Escape to Solomon Islands Tavanipupu Island Resort

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“Where’s the air strip?” I asked our host as we appeared to be descending in our little puddle jumper we had taken from Honiara to head to the remote and ever so serene Tavanipupu Island Resort we had heard so much about. He nodded ahead and said “there.” As I looked out the plane’s front window, I still didn’t see an air strip — what greeted me was a grassy field.

“Ahhh,” I thought. Well, I had landed in a sea plane in an ocean, a sanded piece of ice, on a lake, and some very tiny all dirt strips in my life, so why not a grassy field? As the plane landed, several locals came running over to the plane to offload the luggage for the four us of us who had come to check into the resort that day. Additionally, our host Ellison was traveling with us, who always seems to have a smile on his face.

There were no luggage carts however — our luggage were carried by hand up over their heads for the short walk down to a dock where a boat was waiting for us. In the boat were more happy Solomon Islanders, one of whom was named Joanna and had coconuts with straws in her hands. Flowers too of course. What a greeting — I felt at home immediately and it was far far away anything I had ever known as home.

Tavanipupu Renee

In front of one of the children-friendly beach areas where you can swim at the resort

The Tavanipupu Resort on Marau Sound

If you’re not familiar with the Solomon Islands, you probably haven’t heard of Marau Sound. Only a half an hour or so flight from the capital city Honiara, the Tavanipupu Resort is easy to get to once you’re in the country despite it being remote.

Tavanipupu exudes the magical and mysterious presence that so much of the South Pacific delivers, however because it is more remote and less visited, you’ll find yourselves marveling at the clear aqua blue waters and silence in all directions again and again. While I haven’t been to Papua New Guinea or the Maldives where Instagram and National Geographic photos show equally clear blue waters, it’s rare to find reef and beaches which haven’t been trotted on in more popular destinations in the South Pacific and the Caribbean.

The unspoilt waters of Marau Sound will bathe you in their pristine serenity and relax your mind, body and spirit.

The Tavanipupu Experience

As we arrived at the dock of the Tavanipupu Island Resort, some of the staff were singing and playing guitars as the boat’s motor became silent. We jumped out with our coconuts still in hand as they grabbed our luggage and made their way down the long dock that led to the resort’s main dining area, which also has a lounge to sit and relax.

Our thatched roof bungalow was at the very end — #1, which is the same villa that Prince William and Princess Kate stayed in back in 2012. It has its own dock and area for swimming and is surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants on all sides.

Tavanipupu Resort

There’s also a large seashell at the bottom of your tiled patio where you can clean your feet from the sand before you enter.

Tavanipupu, locally translated as the “passage of the Trigger fish”.

Our experienced chefs will tantalize your taste buds with fresh caught local seafood and international cuisine. You can sit back and relax at our lounge and bar facilities, even catch the last rays of the day sipping a cocktail at the overwater Pupu bar.

Tavanipupu is one of the world’s best Island resorts and is regarded as the best place to stay in Solomon Islands. In 2012 the resort hosted the Royal couple, Prince William and Princess Kate.

Built on the site of a former coconut plantation, the exclusive 13-hectare island features just 10 bungalows. Five of the 10 bungalows have been recently renovated and three more bungalows were built new at the start of 2016. Enjoy the accommodations, with rattan furnishings, a plush king-size bed, oversized bathrooms, and private deck with ocean views. Our resort accommodations include drinking water in bungalows, round-trip transportation between the resort and Marau Airport for up to four guests. To enhance tranquility, our bungalows have no telephones or televisions, however there is complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access in the main lounge areas.

Tavanipupu, locally translated as the “passage of the Trigger fish”.

Our bungalow at Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu Resort

Our hammock at our Tavanipupu bungalow

Tavanipupu, locally translated as the “passage of the Trigger fish”.

The walkway that brings you from one bungalow to the next and eventually up to the front area where you dine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tavanipupu, locally translated as the “passage of the Trigger fish”.

The view of the dock and water near the dining area at the front of the resort.

Tavanipupu

Enjoying Rose Champagne on the patio

Tavanipupu

The outside patio at our Tavanipupu bungalow

The land that the Tavanipupu Resort sits on is spiritually charged. Ancestors protect the land and you feel its spiritual essence when you walk through the grounds.

The Rooms

Built on the site of a former coconut plantation, you have 13 hectares to yourself — well, almost. There are only about a dozen bungalows and apparently they are working on more improvements and renovations.

The king sized beds accompany a sitting area as well (chair and a two seater couch with a coffee table) and are done in rattan furnishings. The bathrooms are also spacious and you each have your own sink area.

Tavanipupu

The front patios at so relaxing and romantic, especially first thing in the morning over a cuppa tea or coffee.

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

The rooms in the bungalows

Tavanipupu

Fresh fruit and champagne anyone? There are also fridges to keep things cold.

Tavanipupu

The inside tub and shower

Tavanipupu

If you want an escape pad where you’ll be working on your laptop and browsing the Internet, this isn’t your spot. While there is WiFi in the main lounge areas, the idea is to relax without your technology for a few days, a week or more. The bungalows have no telephones or TV’s on purpose.  This is a Soul’s Journey — a time for you to be present and soak in the natural beauty of the remote islands and waters that surround you on all sides.  

In addition to an old fashioned bathtub with a shower inside, there’s an outdoor shower as well — one of my favorite things about the rooms.

If your room doesn’t have a mosquito net, be sure to ask for one, as they can be a pest on the island after hours. A mosquito net will allow you to have a peaceful sleep without warding them off throughout the night.

Nature, Beaches & Views

Because there are so few bungalows, you’ll find that you can avoid people altogether if you wish. Take morning walks, an early morning swim or take one of their kayaks out on the water.

Tavanipupu

Boats are there for guest use.

The locals still paddle around in old fashioned wooden canoes, some of which were built by their fathers and grandfathers.

We were amazed to see so many of the staff paddle home at the end of their day working at Tavanipupu. Regardless of weather, they’d jump in their canoes and make their way home to one of the nearby surrounding islands. Commute time ranged from ten minutes to 40 minutes and only if a storm was brewing and the weather was severe would they stay on the island.

Tavanipupu

Wooden canoes of the locals!

Tavanipupu

The main dock at Tavanipupu, where the boats moor and where you can sip a cocktail at dusk. Note that even on stormier days, the beauty is breathtaking.

While they can take you out on a banana boat to find snorkeling spots on other even more remote islands and reef areas, you can also swim and snorkel around the property itself. There are plenty of gorgeous seashells, starfish and fish to be found.

Although it was dry season, we had a few days of rain. Like much of the South Pacific however (the Caribbean is similar in this way too), it doesn’t tend to rain all day, so there are always windows where you can get out for a walk or a swim.

And, as for the rest of the time, Tavanipupu has an area where you can play games and read books. A library of books that people have left behind and shared is in the main area at the front of the resort. 

We played backgammon and chess and dove deep into a pile of books on consciousness and spirituality we brought along with us. The silence was golden. The silence was magical. The silence was….so needed.

There were moments where we could hear a pin dropped — between the calming airs and waters, it was a perfect play to unwind and detach from all the material things that keeps us so disconnected to nature and the essence of who you are. Pure and simple, the main reason to head to Tavanipupu is to get away from it all and simply just BE.

Be one with nature and the birds, butterflies, shells, coral and fish. Be one with yourself so you can hear the silence and the queues you’ll get from the unseen world of the wildlife and sea life you’ll engage with while you’re there.

“Pure and simple, the main reason to head to Tavanipupu is to get away from it all and simply just BE.”

The magic you’ll find under the water starts at the resort — we saw a few sea shells of this size while we were swimming. The magic you’ll find at the resort starts with the people.

Tavanipupu

On the main dock at Tavanipupu.

Tavanipupu

Swaying palms at Tavanipupu.

Tavanipupu

Immaculate walkways at Tavanipupu.

Tavanipupu

Lush and green vegetation surround you on all sides.

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu is locally translated as the “passage of the Trigger fish”.

Tavanipupu

Susan is one of many who will make you feel at home at Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

Gods & Warriors Watch the Property

We loved the visual queues and reminders that the people of Solomon Islands have a deep and rich past with their ancestors. They show up in a myriad of ways from pan pipe playing and dancing to wooden carvings on walls, etched into canoes and other items or stand alone statues.

Tavanipupu

Above and below: Ancestral Gods and Warrior energy throughout the Tavanipupu property

Tavanipupu Tavanipupu gods

Drinks & Appetizers on the Deck

On the first evening we arrived, we joined our host Ellison and the Tavanipupu manager Mereoni Adimaisau on the main deck for appetizers and cocktails – pure bliss right? We thought so.

Tavanipupu

Cocktails on the main deck at Tavanipupu.

Tavanipupu

Margaritas anyone? They have a wide assortment to choose from — lemongrass is a big garnish here.

Tavanipupu

Because you’re surrounded by water, you can only imagine that the seafood is fresh and plentiful — our calamari appetizer had us at hello!

Tavanipupu

Fried calamari with a sweet tangy sauce.

Tavanipupu

Fresh oysters at Tavanipupu.

Exquisite South Pacific Food Delicacies

We also loved our dinners at Tavanipupu, from unique delicacies like Sea Urchin (paired with pink champagne of course) and fresh fish to shrimp dishes and a myriad of options with fresh coconut and coconut cream.

Sea urchin at Tavanipupu Resort

Sea urchin with lime at Tavanipupu Resort

Tavanipupu

Fresh grilled fish with fries — it will change depending on what is freshly caught that day or week.

Tavanipupu

Made with local veggies – there’s a market across the water where you can buy some of the options.

Tavanipupu

The crab and oysters were so fresh at Tavanipupu

Tavanipup

They even had seafood skewers and fresh clams

Tavanipupu

Locally, you’ll find a lot of Kasume, which is a local fern and they serve it a variety of ways including with coconut of course.

Tavanipupu

Oysters on the deck as well as at the Buffet dinner (they were so fresh and served with lime)

Tavanipupu

There are many root veggies which are popular as well, including Casava and others.

Pie at Tavanipupu

Homemade pie — they also had a Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce which was to die-for!

Group Dining

In the main dining area, you can opt to eat by yourself or join a group table. There are times when you order from a menu or have a 6 course degustation meal and other evenings where they offer a buffet of choices. The tables were set up beautifully in the open-air which face the ocean, but under cover of course so you can enjoy outdoor dining even when it rains.

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

A group dining experience we enjoyed while at Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

You can always enjoy outdoor eating at Tavanipupu, at lunch and breakfast as well and the fish is so fresh. We tried King Fish a number of times.

Tavanipupu

You can order straight cocktails as well as wine. Whether you want a sweeter Margarita or Pina Colada or simply a Rum and Coke or Gin and Tonic, they’ve got you covered.

Culture & History

The island has an interesting history. We mentioned that it was previously a coconut plantation (timing was the 19th century) and why there are so many coconuts to be found on the island, but it goes even deeper. The island was once owned by Norwegian Traders who bought it off the locals for some ammunition. It is said that you can still find trader’s gravestones hidden amongst the long grass throughout the island. 

Locals love music and sing regularly — there are even groups who practice singing as well and a few of us played guitars for us.

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

Symbols of the Solomon Islanders’ ancestors can be found on wood carvings, canoes and other artisan work throughout the resort.

We were given a wooden mask carving from our hosts as a gift of appreciation — note that the wood is a lot lighter than the carvings you typically find on your travels to Africa.

Tavanipupu

Wooden mask carving by locals

Pan Pipe Playing and Dancing

We truly enjoyed the evening where the local pan pipe players performed for us — it was so melodic and relaxing but also invigorating and toe-tapping at the same time.

Tavanipupu

Pan pipe performance at Tavanipupu (above and below)

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu
Below is a short snippet of a video we shot during the performance.

The Spa at Tavanipupu

The spa at Tavanipupu albeit simple, is lovely because it faces the ocean and when face down, you can see the water below. You could sign up for foot massages, reflexology, Lomilomi massage or a full body traditional massage with Joanna. They are trying to expand, although currently there’s only space for two massages at one time in the little spa “house” that overlooks the water.

Tavanipupu spa

The sweeping views of the mountains in the distance

Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

Local products from the Solomon Islands — we love their coconut oil used for massage!

Below, I learn from Joanna about the products and process. The experience was oh so lovely — how cuold it not be short of bliss out in nature?

Getting There

Many flights to Solomon Islands from major international airports are non-stop and can be easily booked between Brisbane, Australia and Honiara, Solomon Islands by Virgin Australia and Fly Solomon Airlines.  Air Pacific also schedules flights between Fiji, Vanuatu, and Honiara.

Guests need to arrange flights or boat transfers to Tavanipupu in advance from Honiara so they know when to pick you up. As I mentioned, you arrive on a grassy strip so it’s important that they know your schedule so the Tavanipupu staff is there waiting to transport you across the water to the resort.

Guests will be transferred from the Marau airstrip and is included in the booking.

Tavanipupu

Leaving Honiara for Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu airport strip

The grassy airstrip where you land in Marau

Tavanipupu

Once you land, staff from Tavanipupu cart your luggage over to the banana boat waiting to transport you to the resort

The views on your flight from Honiara to the resort are spectacular!

Tavanipupu

The sweeping views on your flight to Tavanipupu

Tavanipupu

Breathtaking views are in all directions!

Tavanipupu

This is the dock where the boat arrives.

DETAILS:

Tavanipupu Island Resort
For more information, visit their website which has the latest details and rates.

Other Useful Articles on the Solomon Islands

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Note: our trip was supported and sponsored by Solomon Islands Tourism but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.
Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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