Solomon Islands - Facts

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  • Pre-Arrival Notification: Customs must be sent certain information 3 days prior to arrival. See Clearance for details.
  • The Solomon Islands are a double chain of islands in the Western Pacific stretching from Vanuatu to Bougainville. There are over 900 islands, the main ones being Guadalcanal, Choiseul, Malaita, New Georgia and Santa Isabel.
  • The Solomon Islands has a population of 611,000 people and over sixty different languages. English is the official language and pidgin is most often used between people of different language groups.
  • Local currency is the Solomon Island Dollar.
  • Solomon Islands time is UTC +11.
  • The Solomons tend to be hot with high humidity and quite often overcast. January to March is hot and wet while April to November is the season of the SE trades and when most boats visit.  See weather for more information.
  • The Solomons’ culture (kastoms) is rich and varied, from wood-carving to beliefs such as shark-worshipping. Many islanders still live in the traditional way. In many isolated villages one can trade with the locals to obtain fresh produce, fish, carvings and shells.
  • The authorities are making a determined effort to preserve this way of life and they enjoy the full support of the customary chiefs in their endeavours. Visiting yachts are welcomed in most villages, particularly by children who like to trade fruit or shells for ball-point pens, felt-tips or balloons.
  • Some villages will ask for payment for anchoring. Ensure that you are speaking with a village chief before offering payment. If you have an “instant camera” you may suggest taking a picture of the payment being made in case there are further questions.
  • While obtaining spares and marine supplies is very difficult in the Islands, there are a couple of shipyards here that can handle yachts. See Yachting Essentials for more details.

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  1. November 17, 2023 at 7:49 PM
    shawn.dear1 says:

    We entered Solomon Islands at Lata and had an extremely pleasant entry. We didn’t even get a celebratory passage completion rum before the customs and immigration turned up. Many forms but the process was completed in half to one hour. They saw us coming in and so came over to check us in.
    Not much to do here but everyone was pleasant.
    We then headed for Sana Ana. This was a wonderful experience with the local community. The kids were fun and great. But still, after 2 days of constant visits to the yacht, we asked them to let us rest and they did. Chief John is a wonderful friendly guy.
    The we sailed to Tavinipupu resort/island. Here we were warned that main land people steal from yachts so remove everything from the deck. What a hassle. Every evening we packed away all drying clothes, water butts, snorkel gear etc etc. Left the cockpit light on all night. And then on the second night we had an unwanted visitor who put their arm through the porthole and stole a deodorant. My celphone was right there too but luckily he missed that. I was woken when he knocked the can against the frame and so I shouted and he disappeared. By the time I got on deck, he had gone. So he could only have gone to the resort island or local family “village”, and not to the mainland where we were told the trouble makers came from. This is not a pleasant way to cruise – the constant packing away and fear of what might happen. Its such a shame that there are such people who feel they have a right to others gear. We have spent 2 years travelling from Eastern Caribbean to here and this is the first time/first country that this has happened. I suggest for a good nights sleep and not supporting these thieves or the local communities that dont sort this issue out, that these places should be avoided. I hope the rest of the Solomon Islands will not follow this areas example.

  2. August 20, 2023 at 8:40 AM
    profile photo
    James Ashwell says:

    One the SE corner of Guadal Canal Island is the islands of Marapa. They are some of the most beautiful we have visited anywhere in the South Pacific. We strongly recommend a visit.

    Pai Pai island is a truly stunning anchorage! Great sandy hold, well protected from the SE trades, well protected from swell, calm, flat and clear waters and stunning island and sand bars. There is a strong current at maximum tidal flow. It is very much worth staying here.

    However, as everywhere in the Solomon Islands as soon as you arrive you must ask permission from the land owner. If you fail to do this you may find yourself in a very uncomfortable confrontation and not feel safe.

    The land owner of Pai Pai Island island is the Tarakau Tribe. Your contact is Joaquim Pehu or, more easily to find, his sons Joaquim and Brown. Don’t wait for them to come to you, go and find them with some gifts and ask for their permission. They live nearby on Tawa ihi Island at 9°50.444’S 160°50.732’E.

    We formed a good relationship with the Joaquim and his sons and felt safe the whole time we were here. We did stupidly leave a bag unattended on the island and a local sneaked through the bushes and stole 2 iPhones. We told Joaquim and he made sure they were both returned to us within less than 24hrs. Don’t leave anything unattended in the open!

    A great contact here is Elijah at Conflict Bay Lodge. He can be contacted in advance at [email protected]. Elijah can be totally trusted. He is very knowledgeable, speaks excellent English and has a kind soul. He arranged an amazing meal for us in his home of lobster, mud crab and fish, which was a real highlight of our time in the Solomon Islands so far. Use him as your source of local information. If you need any further tips you can message Uhuru of London on WhatsApp +447779335417.

  3. June 12, 2023 at 11:12 AM
    Bruce Firefly says:

    Solomon Islands – best avoided

    Visiting the Solomon Islands is not worth the risk and hassle. We spent 7 months in the Solomon Islands to wait out the Southern Hemisphere cyclone season. Very few boats cruise these areas and there have been only a handful of cruisers here through the season. Overall I recommend to skip the country entirely or at least avoid spending any extended amount of time here if you can. The cons far outweigh the pros and sadly the safety issues will keep you always on alert, mentally tired and will spoil the experience even if nothing happens to you. You have to constantly lock everything up on deck and lock yourself inside the cabin at night and never let anyone on the boat. Below is a collection of inputs from various cruisers

    Pros
    – If you’re passionate about diving and you carry your own diving gear, there are many nice spots to dive
    – If you are into world war 2 history, you can find some plane and ship wrecks scattered around the country

    Safety issues
    – There are many notoriously dangerous areas that we avoided, where reports of theft and harassment are frequent. These include Guadalcanal (Honiara), Florida islands, Malaita among others
    – Even in the supposedly safer areas of western province or Isabel, theft has been a problem among cruisers, with several incidents. About 90%+ of the cruisers we met had problems with theft, robbery, aggressive boarding or corrupt officials.
    – In western province, one small yacht had intruders sneak inside their cabin while the crew were sleeping and had various electronics taken (phones, tablets, sat phone).
    – The same occurred to another boat, with people going inside the cabin while they were sleeping and they had their money stolen.
    – One crew in Munda, supposedly the safest town in Western Province, while sleeping in the cockpit at night, woke up to a local sneaking past him with a leg already inside the companionway and the encounter turned into a physical altercation
    – A yacht reports having had a beautiful set of oars for the dinghy stolen while at Papatura resort that was supposed to be completely safe
    – Another yacht had their snorkeling gear stolen.
    – Another reports watching a local boat shutting their engine off about 200m from the boat and paddling quietly towards the yacht during the night, then running away when yelled at
    – One crew suffered a stressful experience with an aggressive boarding at 2am from a drunk local who threatened to harm the couple onboard with his pointy paddle for about an hour
    – A solo lady on her boat had a drunk local come up on the boat at night. She locked herself inside while he dropped his pants down and started masturbating. It was only much later, when the police was approaching, that he finally left
    – Another yacht had laptops stolen from inside the boat in Gizo
    – Other smaller incidents include theft of fenders, shorts, thongs off the boat
    – Asking the police for help is more likely to get you detained and framed up for something in order to extort money from you than get you any help, as has happened to one unlucky cruiser who was held for 2 days and had to experience the worst of the country’s corruption. The Police in the SI are generally very corrupt. They will often work with perpetrators to arrange meetings to return the stolen items in exchange for money and to get as much money as possible out of you
    – Other officials are not much better. The customs officer in Gizo has come up with various schemes to make extra cash out of the yachts. He will insist to visit the yacht for inward clearance and outward clearance and will come with a local boat (about a 30 seconds ride to the yacht). He then request outrageous travel fees, enough for a boat trip from Gizo to Honiara. Other ports do not ask for travel fees. He will also push you to pay the SBD 500 outward clearance fee in advance, then forget to give you a receipt. One yachty was assured than everything was fine when he paid the clearance fee a week in advance and there was no need for receipt. The same officer requested the fee again at outward clearance, together with the outrageous travel fees and lunch at the pub. Customs in other ports have been known to ask for other things such as snorkeling gear

    Other issues
    – The heat is an issue. The high temperatures and humidity often make life unbearable. You end up sleeping in puddles of sweat despite the fans blasting air over you at full speed. The sun hits hard and it is very common to get sunburn even when sitting in the shade of the bimini or to get heatstrokes
    – Malaria and mosquitoes are another real problem. Malaria outbreaks have been common and mosquitoes will make life difficult in many anchorages. Several friends have caught malaria, which can be life threatening. Cruisers either rely on taking malaria profilaxis antibiotics daily for months, which slowly but surely destroys your immune system, or try to hide behind mosquito screens and cover themselves in DEET, but still end up bitten. You have to carry malaria tests and treatment with you
    – Despite western province being safe from cyclones, you still need to be constantly on alert, since squalls with storm force winds and thunderstorms are very frequent and come unannounced and you will end up dragging anchor in the middle of the night
    – Crocodiles inhabit the waters almost everywhere and you need to check and double check with a few of the locals to make sure the spot where you’re anchored is safe for swimming before thinking of jumping in
    – There are no chandleries, parts, tools available anywhere and no repair facilities. You need to carry on board everything you might need. Liapari was the only slipway available to cruisers but it is not really operating anymore after Noel’s death. Make sure you don’t hit any of the numerous reefs and pray that nothing major breaks or your boat might just be doomed
    – Flying parts in is a nightmare. A crew reports having used BJS, a DHL agent in Honiara. “The freight costs are huge. BJS were very unprofessional. It was impossible to try to get a clear answer on anything or any clarifications on the process. A yacht in transit should be able to get parts without paying duties and tax. Apparently, though, customs need to be notified prior to the package arriving and BJS did not do that despite assuring in advance that there would be no duties. Therefore customs would not release the parts before we paid duties and taxes amounting to a staggering amount which was 6.5 times higher than the value of the the parts themselves. To pay for these, BJS asked we go into a bank and make a transfer to their account, but on top of everything they said that there is an extra fee of SBD 215 to put money into their account. Afterwards, BJS said we had to arrange the freight from Honiara to the local airport ourselves through Solomon Airlines without help from them. All they can do is drop off the package. It took more than a month of back and forth before we could get the package after it arrived in Honiara”
    – The same goes for medical facilities. There are no pharmacies outside Honiara. If you need medical assistance, your only option is to go to the local hospitals in ghizo/noro/Munda where they usually lack all supplies, doctors and functioning equipment
    – You have to watch for malignant tropical sores. The majority of the cruisers have had some tiny little scratch or cut on the legs quickly turn into a raging infection with high fever that will leave an unsightly round scar on your leg. This can quickly spread, make your legs swell up and turn into a life threatening condition that needs to be treated with injections of strong antibiotics
    – The few major towns are essentially slums with dusty streets covered in rubbish and red betel nut spit and seedy characters getting drunk on Saratoga whisky cola early in the morning. Your grocery shopping options are very limited outside Honiara. The stores are all Chinese-owned and all sell the same basic food items
    – A cruising family had granny come visit from Australia. She was bringing a suitcase full of Christmas gifts and boat parts. The suitcase did not arrive, ruining the kids’ Christmas and forcing granny to wear the same clothes for 3 weeks. It took 3 months and hundreds of follow up calls to finally locate the suitcase 3 months later

    1. September 27, 2023 at 1:34 AM
      hervedepardieu says:

      After reading your post, we were a little worried, but still decided to visit solomons island, on our way from Vanuatu to PNG. We spent here 2 months in several island. it was one of the most wonderful experience we never have in a country (after 6 years sailing around the world !) especially in our exchange with solomons people.
      so i considere that your post is not helpfull for yacht travellers.
      of course we had 1 bad experience in Russsel island (a guy ask us 800 $ for anchoring !) Except this, we met wonderful people, with a healthy way of life, absolutely yacht friendly and open mind for trading and understanding each other.
      to me , it’s a good thing to advise people from specific trouble you had in a specific place with a specific guy, but not a good thing to blacklist all a country with all this population just because of this.
      Sailing must help to build a better world, a better understanding between peoples as different as westerners and melanesians .
      So we must continue to sail in solomons island despite some little problems !

  4. June 8, 2023 at 2:55 AM
    Catherine Hayward says:

    Rodrick Bay Hideaway
    If you go to Honiara be sure to visit Rodrick Bay Hideaway, the first village on the right on the way to MS Wotld Discoverer wreck in Ngella Sule islands, Central Province. Just 29 nm from Honiara. Chief John Ruka and family offer a mooring (no fees) or sheltered anchorage (20-30m) 24 hrs security, hikes to their lookout across the islands, shared meals, potluck on the beach, local crafts and carvings, fabulous reef. Wonderful welcome, wonderful experience. You could even leave your boat there and do day trips to Honiara for supplies. Great people.

    1. June 11, 2023 at 10:43 AM
      profile photo
      Sue Richards says:

      Thanks so much for this great recommendation. Please remember to post also on the port page for Honiara, so your recommendation doesn’t get missed. Thanks.

  5. June 8, 2023 at 2:44 AM
    Catherine Hayward says:

    Honiara – Port of Entry
    We had a great welcome in Honiara end of May 2023 …followed email advice on noonsite and received efficient email back from customs co ordinator saying a team would visit us at the anchorage … they didn’t. We anchored off the beach between the last big red buoy and the no anchoring zone (great for access to the market .. secure dinghy dock if you lock it) radioed port control ch 16 then eventually phoned customs Mr John 7562829 and arranged to go in to them. Left our dinghy with port security (very welcoming, very safe!) and checked in with custom, biosecurity and health just near the port and then Immigration which is a walk away .. paid € 1,200 SD (600 in 600 out). No extra fees. We enjoyed Honiara … yacht club is very welcoming, Coral Sea resort has great roti, Sullivans are great for wine and beer, Bulk shop has everything you need ….

    1. June 11, 2023 at 10:44 AM
      profile photo
      Sue Richards says:

      Thanks so much for this great feedback. Please remember to post also on the port page for Honiara.

  6. January 7, 2023 at 5:40 AM
    lyndalim says:

    Posted on behalf of Hans on SV Seagoon

    Heard from a yacht in Solomon islands. Good news. They where not charged 25$ p meter on clearing in. S$800 each for three months. Looks like I will be heading that way again after 11 years away.
    Have asked a local mate to find out if its just a one off or these are new rates.

    Hans

    Seagoon

  7. April 27, 2020 at 6:03 AM
    alexrilifia says:

    The Solomon Islands Meteorological page is http://www.met.gov.sb where you can have access to the weather forecast issued by the National Weather Office in Honiara

  8. June 25, 2019 at 9:30 PM
    janou says:

    Latest update for the fees at SalomonIsland
    we had the clearence at Honiara 25.06.2019
    the charge is 18$ US .. not SBD … per Meter
    for a 12m Boat u pay nearly 1900,00 SBD at the Costums, 200SBD for Quarantine and 1000SBD for the Imigration
    / 500 in .. 500 out /
    if you only want to have a Stop for bunker
    this will make all your shoping very expensive
    contact the Port on VHF Chanel 09, they will contact the Costum …. but !! after 3 Days waiting and talking to them every 2h we been advised to go on shore for the Costum Office, they had pictures of the anchoring Yacht but no Idea to come on Board.
    the Imigration was very angry that we not came on the Day we arrived, after explaining that we trust in the PortControl and that they keep us on Board to wait 3 Day we could get the Visa ….. 1000,00 SBD each …
    not shure what the right way is , if one go immediatly on shore to the costum and immigration they maybe also angry ….
    at all …..
    Honiara (Mbokona Bay) is not a good Place for anchoring u can go with the Dinghy to the YachtClub ,
    the Town is crowded by Betelnut chewing Lokals, the Shops sell all the same cheap useless Products
    Bulkshop at Rove got good groceries but expensive because all from overseas ,
    spare Parts … everyone will laughing about you if you ask -:)

  9. January 19, 2019 at 1:22 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    On sailing overnight between the Russell Islands & Marovo lagoon, we arrived at Mbili passage in the early morning. Mbili village on Minjanga island opposite Gatokae is home to many talented wood carvers. We anchored just inside the southern tip of Sanihulumu Island.

    It has been recommended that yachts ask the visiting carvers in canoes to view the carvings in one go either at the village community hut or on the beach. This can be organised by Paul John of Sanihulumu or by going to see Lisa at Solomon Dive Adventures (SDA) off the small island of Turupu next to the anchorage.

    Chief Luten & his family live on the northern penisula of Gatokae & they will also show you carvings there. The reason for this is so that all the villagers get a fair chance at selling their work, as some of the canoes can be rather insistent & all seem to come from the same family therefore monopolizing.

    If you are not firm you will get “canoed” all day every day. There are several good dive sites in the area for which there is a Custom fee of SI$25 pp per dive if you have your own gear or you can dive with SDA & it is included.

    Lisa at the Dive Resort was very helpful in explaining that the fee is meant to go into the community fund so I recommend having a chat with her to ascertain who owns which dive site & we gave the fee to her directly as she puts it into an account for the village (rather than it ending up in one person’s pocket).

    Also be careful that you do not get asked for the fee by different people. We tried very hard to please everybody but it seems that there are some politics & greed that marred our time there. Any concerns & talk to Lisa! Equally, I do not want to put anyone off going there because it was a lovely spot & the diving awesome.

    Mbilikiki dive liveaboard visited the same time we were there so the carvers all gathered together for their guests to view their art. Even if you are just looking, some of the carvings were spectacular & in a group setting, there is no pressure to buy like with the canoes.

  10. June 11, 2018 at 2:17 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Tikopia, Soloman Islands, Lil Explorers Catamaran, December 2017:

    We arrived in Tikopia after a pleasant two-day sail from the Banks in Vanuatu. We used Google maps to pick out a sandy anchorage where there is a large indent in the Reef. We anchored in about 65 feet of water on sand with good holding.

    Within an hour we had a handful of dugouts offering various fruits and vegetables for trade. We have heard about there being an anchorage fee, so in the hope of avoiding this, we put together a nice gift of a bush knife, rice, shirt, and Raman soup for the chief.

    We met with the chief and had a fantastic visit with him. At the chiefs house, we were introduced to some of the customs and history of the island. There are four chiefs on the island, each managing a section of the island.

    The houses are built on the ground with entryways only big enough to crawl through. Whenever entering a house you must crawl to show respect for the owner, and when departing you must crawl backward never showing your “stern” to the people inside the house.

    Exiting a house was always a fun activity as our five young children backed into each other as they pushed and squirmed to be the first out outside. We were there for Christmas and had a truly delightful time going with the church choir singing carols at many of the houses, and watching the local Christmas dance.

    We had a truly delightful time at Tikopia, with a very secure anchorage, an easy dingy pass through the reef, soft sandy beaches, and wonderful people. We were not asked for an anchorage fee, though some of the people asked if we had been asked for a fee. Even when we visited Anuta later we were asked if Tikopia had collected a fee from us.

  11. June 29, 2017 at 1:24 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Hambere Village, Kolombangara. We had children board the boat in the middle of the day while we were away snorkeling. In plain view of the village and another boat, the children broke the lock and entered the boat stealing several items.

    The adults in the village did not want to hear about it and told us to “get lost”. An incident that marred an otherwise fantastic time cruising the Solomon Islands.

  12. July 7, 2016 at 1:58 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Posted on behalf of SY Yawana:

    Noro (New Georgia) is now the preferred port of entry into the Western Province of the Solomons, as Gizo has been experiencing reports of theft, and the Immigration officer is extremely uncooperative and is rarely available.

  13. December 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Read about SY INTI’s project to distribute donated school supplies to remote areas in PNG and the Solomons adjacent, under “related news”. If you are planning on cruising this part of the South Pacific, you can help.

  14. December 8, 2015 at 5:42 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Posted on behalf of Graeme Ward, SY INTI:

    Our experiences through the Solomons were all good, it was quiet with few yachts and not much tourism. It is difficult to know where to avoid, but we read noonsite reports, asked the locals and stayed away from larger centres.

    Anywhere we were unsure, we still felt it OK if we didn’t stay more than 1 night, especially south of Honiara on Guadalcanal. The Santa Cruz area was very friendly. Utupua Island love yachts, trade for mud crabs and huge oysters! They all sail their canoes and old sails/ tarps are gold.

    We only have good things to say about Liapari, close to Ghizo. Noel and Rose offer a very well priced service with a safe, secure and lovely anchorage, we had no problems leaving the yacht there. The Western Province has much to see although Ghizo itself is not pretty.

    Mono island, closer to Bougainville, had some trouble with loggers, but Falami village is safe and they were careful to keep yachts happy. The Solomons is definitely the poor cousin to Vanuatu, it’s very underdeveloped with regards to tourism, infrastructure and aid.

    The places we visited appreciate yachts, the locals have few ways of making income, to the point some of the kids wear barely rags. It’s moving to see how much it means when they can trade food from their gardens for something that really helps them.

    It is a pity a few bad incidents have made a beautiful unspoiled destination so challenging to cruisers!

  15. November 23, 2015 at 7:32 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Posted on behalf of Philip and Leslie of SV Carina:

    For those looking for a genuine Solomon Islands’ cultural experience, please visit Roderick Bay in Nggela Sule Island. Chief John Ruka and his clan have announced the dates for their 2016 Bonina Vale ni Vaka Seloga – festival of sailing yachts – for June 24 – 26, 2016.

    Please spread the word. This is an intimate affair and you will quickly be enveloped in their warmth and benefit from their sincere generosity. For more information, photos and navigation tips visit their webpage at: roderickbayhideaway.sv-carina.org

  16. March 18, 2015 at 6:35 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Anyone interested in cruising in the Temotu area please feel free to contact me. I have spent 5 seasons helping the lovely people there with OceansWatch. [email protected]

  17. February 8, 2015 at 12:07 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    We sailed briefly through the Solomons with our three kids aged 9,7 and 6 in Sept 2014. It was fantastic, like being in a national geographic magazine, with beautiful scenery and interesting people. We had no difficulties.

    Please note we stopped at very few places due to time pressures. We avoided Guadalcanal, Malaita, Florida and Choiseul Islands on advise of some cruisers who had spent a hurricane season in the Solomons.

    Their advice for safe anchoring was to *always introduce yourself to the village chief, *to say what you would like to trade for, *to ask places that it was ok to go and where not to go, and *tell them that they had great kids who were traders not beggars.

    We followed this and it was great as then the locals knew what we were interested in trading for, generally fresh fruit. It was fascinating being shown around and people were curious and friendly.

    We cleared in in Noro which was straight forward once we found the office. There is a hefty fee charged per metre for any vessel, it seems yachts are treated the same as a commercial boat. The official was quite apologetic about having to apply it to us.

    We approached Noro from the south through the lagoon and the Diamond Straits, absolutely beautiful, and the Navionics charts were pretty accurate. Entrance to anchorage near the fresh food market was marked by two sticks.

    Local long boats zipped in and out through there like buses. Noel and Rosie run a great boatyard in Liapari. We cleared out from Ghizo. We didn’t anchor off the town but off a nearby island in the harbour.

    In all anchorages we took precautions, diesel cans were locked up, nothing left loose on deck and took the dinghy up each night. Either we were in the right places or we were lucky but we never had any cause for concern at night.

    There were so many places that were recommended to us that we skipped that we are keen to return to the Pacific back through the Solomons and spend much longer there.