Just three hours north-east of Brisbane by plane, the Solomon Islands is a sparkling collection of 900-odd emerald jewels stretching across aqua waters. Here are just some of the reasons you should visit this Pacific paradise.
1. You can eat lobster every day for a week
Who ordered the lobster? For those who adore these colourful crustaceans but can’t afford price tag usually attached to a lobster dinner, welcome to your nirvana. In the Solomon Islands you can order lobster every day, in every way, without breaking the bank. Start at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara where you can feast on this beast bathed in garlic. At Fatboy Resort, near Gizo, the lobster practically jumps out of the ocean on to your jetty restaurant plate, with fishermen making daily deliveries. At Tavanipupu Island Resort at Marau Sound, dine lobster mornay cooked by one of the country’s finest chef. Or head to Sarbis Resort near Gizo, where you can enjoy a lobster pizza cooked in what must be the Southern Hemisphere’s only over-water pizza oven. Fancy lobster for breakfast? Order the omelette at the Agnes Gateway Hotel.
2. It’s one of the last digital-detox spots on the planet
If your idea of a relaxing holiday is truly escaping, then you’re in luck. While phone and internet connectivity is available at most Honiara hotels and in some outer resort receptions, Wi-Fi can be patchy. Even if you buy a local SIM card from Solomon Telekom, you may not always be connected. Our advice: simply switch off. At Fatboys Resort they’ll even offer to boat you out to a remote sandbank where you can enjoy the setting sun and not have to tell another soul about it.
3. There’s no place like a homestay
There’s a wide variety of lovely accommodation options in the Solomon Islands, but for a truly authentic experience consider staying in a local village or homestay. Saeragi on Gizo Island claims to be the Solomons “most beautiful beach” and here you’ll find two comfortable huts perched right on her sandy shores. During your stay you’ll be invited to interact with the local villagers, where you’ll learn anything from palm-frond weaving and coconut husking to fishing, cooking and traditional dancing. And at Oravae Cottage, a 20-minute boat ride from Gizo, you’ll find an open-plan wooden bungalow plus a penthouse and treehouse.
4. The drinks are cool
Forget the coconut water craze that’s currently sweeping Australian cities. Here, it’s the real deal: fresh coconuts plucked straight from the tree and sold at the markets and on restaurant menus. For a really cool cafe, head to Honiara’s Lime Lounge Café. You’ll find coconut and fresh juices and great coffee among the extensive food menu. For those who prefer a cold beer on a hot day, the Solomons’ own SolBrew is sold almost everywhere and is a tasty, inexpensive ale. Forget a drive-through: for a really cool experience, ask your boat driver to pull in at the Gizo bottle shop and float right up to buy takeaway wine and spirits at reasonable prices.