Solomon Islands Expedition
From 16/05/2020 to 26/09/2020
Snorkel and swim through the incredibly clear waters and pristine reefs of the Solomon Islands.
Discover how the World Wars played out in the Pacific as you visit relic-strewn jungles, John F.
Kennedy's wartime base and important battle sites.
Meet Barry Paulsen, a local man who has spent years collecting war memorabilia in the jungle, and visit his backyard 'museum'.
Join locals in 'community day'.
Attend a church service and sit down for a feast, learning about the local way of life as you do so.
Take a boat to Skull Island, where the head-hunting traditions of the Solomon Islands are evidenced.
Breakfasts Included: 7.
Lunches Included: 5.
Dinners Included: 4.
Age: min 15.
Group Size: 1 - 12.
Day 1 - Honiara Welkam lo Solomon Islands! Made up of hundreds of islands, the Solomon Islands is a destination that remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. While Honiara, the capital, is a rapidly growing city, the majority of Solomon Islanders live in rural villages where alternative forms of currency, like bartering, are still practised. Custom and family are central to village life, and there are 63 languages spoken by the predominantly Melanesian population. You’ll be met at the airport by your leader, who will transfer you to your hotel in Honiara. Your expedition begins with a briefing at 6 pm and your leader will let you know where it’ll take place. Aside from that, the day is free to settle into the hotel and kick back by the infinity pool or, alternatively, head out from the hotel to visit the Botanical Gardens, Cultural Centre, Chinatown or the National Museum.
Day 2 - Guadalcanal - Munda The Solomon Islands were part of a major Pacific campaign during WWII, fought between Allied forces and the Japanese. Begin the day by visiting several WWII sites on Guadalcanal, the main island, and follow the advance of the US forces down the island. These sites include Red Beach, where the US officially entered the Pacific theatre, and Alligator Creek, where US Marines formed a perimeter around the airfield. You’ll also see the site of the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, where approximately 6000 Japanese soldiers conducted assaults on Allied defences. A guide will inform you about the battles that took place here and you’ll be able to look out over Iron Bottom Sounds, a stretch of water that now contains many Japanese and US shipwrecks. Take a moment of silence to reflect on the events that took place then travel back to the hotel to freshen up and check out. Afterwards, with your leader, you’ll board a flight to Munda (approx. one hour), which is the largest town on the island of New Georgia.
Day 3 - Munda Trail Walk - Titiru Meet Barnie Paulsen, who has been scouting the island of New Georgia for war memorabilia since he was a little boy. In fairness, those early days were spent searching for brass and copper to sell to scrap merchants, but he later discovered an American dog tag and that, he says, forms the backbone of his private ‘museum’ of WWII relics. This backyard museum contains ammunition, machine guns, shells, knives and personal artefacts. Barnie will take you trekking through jungle and mountains littered with remnants of the war and, in the name of responsible tourism, we ask that you do not take any souvenirs of your own. On the walk you’ll anti-aircraft gun placements, battle sites, the US aircraft and military dump and more. Once Barnie's tour finishes up the group will be met by a boat and transferred to Rendova Island and Titiru Eco-lodge. The transfer will take 45–60 minutes and, if you’re lucky, you may well see dolphins along the way.
Day 4 - Titiru Village Day Enjoy breakfast and visit the garden from where the fresh produce for your meals is sourced. Afterwards, take a short walk to a local village through the island cave, which is home to the giant coconut crab – the largest land-living arthropod in the world. They’re also known as ‘robber crabs’ thanks to a tendency to pick up anything left on the ground and scuttle away to investigate it. Be traditionally welcomed to the village and gain an insight into local life. Return to the eco-lodge afterwards, where you spend some time swimming or, alternatively, hang a bit longer in the island villages and absorb the Melanesian culture.
Day 5 - Village Church Bung Today you’ll enjoy the special experience of joining the locals in church. Melanesian life places a strong emphasis on community and regardless of your religion, you’ll be welcomed into the church to take part in community day, which begins with a service and singing. Being of the Seventh Day Adventist denomination, villagers attend church on Saturdays and you’ll hear the church bell calling the entire community to attendance. Sing hymns with the locals, or just listen, then sit down with them once for the service has finished for a feast. Coming together once a week allows time for everyone to catch up, so relax and enjoy the festivities. After lunch you’ll be led to a waiting boat and taken to the spot where John F. Kennedy based his small fleet during the war. Enjoy a swim and snorkel on the nearby reefs, then continue to the Agnes lodge/homestay in Munda to relax for the evening.
Day 6 - Skull Island Today you’ll have the unique experience of visiting Lola Island, known colloquially as Skull Island, which is perhaps the most sacred site in the Solomon Islands. In the past, headhunting raids and accumulating skulls were a visible demonstration of a chief’s status, and Lola Island houses the skulls of deceased warriors and skull shrines to prominent chiefs. Once your leader has announced you to the island and feels like they have permission, they’ll escort you around the island. This is the only skull island in the Solomon Islands that elders allow outsiders to visit, so it’s extremely important that you do not touch or disrupt anything. After the visit the group will travel to Hopeii Island for a swim, snorkel and a BBQ to celebrate your last night in Munda.
Day 7 - Munda - Gizo - Kennedy Island Pack your bags and say goodbye to beautiful Munda before jumping on a boat headed for Kennedy Island, known locally as Kasolo Island, where John F. Kennedy nearly lost his life during WWII after his craft was wrecked by a Japanese destroyer. The boat ride will take you through paradisiacal passages where US patrol boats were commissioned to patrol during the war. A local guide will tell you about the heroics of JFK and the distances he swam to find help for the men under his command, as well as the local Solomon Islanders who saved him. You'll enjoy a slightly more relaxing day, snorkelling and eating lunch on the island. Travel to Gizo Island, where the group will enjoy a farewell dinner together at sunset to celebrate the Solomon Islands and the past week you’ve all shared.
Day 8 - Honiara Depart from the hotel on Gizo Island early this morning and transfer to Gizo Airport. Fly directly to Honiara, where you can catch a connecting flight out of the Solomon Islands. The tour officially ends at Honiara Airport.
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