINCE

The longest land mass in the Solomons at 200km long. Isabel has excellent kayaking. Visit Arnavon Island known as the 'turtle island' because they breed throughout the area.

For further information, contact: Cultural Tourism Officer, Isabel Province, C/- Buala Postal Agency, Isabel Province; Telephone: +677 35029, Facsimile: +677 35074.

MAKIRA/ULAWA PROVINCE

MAKIRA or SAN CHRISTOBAL has remote caves in its inaccessible interior which are said to be inhabited by Kakamora, the 'the leprechauns of the Pacific' a race of natives who stand a metre tall. Visit Santa Ana Island, Santa Catalina Island and Three Sisters Island for beautiful craft items. Turtles come ashore on the beautiful beaches of Santa Ana and it is possible to visit Natangera village.

For further information, contact: Provincial Secretary, Makira/Ulawa Province, Kira Kira Postal Agency, Makira/Ulawa Province; Telephone: +677 32100, Facsimile +677 32180.

CENTRAL PROVINCE

Central Province includes the Florida group of islands, Tulagi, the Russell Islands and Savo.

SAVO: An active volcanic island on Iron Bottom Sound, it is possible to venture to the crater to see the boiling hot springs on its edge. See the famous megapode bird fields and bushwalking and fishing are popular pastimes.

TULAGI NGELA: Features Gavutu Unilevers headquarters, Tanambongo Expatriate hospital, and Port Purvis, supposed naval base of the Royal Navy and Tokyo Bay.

ANUHA: On Anuha there are white sandy beaches. It can be reached by boat.
 
For further information contact: Provincial Secretary, Tulagi, Central Province; Telephone: +677 32100,
Facsimile: +677 32180

TEMOTU PROVINCE

The Santa Cruz Group is the most remote of the major island groups of the Solomons. Tinakula Island has an active volcano. It can be visited, but has been uninhabited since its eruption in 1971 for safety reasons.

BOLA VILLAGE, GRACIOSA BAY: This is the site of the Spanish landing in 1595 where the famous Spanish explorer, Alvaro de Mendana and 47 of his men died.

For further information, contact: Temotu Province Cultural and Tourism Association, C/- Temotu Province, Lata, Temotu Province; Telephone: +677 533006; Facsimile: +677 53036.

RENNELL AND BELLONA PROVINCE

RENNELL: World's largest uplifted atoll and Lake Tengano has unique wildlife, exotic and remote locations and some small basic resorts.

BELLONA: Smaller and easy to walk around, Bellona has rich phosphate deposits. Explore the cave dwellings of the earliest inhabitants.

For further information, contact: Provincial Secretary, Rennell/Bellona Province, P.O. Box G35, Honiara; Telephone: +677 2425, Facsimile: +0061 1451 11272

DIVE SOLOMON ISLANDS

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If it weren't for the remnants of war - tankers, battleships, troop carriers, bombers and fighters, which can be found scattered amongst the shallow reefs and deep harbours throughout this island nation, it would be hard to believe that the Solomons were once the site of fierce fighting during World War 2.

While the reefs are as good as any in the world,most divers visit the Solomons to see the remnants of the Pacific campaign. Honiara on the island of Guadalcanal is the best place to start with some wrecks diveable from the shore.

The 'Hirokawa Maru' and 'Kinugawa Maru' are both shore dives with the start of the wrecks lying on the sandy beach and ending in over 50 metres of water. Blooms of soft corals cover the hard shapes of shattered steel and jutting guns. Live ammunition is common in the holds which are screened off by sheets of tiny silver fish. Overhead, schools of Barracuda and Trevally blot the sun, while Garden Eels sway in the sleepy sloping sand bottom.

Further north a short swim from the shore reveals a B17 bomber resting on the sand. Fish fill the interior and it is possible to sit in the gunner's seat to try out the jutting guns.

New Georgia island encompasses two resorts - Gizo Island and Munda Island. Both have wrecks such as Japanese freighters, transports, dive bombers and American fighter planes.

Not to be forgotten are the lush coral reefs that fringe the islands and make up the huge barrier reefs. The locations mentioned above also have walls, passages and pinnacles teeming with marine life from tiny exotic Nudibranchs with their bizarre colours and shapes to schools of timid Hammerhead Sharks or the uncommon Whale Shark feeding its massive bulk with tiny fish and plankton.

Uepi Island off the southern end of New Georgia Island is famous for its walls plummeting hundreds of feet into the warm, silky blue abyss.

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Timid Garden Eels can be found in very shallow water along with delicate expanses of cabbage corals while just over the lip of the drop off can be found families of hunting Lion Fish with their long graceful spines herding tiny fish to the dinner table. At night with dive torches off, a wave of the hand creates swirling flames of pale green bioluminescence. Caves and overhangs reveal delicate polyps out feeding on the night's bounty.

For those who wish to explore further afield there are charter boats available for extended expeditions. Able to access the remote regions closed to land based operations, they dive untouched pinnacles, oceanic reefs and uninhabited islands. An added bonus is the opportunity to visit villages rarely contacted by the outside world.

Dive Solomons, in conjunction with King Solomon and Gizo Hotels, provides the perfect opportunity to explore the diverse underwater sights in and around Guadalcanal and the Western Province.

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Dive Solomon's experienced and qualified divers conduct various courses including for the non-diver, the internationally recognised resort course, which, with the warm tropical diving conditions assures an easy, exciting dive experience.

The highly personalised service includes international airport transfers, hotel pick-up and fully escorted tours.

As well as diving, Dive Solomons offers a range of activities to cater to the different needs of visitors.

Take an adventure trek through forgotten forests. Visit taboo sites of ancient headhunting times.

Mingle with the locals in their villages, and experience their culture first hand. Enjoy an afternoon chasing fish or loafing in a canoe, bottom-fishing in a lagoon. Experience the true Solomon Islands with Dive Solomons.

For further information, contact: Dive Solomons, P.O. Box 30, Gizo, Solomon Islands; Telephone +677 60199; Facsimile: +677 60137.

AUKI  LODGE

In Auki, the capital of the Malaita Province, there is just one hotel - Auki Lodge.

As a foreigner, you know you have ventured off the beaten track by the curious yet shy glances you receive from the local children.

Located on a hill overlooking centre of Auki town and its harbour, Auki Lodge offers quiet and peaceful get-away-from-it-all experience of the main shopping centre and markets.

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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Accommodation is in six comfortable rooms, each with overhead fans and private bathrooms. Deluxe and standard rooms are also fully air-conditioned.

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The lodge's dining room offers Western style meals, but more traditional fare is available if you would like to sample the local cuisine. The lodge also caters for special functions and conferences. You can choose to relax, or take any of a range of tours by road and canoe to visit the artificial islands in Langa Langa and Lau Lagoons, and to experience other local sites and traditions.

Contact Auki Lodge for the latest program information and to find out about their special packages designed for local and foreign tour groups, honeymooners, fishing and diving expeditions, week-enders, and culture enthusiasts.

Despite its remoteness, getting to Malaita is easy, as Solomon Airlines operates two daily 30 minute scheduled flights to Auki.

For further information, contact: Auki Lodge, P.O. Box 170, Auki, Malaita, Solomon Islands; Telephone: +677 40131, Facsimile: +677 40044

M.V. 'SOLOMON SEA'

Designed for a maximum of ten guests in five comfortable cabins complete with full private facilities, M.V. 'Solomon Sea' offers guests an exciting way to explore the Solomon Islands in liveaboard luxury.

There are scheduled departures from Honiara to the Russell Islands and the Florida Group, as well as extended charters to the famous Marovo Lagoon. Guests return to Honiara after seven fabulous days of scuba diving, snorkelling, village tours and expeditions to historic World War 2 sites. Rates include all diving, airport transfers, meals, and optional shore/village excursion.

CRUISING IN LUXURY

With an overall length of 25 metres, M.V. 'Solomon Sea' cruises at ten knots and is fully air-conditioned. Guests will appreciate the availability of 240 and 110 volt outlets, E6 processing, and multi-system video on board, as well as the first class-service and attention from the professional and friendly five-man crew.

With underwater visibility usually around 30 metres and water temperature in the high 20's (Centigrade), conditions are ideal for divers to discover the unique marine wonders of the Solomon Islands.

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There are countless World War 2 wrecks, beautiful reefs, enchanting corals, and a multi-coloured array of fish comprising this diver's paradise.

Naturally, M.V. 'Solomon Sea' has a qualified and experienced divemaster on hand to ensure each guest's personal safety, and make diving in the Solomon Islands an unforgettable experience.

For further information, contact: M.V. 'Solomon Sea', P.O. Box 1033, Honiara, Solomon Islands; Telephone: +677 26869; Facsimile: +677 25300; E-mail: solsea@welkam.solomon.com.sb and Internet Web site: www.solomonsea.com

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Jane Resture
(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 7th October 2009)