An Untouched Destination
Searching for one of the last few places on earth that have been spared the ravages of global foot traffic and over-commercialised tourism?
You might have a number memorable vacations to the most popular destinations already under your belt, been on a few ‘must see’ tours and got the proverbial T-shirt. Although South-east Asian sojourns and cosmopolitan Euro-trips certainly have their merits, there is an emerging trend where discerning travellers are instead searching for the last untouched wonders of the world.
Located in the cerulean blue waters of the South Pacific, lies an exotic island nation made up of nearly a thousand unsullied islands. Known as the Solomon Islands, this unspoilt paradise is an underrated gem that is often overlooked by holidaymakers. Steeped in rich history, natural wonder and buzzing with charming local hospitality, the Solomon Islands is arguably one of the last uncorrupted destinations on the planet.
This South Pacific archipelago consists of 992 islands and is considered by many diving enthusiasts as an underwater wonderland. The warm sparkling waters of the Solomon Islands offer an enchanting playground that is home to a diverse array of marine life, as well as a spectacular collection of world-class diving sites. The ocean floor offers up many attractions with over 50 submerged WWII relics which can be explored, as well as an incredible array of underwater caves, pristine reefs and spectacular natural formations.
Teeming with Biodiversity
The Solomon Islands are located in one of the most geographically complex regions on the planet. From dense mangroves populating coastal strips to the lush jungle-covered peaks found in the interior of the high islands, you’re sure to witness an abundance of breathtaking fauna and flora. There are over 4,500 different plant species covering the expanse of the archipelago, 3,200 of which can be found nowhere else. Its varying landscapes are home to a number of unique bird species which are endemic to the islands, while its surrounding waters are well regarded as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems that still remain.
Rich in WWII History
Few people know about the significant role that the Solomon Islands played in the Pacific region during World War II. The aftermath of war has left a lasting impression on the island with remnants of downed aircrafts and sunken warships scattered across the islands, leaving a constant reminder of the battles won and lost. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be excited to learn that there are a number of fascinating WWII attractions which can be visited and explored. You’ll even find a few located on the bottom of the ocean floor, offering up a unique way to experience a piece of history.
Laid-back Island Life
The heartbeat of this island nation is without a doubt it’s vibrant and warm people. You’ll find local hospitality in abundance here. The Solomon Islands have a small but growing population of just over 550,000 people who are fiercely proud of their unique heritage and culture. Visitors to these shores can experience a melting pot of cultures that includes Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian, Chinese and European influences. It’s one of the last places that you’ll still be able to experience an authentic island-style charm.
Although the Solomon Islands have experienced an uptick in tourism over the last decade, it still receives far fewer visitors than its more popular neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu. A trip to this virtually untouched wonder means that you’re likely to enjoy the archipelago’s bounty of local attractions without rubbing shoulders with hordes of tourists and holidaymakers. This means that visitors to the Solomon Islands are likely to experience their own version of an unspoilt paradise- making it a truly unique destination.
Tours and Activities
WWII Tours in Gizo
For those interested in history and the legacy of World War II in the heart of the Solomons, from Gizo you can visit an American tank, a Japanese Gun Fort and partially submerged shipwrecks.
World War II Site Visits
For those interested in war history, the Munda area is a goldmine. See an American M5 Stuart tank, the Japanese coastal defence battery at Enoghai, the anti-aircraft battery above Munda airfield or snorkel the wreck of the Kashi Maru.
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.
Snorkelling in Suavanao
The area offers some amazing snorkeling opportunities with various soft and hard corals, World War II wrecks and tropical fish to find. A signature snorkel experience is the blue lagoon which looks like a volcanic hole. You will have the change to swim with friendly black tip sharks, sea turtles and manta rays.
Village Life in Fera
Situated along the mountain range above Buala Town, you can visit Tirotonga Village, a picturesque home with mostly sago-palm thatched houses and few iron-roofing hamlets overlooking Maringe Lagoon. Witness a traditional fishing technique still practised by the nearby coastal village of Nareabu known as 'Visi', using woven coconut leaf nets. Read more at the link.
Island Hopping near Kirakira
You can organise day trips to the Three Sisters, Pio and Ugi Islands, ideal for birding, exploring the villages or simply enjoying the natural beauty. A guide will take you to the villages, where you can soak up the local culture and entertainment. If you are interested in flora and fauna then there are many exciting bird-watching and tropical flower trails in the nearby forests.
Swim and Snorkel near Kirakira
Visit white sandy beaches and enjoy some of the best snorkeling in clear pristine clear waters, in easy reach of Kirakira, including the Three Sisters and Ugi Islands. There are also unique surfing breaks and snorkelling. Coral reefs abound, spend hours exploring and see an extraordinary variety of tropical fish, by motor boat from Kirakira Harbour.
Snorkelling in Rennell Island
Rennell is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. There are various spots on the island that you can snorkel, one being Lake Tegano. There is a bomber submerged in the lake which is interesting to explore whilst snorkeling.
Reef Island Hopping
Stunning lagoons brimming with marine life, game fishing hotspots, stretches of reef, remote islands sprinkled with deserted beaches, crystalline caves, and many picturesque villages. Snorkel off the shore or for the more adventurous, explore the outer reefs and other fascinating islands by motorised canoe.
Reef Islander Life
Enjoy the pleasure of fishing, scuba diving, bird watching, canoeing, shell collecting or exploring the fascinating cultures in the local villages. Inter-island sailing using traditional craft called the tepuke enabled Reef Islanders to trade with larger islands. Learn about the local traditions or sit under the waving palms reading a book.
Tulagi Tours & Travel
For first time visitors to Tulagi and with so much to see and do, it is best explored with a local guide. Tulagi Tours are not only well known for their informative World War II walking tours of Tulagi, but they can also organise visits to the surrounding islands, village visits, cultural tours, cultural entertainment, fishing charters and more.
Village Visits in Ramata
Take a stroll through one of the friendly local villages, learn about the local culture, traditions, handicrafts, and their livelihood. You may also have the opportunity to assist schools and meet the children to enrich and contribute to their ongoing education. You are also welcome to bring textbooks, pencils, and learning materials to donate.
Snorkelling and Diving in Munda
Munda has beautiful clear water and a variety of marine life to explore, making it perfect for snorkelling and diving. The seabed is scattered with wrecks from World War II that have developed into gorgeous artificial reefs, with fighter planes, bombers, a Japanese Freighter, and a US dumpsite.
Diving in Gizo
There are over 15 world class dive sites around the Gizo area ranging from manta ray dives, coral dives, and famous World War II relics including the renowned Toa Maru No. 2 Dive plus a host of Japanese and American fighter planes dive sites.
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.
Wildlife on Rennell Island
A nature paradise and home to several endemic species, including the Rennell Starling, the Bare-eyed White-eye, the Rennell Shrikebill and the Rennell Fantail. The province also has 730 insect species, an endemic orchid near Lake Tegano, two endemic species of Pandanus, the Rennell flying fox and an endemic lake sea snake.