Solomon Islands is not your typical tropical getaway. With under 30,000 tourists coming here annually, this country is one of the least visited in the world. Despite this, Solomon Islands is anything but boring. What this country lacks in popularity, it makes up for in wanderlust. Host to over nine-hundred islands (half of which are uninhabited!) and endless natural sights, Solomon Islands is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the beaten track. If you crave something unique, then where better to go than here? Before you start booking flights, here is everything you need to know about visiting Solomon Islands!
Neighbouring the more popular destinations of Australia and Fiji, Solomon Islands is only a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Brisbane to its capital city Honiara. Despite this proximity, Solomon Islands is still fiercely underrated as a travel destination. Considered to be one of the last frontiers of the South Pacific, a trip to Solomon Islands is the perfect place for anyone longing for a time before mass tourism and social media. Do not let the numbers fool you; Solomon Islands is truly magical in the variety of activities and scenery it offers. The rest of the world just does not know it yet. This destination can compete with any other more classic island spots.
If we are talking wildlife, nowhere else in the world comes close to this place! Inhabited by all kinds of exotic animals and plants, many of which are endemic to the nation, Solomon Islands boasts an impressive biodiversity both above and below the sea. Did you know that there are over three hundred types of birds that live here, including the widely beloved and domesticated Kurukuru bird? Or that its waters are home to six out of seven of the world's marine turtle species? If you are an animal lover, then be sure to sign up for one of the many creature spotting tours on offer. Or better yet, dip your toes in the crystal waters and see for yourself. What better way is there to enjoy marine life than to swim alongside it after all?
If under the sea is more your scene, then Solomon Islands is certainly not one to skip. There are all kinds of natural treasures to be found here; some even breaking records! Recognised as the biggest saltwater lagoon in the world, the Marovo Lagoon has an impressive diversity of coral and fish which could make any diver's heart skip a beat. Protected by a double barrier reef system, this saltwater lagoon has some sights that you must be see for yourself (but be warned, you may be swimming with sharks!).
No matter how deep you dive, you cannot escape the imprint of world history. With over two-hundred shipwrecks and six hundred aircraft dating back to World War Two submerged in the Solomon Island's waters, diving becomes just as much a history lesson as it is a geographical one. Now a popular scuba spot, the Toa Maru located in Gizo is a Japanese ship which sunk in 1943 after being hit by the United States Army Air Force. Voted as one of the best diving destinations in 2022, it is safe to say that Solomon Islands' sea is worth exploring!
Life's a beach
With so many islands to pick from, choosing where to go can be overwhelming! Lucky for you, island-hopping is encouraged in this country; meaning you are not limited in what you can see. If you crave sunbathing on white sand one day, and adventuring the next, then Solomon Islands has you covered. For the lazy days we recommend a trip to Kennedy Island, the spot where a young JFK's life was saved in 1943. Here you have the option to swim and sit on a beach, or if you fancy, learn more about this country's unique history.
For the brave of heart, we suggest a detour to Skull Island. Considered to be one of the most sacred areas in the country, this small island contains numerous skull shrines dating back to the days of headhunting. If skeletons send shivers down your spine, then we would advise against this chilling trip. If you do decide to go, then listen to this cautionary tale: avoid touching or moving the remains, as you may return with more than just nightmares, but a curse!
A Hiker's Guide
Assuming you return from Skull Island unscathed, then why not aim a little higher instead? Although the country has plenty of hiking spots, we recommend the Guadalcanal province the most. Primarily covered by a tropical rainforest, Guadalcanal is one mighty jungle. If you feel like chasing waterfalls, we recommend a trip to Tenaru Falls. Expect a tiring trek, but march on with high expectations, and know that this stunning site will exceed them.
Setting high standards is what Guadalcanal is all about, and as the host to the country's highest mountain, it certainly does this. Reaching 7,661 ft, climbing Mount Popomanaseu is not an easy feat! But when you reach this mountain's peak, you can tell yourself that every sweat and tear shed was worth it in the end. Perhaps more legendary than this mountain's height is the stories that surround it; from giant snakes to giant people, Mount Popomanaseu is as magical as it is mysterious. Just try not to get eaten on the way back down.
What to eat
So you narrowly escaped being the giants' dinner, why not celebrate with some food yourself? Solomon Islands' cuisine has not yet made waves overseas, but that makes it all the more exciting. And with such an array of exotic plants, you are almost spoiled for choice with what you can eat. Did you know that there are over eighty different types of bananas growing in the Makira province alone?
While you can find more international dishes at the main resorts, for an authentic experience we recommend trying vaganigita: Solomon Islands' take on a barbecue. Cooked with an earth oven, vaganigita contains a variety of meats and vegetables which blend together to create something deliciously unique. If you need to cleanse your palette, then why not order cassava pudding for dessert? Simple in its ingredients, cassava pudding is a popular dish throughout the Pacific Islands!
To end on a high note, you can chew on a few of the very popular betel nuts. Described as causing a burst of euphoric energy within the person who eats them, betel nuts are an important staple to Solomon Islands' culture and ceremonies. We advise against overindulging on these delicacies though, as a little bit goes a long way.
Where to stay
Unlike some of its neighbours, Solomon Islands is limited in the accommodation available to tourists. Despite this, Solomon Islands can meet all your needs - whether you crave the authentic village experience, the luxury life, or somewhere in between.
For those with expensive taste, we recommend staying at the Fatboys Resort, located on the reclusive Mbambanga island near Gizo. From £166 a night, you can enjoy the exquisite ocean without any additional effort. For the scuba fanatics, what better way is there to enjoy diving than from your balcony? With only six bungalows and a hotel-exclusive restaurant and bar, the Fatboys Resort is the perfect choice for someone willing to pay a little bit extra for the quiet island life.
If Fatboys is out of your budget, then we recommend staying at the eco-friendly and much cheaper Marovo Sea Lodge. Situated on diver heaven Marovo Lagoon, this lodging is an excellent choice for only £50 a night. With access to three daily meals and activities provided by the owners, the Marovo Sea Lodge is the perfect option for those seeking an adventure, but not knowing where to start.
Finally for the thrill-seekers who chase an authentic island experience, we recommend none other than staying with the locals themselves! Although there are a few different village stays available, we recommend surfer paradise the Kagata village in the Santa Isabel province. For £85 a night, you have the amazing opportunity to disconnect from the wider world and embrace everything Solomon Islands has to offer. From riding waves to befriending the locals, the Kagata village stay is the perfect experience for anyone looking to make some unique memories.
When to visit
With the wet season falling from November to April, the best time to visit Solomon Islands would be during its dry season from May to October. You should also keep in mind that the country has several ceremonies and festivals throughout the year, such as the Wogasia spear-fighting festival in May, the Independence Day of July 7, or the Lagoon Festival in October. As a predominantly Christian country also, celebrations like Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated here. While visiting Solomon Islands in time for one of these celebrations can be exciting, expect to book in advance, as this tends to be the island's busiest season (even if it is one of the last frontiers)!