Why the Solomon Islands?
The hidden jewel of the South Pacific, this little-known gem is an ecotourist’s delight. Virtually unknown outside of the South Pacific and one of the least developed nations in the region. You won’t find luxury resorts and fine dining here, but for those looking to experience the Pacific as it was 30 years ago, the Solomon Islands is the destination for you. Word on the South Pacific’s best kept secret is starting to spread, via word of mouth from the select few who’ve visited and fallen for its charms. Known almost exclusively for its diving, there is so much more to explore in this land of unspoilt beauty and fascinating culture. An archipelago of around 1000 islands, the country comprises visually stunning land and seascapes of volcanoes, white sand beaches, palm trees and ocean waters made up of every shade of blue.
Explore the war relics of Guadalcanal and beyond, see one of the world’s only visible underwater volcanoes, dive the coral triangle, visit the site where John F Kennedy famously saved the men from the fated PT109 in WWII, meet master carvers in their homes who can teach you the secrets of inlaid pearl, cruise the archipelago in a luxury yacht or book out a private island for just you and your friends. You’ll be blown away by the beauty of this untouched utopia and the welcoming hospitality of its people.
The Diver’s Delight
With around 5800 square kilometres of reef and almost uncountable wrecks, Solomon Island is heaven on earth for Scuba Divers. Incredible diving can be found all over the country. Far from an exhaustive list, below are just a small number of our favourite sites.
The great diving starts in the Capital Honiara, where the straight between Guadalcanal and Savo is home to a smorgasbord of Allied and Japanese wrecks dating back to the Battle of Guadalcanal. WWII allies bestowed the name ‘Iron Bottom Sound’ on the area due to the sheer volume of vessels which went down here. While many are several kilometres deep, others are accessible as fascinating shore dives. Sailors and Servicemen regard these waters as sacred due to the number of people who lost their lives here and sailors routinely observe a minute’s silence as they pass through the channel. Honiara is also the ideal launching pad for diving the Florida Islands. Tugali, the former national capital was a Japanese base during WWII. There is endless exploring to be done here, including swimming through the Twin Tunnels on the sea mount just south of the islands, and of course more amazing wrecks easily accessible from the shore.
In the Russell Islands, Leru Cut is probably the most famous dive site in Solomon Islands. Leru Cut is an indent into the side of a small island that runs for about a hundred meters at around 12m deep. Surface at the end of the “cut”, and wonder in the strangeness of being in scuba gear in the interior of the island, while looking up at massive trees with vines hanging down and birds calling one another from the treetops.
The Western Islands are the best known and established tourism destination in the Solomon Islands, and for good reason! Marovo Lagoon will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief that a wonder this beautiful could exist on our planet. The world’s largest Salt Water lagoon is the jewel in the crown of the Solomons, turquoise waters speckled with hundreds of rainforest covered islands and coral atolls. In addition to its for aesthetic splendor, Marovo and offers unlimited diving potential. This is a universe of giant manta rays and sharks, pelagics and critters, not to mention the hundreds of species of hard and soft corals, and the best part about it, there’s almost no one here!
The diving in Gizo is some of the most exciting anywhere in the world with a number of popular and accessible WWII wrecks such as the Toa Maru and American Hellcat and Corsair Fighter planes. Couple this with a number of sites boasting prolific sea life, such as Grand Central Station which is known for having the second highest fish count in the world, with over 270 different species of fish identified in a single tank dive, and you see why the Solomon’s secret is starting to spread.
Munda offers 40+ dive sites including a number of jaw-dropping wall dives which start metres from the surface and drop kilometres to the ocean floor. Descend from 10-60m depending on your level of qualification and experience the changing worlds this brings. Munda boasts over 10 WWII dive sites including aircraft, water vessels and military hardware dumping grounds.
A nation of over 900 islands covering an area of around 28,466 Square kms, new WWII wrecks and dive sites are still being discovered with some frequency. Oceania Expeditions works with the best dive guides in the Solomon Islands, with local knowledge and experience to ensure your Solomon Islands dive trip is the ultimate experience, guaranteed to have you leaving promising to return.
World War Two
The only American President on history to be decorated with a Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart, earned these honours in the Solomon Islands. On an ink black night, August 1, 1943, Naval Lieutenant John F Kennedy in command of Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 (PT109) on a near impossible mission to scuttle Japanese supply ships running stores to enemy troops fighting the Allies stationed nearby. In the dark and under limited power to avoid detection by enemy vessel, the wooden patrol boat and its crew was caught by surprise as Japanese Destroyer, the 388-foot Amagiri rammed her head on and splintered the 109 in two. While two of the crew died as a result of the impact and aftermath. Kennedy, who had been a member of the Harvard swim team thought quickly and acted selflessly to save the lives of the rest of his crew. This story of heroism that made one of the most popular Presidents in American history is just one of many arising from the Solomon Islands Campaign.
Japanese forces controlled the region in the first half of 1942, but the US Forces mounted their first major amphibious landing at Guadalcanal in August of that year, seizing control of a strategically important airfield. Seven major naval battles, regular contact between ground forces and constant aerial attacks from each side ensued over the following six months. Eventually the US prevailed in the war of strategy, supply and attrition and the Japanese were forced off the island. This was the turning point in the Pacific War, a major moment in world history.
Relive this fascinating chapter in history by incorporating visits to a few of the multitude of significant sites on your Solomon Islands adventure, and pay homage to the brave men and women who laid down their lives there.
Land based and Conservation
With all the focus on diving, the plethora of land-based adventures on offer in the Solomons are often underrated. That most definitely should not be the case! Due to globalisation and the pressures of industrialisation, a growing number of community-based NGOs are rising up to stop the Solomon Islands from becoming a Paradise lost! Oceania Expeditions is proud to stand with these eco-warriors, and by travelling with us, you’ll be doing the same.
A perfect cone shaped dormant volcano soaring from sea level to a height of almost 1800 metres, Kolombangara looks like something lifted straight from the set of Jurassic World. A multitude of day hikes for guests of all fitness levels offer the opportunity to experience the natural wonders up close. Hike all the way to the crater rim of Mt Veve and camp on top of the world, or take a picnic lunch to a secluded waterfall and swimming hole. Round out your day with a traditional canoe ride down Vila River, the smiling faces of local children will light up your memory for many years to come.
Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island and conservation region in the South Pacific, but this wasn’t always a given! Over 10 years in the 90s and 2000s, logging companies from South East Asia manoeuvred strategically to gain access to this wildlife utopia. Thanks to their efforts, now you can join Conservation Rangers as they patrol the island and record numbers of Saltwater Crocodile, turtles and various types of birds, explore the seagrass beds looking for Dugongs, support critically endangered leatherback turtles nesting and even take a Solomon Islands cooking class where you’ll learn how to cook the traditional way with hot rocks. Tetepare is preserved for us all to enjoy, and a visit from you helps to keep it this way.
For those looking to venture further afield, the Arvanons are in the straight between Isabel Islands and Choisel is home to the largest rookery of endangered Hawksbill Turtles in the world. The local communities in partnership with the Nature Conservancy have succeeded in having the Arvanons recognised as the Solomon Islands first nationally protected area.
Because turtles nest year round, the Arvanons is your best bet for witnessing a Hawksbill Turtle nest eruption. This is a magical experience, sure to live long in the hearts of those lucky enough to witness it.
Oceania Expeditions work with expert guides to make the most of your trekking adventures in the Solomons, particularly around Guadalcanal. You can do two day coastal walks or cross the island learning about World War battlefields on three day treks to the remote and beautiful South Coast to visit with some of the most culturally intact communities in the country. By encountering the diversity of nature that these treks offer and perhaps learning bush survival skills on the way you will gain an unforgettable authentic Guadalcanal experience.
The many waterfalls, such as the Mataniko and Tenaru Falls offer magnificent scenery and a chance for a refreshing dip in the clear pools which can be visited on day trips from Honiara.