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Solomon Islands Guide

Driving

Situated east of Papua New Guinea and about 1200 miles north east of Australia, the Solomon Islands are a sovereign state of Oceania and consist of nearly a thousand islands. The capital is Honiara, which is located on the island of Guadalcanal.

This South Pacific paradise, with its coral reefs, volcanoes and rainforest, is a Mecca for divers and those with an interest in exploration and adventure.

Driving Tips for Solomon Islands

There are very few roads in the Solomon Islands and nearly all of them are on Guadalcanal and Malaita. In many areas bridges have collapsed and the roads are in a state of very bad repair, with many large potholes. Paved roads are found only in Honiara and are poorly lit, if at all. Drive carefully in and around towns and especially so when overtaking.

Driving licences: international driving permits and most driving licences are accepted.

Which side does the Solomon Islands drive on: the left.

Speed limits: maximum limit for urban roads is 60 km/h (37 mph).

Alcohol limits: random breath testing can be carried out at police checkpoints. The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) drink-driving limit is 0.08 per cent, the same as in the United Kingdom.

Driving age: 18 years.

Seatbelts: no requirements.

Cost of fuel in Solomon Islands: cheaper than in the United Kingdom for both petrol and diesel.

Car hire and fuel payment: cash preferred, but Visa, Mastercard and Cirrus accepted.

Insurance: take out comprehensive car insurance either with the hire company or check prices in the United Kingdom before travel as prices may be cheaper.

Transport

Taxis
There are plenty of Taxi’s available in Honiara. Make sure to negotiate prices before travelling as they do not have meters.

Buses
Public buses are found only in Honiara, where around a £2 fare will take the traveller anywhere on the route marked behind the windscreen on the bus. On other islands, people use tractor-drawn trailers or flatbed lorries or simply flag a vehicle down and enquire how much they will be charged to get to their destination.

Ferries
There are plenty of ferry operations running between the islands but quality and service varies a lot between boats. If you are going on a long journey make sure you take your own food and drink as they quite often run out. Ferries are generally crowded and safety regulations are not always adhered to.

Airports
General air safety is very good but services can be disrupted. Domestic flights are particularly prone to cancellation, so it is always best to plan ahead if an international connection is likely to be affected.

Flights from London operate to the only international airport, Henderson Airport in Honiara. Direct flights are few. The national carrier is Solomon Airlines, which offers domestic flights to all the main islands.

Explore

Exploring the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands cover an area of 11,000 square miles and can be accessed by boat or motorised canoe. Big-game fishing is very popular in the unspoilt waters and the rivers are home to rare varieties of fish. Salvo Island volcano is an amazing day trip from Honiara and provides incredible views across to Guadalcanal and the Ngella Islands. Surfing is best during November to April, with the Hawaiian rollers hitting the islands some days later. The beaches are sublime, providing a real desert-island experience.

Holidays and Festivals

Public holidays and provincial public holidays occur throughout the year. One highlight is the National Trade and Cultural Show, which takes place in July.

Weather

The dry season runs from May to early December, when the climate is mild with occasional light rainfall. The monsoon season starts in mid-December and runs until mid-May, when temperatures rise and there is increased humidity and rainfall. Short, torrential showers are followed by bright sunshine and humidity is highest in the morning, regularly reaching 90 per cent. The cyclone season is between January and April.

Practical Stuff

Solomon Islands Travel Tips

English is widely spoken although the native language is pidgin. The people are very friendly and are eager to share their way of life and customs with visitors. The Solomon Islands are generally very safe to visit although common sense should be used and rougher areas avoided, especially after dark.

Solomon Islands Contact Numbers
- International dialling code +677
- Emergency services: Fire, Police and Ambulance 999
- British Embassy: Honiara (+677) 21705

Money Matters
The official currency is the Solomon Islands dollar. There are only two ATMs throughout the islands and these are at Honiara's ANZ and Westpac bank branches.

Health & Safety
Comprehensive medical insurance is essential. Medical facilities are very basic and there are few hospitals, so it is important to pack a basic medical kit, including diarrhoeal medication and bring enough supplies of any medication being taken to cover for the duration of the trip. Malaria is very common and precautions should be taken. Vaccinations for diphtheria, tuberculosis, hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever are necessary, so a visit to the doctor should be made about eight weeks before travel.

Tap water in the Solomon Islands is not safe to drink so it is vital to have either bottled water to hand or iodine tablets and portable water filters. The water rule applies for anything eaten too. Don't have ice in drinks and avoid any food that has been washed and prepared in fresh water. The climate is very humid, so drink plenty of water and apply sun block.

Robberies, bag snatching, pick-pocketing and harassment can all occur and the police response may be slow. Civil unrest and drunken behaviour, particularly around foreign visitors, can happen, so be aware and avoid city centres at night.

Fitting In
Dress correctly and cover up. Solomon Islanders are offended by over-exposure of flesh. Swearing and public displays of affection are liable to cause offence.

Visas for the Solomon Islands
Visas are not required for British nationals, although the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise that a multi-entry visa for Australia is obtained. A return ticket should be evident as must a valid passport with at least six months to run on it. UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, exit and airside transit.

Electricity
The electricity supply in Solomon Islands is 220-240 volts and an adaptor to fit an Australian-type flat 3-pin plug will be required.

Business Hours
Shops: open 0830-1630 Monday to Friday, and 0800-1200 Saturdays. In tourist areas Sunday trading is common. Banks: open 0830-1500, Monday to Friday
Post office: opens 0900-1630, Monday to Friday and 0800-1200 Saturday (Honiara)

Helpful Phrases
- Hello   halo
- Yes - la
- No   nomoa
- Thank you   tanggio
- Excuse me, could you help me please?   eskuis, iu save helpem mi

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