Islandliving solomon from the editor
WINTER 2016 | ISSUE 16
ext issue, we will be celebrating four years of Pacific Island Living. We started this magazine for Pacific people – to find, review and recommend things to see and do, and ultimately, buy. We are proudly an aspirational magazine, we want our readers to sit back and indulge just as much as we want to tell the world how great the Pacific really is. From Georgie Gordon’s health and beauty columns, to Carolyn Ernst’s gardening tips, we hope you agree Pacific Island Living has something for everyone. In four years our market has grown from Vanuatu and Nauru Airlines to cover most of the Pacific. We’re particularly proud of our market share in Fiji and the Solomon Islands as well as our distribution in Australia through Qantas Club lounges. As I write this column I’m in Fiji, having just flown in from Vanuatu. Next month it will be Nauru then the Sollies. Pacific Island Living truly is a Pacific magazine and we’re so pleased you have enjoyed it and helped its growth over the last four years. Please do keep in touch via our website, Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter. Happy reading. Tiffany Carroll
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and Instagram at instagram.com/pacisliving or read this and all our magazines online at www.pacific-island-living. com Cover images - Fiji Island Living courtesy Adrenalin Fiji; Solomon Island Living, by David Kirkland; Nauru Airlines Cover courtesy Nautilus Resort, Kosrae; Vanuatu cover courtesy Pavol Stranák.
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FOOD+HEALTH+MORE islandliving | 1 paciﬁc
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elcome to the Solomon Islands – the hapi isles. With so much to see and do, the Solomons offers something for everyone. From trekking through Guadalcanal (see Fiona Marston’s story in the Solomon’s section), to fine dining at great restaurants such as the Coral Sea Resort and Casino and at the Heritage Park Hotel. We think the Solomons has the best diving in the Pacific,
a unique and culturally diverse culture and certainly has the paths less travelled. So what are you waiting for? Get out and explore these magical islands and please do keep in touch with us by posting your holiday pictures on our facebook and Instagram pages. Search for Pacific Island Living and you’ll join over 68,000 other followers.
PICTURES: Kate Coyne
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Your guide to the Hapi Isles
. . . o d d n a e e s o o t o t t a e h d w i u g g n i n i d a and
rade the city life for a few days for a slower pace to enjoy the sea breeze under a coconut tree. Whether you have an interest in WWII, scuba diving, experiencing a new culture or just want to relax, Solomon Islands has a lot to offer even for a short break. This unique country is known as the Hapi Isles and this is immediately evident when you meet any local Solomon Islander. From the happy smiles to the friendly ‘hello’ or ‘morning morning’, you will feel welcome in this special Melanesian culture. If this is your first visit to the Solomon Islands, here are some tips on what there is to do in the capital. Be sure to pack your snorkel gear, sun glasses, swimwear and if you are more adventurous good hiking shoes to enjoy Honiara and all it has to offer.
Where are the Solomons?
An archipelago of 992 islands, we are located in the South Pacific, north-east of Australia between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Vanuatu.
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Australian, New Zealand and most EU passport holders can enter for up to 30 days with a visa on arrival. Passports must be valid for six months. More information can be found on our website: www.visitsolomons.com.sb
People & Culture
Solomon Islanders are a blend of mainly Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian people with a population of around 550,000. Our cultural values stem back thousands of years and are very much linked to our land and surrounding seas. Most of the population still live a subsistence lifestyle where family and village community are the centre of social life.
Tropical. The drier and cooler months are April to October. It’s warmer and more humid from November to March. Average day time temperature around 28c.
Honiara Central Market
The Honiara Central Market is the hub for shopping especially organically grown produce. Fishermen land their banana boats and unload large eskies full of freshly caught fish, squid and lobsters. Enjoy a vast array of tropical fruits particularly bananas, pineapples and papaya grown in a perfect Pacific climate full of flavour that is unbeatable elsewhere in the world. Cluttering the entrance to the market on a Saturday morning you will find many exotic varieties of freshly cut flowers at unbelievably cheap prices. sarongs, (locally known as lava lavas) tie-dyed and stencil-printed make a great present for family and friends. Locally crafted jewellery including necklaces, earrings, bangles and traditional shell money can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
Diving & Snorkelling
Warm water coupled with wrecks make the Solomon Islands a diver’s dream. The best part is you don’t need to be in a boat for hours to dive a wreck and explore amazing sea-life, it is often within a short swim from shore. A 10-minute drive from Honiara are two well known dive spots – the Japanese transport ship wrecks at Bonegi I – Hirokawu Miru, and Bonegi II – Kinugawa Maru. The best part about these dive spots is they are excellent for snorkellers as well with a diverse array of sea-life visible through crystal waters. There is a small custom fee to access the beach and for diving, but enjoying a private beach, the coral reefs and beautiful scenery surrounded by coconut trees is worth it. For more dive information and gear hire contact Neil from Tulagi Dive at email@example.com .
Nggela (Florida) Islands
Escape the capital and cross the horizon to the islands in the distance. A two-hour boat ride will take you from Honiara to the Nggela islands and more amazing dives. If you want history visit the old capital Tulagi and see the foundations of
the old British residence which has a sensational view of the surrounding islands. Have lunch or stay at Raider’s Resort, which has a private beach and offers trips to neighbouring islands and escorted dive spots. Visit a local communityrun resort in the Nggelas and enjoy excellent snorkelling or relax in a hammock just a few steps from the water. If you are chasing dolphins or a volcanic trek then Savo Island is the place to visit. No matter the resort or island you visit you are guaranteed to have access to an uncrowded beach, great snorkelling and swimming in the warm waters and true relaxation opportunities to take in the island time!.
Museum & Art Gallery
Visit the National Museum for a taste of Solomon Islands culture, it is located in the central part of town and close to most of the main hotels. Solomon Islanders posses many talents particularly in the arts and like many in the Pacific, are blessed with melodic voices and Melanesian island rhythm. From knitting, tie-dying and basket weaving to crafting jewellery from shells or paper, there are beautiful items to purchase to remember your time in the ‘Hapi Isles’. Taking inspiration from the sea, Solomon Islanders craft and carve amazing bowls, statues and wall hangings. The carvers use several types of wood including rosewood, kerosene wood and queen and king ebony. They delicately set shell inlay for decoration to create beautiful and practical artwork. You can purchase directly from the carver at the Art Gallery best done during the week as many locals attend church on the weekends. However if you are visiting during the last weekend in the month, Sunday is ‘Art in the Park’ held at ROVE playgrounds.
Relax at a beach
The tropical warm waters are just a short drive away offering a choice of pebble, coral, or fine sand beaches. The water is crystal clear and tepid in temperature. Drop into the ocean
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from a rope swing at Kakambona beach, a coconut-tree lined pebble beach. A local favourite is Turtle beach. Relax in the shade and shelter from the sun in little leaf huts or under the canopy of trees just metres from the beach. Take a 30-minute drive to a small catholic convent at Visale where a picturesque bay with calm waters offers snorkelling and a coral beach. Most beaches close to Honiara have signs and a small access fee (custom fee) payable to enter. Try a local roadside BBQ for a great picnic lunch.
Deep tropical waters provide the perfect environment for an abundance of fish. If you’re an angler but don’t have time to visit the provinces then go on a fishing charter. Henk from Ripples can organise a charter for you. The charter can be tailored to your personal requirements if you should want to stop at an island for a swim or snorkel. Ripples’ boat comfortably seats 12 adults and is reasonable in price. Contact Henk on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a charter.
Solomon Airlines flies to 22 domestic ports from Honiara. There are regular shipping services to many parts of the Solomons from Honiara.
Most shops in town open from 0830 to 1700 Monday to Friday and until noon on Saturday.
English is the official language of the Solomons, but Pijin is spoken by about half the population. In the early 1900s, copra plantations were established, the labourers employed on them had also worked in Queensland where they had used pidgin English. The local variety stabilised early and several religious missions adopted it for use.
Taxis are widely available in Honiara. While some have meters, it is advisable to set the price prior to commencing your trip. Ask at your accommodation reception desk prior for an estimate on trip prices. Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau staff can also assist – contact us for more information. Buses generally operate along the main East-West corridor from King George School at the eastern end to Rove and White River to the west. Services also operate inland to up to Naha. Less frequent routes also extend further afield. Rental cars are also available.
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PICTURES: UEPI ISLAND RESORT.
n Honiara I Whether holidaying in Honiara, travelling for business or new to Solomon Islands, finding good places to eat out can be tricky if you’re not a local. Our top two picks not only provide mouthwatering food they also have an ambience that is unrivalled and are both located on the water’s edge. By Bronwyn Norris.
Heritage Park Hotel
Heritage Park Hotel has hosted a number of famous guests from Prince William and Princess Kate to Prime Ministers and an array of Pacific officials. With due reason it claims the reputation of being Honiara’s best hotel and it is easy to see why. Spanning over five acres on the former Governor General’s Residence, the grounds are tropical green and inviting for the 48 hotel rooms and 39 apartments. Heritage Park offers three different dining options depending on your mood. The Terrace restaurant is located just past reception in the garden setting. Relax in the comfortable cane chairs in the cool breezeway for a casual lunch, or a coffee with a delicious pastry. If you prefer to enjoy the sunset with ocean views then the pool side at Splash Bar and Grill is where you want to go. Order a cold Solbrew or a cocktail and watch the sun sink over the horizon or swim in the pool before enjoying BBQ lobster, freshly grilled snapper or BBQ steak. However if you wanting fine dining, then the Renaissance Restaurant, off the Terrace Bar is where you can enjoy a delicious dinner. With an Indian inspired menu the Renaissance offers a large selection of dishes from modern Australian, Indian to Italian – with something for everyone, utilising fresh local ingredients to their best. The restaurant also hosts special dinners including a Sunday roast and curry night. With so many choices Heritage needs to be included in your itinerary whether for business or pleasure.
Coral Sea Resort & Casino Newly opened in December 2015 Coral Sea Resort & Casino is a little piece of luxury to be found in Honiara, just a short walk from the city centre to Town Ground. Set in a architecturally designed building beautifully suited to the Pacific, Coral Sea is not only a Casino, where comfortable, air conditioned rooms offer blackjack, keno and poker machines, there’s more to enjoy here. On hot days take a dip in the pool and order a drink or snack and enjoy it poolside. Boasting an open air cocktail and coffee bar where you can order drinks and light meals while catching up with friends. Or if you prefer just sit back and enjoy your drink while looking out beyond the pool to the turquoise ocean. The cocktails are a diverse array from your old favourites to some specially crafted unique cocktails only found here, it’s the perfect place to unwind. The highlight for many is Haydn’s Steakhouse. As the name suggests steak is on the menu, if your after t-bone, eye fillet, rib fillet or rump you will not be disappointed. Beef sourced from Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu ensures the finest quality for guests. However steak is not the only item on the menu, Haydn’s presents a modern Australian influence with an Asian Pacific twist. Diners can enjoy beef ribs, duck rolls, fresh fish or the seafood tower. With live entertainment most evenings it provides excellent food, beautiful views and a great atmosphere. Open for lunch with burgers and chicken parmigiana or afternoon drinks with Asian platters for groups. Haydn’s is the place to get away from it all in Honiara.
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Trekking the ‘canal are r a g n a T o t i b Lam
he Solomon Islands is fast gaining a reputation for being a trekker’s dream destination. With a group of six others in tow and a local guide, I recently completed a two day trek from Lambi to Tangarare on the main island of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. We left the capital, Honiara, early on Saturday morning in a convoy of 4WDs and stopped to pick up our guide Stanley on the way. We drove west as far as the road would take us, to a village called Lambi. Upon our arrival there, we hopped out of the car, covered ourselves in sunscreen, hydrated, put on our backpacks and started walking. Our backpacks held everything that we could possibly need for the next two days, including sufficient drinking water to last most of the day, and all the meals we would need on the trek. The trek started with a steep hill ascent, which certainly got the heart rate going, but at the top we faced a shady clamber down through palms and a village cocoa plantation. Over the next nine hours we trekked though coconut groves, more
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cocoa plantations, beaches, forests, small remote villages and around headlands stepping on rocks and holding onto rampant overgrown vines for stability. At times on the journey we crossed through freshwater creeks with our backpacks held overhead and through river inlets where the freshwater meets the sea. Through one particular crossing which a resident crocodile is known to inhabit, we took a short boat trip across the river mouth to avoid any potential ankle biting. We stopped frequently along the way to refresh, rest our legs and pay a small fee to local village children with bush knives to scale coconut palms for freshly cut drinking coconuts. We also bought freshly harvested sweet pineapples from the village women, and topped up our drink bottles from local springs. We packed water sanitation tablets just to be safe and dissolved these in our water bottles so we continually had enough water to keep us hydrated on the hike. Day one ended after nearly 10 hours on foot, when we took
PICTURES: FIONA MARSTON, THE MARKETING HAUS.
Experiencing the ‘real’ Solomons for Fiona Marston was worth a two-day trek through some of the country’s most beautiful and rugged bush where she found welcoming people and simple pleasures.
refuge on the balcony of a local primary school verandah at Matananugu. After a quick swim in the ocean, we unrolled our yoga mats and mosquito nets and set up camp for the night. Dinner consisted of local tinned SolTuna Chilli Taiyo and navy biscuits, some bananas from the village and more freshly cut coconuts, before turning in exhausted for an early night under the stars. The night was surprisingly cool for the Solomons, so packing an extra towel or small sheet is recommended. We woke early with the sun peaking over the horizon and the sounds of local piglets grunting under the slats of the verandah. A quick splash of fresh water, the donation of our mosquito nets to the villagers and a small meal from our packs, we were on our way again, all set for another six hours of walking. Day two featured more coconut groves, cocoa plantations, many small communities and smiling local children, so excited to see rare expatriate visitors trekking through their villages. These villages are so remote from the capital that while they do have access to fresh water, there is no access to electricity (bar the odd solar panel), indoor plumbing or the basic amenities that us trekkers were used to. Yet the children are happy and content, the villages are clean and tidy and the residents have smiles on their faces. Sometimes the simple things in life can give us the most pleasure. When we finally reached the township of Tangarare, we walked through the large community past spectacular churches, a large boarding school and a new nursing clinic, as far as the dirt road would take us. After a quick rest and refreshment, we removed our packs and jumped onto our guideâ€™s banana boat to take us on the two hour boat ride back to Lambi. We were lucky to have glassy flat seas for the trip back, where we sat, put up our weary feet and viewed the stunning coastline over which we had just walked for the last two days. Seeing the sheer distance from the boat was quite impressive and really brought home just how far we had come. We hopped out of the boat at Lambi, where I donated my worn out old runners to the boat driver and we piled back into the 4WDs for the drive back to Honiara. The drive back was full of contemplation, reflection and recollection of our experiences from the last two days. It has certainly been a highlight of my time in the Solomons and something I would definitely do again. Life around the weather coast of Guadalcanal is simple, remote and beautiful and features some of the most spectacular and pristine beaches Iâ€™ve seen in the Solomons. If you are into trekking and have a weekend spare, I highly recommend doing the Lambi to Tangarare trek. You will see real Solomon Islands life, away from the capital, where children walk to their schools three villages away, where locals grow and live from their own produce and where life is the simplest and happiest I have encountered. Children play in dugout canoes, with toy cars made from flotsam found on their beach and make up simple games under the shade of the coconut
Beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines and a school verandah for accommodation, the trek from Lambi to Tangarare is one not to be forgotten. You will see real Solomon Islands life, where children walk to their schools three villages away, where locals grow and live from their own produce and where life is simple and happy.
palms. You will see rainforest, bush, beaches, spectacular coral gardens, surf breaks, rivers and creeks, groves and plantations and real villages â€“ the full spectrum of natural life in the Solomons. Our guide Stanley will happily accompany you on this trek for a small fee, as well as many other hikes and treks ranging anywhere from one day to a week. Stanley also guides the highly popular cross Guadalcanal trek from the weather coast back to Honiara. he can be contacted on +677 742 9305 or contact Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau at www. visitsolomons.com.sb Step outside your comfort zone and see what life is really like in the Solomons, simple, happy and beautiful.
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Raiders of,Tulagi play e v i d , y a t S
Fiona Marston says a breath of fresh air has been blown in to the former Solomon’s capital of Tulagi thanks to the refurbished Raiders Hotel & Dive.
ight in the heart of the former capital of Solomon Islands, Tulagi, is a relatively unknown gem of a weekend getaway – Radiers Hotel & Dive. Tulagi in Central Province is only an hour and a half by boat from Honiara and is a must for a weekend getaway or even longer. The hotel has in the past year been taken over by new management, a kiwi couple who have spent much of the past decade living and working in the Solomons, and when the opportunity arose for them to stay on and run their own business, the temptation was too great. Bob and Yvie Norton have completely turned around the hotel and refurbished all eight rooms, with a total of 14 beds, comprising three ensuite and five standard rooms, all featuring ensemble beds, soft linens and air conditioning. A choice of fresh breakfasts are made daily to your liking, and quite often freshly caught kingfish will feature on the lunch or dinner menu – most often caught that day by Bob himself. Complimentary tea and coffee is available all day, as are icy cold bottles of locally brewed SolBrew Lager and a selection of wines and other beverages. Tulagi offers plenty of activities, but is also perfect for relaxing and doing nothing at all. The large airy and shaded verandah has hammocks and seats overlooking a small coral garden right in front of the inn. Children are entertained snorkelling out the front and play on the small white sandy beach next to the verandah. The inn also has a kayak and a stand up paddle board for those looking for a little adventure. Bob is a keen scuba diver and will happily take guests on personalised guided diving tours of the local coral walls, submerged WWII wrecks or the famous twin tunnels of Central
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Province. The hotel features a small dive shop where you can hire diving equipment and tanks can be refilled. A walk around the island is well worth the effort. Heading left from the hotel you walk through the small township, past the shipyard and through the famous ‘Tulagi Pass’, a road carved through a mountain by prisoners during the days of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Government in the 1920s. You also experience the Tulagi Central Market and view the typical life of islanders. Do not be surprised to have a band of gorgeous children following you on your walk and wanting to say hello. Should you wish to experience life in a typical village, Bob and Evie will happily arrange to take you to a nearby village by hotel boat, where they have an arrangement to provide the village with some financial assistance in return for guests being welcomed for a day trip. Upon arrival, the local villagers will eagerly scale a nearby coconut palm to husk fresh drinking coconuts, while the happy carefree pikininis gather around to watch and giggle at the visitors. The waters in front of the village offer some of the most spectacular snorkelling opportunities and the locals will even give you a quick lesson in paddling a local dugout canoe. At the end of the day, after a freshly cooked dinner and cold beer, you can wash the day away, climb into the most comfortable of beds and drift off to sleep in the luxury of cool air conditioning, ready and fresh to wake up the next day and do it all over again. To book your next stay at Raiders Hotel & Dive Tulagi, please call (677) 32 070 or mobile (677) 749 4185 or email email@example.com for more information, visit www. radiershotel.com
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Read the Solomon Islands section of Pacific Island Living Issue 16