Truth be told, I didn’t know much about the Solomon Islands before jumping on an airplane late this summer. As an archipelago of 992 tropical islands and atolls not far from Fiji and Australia, it is known to have some of the clearest clean waters in the area. Given that I’m a big lover of water and all things under the sea, I had to know more.
While the abundance of islands lends itself to tons of snorkeling, diving, swimming and water activities, there’s no shortage of culture, history and other things to explore of natural beauty in this not so known destination in the South Pacific.
Pristine Waters & Islands
The remote islands and clear crystal waters of the Solomon Islands is the sheer magic that drew me to the country. Of course, there’s its renowned World War II history, its deep water wreck diving and native culture, but the raw natural beauty, the simplicity of living, and the the combination of unique languages and beaches in all directions were main draw. Plus, there are so many coconuts, bananas, wooden canoes and palm trees that you can’t escape serenity even if you try.
The Children of the Solomon Islands
Let’s face it, the children of the Solomon Islands will have you at hello. Below are some random shots I took between Tavanpipup on Marau Sound, Munda and Honiara.
They are nothing short of precious — they love to play and their simplicity in the pleasures of the earth will teach you something along the way if you pause long enough to listen. Their blonde roots will show the connection to its British and European infusion over the years.
The Honiara Market
While there are no shortage of smaller markets throughout the Solomon Islands, the Honiara Market is known for its abundance of fruits, vegetables, and artisan goods that cater to people far and beyond. And, truth be told, it’s a visual wonder in all directions. Care to go on a journey with me?
Solomon Islands Art & History
There’s also a rich history in the Solomon Islands, which includes art, languages, poetry, music and beyond. While we’ve created a guide to the Solomon Islands art scene, below are a smattering of photos of some of the paintings and other visual arts we witnessed during our trip this past summer.
Ancient Ceremonial Shrines
The Solomon Islands are scattered with archaeological monuments including ancient ceremonial shrines. You can visit ancient hill forts on the tops of mountains, headhunting or skull shrines and other sites of important legends, such as Skull Island.
Unfortunately, some of the skulls who have been left there to be protected have been taken although some remain and local “spirit protectors” watch over the island to keep it in tact.
Be sure to visit our Solomon Islands art summary for more information and photos.
Jewelry, Crafts & Shell Money
One of the things I really loved about the Solomon Islands art and artisan work was the jewelry and shell money, which is an integral part of the culture of the country. You can find shell money in strands and bunches on its own or as jewelry: necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
It’s hard to conjure up what shell money may “look like” if you haven’t grown up with it in your culture. Mostly, they are strings of polished shell beads, and they remain rich cultural items of worth across South East, East Asia and the South Pacific. Think of it as a form of currency that was used in the Solomon Islands before bank notes were introduced and held tremendous value.
Today, believe it or not, it is still used, but obviously has less credence than it once did. You can find it woven into jewelry that women wear as well. Below, some of the work at the Honiara market — displayed into a myriad of cultural icons and objects, like sea horses, fish and dolphins.
Hiking to Waterfalls
If you love hiking and nature, walking to some of their luscious waterfalls where you can also swim and picnic is a “must.”
While I didn’t have a chance to do this, you can visit Kavachi’s underwater volcano in the south of Ngatokae, which is located in the Western Province.
Savo Island for Dolphins & Surfing
On Savo Island, you can see plenty of dolphins, and who doesn’t love to see dolphins? While I’m not a surfer, the Solomon Islands offers plenty of opportunities to surf. When we got off the plane in Honiara, I saw plenty of boards coming down the luggage belt at the airport.
Some of the top surf hideaways include the Lau Lagoon in Malaita or Tagovave on Guadalcanal’s Weathercoast, which is where we spent some of our time. Papatura is also a popular and beautiful place to surf.
Domestic Flights for Views from Above
We took several local flights on Guadalcanal, which we loved largely because the views were so spectacular. We flew a combination of Solomon Islands Airways and smaller puddle jumpers, some of which land on grassy patches in the middle of nowhere. The beauty of this of course is that you’re remote and away from the crowd and noise.
Below are some of the views we witnessed during some of our flights. Nothing short of breathtaking, right?
The lushness of the green valleys, rich red dirt and white sandy beaches combined with raw natural beauty in all directions is one of the things that make the Solomon Islands so unique. And, because it is less traveled to than some of its other South Pacific counterparts, the remoteness of the land (inland), as well as the islands and waters, make it a pristine and stunning choice for those with a more adventurous spirit.
Skull Island is an intriguing attraction on the “must do” list if you go to Solomon Islands. The truth is that there’s a lot more involved in the history and culture of Skull Island than meets the eye. In other words, the word attraction is really not the right word.
Be sure to read our article on Skull Island and see our video.
Diving & Snorkeling
Diving is big in the Solomon Islands and although we didn’t dive on this particular trip, we did plenty of snorkeling. You can dive Gizo’s Grand Central Station or the Japanese wreck, the Toa Maru. Green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill, which are considered critically endangered, can be found in the Solomon Islands as well. There are also tons of Clown Fish, bright blue star fish, reef sharks, dolphins and more.
Below are some of the shots I took on my little handy Olympus Rough Shot camera while snorkeling off some of the isolated islands a Banana boat ride away from Tavanipupu.
Be sure to read my more comprehensive overview of diving and snorkeling in the Solomon islands for more magical photos.
World War II History
While we did spend some time exploring the country’s cultural and artistic heritage, we spent most our time on the Solomon Islands purely in nature, both on land and at sea. That said, if you’re a history buff and into World War II, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a ton of war history to learn here.
Battles were fought here and many died during World War II — you’ll be touched by the bravery of the soldiers who are remembered here in Honiara, on land and underwater. The Solomon Islands Tourism website has some useful information about it as does this great article from the Smithsonian Mag.
Many of the battle sites remain virtually untouched and you can still find artefacts strewn about from rusting jeeps, tanks and amphibious vehicles lying buried in the jungle to foxholes and caves that were used as Japanese observation points and hiding places. For history buffs, this is a MUST DO!!
Pan Pipe Music Performances
Pan pipe performances are a big part of Solomon Islands culture and you shouldn’t leave the country without seeing at least one performance. We were able to see live music several times during our stay including an incredible pan pipe performance at Tavanipupu late at night after dinner.
Other Useful Articles on the Solomon Islands
- The Tavanipupu Resort & Spa
- The Solomon Islands Art Scene
- Under the Sea in the Solomon Islands Snorkeling
- Traveling to Skull Island from Munda
- Your Ultimate Solomon Islands Travel Guide
Note: our trip was hosted and sponsored in conjunction with the Solomon Islands, but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.