Destination Guide: Solomon Islands

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When you mention the Solomon Islands to most people, their response is mostly a blank stare. If you have not heard of this remote Pacific island nation then you are not alone, but that’s what makes it one of the best off the beaten track travel destinations.

Located in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands are situated below Papua New Guinea with Vanuatu not far away. Think isolated tropical beaches, pristine coral reefs and surf breaks that no one has surfed on before.

Here is a mini guide to the Solomon Islands and what you need to know:

About and Where to Go

The island chain of over 900 islands is divided up into nine provinces with each one having a different culture, local languages and kastom–or local traditions and beliefs. The international airport is based on the main island of Guadalcanal, the site of fierce fighting between the United States and Japanese during World War II.

From the capital of Honiara you have a gateway to access the other provinces offering traditional village stays, untouched reefs perfect for snorkelling and diving, volcanos that can be hiked and stunning islands to explore.

The Western Province Islands are the most geared towards tourism (but even this is not the kind of tourism you would expect in other places) and is still quite off the beaten track. There is the World Heritage Listed Morovo Lagoon and the volcano island of Kolombangara that can be climbed.

Malaita Province, the second closest to Honiara, is where the traditional ‘shell’ money originates from and you can see the way it is still made at the Langa Lang Lagoon.

Choisel and Isabel Provinces provide access to unspoilt and dramatic volcanic islands and you can also visit the Arnavon Islands Conservation Project to see the endangered Hawksbill Turtle and the locals efforts towards protecting it.

Only two hours boat ride from the capital city of Honiara is the Central Province Islands where you can escape to one of many small beach resorts to relax in tropical paradise.

The remaining provinces of Makira, Temotu and Renbell are still very off the beaten track in regards to tourism but there are natural delights and traditional customs and ways of life that are not to be found anywhere else in the world if you care to venture.

When to go

Situated in the Pacific, the Solomon Islands have two distinct seasons: a wet and a dry. From October through to April there is the wet season, where heavy tropical downpours are common and the humidity comes with a vengeance. It is also known as the cyclone season and strong storms do occur as can flooding.

The dry season in comparison is hot and dry with the occasional rain. The dry season is seen as the better time to travel in the Pacific as the weather is seen as more stable and it is less likely to cause delays to your travel.

In a country ruled by the weather and reliant on boat travel, you can easily be way laid for days or weeks if the weather and seas are too bad to travel.

The Culture

A stunning and relatively untouched island chain, the Solomon Islands are still very much off the beaten track, mostly because there is no beaten tourist path. Solomon Islanders are part of the Melanesian culture, which includes the inhabitants in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. They live by the “Wantok system,” in which your family and village comes first and there are intricate traditional ways of life and doing things.

Each island has its own language, customs and culture which can vary dramatically to the neighbouring island. One thing many people don’t realize about the culture in the Solomons is that it is very conservative. This means that dress is conservative and women especially cover up their thighs as it seen as taboo to show them. Even when swimming women will wear long shorts or cover up with a sarong or alava lava to protect their modesty.

Men and women cannot physically interact in public unless they are family members and in the villages there can be specific areas for men and women for certain things such as bathing.

Christianity is the main religion in the Solomons and many people fuse it together with some of the traditional beliefs.

Be Prepared for Boat Travel

An island nation, the Solomons are a water traveling people. Be prepared to do a lot of travel by boat, varying from large ship or ferry to small ‘banana boats’ and canoes. If you are not well with traveling via the ocean, bring sea sickness medication.

The Solomon Islands are very much off the beaten track when it comes to travel but if you are looking for an untouched and unique country then you must add the Solomon Islands to your travel list.

Have you thought of traveling to the Solomon Islands in the Pacific?

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About Author

Growing up on the isolated West Australian coast Morgan always dreamt of lands far away and at the age of 18 started her world odyssey. After studying abroad twice in Ireland and Greece, interning in Jakarta, volunteering with animal rehabilitation in the Bolivian jungle and travelling to every continent including the great southern icy continent as an Antarctic Youth Ambassador and then volunteering as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Sulawesi, Indonesia. She is currently based in the Solomon Islands trying to combine her love of travel with her passion for protecting the environment.You can connect with her on twitter @morgan_petters and read more on her blog The Eco Backpacker.

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