Ascattered archipelago of some 900- odd richly forested and very mountainous islands and low- lying coral atolls, the Solomon Islands has been attracting international tourism since 1568 when Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana first sailed into this tucked away corner of the South Pacific.
Mendana’s legacy can still be found in the Solomon Islands today with many of the islands still bearing the Spanish names he gave them. These include Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal and perhaps the most famous of all, Guadalcanal, the name synonymous with World War II, which takes its name from a small township in Andalucia in southern Spain.
Bur for the most part the Solomon Islanders were left pretty much alone after Mendana’s visit until 300 years later when Great Britain was given control of the entire territory.
The Japanese invaded the Solomon Islands in World War II when the region became the scene for some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theatre, most famously the battle of Guadalcanal.
The British re- re gained control in 1945 and in 1976, the Solomon Islands became self- governing before gaining full independence in 1978.
Little has changed in the Solomon Islands over the years which make the place such a breathtaking destination for international travellers looking for a new and very different experience.
Today World War II buffs and veterans and their families – mostly American and Japanese – SCUBA divers looking to explore the crystal clear, technicolour tropical fish and submerged war time wreck infested waters and surfers looking for the ultimate uncrowded waves make up the bulk of the 25,000 or so international travellers who visit every year.
But the destination is fast attracting a brand new breed of travellers from around the world ranging from family group, honeymooners, sports fishermen, yachties, culturelovers and simply those looking to get off the beaten track and make their own tracks.
The newly emerging, multi- faceted Solomon Islands can pretty much cater to every taste, desire and budget with its myriad choice of quality accommodation – from the ‘ big gun’ hotels of the capital Honiara to boutique resort accommodation, eco- lodges and home stays dotted across the entire archipelago.
Best of all, and quite a surprise for many travellers, the Solomon Islands are so easy to reach – just a quick hop to Brisbane from any major New Zealand departure point and then an even shorter hop ( under three hours) from Brisbane International Airport to Honiara flying a sleek Solomon Airlines Airbus A 320 complete with full onboard service.