Trade the city life for a few days for a slower pace to enjoy the sea breeze under a coconut tree. Whether you have an interest in WWII, scuba diving, experiencing a new culture or just want to relax, Solomon Islands has a lot to offer even for a short break. This unique country is known as the Hapi Isles and this is immediately evident when you meet any local Solomon Islander. From the happy smiles to the friendly ‘hello’ or ‘morning morning’, you will feel welcome in this special Melanesian culture.
If this is your first visit to the Solomon Islands, here are some tips on what there is to do in the capital. Be sure to pack your snorkel gear, sun glasses, swimwear and if you are more adventurous good hiking shoes to enjoy Honiara and all it has to offer.
Where are the Solomons?
An archipelago of 992 islands, we are located in the South Pacific, north-east of Australia between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu.
People & Culture
Solomon Islanders are a blend of mainly Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian people with a population of around 550,000. Our cultural values stem back thousands of years and are very much linked to our land and surrounding seas. Most of the population still live a subsistence lifestyle where family and village community are the centre of social life.
Tropical. The drier and cooler months are April to October.
It’s warmer and more humid from November to March.
Average day time temperature around 28c.
Honiara Central Market
The Honiara Central Market is the hub for shopping especially organically grown produce. Fishermen land their banana boats and unload large eskies full of freshly caught fish, squid and lobsters. Enjoy a vast array of tropical fruits particularly bananas, pineapples and papaya grown in a perfect Pacific climate full of flavour that is unbeatable elsewhere in the world. Cluttering the entrance to the market on a Saturday morning you will find many exotic varieties of freshly cut flowers at unbelievably cheap prices. sarongs, (locally known as lava lavas) tie-dyed and stencil-printed make a great present for family and friends. Locally crafted jewellery including necklaces, earrings, bangles and traditional shell money can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
Diving & Snorkelling
Warm water coupled with wrecks make the Solomon Islands a diver’s dream. The best part is you don’t need to be in a boat for hours to dive a wreck and explore amazing sea-life, it is often within a short swim from shore. A 10-minute drive from Honiara are two well known dive spots – the Japanese transport ship wrecks at Bonegi I – Hirokawu Miru, and Bonegi II – Kinugawa Maru. The best part about these dive spots is they are excellent for snorkellers as well with a diverse array of sea-life visible through crystal waters. There is a small custom fee to access the beach and for diving, but enjoying a private beach, the coral reefs and beautiful scenery surrounded by coconut trees is worth it. For more dive information and gear hire contact Neil from Tulagi Dive at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nggela (Florida) Islands
Escape the capital and cross the horizon to the islands in the distance. A two-hour boat ride will take you from Honiara to the Nggela islands and more amazing dives. If you want history visit the old capital Tulagi and see the foundations of the old British residence which has a sensational view of the surrounding islands. Have lunch or stay at Raider’s Resort, which has a private beach and offers trips to neighbouring islands and escorted dive spots. Visit a local community-run resort in the Nggelas and enjoy excellent snorkelling or relax in a hammock just a few steps from the water. If you are chasing dolphins or a volcanic trek then Savo Island is the place to visit. No matter the resort or island you visit you are guaranteed to have access to an uncrowded beach, great snorkelling and swimming in the warm waters and true relaxation opportunities to take in the island time!.
Museum & Art Gallery
Visit the National Museum for a taste of Solomon Islands culture, it is located in the central part of town and close to most of the main hotels. Solomon Islanders posses many talents particularly in the arts and like many in the Pacific, are blessed with melodic voices and Melanesian island rhythm.
From knitting, tie-dying and basket weaving to crafting jewellery from shells or paper, there are beautiful items to purchase to remember your time in the ‘Hapi Isles’. Taking inspiration from the sea, Solomon Islanders craft and carve amazing bowls, statues and wall hangings. The carvers use several types of wood including rosewood, kerosene wood and queen and king ebony. They delicately set shell inlay for decoration to create beautiful and practical artwork. You can purchase directly from the carver at the Art Gallery best done during the week as many locals attend church on the weekends.
However if you are visiting during the last weekend in the month, Sunday is ‘Art in the Park’ held at Rove playgrounds.
Relax at a beach
The tropical warm waters are just a short drive away offering a choice of pebble, coral, or fine sand beaches. The water is crystal clear and tepid in temperature. Drop into the ocean from a rope swing at Kakambona beach, a coconut-tree lined pebble beach.
A local favourite is Turtle beach. Relax in the shade and shelter from the sun in little leaf huts or under the canopy of trees just metres from the beach. Take a 30-minute drive to a small Catholic convent at Visale where a picturesque bay with calm waters offers snorkelling and a coral beach. Most beaches close to Honiara have signs and a small access fee (custom fee) payable to enter. Try a local roadside BBQ for a great picnic lunch.
Deep tropical waters provide the perfect environment for an abundance of fish. If you’re an angler but don’t have time to visit the provinces then go on a fishing charter. Henk from Ripples can organise a charter for you. The charter can be tailored to your personal requirements if you should want to stop at an island for a swim or snorkel. Ripples’ boat comfortably seats 12 adults and is reasonable in price. Contact Henk on email@example.com to arrange a charter.
Taxis are widely available in Honiara. While some have meters, it is advisable to set the price prior to commencing your trip. Ask at your accommodation reception desk prior for an estimate on trip prices. Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau staff can also assist – contact them for more information. Buses generally operate along the main East-West corridor from King George School at the eastern end to Rove and White River to the west. Services also operate inland to up to Naha. Less frequent routes also extend further afield. Rental cars are also available.
Solomon Airlines flies to 22 domestic ports from Honiara. There are regular shipping services to many parts of the Solomons from Honiara.
Most shops in town open from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday.
English is the official language of the Solomons, but Pijin is spoken by about half the population. In the early 1900s, copra plantations were established, the labourers employed on them had also worked in Queensland where they had used pidgin English. The local variety stabilised early and several religious missions adopted it for use.