Solomon Islands

Main attractions

Diving in Leru Cut, Solomon Islands
Diving in Leru Cut / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Solomon Islands belong to comparatively little known and little explored countries of the world. Biological, archaeological and geological research still provides new exciting information about these islands and many more discoveries are expected in future.

Highlights of Solomon Islands are:

  • Biological diversity: numerous species of plants and animals (notably - birds) are found only in these islands. In many places the vegetation cover is highly unusual, visually very impressive.
  • Local traditions, archaeological monuments and legends: archaeology of Solomon Islands is little known and not much explored. Nevertheless exotic and often menacing monuments in lush jungle setting are well concordant to vivid local legends. Many stories in Solomon Islands are too unusual to be true and still there are happening things which let to believe in these stories.

Natural landmarks

Volcanoes and geothermal areas

Kavachi submarine eruption, Solomon Islands
Kavachi submarine eruption / , Wikimedia Commons / public domain
  • Kavachi - Western Province. Unusual, very active submarine volcano. Since the first sighting in 1939 it has rised above the sea level at least eight times and then eroded back.
  • Ove geothermal area - Simbo Island, Western Province. Spectacular geothermal area amidst jungle. Whole hillside is cleared from vegetation by acidic sulphur deposits. Fumaroles, hot sulphur springs. Sulphuric springs flow into brackish Lake Ove - important habitat of megapodes.
  • Paraso geothermal area - Vella Lavella island, Western Province. Large, impressive geothermal area with boiling mud lakes, hot springs, colourful sediments.
  • Poghorovorughala geothermal area - Savo Island, Central Province. Active geothermal area with boiling alcaline springs, boiling mud pots and fumaroles. In the area are located also some spouts of hot water - low geysers. Many springs produce unusual carbonate - opal - anhydrite deposits. Such alcaline springs are rare.
  • Rembokola alcaline springs - Savo Island, Central Province. Hot (80 °C) springs on the flanks of volcano caldera. Springs are alcaline and are depositing silica sinter and travertine.
Lake Tegano, Solomon Islands
Lake Tegano / , Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Unique biotopes

  • Lake Tegano - East Renell Island, Renell and Bellona. Unique biotope, one of the largest lakes in insular Pacific. Lake - former lagoon of atoll with an area of 50,000 ha. Lake has rugged limestone banks and islands. In the lake and around it live numerous endemic animals (including four species of unique birds), algae and diatoms. Banded sea snake Laticauda crockeri is endemic to lake. Forests around the lake are undisturbed, there are 10 endemic species of plants including orchid Dendrobium rennellii.
  • Mborokua Island (Baruku Island) - Western Province. Small, isolated volcanic island with intact ecosystem. Little explored. Stopover point for local warriors during their head hunting expeditions.
  • Rainforest of Kolombangara caldera - Western Province. Intact rainforest with very high biological diversity, numerous endemic species. Very high diversity of birds, frogs, orchids and other life forms. Caldera is 4 km wide and 1 km deep, at the bottom are several sulphur vents.
  • Rob Roy Island forest - Choiseul. Soil in Rob Roy Island has very high content of heavy metals, making it poisonous for many species of plants. As a result here has formed unusual ecosystem which contains only those plants, which are resistant to heavy metals.
  • Tetepare rainforest - whole Tetepare island, Western Province. Tetepere island is not inhabited for more than 200 years and is one of the last undisturbed lowland rainforest (120 km²) in this part of globe with several endemic species, including unique freshwater fish. Island has evil fame among the people of nearby islands: according to local legends numerous people died on Tetepare due to evil sorcerers and spirits and now it is considered to be an "island of ghosts".

Other natural landmarks

  • Leru Cut - Leru Island, Central Province. Impressive underwater cave - deep cut in reef wall which goes under the island for 75 - 100 m, depth up to 20 m. At the end one can dive up in small pool in the island, surrounded by lush jungle. Walls of this cave are covered with coralls. One of the many interesting underwater caves in region.
  • Mabuho Gorge - eastern Guadalcanal. Beautiful, impressive gorge with vertical, layered walls rising directly from the shallow Mongga River.
  • Matanikau Falls - Guadalcanal. Waterfalls which are falling onto into cave from two sides. Cave is adorned with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. During the World War II Japanese soldiers were hiding in this cave.
  • Mount Maetambe karst area - Choiseul. Area with intense karst processes, with subterranean rivers, sinkholes. Largely unexplored. Forest contains numerous endemic species, more finds expected after speleological research.
  • Northern Malaita diamond pipes - Malaita. Unique find of rare rock compositions (alnoite, lharzburgite) - possibly the first known diamond pipes in oceanic crust in the world. Found garnets and microdiamonds and there are expectations that diamonds will be found here as well.
  • Riba Cave - Malaita. Impressive cave with underground river and opening - sinkhole. Cave contains giant stalactite named Louis - ancient worship site. Thousands of birds live in the cave.
  • Tenaru Falls - Guadalcanal. Beautiful, free falling 60 m tall falls on Tenaru River.
  • Vihona Falls - Guadalcanal. Impressive waterfall in rainforest of Lhamas mountains.

Man made landmarks

Ancient shrines and megalithic complexes

  • Bao shrine complex - Western Province. Group of 18 shrines built from large basalt slabs and lined along a high ridge in the interior of New Georgia Island. Shrines were built around 1200 AD and represent the oldest monument of Roviana culture.
  • Honiavasa stone platforms and tables - Honiavasa island, Western Province. Cluster of 34 platforms which are lined along the coast of this barrier island. Area contains stone walls, table stones. Dated finds from the late 14th century AD.
  • Kekehe megalithic complex - Ndora island, Western Province. Group of stone structures - 20 major structures, mostly platforms paved with basalt and corall slabs. Contains also upright basalt slabs and stone statues of ancestors.
  • Nusa Roviana hillfort and shrines - Nusa Roviana island, Western Province. Impressive settlement complex - 600 m long hillfort with 3 m high, 2 m wide and 500 m long wall made of stone rubble. Settlement has 24 terraces for growing taro. Here are located 13 skull shrines filled with skulls of deceased chiefs. Many stones are adorned with beautiful carvings. Small terraced area in the highest place of island contains one of the most important shrines in Roviana - Tiola or dog shrine with a stone carving - dog's head. According to legends this statue is turning towards the direction where danger to Roviana is coming. Site was developed before the 19th century, dated finds from the 14th and 17th century. Fortress was destroyed in 1892.
  • Vonavona Skull Island (Kindu, Kundu Hite) - Western Province. Impressive archaeological monument - tent shaped wooden shrine with decorated stone slab - door. This shrine sits on the top of corall mound and is filled with skulls of deceased chiefs. It is possible that in the front of other skulls is located the skull of feared head hunter - chief Higova (Ingova) who died in 1906. Around the shrine are broken shell rings - offerings.

Other archaeological monuments and sites of legends

  • Ghosts of San Jorge - Isabel, San Jorge island. San Jorge island is the island of spirits of deceased. Here are located caves with the skulls of deceased. Locals and also tourists tell stories about strange phenomena on island - singing in the night, ceremonial place kept tidy by unknown people, etc.
  • Kakamora caves (Kakangora caves) - Makira-Ulawa. Legendary, inaccessible caves, where, according to locals, live Kakamora people - ancient dwarf people, just one metre tall, walking naked and endowed with incredible strength. Many believe that these people still exist.
  • Tapuna Caves - Bellona, Renell and Bellona. Caves where lived Hiti - Melanesian inhabitants of Bellona before the coming of Polynesians (around AD 1400). Remnants of stone buildings inside the caves still visible. Site of legends.
  • Poha Cave (Vatuluma Cave) - near Honiara, Guadalcanal. Important archaeological monument - cave with ancient rock art. In excavations found artefacts left by people who lived here 1,300 - 1,000 BC.

List of described attractions by provinces

Solomon Islands are divided into nine provinces and Capital Territory.

Capital Territory
ArrowNusa Roviana hillfort and shrinesAncient settlements, Fortifications, Ancient shrines, Sites of legends
ArrowKakamora Caves - mystery of the dwarf peopleCaves, Sites of legends
Renell and Bellonna

Map of Solomon Islands

Featured: Nusa Roviana hillfort and shrines

Tiola dog - drawing
Head of Tiola dog, made of coral / Gatis Pāvils, compiled several images, CC-BY-SA-3.0

By the end of the 19th century British administration of Solomon Islands got weary from the constant head hunting expeditions organized by chiefs of New Georgia island and especially - by the sinister Ingova from Nusa Roviana. Marine forces were called in and more than 150 war canoes of aggressive head hunters were destroyed. Troops moved inland, conquered Nusa Roviana fortress and destroyed numerous appalling shrines filled with skulls...

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