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Blessed with sun-soaked beaches and crystalline waters, the Solomon Islands is remote, unspoilt and made up of nearly a thousand islands and atolls. This stunning archipelago is fast becoming a popular ecotourism destination, offering world-class snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and surfing.
Though much of the country's economy is still based on subsistence fishing, the Solomon Islands, with its unrivalled natural splendour, deserves to be raking in tourism revenue. Unfortunately, the lack of infrastructure and amenities is hindering the growth of the country's tourism sector. On the other hand, this is great news for those seeking a beach holiday in a tropical paradise as yet devoid of the ill effects of mass tourism.
Sprinkled across the South Pacific, these Melanesian islands have seen a lot of history. It is believed that Papuan-speaking settlers arrived around 30,000 BC, while the first European to discover these gems was Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, a Spanish navigator who set out from Peru in 1893. During World War II, the Solomon Islands saw some fierce battles between the Japanese and the Allied forces, including the Battle of Guadalcanal - its shipwreck graveyards beneath the azure waves bearing testament to this.
Ocean lovers will have a whale of a time exploring some of the world's most diverse aquamarine life, while landlubbers can marvel at the islands' unique fauna and flora, majestic volcanoes and one of the world's rarest orchids. History buffs will love the WWII historical sites such as Iron Bottom Sound, where the remnants of sunken vessels lie in their watery graves.
Popular islands and groups within the archipelago include Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz and Choiseul. The capital city of Honiara on Guadalcanal has a number of interesting historical sites and a bustling Central Market for souvenir shopping, along with several restaurants and nightclubs.
Ultimately, Solomon Islands is a tropical getaway untouched by the crowds and excessive prices of global tourist hotspots. It's not only a great spot for diving and fishing enthusiasts but is also a brilliant pilgrimage for history buffs, especially those interested in the Pacific theatre of WWII.
The Solomon Islands' climate is tropical, with little variation in temperature or humidity throughout the year. There are two distinct seasons: a drier season (May to November) and a monsoon season (December to April), where heavy rainfall is common and there is a threat of tropical storms. The most comfortable time to visit the Solomon Islands is between June and September, though the best time for surfing in the Solomon Islands is between October and April.
English is the official language.
Electrical current in the Solomon Islands is 230 volts, 50Hz. The most commonly-used plug is the three-prong Australian plug.
US nationals: US citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
UK nationals: UK citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
CA nationals: Canadia citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
AU nationals: Australian citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
ZA nationals: South African citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months, provided they have a pre-arranged visa approval.
IR nationals: Irish citizens can get a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
NZ nationals: A passport valid for six months from arrival is required. A visa is required, and can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of three months.
Visitors are required to hold return or onward tickets and proof of sufficient funds. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers to the Solomon Islands arriving from an infected area, while the territory has in the past few years been subject to outbreaks of dengue fever and rubella. A measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is recommended for all travellers born after 1956, as is a typhoid vaccine (except short-term business travellers or cruise ship passengers). Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. Medical facilities are very limited so pack a personal medical kit and bring adequate supplies of all medications. Should a doctor be needed, the main facility is the Central Hospital and National Referral Hospital in Honiara. Comprehensive travel insurance is recommended for travellers.
Local culture in the Solomon Islands is relaxed but traditional. While informal dress, including shorts, is acceptable, you should avoid wearing beachwear off the beach. Always show respect for older people, especially in rural areas. Girls are not to show friendliness to strangers of the opposite sex when accompanied by their relatives. If invited into a local's home, the guest will be expected to eat first.
Travellers to the Solomon Islands age 18 and older may import the following goods duty-free: 200 cigarettes/250g cigars or tobacco, two litres liquor, other goods valued to SBD400. Offensive weapons, pictures, and literature is prohibited, and firearms and ammunition require a police permit obtained prior to arrival.
Solomon Islands High Commission, New York, United States: (212) 599 6192
Solomon High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6282 7030
Solomon Consulate, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 9 255 5535
Australian High Commission, Honiara, Solomon Islands (also responsible for Canada): +677 21 561
New Zealand High Comission, Honiara, Solomon Islands: +677 21 502
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