Overlooking Iron Bottom Sound, Honiara, the Solomon Island's bustling capital of 30,000, is the country's political and commercial heart, with banks, postal and Telekom services. The National Parliament building is found in Honiara, and Henderson Airport - the international gateway to the Solomon Islands - is a 20 minute drive from the centre of Honiara.
Downtown, Honiara's picturesque sea port, Point Cruz, offers refuge for yachties, and there are international-style restaurants, duty-free shops, colourful markets and a Chinatown to explore. Travellers to Honiara can also explore the military relics and memorials dating back to the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II. For those who enjoy diving and snorkelling, Honiara is a major dive centre and there are some fascinating wrecks in the Iron Bottom Sound, some of which can be dived from the shore. Population:
Located on the northwest coast of the island of Guadalcanal. Climate:
Tropical, with an average daytime temperature of about 29ºC and high humidity. Evening temperatures may drop to 19ºC.Wet season:
November to May are the wetter months and squalls and cyclones may occur. Time zone:
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus 11 hours. Major attractions:
National Parliament Building, Central Bank, National Museum & Cultural Centre, markets, botanic gardens, diving, od Chinatown, war memorials, sailing, casinos, golf, island nights, fishing, swimming, cycling, nature & history tours, flightseeing, cultural tours. Attractions:
- National Parliament Building
Opened in 1933, this distinctive cone-shaped building overlooks the main centre. A tour can be arranged with the Sergeant at Arms.
- Central Bank
Inside, visitors can see displays of local currencies including the red feather money used in the Temotu Province and the Choiseul clam-shell money. There are also some superb wood and white clam-shell carvings.
- National Museum & Cultural Centre
Opposite the Mendana Hotel, the centre has displays of body ornamentats, weapons, dance, currrency and archaeology, as well as traditional houses from the provinces. It is open 9am to noon, and 1pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings.
- National Art Gallery
Opposite Central Bank, the gallery features contemporary works by leading artists from the Solomons. There are also some traditional leaf houses in the surrounding grounds.
There are several lively outdoor markets in Honiara which are an ideal place to experience some of the local culture and produce. Honiara Central, Rove and Kukum are the country's main food markets, selling fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, peanuts and betel nuts. Handcrafts include baskets, shells and calico laplaps.
- Botanic Gardens
The beautiful gardens and herbarium have a fine collection of local orchids as well as native tropical shrubs and trees. Take the track from the SIBC building.
Honiara is an ideal place to explore the relics of the Pacific battles between Japan and the allied forces. Mendana Reef, just offshore of Mendana Hotel, is a good place to learn. Shore dives include the Hirokawa Maru and Kinguawa Maru ships, with their holds full of ammunition. North of these, divers can sit in the gunner's seat of a B17 bomber, which rests on the seabed a short swim from the shore. There are also dive/cruise excursions from Honiara to the Russell Islands, the Florida Group and the famous Marovo Lagoon in Western Province.
- Old Chinatown
East of Mataniko, Chung Wah Road has some old colonial buildings and interesting stores to explore.
- War Memorials
The US Memorial, on Skyline Ridge, has a description of the battles fought during the Guadalcanal Campaign. On Mount Austin, the four white monoliths of Japanese Peace Memorial dominate the skyline. The mount has stunning views of the capital, Iron Bottom Sound and the nearby Florida Islands. Local operators offer history tours.
The Point Cruz Yacht Club and Guadalcanal Club downtown offer facilities for overseas visitors including drinks and light meals, as well as sailing and boating.
There are several casinos in Honiara offering baccarat, roulette, blackjack and the famous Pacific poker.
Honiara's 18-hole golf course welcomes visitors, and there are regular golf tournaments.
- Island Nights
Major resorts and hotels offer island nights where visitors can experience traditional song, dance and music, and a feast of local dishes.
- Other Activities
Visitors have plenty of watersports to keep them busy including swimming, snorkelling, game fishing, kayaking and waterskiing. On land, there is tennis, squash, shell collecting, nature and history tours, flightseeing, cycling and cultural tours.