Explore beyond Honiara in Guadalcanal
Home to the largest island in the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal Province hosts the national capital, Honiara. but also a smattering of cultural sites, well-preserved WWII relics, modest beaches, and a lost world to explore.
With well-preserved WWII relics along the northern coast, beautiful beaches, and remote retreats, Guadalcanal also offers fantastic diving at Iron Bottom Sound, the famous undersea graveyard where dozen of WWII wrecks have lain since 1942. Just off the northern coast, the island has the genuine look of a lost world. The hills behind the capital consist of a mighty mountain range rising to 2400m remains untamed and raw with a tropical rainforest climate.
War and History
The Guadalcanal campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal began on 07 August 1942 and lasted until February 1943. It was the first major land offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan and during those seven months, 60,000 US Marines killed more than 20,000 of the 31,000 Japanese troops on the Island, a tremendous loss on all sides. The major objective of the fighting was a tiny airstrip the Japanese were building at the western end of Guadalcanal. The airstrip, later named Henderson Field, would become an important launching point for the Allied air attacks during the Pacific Island-hopping campaign.
Things to do
World War II Tours
There are many battle sites and relics of the war found in and around Honiara. Places of interest to visit include Bonegi Beach, Henderson Airfield, Vilu Museum, Red Beach, and Betikama Museum.
The major birding site of Mount Austen is just a 45-minute drive outside Honiara. A morning here can be very rewarding with sightings of Solomons Cockatoo, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Cardinal Lory, Buff-headed Coucal, perhaps Guadalcanal (Woodford’s) Rail, and Claret-breasted Fruit Dove. Mackinlay’s Cuckoo dove, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Brown-winged Starling, Long-tailed Myna, Chestnut-bellied Monarch, Cockerell’s Fantail, and Midget Flowerpeckers can also be seen with luck.
The Botanic Gardens in the main town are also worth a look - Duchess Lorikeet and Black-headed Myzomela are two of the more common species to be seen.
The Betikama Wetlands are also rich in birdlife and well worth a look.
There is a number of dive sites along the western part of Guadalcanal, including the famous WWII sites at Iron Bottom Sound and Bonegi Beach. Local dive operator Tulagi Dive is very experienced with all dive sites and the best ‘go-to organisation for divers looking to explore Guadalcanal’s underwater world.
Local guides can be arranged fishing trips around Marau Sound in eastern Guadalcanal and good fishing spots can also be found around the river estuaries of north-western Guadalcanal
Surfable waves can be found at the western end of Guadalcanal. It needs a two-hour, 40-minute drive from Honiara but is worth the journey during the wave season. Olotsara Retreat organises surfing tours – ask Tourism Solomons for more information.
Treks and Adventure
If a waterfall fan, there are a number of inland treks that will take you to the best cascades in Guadalcanal - Matanikau cascade, Tenaru Falls, and Barana Waterfalls. Note a local guide is essential for such trips. These can be arranged through local villages or with assistance from the Tourism Solomons office in Honiara.
Events & Festivals
Guadalcanal Second Appointed Day
The Second Appointed Day marks the establishment of the local Provincial Government for Guadalcanal Province and is celebrated with an annual public holiday celebrated with sports, speeches, and processions.
Guadalcanal Weaving Festival
Part of the Guadalcanal Second Appointed Day festivities and an excellent opportunity to engage with Guadalcanal culture and an event featuring demonstrations of traditional weaving from all over the province, the annual Guadalcanal Weaving Festival attracts hundreds of locals and visitors alike keen to engage with Guadalcanal’s culture. and discover more about the lifestyle, history and rich culture of the Guadalcanal people, an element that shapes their way of life.
Where to Stay
There are various accommodations types on offer in Guadalcanal with options ranging from resorts, guest houses, budget lodges, bungalows right through to the hotels of the capital including the Pacific Casino Hotel, the Heritage Park Hotel, the King Solomon Hotel, the Honiara Hotel, the Solomon Kitano Hotel and the recently opened Coral Sea Resort & Casino in the heart of town.
Tavanipupu Wellness & Spa Retreat is located in Marau Sound, the eastern part of Guadalcanal Province. A privately owned 5-star island resort in the South Pacific. Only 25 minutes east by plane from the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara. Another resort nearby, Milk Fish Resort is located at Marapa Island that offers 2 en-suite bungalows.
Food and Drinks
These days there is a surprising variety in good quality restaurants and cafes in and around Honiara with many catering to ex-pats.
- Central Market, located on the main road, is a great source of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fish and chips, as well as uncooked fish, are sold there.
- The Lime Lounge is located along Commonwealth Street serving coffee, cakes, burgers, and sandwiches.
- The Taj Mahal (Located downtown). Has good Indian and Sri Lankan food
- Point Cruz Yacht Club. The favored hangout of ex-pats in Honiara, the yacht club has a variety of simple and inexpensive meals available nightly.
- Palm Sugar (located at the Art Gallery) offers great coffee, burgers, soup, and many more
- Other suggestions include Heritage Park Hotel- Hadyns, IBS Restaurants, Garden Bar & Restaurants ( Pacific Casino), Coral Sea, Break Water, and Mambo Juice Bar.
Local motorised canoes travel from Marau Sound along the weather coast to Honiara. There are irregular shipping services from Honiara to Marau Sound. MV Haura shipping runs weekly to Marau Station. Some buses services operate from Honiara to the Eastern (GPPOL 3) and western (Lambi) of Guadalcanal Province.
Travelling around Guadalcanal Province is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an insight into a way of life that had remained unchanged across the years. Come explore Guadalcanal Province.
Tours and Activities
Kokonut Pacific Tour
Visit and see the production and manufacturing of one of the Solomon Islands largest exports, the coconut. The people behind Kokonut Pacific produce oils, soaps, creams and much more. Join them for a 3-hour guided tour of their facility.
Honiara City Tour
Discover the capital of the Solomon Islands and surrounds on a tour of the city. Vist Point Cruz, the Coast Watchers Memorial, the Honiara Central Market, China Town, the US War Memorial, National Parliament, the National museum and more.
Island Day Tours from Honiara
Board a boat at Point Cruz to travel to the Central Province to see the area's famous World War II historical sites. Visit Gavutu Island where the Japanese built a big wharf during the war and Tokyo Bay where many Japanese War ships rushed to try to avoid being bombed by American Armed Forces. Savo Island tours are also available.
Waterfall Tours in Honiara
The hike up to the Mataniko Falls takes between 1-2 hours and begins from Lili village, behind New Chinatown and approximately 10-15 minutes from Honiara. The spectacular Tenaru Falls is an hour's drive and a three-hour hike from Henderson Airport. These two hikes will give you an appreciation of the terrain and what the Allied and Japanese soldiers went through during World War II.
Iron Bottom Sound was the scene of some of WWII's biggest naval battles. It is the channel between Guadalcanal, Savo and the Florida islands and is the resting place for over 50 Japanese and Allied warships and fighter planes, hence the name "Iron Bottom". Noteable dives around Honiara include Hirokawa Maru, USS John Penn, and Kinugawa Maru. For the more experienced diver, try out the Aaron Ward in the nearby Florida Islands, the only diveable destroyer.
Battlefield tours in Honiara
Some of the most brutal World War II battles took place on the northern face of Guadalcanal. Visit Bloody Ridge, Red Beach, the Vilu War Museum, Betikama school relics, the American War Memorial, Tetere beach, The Thin Red Line, Honiara golf course (previously a US Airstrip), and the Japanese War Memorial (Mt Austen). Tours of both the Western Battlefield and Eastern Battlefield are also available.
National Museum and Cultural Centre
The National Museum is modest but still worth a visit, for a taste of the history of the Solomon Islands. With exhibitions that traverse history and the diverse cultures that make up its almost 1000 islands, you can view old photographs, currency, weaponry and find out more about the history of World War II and the missionaries, both of which are core to the current national identity and way of life.
Savo Island from Honiara
Sunset Lodge on Savo Island is roughly an hour by boat from Honiara. It is from here experienced local guides will take you on a tour to Honiara's nearest active volcano. Savo is also known for its Megapode birds and eggs, a small bird that squeezes out eggs three times the size of a standard sized chicken egg. Perfect for a day trip or an overnight stay. For accommodation bookings, contact: +677 72 38977.
Bonegi Beach is a haven for divers and beachgoers. Two Japanese freighters (Hirokawa Maru and Kinugawa Maru) bombed by the allies are beached right in front of the Bonegi stretch. They are the most dived wrecks in the country and are excellent for both beginners and more experienced divers due to proximity to the shore and the amazing coral and fish life that have made the freighters their home.
Heritage Park Hotel
Centrally located, the Heritage Park Hotel is in an outstanding position for both business guests and leisure travellers who want to explore the attractions on offer in Honiara and its surrounds. The property is on the waterfront and with views from the bar out to the islands, especially breathtaking. All rooms are modern and exceptionally comfortable. The property is accessible by car from the airport.
Coral Sea Resort & Casino
With a traditional exterior and modern interior, the resort is focused on ensuring its guests are kept relaxed with a sun drenched pool entertainment area, outstanding bar and restaurants and ocean views over Honiara Harbour. The property is an oasis in the middle of the city and its styled rooms and villas will not disappoint. The resort is close to the CBD and accessible by car from the airport.
Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel
The hotel is an excellent choice in Honiara with its fantastic location, spacious rooms and friendly environment. Enjoy Hakubai Japanese restaurant with fresh authentic choices from the menu or you can head over to Cowboys Bar and Grill which is a hotspot of an evening. The hotel has cool refreshing pool, evening entertainment and activities for kids. The hotel is accessible by car from the airport.
King Solomon Hotel
The hotel is centrally located in easy walking distance to the Solomon Islands Cultural Museum, banks, cafés, and shopping. The property has 73 rooms, many self-contained and suitable for long-term accommodation. There is an infinity waterfall pool, nightly entertainment, and a great view of Iron Bottom Sound.
Pacific Casino Hotel
With 142 spacious, comfortable, and airy rooms on the waterfront, enjoy all the amenities on offer. The kidney-shaped pool is a delight or enjoy a meal and cocktail at one of their dining venues. The casino is also a draw with its many games including crowd favorites Roulette and Blackjack and accessible by car from the airport.
Tavanipupu Spa & Wellness Retreat
This quaint property boasts having had British royalty stay. The grounds are manicured to perfection and handcrafted bungalows are richly appointed with all the comforts one desires. Enjoy a relaxing massage or laze away in the crystal clear water. Tavanipupu is accessible from Marau Airport, a 25 minute flight from Honiara.
Parangiju Mountain Lodge
This traditional property is hidden in the hills located in Central Guadalcanal. Amongst the rainforest, about an hour's drive from Honiara, enjoy the spectacular views, food, and local hikes. Tenaru Falls and the Bat caves are a very popular hike and a worthwhile three-hour round trip.
Ginger Beach Retreat
Gingers is 20km from Honiara, perched on the beachfront and surrounded by lush green jungle. It is a great place to relax in clean and comfortable traditional style accommodation done well. This is a great getaway for a destination wedding or group holiday and tours can also be arranged.
This boutique accommodation is located in a quiet setting 3 kilometers from the Honiara city centre, featuring self-contained apartments, ideal for business travellers and long term guests, as well as motel-style Garden Rooms. Light refreshments are offered at Reception for convenience.
Iron Bottom Sound Monarch Hotel
Located on the beachfront, 10 minutes walk from shops and services, this hotel features 30 guestrooms with garden views including standard rooms, studios and self contained apartments. All rooms are air-conditioned. Monarch Bar and Grill serves buffet and grilled dishes with live music each night.
Rock Haven Inn
An older style accommodation for those wanting affordable accommodation and a central location. Motel-style rooms with fans or air-conditioning, family units, and apartment-style with many offering sea views are on offer. There is also a restaurant on-site offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Milk Fish Bungalows
Located on the island of Marapa in the Marau Sound, and accessible via boat transfers from Marau Airport, Milk Fish Resort offers the ultimate setting for a relaxing getaway, simple, comfortable bungalows in natural surroundings with meals provided daily, waterfalls, treks, and small islands to explore on their doorstep.
Roderick Bay Beach Bungalows
Located in the stunning Sandfly Passage, Roderick Bay Beach Bungalows all overlook the wreck of the cruise vessel World Discoverer which was ran aground there and offers incredibly unique snorkelling and swimming experience. With 3 self-contained bungalows, village visits and a zip line from the World Discover itself, there is lots of fun to be had during a getaway.
B17 Dive & Beach Bungalows
Located about 40 minutes drive North West of Honiara, the accommodation offers self-contained beachfront bungalows with shared facilities and activities including swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, Noni farm and village tours. In close proximity to the US B-17 Flying Fortress bomber after which the accommodation is named, it is the perfect location for divers, or for those who wish to simply relax.
Dolphin View Beach Guesthouse
This lesser known guesthouse is a quiet, relaxing place and named due to the dolphins that gather off the shore. With comfortable accommodation and shared facilities in Aruligho, guests can enjoy sea views, a barbecue, and the on-site bar in natural surroundings. Activities include snorkelling, canoeing and dolphin tours.