The Solomon Islands, east of Papua New Guinea, are rich in cultural diversity. Melanesians, Polynesians, Asians, Micronesians and the odd Westerner all call the Solomons home. With ancient customs still widely practiced in thousands of small villages, local life is an often-unexpected bonus for visitors. The Solomons, an independent nation since 1978, consist of nearly 1000 islands. The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. Guadalcanal lies in the Coral Sea, east of the southern tip of New Guinea. It is the largest island of the nation of Solomon Islands.
With a total population of 300 000 there are very few cities and most people still live a very basic life in the villages. Tourism is only starting to discover this precious part of the Pacific. The Solomon Islands where declared as World Heritage in 1998, to protect this area of natural beauty and diversity. Only since the early 1990's the country started opening to tourism. Today, tourism is becoming an increasingly important economic factor. Apart from War veterans, it is predominantly divers who travel to the Solomons.
Second World War came to the Solomons like a nightmare, there was fierce fighting between the Americans and the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign of 1942/45, including the Battle of Guadalcanal. Despite its long, often bloody history, most historical interest in the Solomons surrounds its pivotal role as a strategic site in the Pacific in WWII. The historic naval battles between Japanese and allied soldiers are well documented. Little is known about the impact of 20th century warfare on the local population.
The numbers of WWII naval wrecks in the waters of Iron Bottom Sound are testament to the ferocity and destructive power of battle. Unfortunately most of them are too deep to access for recreational divers.
As with many Pacific islands, the greatest attraction for visitors to the Solomon Islands is diving. A combination of spectacular, untouched coral reefs and abundant tropical marine life makes diving and snorkelling attractive options. Visibility is commonly as good as 30m (100 ft). Other popular outdoor activities could keep you busy for months. There's bushwalking, canoeing, mountain and volcano climbing, swimming, surfing, fishing, shell-collecting and bird-watching.