The Solomon Islands is a Melanesian nation to the northeast of Australia. It stretches between Papua New Guinea to the west and Vanuatu to the southeast. Made up of 922 islands, 350 of which are inhabited, the Solomon Islands were formed by volcanic and earthquake activity over the years. The islands have been largely untouched by tourism in the last 100 years. As such, there hasn’t been pressure placed on the various underwater environments and many of the gorgeous dive sites remain uncrowded.
In ancient times, the Solomon Islands were inhabited by the Melanesian people, Austronesian speakers and the Polynesians. The first European to arrive was Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira. He was followed in the 19th Century by a series of missionaries who largely failed in their mission due to the custom of recruiting locals into forced labor in Queensland and Fiji. As a result of this labor trade, violence erupted and Great Britain declared the islands as a protectorate in 1893. Throughout World War II, the Solomon Islands were the scene of intense fighting between the United States and Japan, particularly during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Finally, independence was gained in 1978.
Today, the country enjoys a constitutional monarchy under the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. In recent history, ethnic violence threatened the stability of the country between 1998 and the early 2000s. However, in 2003, an Australian-led peace force disarmed the ethnic militants and improved the situation on the ground. In recent years, the country has enjoyed peace and stability, making it a safe and beautiful destination.
The activities in the Solomon Islands are as wide ranged as the country is. A number of water sports outside of diving are available. These include surfing, sailing, deep sea fishing and sea kayaking. With islands covered in dense rainforest, there are limitless opportunities for outstanding hiking. For the history buffs, there are numerous World War II monuments and historical areas spread throughout the Solomon Islands. While diving may be the main attraction, you’re sure to find plenty to fill your topside hours.
If you wish to go to the Solomon Islands, you will most likely need to fly from Brisbane in Australia, Port Vila in Vanuatu or Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. The Honiara International Airport into which this flights arrive is 5 miles (8 kilometers) east of Honiara. It is also possible, yet risky, to hire a motorized canoe for a crossing between Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and Gizo in the Western Province.
Moving between the islands can be accomplished by air or sea.