The Solomon Islands archipelago is made up of nearly 1,000 tropical islands scattered across the southwestern Pacific, just to the east of Papua New Guinea. The remote location has kept the islands an unspoilt gem of a travel destination, with a slowly developing tourist industry.
The main islands to visit are Guadalcanal, Malaita, Choiseul, New Georgia, San Cristobal and Santa Isabel. The capital of Honiara, on Guadalcanal, is also well worth some time, with a museum, botanical gardens and its very own Chinatown. Villages and scenic drives are within easy reach of the capital, as are the popular World War II battlefield tours and carving villages on the islands of Rennell and Bellona.
Many Pacific islands are well geared to tourism today, but Solomon Islands bucks the trend, with a few shambolic guesthouses to stay in and a thoroughly laid-back approach to life. No palatial resorts here. The locals pride themselves in preserving the natural beauty of the islands.
Wander the jungle-strewn landscapes and take pleasure in stumbling across leaf-hut villages. Indeed, the traditional culture of the islanders endures to this day. Some 70 languages are spoken among the half a million largely Melanesian inhabitants, the majority of whom are Christian, though they also cling to their ancient customs. Many still wear traditional indigenous clothing, while the pan flute can be heard everywhere.
On the natural side, there are volcanic islands to explore, vast lagoons, spell-binging rainforests and countless tropical islands. Be sure to tour the mangrove forests, but beware of crocodiles. More active visitors can go surfing and kayaking, while the well-kept coral reefs offer ample opportunity for snorkelling. Guided tours into the yawning chasm of an extinct volcano is another unmissable, as are dives down to shipwrecks from World War II.
The Solomon Islands may not be that well known compared to other regional destinations, but this makes them all the more enticing for the adventurous traveller.