Head-hunters, shark worshippers and cannibals once ruled the Melanesian country of Solomon Islands, South Pacific's third largest archipelago. Today, those traces of brutality are but major tourist attractions, but they, together with countless diving gems, continue to suffuse the islands with an aura of mystery.
Coral-encircled lagoons, atolls, mountains and fast-running rivers are just some of the features of the nearly one thousand landmasses that constitute Solomon Islands, east of Papua New Guinea. The main island of Guadalcanal houses the capital, Honiara, associated with the Islands' National Museum, National Art Gallery, botanical garden of orchids, and the Tenaru falls.
Some of the worst World War II fights occurred in the Battle of Guadalcanal, leaving a wealth of wrecks as heirlooms for the diver. Together with coral islands and submerged volcanoes, the ruins color the marine topography of Western Province, Nggela Islands and Roviana Lagoon.
Canoe paddling during wildlife-watching is the forte of the World Heritage-listed Lake Te'Nggano, South Pacific's largest lake. Surfing at Pailongge's reef breaks, snorkeling for anglers in Ghizo Island, and wandering through Malaita's artificial islands are just some of Solomon Island's other highlights.
As multi-hued as the setting is the Islanders' culture. Although English is the official language, Solomons Pidgin is the lingua franca. There is no major cuisine as locals depend on nature for food. Women dance in grass skirts while men groove to the tune of nose-blown pipes. Locals of the Western Province perform magic and summon sharks. In Malaita, sharks are even worshipped, while in Lola Island, a skull shrine and shambles of a head-hunter king's coral fort beguile visitors. There are mementos to show how, under the British Queen, the Islanders struggled to crack down malaria and the illicit dolphin trade. The calm one finds is charged with the mystery of the gruesome past.
Solomon Islands Landmarks:
Solomon Islands Traveler Advice
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