Wonderful Western Province
Located in the far western reaches of the Solomon Islands archipelago, the Western Province is dubbed the ‘mecca of tourism’ due to the large volume of visitors it receives.
Photo credit: Tourism Solomons
Renowned for its beautiful islands, amazing underwater world attracting hundreds of SCUBA divers, unspoiled coral reefs, WWII wrecks, and a rich cultural history, the Western Province is, as per its name suggests, located in the far western reaches of the Solomon Islands archipelago.
Long dubbed the ‘mecca of tourism’ due to the large volume of visitors it receives every year, and certainly the biggest tourism drawcard outside of Honiara, the province’s main islands comprise New Georgia, Vella Lavella, Kolombangara, Rendova, Ranongga, Vangunu, and the Shortlands.
The region’s natural bounty includes the World Heritage-nominated Marovo Lagoon, the world’s largest saltwater lagoon and home to a teeming array of marine life.
And another nearby natural wonder, the daily Kavachi submarine volcano show offers an extraordinary display of the power of nature at work.
People and Culture
The Western Province has a population of approximately 94,209 according to the 2019 census report, predominantly of Melanesian background but a large number of Gilbert Islanders have made the province their home too in recent times.
This melding of two people has created a culture that makes the Western Province stand apart from other areas of the Solomon Islands with a wealth of music and dance and intricate and exceptionally beautiful arts and crafts.
Today’s Western Province people are certainly a long way away from the fierce headhunters who once roamed the lagoons and islets but great pride in their ancestors is firmly instilled.
For the curious adventurers, there are opportunities to visit eerie skull shrines and other important cultural sites that tell the history and culture of those not quite so long-ago times.
Village visits and cultural shows can be readily organized and an absolute must when visiting this part of the archipelago.
Photo credit: Tourism Solomons
Throughout these magical islands, there is an endless variety of dive sites to suit all levels of experience. If not a diver, but interested in learning to become qualified, there is no better place to discover this completely new world than the warm crystal-clear coral and marine life-infested waters around Gizo, Munda, and the Marovo Lagoon.
Here, Mother Nature weaves her watery spell amongst the wrecks of World War II, the remnants of fierce battles fought during World War II left.
Wrecks include the Toa Maru in Kololuka Bay while Grand Central Station near Gizo boasts one of the biggest varieties of fish seen anywhere on the planet.
An extraordinary array of differing underwater structures and bio-assemblages abound including shallow and deep coral gardens, magnificent drop-offs, ledges and gutters, sharks, all manner of light game fish, and an enormous range of reef fish, turtles, mantas, and eagle rays, all of which are commonly sighted together with friendly hammerheads.
Photo credit: Tourism Solomons
The Western Province is renowned as one of the best fishing regions in the country. Keen anglers can troll the sheer drop-offs for Spanish mackerel, wahoo, and dogtooth tuna or cast into the surf for giant trevally, red bass, and coral trout.
Serious game fishermen can pursue Pacific sailfish, blue, black, and striped marlin, and yellowfin tuna.
And in the quiet jungle rivers, you can catch mangrove jack, estuary cods, brassy trevally, and even the fish that every angler has on their list, the spot tail bass.
Try your luck with a line, a spear, a net, or even other more traditional fishing methods - with 99 islands surrounded by 1. 5 million square kilometers of the non-commercially fished sea you are bound to catch something.
The local people have a joke – bait your hook behind a tree because if the fish see you, they will jump on your hook and spoil all the fun.
There are a number of surfing locations around Gizo, including the famous left-hander Titianas and right-hander Paelongge. Uncrowded surfing locations can also be found around Zipolo Habu Resort, and in the Vona Vona Lagoon, near Munda.
The best season for waves is from November to April when the North Pacific awakens and the locals are always happy to share a wave with visitors.
But be warned – these waves are not for beginners. Many a surfer bears coral cut scars from these coral reef breaks, known by the locals as ‘Paelongge Tattoos’.
One great joy of the Solomon Islands is that you can kayak just about anywhere but the Western province offers even more opportunity than other parts of the archipelago – and particularly the Marovo Lagoon.
Peaceful, challenging, and rewarding, kayakers are amazed by the huge numbers of sharks and turtles scurrying underneath as they glide through this turquoise world. And dolphins are just about everywhere - as we like to say “It’s another day and another dolphin.”
Photo credit: Tourism Solomons
Treks and Adventure
With the summit of its volcanic caldera likened to a sleeping maiden, and rising to a majestic 1,770 m (5810 ft), the island of Kolombangara is just a 50-minute boat ride from Gizo and offers a number of hiking trails and bushwalks for all levels and capabilities.
This volcanic island features lush flora and fauna and many species of birdlife. Guides can be arranged in advance and comfortable overnight accommodation is available at a number of friendly villages stay lodges around the island.
World War II Tours
The Western Province features many World War II battlefield sites and wrecks with the main sites around Gizo and Munda including a small museum. Just off Gizo is Plum Pudding Island, now known as ‘Kennedy Island’ where future US President John F. Kennedy was marooned after his patrol boat, PT109, was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer in 1943.
Many of the numerous ship and aircraft wrecks, both above and below the water have now become part of historical tours and underwater adventures for divers.
Many parts of the Western Province boast great bird watching with a number of unique endemic species. The main areas to explore are Vella Lavella, Ranongga, and Kolombangara, all accessible from Gizo.
The world’s largest conservation island Tetepare, the Marovo Lagoon area, and also Gatokae are prime birdwatching spots and are easily visited via guided tours.
Western Province abounds with hotels, luxury resorts, motels, eco-lodges, beach bungalows, and humble homestays. These accommodation options spread across the main islands to the most remote corners of the province.
Photo credit: Tourism Solomons
Solomon Airlines provides flights from Honiara to five airports in the Western province including Gizo and Munda on a daily scheduled basis, and Seghe, Ramata, and Ballalae.
Munda recently became the Solomon Islands' second international airport after Honiara and Solomon Airlines passengers can connect from here directly through to Brisbane under normal, non-COVID 19 circumstances.
Passenger ferry services travel weekly to the different ports within the province.
Travelling around and within the province is generally by motorized longboats or canoes. Cars and trucks also provide services mainly in Gizo and Munda area and surrounding areas.
The Western province is easily within reach for anyone visiting the Solomon Islands and local people alike.
If a diver, snorkeler, fisherman, surfer, history buff, or seeker of culture and natural beauty – or simply someone who wants to make their own tracks, come see for yourself just why so many people travel to the Western Province every year – the possibilities for a truly unique experience are endless. Your adventure awaits!
Tours and Activities
Diving and Snorkelling in Seghe
Some of the most outstanding diving in the world, the perfect water clarity puts vibrant coloured corals, a multitude of marine life and outstanding wrecks on display. Learn to dive, join a snorkelling excursion or simply step off the pier into the beautiful lagoon.
Sea Kayaking in Seghe
If you have a taste for adventure then try kayaking. There are a few destinations just a paddle away, each with their own challenges. On the river expect some small rapids and for those wanting a more relaxed route, head to the lagoon.
Fishing in Seghe
Conservation is the name of the game in Seghe and big game fishing is not encouraged however recreational fishing is plentiful and fun. Most likely what you catch will be on your plate that evening or provided to the local village.
Wood Carving in Seghe
Return to the way life was and craft your own spear or wooden handicraft under the guidance of the native craftsman of Kavovolata in beautiful forest surroundings. With the support of a dedicated local guide, not only will you create your own souvenir but you'll hear cultural stories as well.
Foodie Adventure in Seghe
The cooks at Driftwood have been taught by an award winning chef and they are ready to teach you. Source the fresh seafood straight from the ocean, pick the vegetables and herbs from the onsite garden and experience cooking delicious modern Solomon Island fusion delicacies.
Village Adventure in Seghe
Explore the wilderness with a local guide and visit the village. Learn the workings in the village from weaving baskets, chopping leaves and creating tools with the natural materials from the jungle surroundings, or make a scrumptious meal using local herbs and vegetables.
Birdwatching in Gizo
For those twitchers wanting to find species of birds only seen in the Solomon Island arrangements can be made. You will visit Ghizo Island and its surrounding areas and discover its endemic species.
Go West Tours
Based at Agnes Gateway Hotel, Go West offers fully guided half and full day tours throughout the area. Off the beaten track adventures, cultural experiences, historical site visits, fishing and charter trips. You can also design your own experience.
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 Excursions from Munda
Explore the reef, lagoon and islands such as Bikiki Island, Mantaray Island and the famous Skull Island. Enjoy a swim, snorkel or fishing and a picnic or bbq can be arranged. Soak up history or the sun, whatever your preference.
Fishing in Ramata
The area is known for amazing fishing opportunities including reef, wreck, beach and estuary fishing and especially big game fishing, catering to all levels. Besides the bountiful lagoons there are also quiet jungle settings to enjoy river fishing. You can try your hand at line fishing or fish like a local using spears and nets. Find Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, dog-tooth Tuna, giant Trevally, Red Bass, Coral Trout 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.
Surfing in Munda
See some of the most exhilarating surf breaks in the Solomon Islands. The nearest surfing to Munda is at Lola Island in Vona Vona Lagoon. Lola Island is located 11 kms from Munda and has three surf breaks.
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.
Surfing in Gizo
Great breaks can be found off Gizo. The best time for surf in Gizo is between November and April. There are two areas which are Titiana Village which is a left hander for goofy footers and Paeloge which has barrelling waves great for right handers.
Fishing in Gizo
Some of the best fishing grounds in the Pacific are no more than 30 minutes by outboard motor from Gizo. With excellent fishing year round you will not be disappointed organising a day out on the water.
One of the Solomons most significant ecological sites, discover Njari Island and enjoy a swim, snorkel or relax surrounded by stunning natural beauty and a chef-prepared BBQ lunch.
Peter Joseph WWII Museum
During World War II, Munda was a vital military airfield base and remnants are scattered throughout the region. You can visit two small private museums of WWII relics. One is the Peter Joseph WWII Museum and the other is further east. Both are walkable from Agnes Gateway Hotel and accommodation in town or easily accessible by taxi.
Located near the mouth of the stunning Vona Vona lagoon, Skull Island is one of the most sacred places in the Munda region. Skull Island features a shrine containing the skulls of Roviana chiefs and warriors from when headhunting was customary, and an altar to the local fishing gods.
Tetepare Island is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific covering approximately 118 square kilometres. Tetepare has untouched rainforest, gorgeous coral reefs, captivating cultural sites and unique wildlife. Swim or snorkel in Tetepare’s beautiful lagoons, walk in the rainforest, bird watch, relax on the beaches or visit cultural sites from the island’s renowned head hunting days. The accommodation is in traditional Melanesian leaf houses and set either on the edge of the rainforest or shores of the lagoon.
Explore this small Island where US president John F Kennedy and the crew of PT109 were ship wrecked during WWII. There is great snorkelling, hammocks to relax on and an area for a BBQ if you want to take a picnic.
Kolombangara is a dormant or semi-extinct volcano last active around 10,000 years ago. Climb one of Kolombangara Island’s mountains to experience panoramic views across Gizo and the Vona Vona lagoon. There are various hikes to take which accommodate people at all levels.
A stay at Fatboys is island living at its finest where traditional meets western style convenience. The bar, restaurant and public lounge area is 100 meters out from the island over crystal clear waters. There are bungalows for couples and accommodation that offers more versatility for families.The property is only 10 minutes boat ride from Gizo Airport.
The owners of the property visited Gizo and had been told that the beautiful Island in the middle of the lagoon was being taken over by the sea. They created an oasis of eco-bungalows, rooms and water activities with a fun bar and restaurant area, where you can relax in hammocks or swing in chairs. The property is only 5 minutes boat ride from Gizo Airport.
Escaping to your own private island has never been easier and the team at Oravae are there to ensure that all distractions from home are forgotten. There is a main cottage and two separate bungalows that can be used for a family, close group or couple if they just want to indulge in the experience of having an island home to themselves. The island is only 10 minutes boat ride from Gizo Airport.
Agnes Gateway Hotel
On the banks of Munda Harbour with views over the lagoon and an open decked restaurant and bar. Stay amongst divers and anglers, with Dive Munda also on-site. The property has hotel room and cottage style accommodation and is perfectly located next to the market square and only a 3 minute walk from Munda Airport.
Zipolo Habu Resort
On Lola Island in Vona Vona Lagoon, 35 minutes boat ride from Munda, the resort is surrounded by tranquil turquoise waters, swaying tall palm trees, and white sandy beaches. Zipolo is known for sports fishing however activities can be arranged such as surfing, diving, tours of Munda and local attractions. There are varying traditional accommodation styles that provide an authentic island living experience.
Titiru Eco Lodge
Stay in an idyllic location and get back to nature. Enjoy activities such as night crabbing, canoeing in Saqiri Cove game fishing, visiting marine protected areas, and listening to the local bamboo band. Visit the local village and learn how to basket weave, go eel fish feeding and bird watching, or take The Wild Cave Tour to see bats nesting, crabs, and snakes. The lodge is 45 minutes boat ride from Munda.
Uepi Island Resort
A top dive and snorkel destination globally! Uepi has so much to offer with its perfect coral formations, outstanding marine life, and beautiful natural lush jungle. The island is 2.5km long with six traditional style bungalows, two units, and two guest rooms. With a maximum of 26 guests, feel relaxed and part of the family.
Driftwood Eco Lodge
Experience life in the trees with the jungle below and sweeping views over the Marovo Lagoon. Located about 1-2 hours boat ride from Seghe Airport, Driftwood is a private residence like no other, mixing traditional materials with Western comforts designed for relaxation. You have access to the entire house with a private cook, housekeeper, and laundry service.
In traditional style, lodgings are spacious and clean with a rustic feel. There are two twin rooms in the main lodge and two beach bungalows. Keep refreshed with a stocked bar whilst enjoying freshly cooked meals of seafood, locally grown vegetables and fruit. Enjoy fishing, river walks, waterfalls, and explore caves and reefs.
Qua Roviana Budget Accommodation
This family-owned and operated motel offers comfortable budget accommodation in the center of Munda, 5 minutes walk from the airport and only a short walk from the wharf. There is a spacious lounge open to all guests where you can relax or plan the next day's activities.
Castaway Lagoon Resort
This lagoon hideaway is only a 2-minute boat ride from Munda Harbour. With only a couple of bungalows this secluded stay is one you should not miss. Each bungalow is traditionally designed and fan-cooled, with a double and single bed, private bathroom with hot and cold water shower.
Yawana Dive & Bungalows
This budget accommodation caters to only a small number of guests at any one time. There is a traditional bungalow, the larger Den house or the Bunkroom which has single beds. The dive shop is on-site and convenient for those who want to get straight into the water once you wake up.
The Gizo Hotel is a 5-minute boat ride from the airport and conveniently located directly opposite the boat docking ramp in Gizo town. It’s also very close to shops, the main market and ATM facilities. All rooms are spacious and air-conditioned. The property features a small centralised pool and a great bar and restaurant that looks out towards the lagoon.
Marovo Sea Lodge
This eco-lodge is nestled along the shoreline on New Georgia Island in the Marovo Lagoon. There are 3 private traditional bungalows which sleep a maximum of 8 people. The lodge grows its own organic vegetables and uses these in the local cuisine offered to guests. Enjoy a local waterfall hike, swim with manta rays or just have a new adventure.
Evis Resort at Nggatirana Island
In the Nano and Marovo Lagoons with only a handful of bungalows amongst swaying palm trees and sandy beaches, this private experience is one you'll never forget. The bungalows and restaurant all have modern facilities and views of the lagoon. Activities are arranged by the friendly staff.
Ropiko Beach Resort
At the Southern end of Marovo Lagoon and 2 hours from Seghe by boat. Simply relax or enjoy snorkelling, hiking, whale watching, visiting an underwater volcano or the local village. There is a dorm-style bungalow that sleeps 10 as well as family and twin bungalows with private facilities.
Minado Eco Lodge
Surrounded by beautiful reefs this property is ideally located to ensure you have the best experience whilst visiting the Solomon Islands. From the airport it’s a 90-minute boat ride to crystal clear turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and lush tropical jungle, ripe for an amazing adventure.
Located on Saeraghi beach, on the Western side of Gizo. Clean and comfortable bungalow made in the traditional style including basic kitchen facilities, with crystal clear water, sunset views, and activities on your doorstep. Safe for swimming and trips for fishing, hiking, diving and island hopping are possible.
Golden Cowrie Resort
Fully equipped bungalow accommodation located only 15 minutes away by boat from Gizo Airport on your own private island. Remotely situated, yet easily accessible, the perfect spot to unwind and reconnect with all things tropical and natural with white sandy beach, crystal clear waters, and room servicing and catering supported by the popular Gizo Hotel.
Hambere Village Stay
Experience an authentic and relaxing cultural stay with the local Venti family surrounded by the nature of Kolombangara. Stay comfortably in two bungalows overlooking the lagoon and enjoy their traditional way of life. Be a part of daily village activities including cooking, gardening, and storytelling, or venture on your own on bushwalks or local canoes.
Lolomo Eco Retreat
Located in a picturesque setting in Vonavona lagoon with overwater bungalows providing a unique setting for relaxation and exploring nature. Enjoy activities such as birdwatching, trekking, snorkeling, swimming, and diving. They also offer picnic excursions including snorkelling and guided bushwalks for a fee.
Pepele Eco Lodge
Located in Chuchulu Village, just 10 minutes from Seghe Airport on the beautiful Marovo Lagoon. The property offers a Family Unit and two Bungalows for couples, providing simple yet comfortable accommodation where you can enjoy all nature and the Marovo culture has to offer, including nearby waterfall and bushwalks.
Uriaupo Beach Resort
Located in Lambu Lambu Village, in South East Vella La Vella about 45 minutes transfer from Gizo airstrip. Uriaupo Beach Resort offers a private and isolated location, where you can simply relax and enjoy the local village hospitality. The resort offers a Bungalow and 7 Family Unit rooms and activities including custom dance, village tours, lake and island tours.
Vanua Kino Lodge
Vanua Kino Lodge is located 10 minutes by boat from Seghe Airport, and offers 2 beautiful Overwater Bungalows, each with 1 double bed and 2 single beds, a private bathroom, and shared shower facilities. Snorkel in the reef just off the shore or allow the team to take you further afield to discover manta rays, mangroves, dolphins, and World War wreck sites.
Located on Epaga Island, just 5 minutes by boat from Gizo airstrip, Kilupania is one of Solomon Islands newest accommodation options with ocean views, a beautiful white sandy beach and sites for snorkelling and fishing nearby. Their self-contained bungalow includes 1 double and 1 single bed, a kitchen, stove, bathroom and shower, and a restaurant and bar on site.
Located 25 minutes boat transfer from Seghe Airport, Babanga Resort is a quiet retreat featuring 4 bungalows, a common kitchen, bar, and restaurant. Renowned for WWII relics, surrounding spectacular dive sites, gardens of corals, schools of fish, and the beautiful Marovo Lagoon, this is the perfect place for tranquility and relaxation.
Ocean View Lodge
Located on the Jah Mountain hillside overlooking Gizo Harbour, this homestyle accommodation offers a quiet retreat about 25 minutes from Gizo Airport, with a mix of Standard and Family rooms and Self-Contained Units. Guests can access shared self-catering kitchen and lounge facilities, and transport to Gizo waterfront hotspots, perfect for snorkelling and beach picnics.
After just a 7 minute boat ride from Gizo Airport you will arrive to warm smiles and a well stocked bar on the dock. Each traditional style bungalow has its own private beach with stunning views across the lagoon. Whether you try the numerous water sports on offer or just relax there will be no escaping the beauty of Sanbis.