Solomon Islands Millenia of immigration of Melanesians, Polynesians, Asians, Micronesians, and Westerners has made the Solomon Islands one of the most culturally rich island nations in the world. With thousands of small villages still espousing age-old beliefs and practicing ancient customs, locals are generally more than happy to allow you access to their land and entrance into their unique world, as well as help you find your way around the many small islands and vast lagoons that make the Solomons famous.
Traveling to the Solomon Islands is not easy, with a troubled economic infrastructure, and fewer flights landing in its capital Honiara; however, the world-class scuba diving, fishing, snorkelling, and birding, as well as the colorful culture and the welcoming nature of the islanders makes this place very much worth a visit. Historically, interest in the Solomon Islands is focused on the role they played in the Pacific during World War II--the wreck-strewn waters of Iron Bottom Sound are testament to the strategic importance of the islands.
Caution: Due to a rise in ethnic and economic tensions in the Solomon Islands, the U.S. and Australian governments have issued travel advisories against going to certain parts. Most visitors will attest that these tensions do not typically affect travelers; however, it may be worth investigating the region's social and political situation before departing.
Traveling in the Solomon Islands
Because of their remote proximity to major regional air routes, the Solomon Islands remain quiet and unspoiled by tourism. Most of the hotels are located in the capital. Outside Honiara, facilities tend toward small hotels and basic village resorts. The Western Province offers spectacular lagoons and shallow coral reefs that are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Inter-island transport is provided by Solomon Airline (the national airline) and Western Pacific (a privately owned local airline). During peak travel times--typically around the end of the year--it can be difficult to secure a seat without a booking several weeks in advance. Boat travel is available between all the islands, but because of the time it takes to traverse the waters between them, few visitors choose to use this method.
Because the Solomons do not have a well-developed tourism infrastructure, it has remained comparitively pristine, both culturally and ecologically. For those willing to embrace the relative discomforts of travel in the islands, the experience is sure to be a rewarding one.
The currency is the Solomon Islands dollar (US$1 = SI$3.5, approx.). Travelers checks can be exchanged in provincial capitals only, though it's best to exchange traveler's checks at a bank in Honiara before departing for other areas. Major credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and restaurants in Honiara, and at the larger hotels and resorts in the provinces. Tipping is not advised.
Malaria risk is highest during the wet season. Mosquitoes avoid sprayed areas and come out mainly at dusk--so keep yourself sprayed, sleep under a sprayed mosquito net or in a screened room, wear long sleeves and trousers if you go out at dusk, and see your doctor before leaving for the Solomons for antimalaria medication.
Weather in the Solomon Islands
The climate in the Solomon Islands is tropical. Average daytime temperatures are around 85°F. Water temperatures are roughly 80-85°F. November through March tends to be hot and humid, with monsoon rains and the possibility of cyclones. April through October is drier and windy.
Solomon Islands Information
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Square Miles: 62,000 sq mi (1.35 million sq km); 10,750 sq mi (27,556 sq km) of dry land
Official Language: Solomon Islands Pijin, English and 67 official indigenous languages
People: Melanesian (95%), Polynesian (4%), Asian and Micronesian (1%)
Religion: Christian denominations (96%)
Major products/industries: Timber, fish, palm oil