There's few dive destinations in the world that compare to the Solomon's. Whether you like reefs, big and abundant fish, or wrecks...this place has it all. I dove mainly out of Gizo, which is the capital of the Western Province and probably the easiest jumping off point for diving in the "West" (as Solomon Islander's refer to the area). The amount of WWII wreckage is incredible...we dove this little baby (an almost perfectly intact Hellcat fighter) immediately after a reef dive that I can honestly say was the best dive of my life!
There's 2 dive operators in Gizo, but I definitely recomend Solomon Water Sports. They have an office in the Gizo Hotel, but operate out of the Sanbis Resort (which sits on an island about 8 minutes by boat from Gizo). The persoanl attention was incredible. For 5 straight days it was just my wife and I, our dive master and a captain...not another diver in sight (unless you count the boats we passed in the open water from the "other" dive operator, who were packed in like sardines).
I can't say enough about the diving. Incredible!
Walk to Mataniko Falls, near Honiara, Solomon Islands
Correct as at 11 December 2010.
An update on the excellent tip put in by the Minstrel. ( a previous posting on this website)
Still an excellent walk to do close to Honiara
Time: 2-3 hours return from Tuvaruhu Village
Take: Sneakers, plenty of water, waterproof bag for camera, phone, etc
MUST be able to SWIM!
How to do it
Take a taxi to Tuvaruhu Village
Ask a local waiting around to be your guide
Custom fee-SBD $100, guide fee-SBD $100
I can recommend: Caspar Tara, lives locally, great guy, his cell phone is 843119
Call him to meet you at Tuvaruhu
First stage: steep walk up a slope
Second stage: steep descent
Third stage: Waterfalls itself. Limestone country, there is a cave through which part of the river runs. If you swim up it you will see many megalitres of water crashing thruogh a hole in the cave roof
Fourth stage: float/ swin/ walk back to Tuvaruhu village.
Lola Island is a beautiful little island in VonaVona Lagoon. Zipolo habu is a small "resort" on the island and the only place to stay. I call it a resort, but its more of an ecolodge with basic bungalows to stay in, a restaurant and bar, and a dive and fishing operation. Its a fantastic place to stay a few days in solitude. The resort is really a fish camp and by all accounts the fishing is incredible. However, even if you don't fish, they can arrange dives, hikes (even overnight hikes with guides to the crater of Kolombangra), surf trips... pretty much anything. The owner is a very colorful Canadian guy who's lived in the Solomon's for almost 30 years. Make sure to bring a bottle of rum and offer him some while you hang out in the restaurant/bar in the evening. You get a few rum and tonics in him and he'll tell you some phenomenal stories.
A great place to stay while diving, fishing, or generally exploring VonaVona Lagoon (its about 5 minutes by boat from Skull Island and their boats can take you anywhere in the lagoon, for a price).
I'll try to add more later.
Skull Island is a small island located in VonaVona Lagoon that contains a headhunting shrine. The centerpiece of the shrine is an elaborately carved container that holds the skulls of the chiefs of the local village. Littered around the chief's shrine are the skulls of the chiefs victims. A very eerie and interesting look into the headhunting days of the area. Its hard to get an accurate idea of when headhunting actually ended in the Solomons (if at all), but apparently it continued pretty widespread until about 40 years ago.
For more information on Skull Island, see my Lola Island page.
If you have the chance and are in reasonably good shape, try hiking to Mataniko Falls just outside of Honiara. The trail takes you into the hills overlooking town where the Japanese maintained positions during the famous Battle of Guadalcanal during WWII.
The falls are gorgeous and the hike there passes through some lush forest. At one point you come across a cave through which the river passes and you can swim inside and cool off, which will be a necessity after hiking in the oppressive tropical heat.
Get out into a village. Even travel to the outer islands. You probably wont enjoy Honiara the first time you visit, but you'll fall in love the outer islands and village life.
Honiara isnt the nicest place in the world. You'll learn to love it as it grows on you. Village life is much safer, more interesting and slightly challenging. You'll love it!