By Sara Mcbride
1. The Unexpected: Coming here to the Solomons has been like opening one of those crazy containers where paper snakes jump out at you and confetti flies everywhere. It’s a whole bucket full of surprises. Traveling around here will certainly fulfill your interesting travel story quota for years to come. One thing you can rely on: travel delays. Mostly things kinda work here but expect to be stranded at least once. Hopefully you get stranded in Western, Makira or Temotu. But really everywhere is pretty special here. Enjoy the chaos and the gentle understanding that we really don’t control anything. Sip a coconut and walk on the beach without worrying about catching that plane, sending that email or doing that thing you think you have to do. Chillax, you are on Solomon Island time now.
3. Fall off the map: Literally. Go to the Reef Islands in Temotu and experience life like it was 100 years ago, with no power, water supply or shops. Enjoy the sound of the waves gently crashing on the shore, not planes flying overhead.
4. Wogasia: The spear festival in Santa Catalina is like nothing I have ever experienced. It was the craziest 48 hours of my life. Go there at the end of May but book first. A limited amount of people are allowed to go. Really, you should go.
5. Helping Locals: Wanna go to the Marriott here? The Hilton? The Holiday Inn? Forget it. We don’t have five star hotels to make you feel like you never left home. Almost all our resorts are run by locals or by long term expats who know the islands. By coming here, you are padding the pockets of well deserving, hard working local people not rich shareholders in New York. These people care about their environment and will work hard to help you as much as they can. And, really, wouldn’t you rather pay a bit extra for that? (By the way, you won’t. Staying at local resorts is pretty affordable).
6. The Ocean: I’ve lived in Hawaii. Hung out in Samoa. Swam in an atoll in Kiribati and I’ve never seen the sea life I have witnessed here. The water clarity is amazing. Yesterday, whilst snorkeling in Visale, I literally saw a fish waterfall. Its freakin amazing. If you are diver, say goodbye to wetsuits and dry suits. The water here is a constant 29 degrees, even at 20 metres down. So dive in your bikini. Or speedo (actually don’t, no one should ever wear a speedo. Except David Duchovny in that X-Files episode. Wow.) If you love the ocean and want to see dugongs, dolphins, turtles, sharks and amazing sea life, come here. Go to Tetepere or, if you are really adventurous, go to the Arnavon Islands, where there is a marine reserve. I hear its amazing.
7. The Beach: You want a white sandy beach? We got it. And black sandy beaches, red beaches…really we got loads of beaches. You want an abandoned beach on a desert island with nothing but a few coconut trees? Check. We got you covered. For an easy fix, go to Nugu, the locally run resort with three bungalows and great food in Central province. Or go to Gizo, take a right and hit Kennedy Island. Go to Fat Boys for a Sol Brew afterwards and go for a snorkel under the bar. If you want to play Robison Crusoe and give society the big kiss off, the Solomons is on of the best places to do that.
8. The Mountains: Its not all about beaches and the sea. Thats right, we got your cloud forests and your rats of unusually large size. We got stuff in the rainforests on Guadalcanal, Makira, Malaita, Isobel, Choiseul, Temotu and Western province that people haven’t even seen. I saw what looked to be a black widow with red wings. Terrifying stuff. Seriously, we got cool stuff in the rainforests, so go for a bush walk. Also there is some cool WW2 stuff here. If you want to jeeps in the jungle, covered in trees or dive a sunken Japanese submarine, then the Solomons is where you want to be.