Taking a trip to the Solomon Islands will be unlike any other vacation you’ve ever experienced. The people who inhabit the 6 major islands (out of over 900 islands) will welcome you into their natural paradise, complete with remnants from WWII, prime snorkeling destinations, sandy beaches, and dazzling lagoons. When visiting one of the last untouched destinations in the Pacific, here are 10 things to see and do.
1. See the Traditional Villages
The islands were first discovered by Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña in 1568, but the Solomon Islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. Early historians believe the first Papuan-speaking settlers arrived at the islands around 30,000 BC, and many of the traditions of yesteryear are still practiced today. While visiting, you can experience firsthand how many of the islanders live. You may be surprised to see that they still adhere to traditional customs in their remote villages that are tucked away in various areas of the islands.
You can’t go wrong with whichever tour you choose, but travelers rave about the Kmaga Village experience. This tiny village is located on the Eastern coast of Santa Isabel – the first island to be discovered by the Europeans. During this tour, you’ll sleep in a beachfront bungalow and receive top-notch hospitality from the villages’ chief and local families.
2. Visit Central Market in Honiara
When travelers want to rub elbows with the natives while doing a bit of shopping, they head to Central Market in Honiara on the island of Guadalcanal. The stands are lined with crafts made by talented artisans, fresh fish, fruits, and veggies, and handmade souvenirs for you to take back home.
3. Rent a Boat to Explore the Islands
One of the best ways to explore the islands is by boat. Various companies offer boat charters, or you can get behind the wheel and navigate the Pacific on your own. If a boat rental is outside of your budget, you can always rent a kayak for a few hours and take in the sights as you paddle along the coast.
4. Snorkel in the Bonegis
The Bonegis are just west of the capital city, and they (especially Bonegi I) are known for being the best places to explore the Solomons’ marine life. Beneath the Pacific, you’ll see beautiful coral reefs, tropical fish, octopus, and maybe even a few shipwrecks from World War II.
5. Immerse Yourself in the History of the Vilu War Museum
You won’t find a bunch of tourist attractions on the islands, but if you’re looking to learn more about this country’s history, look no further than the Vilu War Museum. During WWII, the Solomon Islands were used as an outpost by the Americans, and thus, it was the site of many battles. The remnants from those battles can be found at this open-air museum located deep within the forest of Honiara.
The remains of several Japanese and American aircrafts are on display, as well as a number of memorial plaques for the American, Japenese, Australian, New Zealand, and Fijian soldiers who lost their lives during the war.
6. Go Birdwatching
Grab your binoculars and your long-focus lens camera and make the trek out to Imbu Rano Lodge. The views from its sprawling deck mean you can get a perfect shot of the country’s unique wildlife. Some of the bird species that you’re likely to encounter include parrots, kingfishers, and white-eyes.
7. Travel to Skull Island
First, you’ll likely need to catch a plane to Munda. Then, you’ll take a half hour boat ride to Vonavona Lagoon to reach the country’s most sacred place: Skull Island. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you don’t mind being surrounded by human skulls, this is the excursion for you.
Local village chiefs will guide you through the skull shrines that are filled to the brim with the skulls of their enemies who were killed during the islands’ headhunting days. You’ll also be able to view the handcrafted caskets of some of the most prominent chiefs in Solomon Islands’ history.
8. Chew a Betel Nut
When visiting Solomon Islands, it’s only right to take part in some of their traditional ceremonies, including a little bit of betel nut chewing. A betel nut is the brown or yellow seed of the Areca palm, and it’s known to be a natural stimulant. When prepared, it’s combined with lime and chewed to produce a hot sensation throughout your entire body. Users have cited a euphoric feeling while chewing on the nut, as well as a heightened sense of alertness. All we have to say is: chew at your own risk!
9. Hike Up Kolombangara
The island of Kolombangara has a perfectly round volcano that last erupted 10,000 years ago. As the highest mountain on the islands, its summit is at over 5,800 feet, and you’ll need a tour guide to lead you along the way and hack away at the overgrown brush that covers the trail. After two days, you’ll finally reach the crater and be able to stand next to one of the islands extinct volcanoes.
10. Fall in Love With Tenaru Falls
If you enjoy the great outdoors, we guarantee you’ll fall in love with Tenaru Falls near Honiara. To reach the falls, it’s best to rent a 4WD vehicle because it’s no easy trek through the rough and treacherous path. But it’s definitely worth the drive!
Once you park, you’ll have to throw on your hiking boots and head deep into the jungle. After about an hour hike, you’ll reach the falls that cascade over a steep cliff. If you feel like bathing in its pool, don’t hesitate to strip down to your bathing suit and take a dip before heading back to Honiara.