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The Solomon Islands are made up of six major islands and more than 900 smaller islands, which are spread out to the east of Papua New Guinea and north of Australia. Travelers come here for the relaxing beach resorts, but most are drawn by the coral atolls, mountain peaks and crystal clear water with unbelievably good scuba diving and snorkeling.
The main island is Guadalcanal, the scene of fierce fighting in WWII, and where the capital city of Honiara is found. Honiara isn't the safest place to be, so skip the capital for one of the outlying islands for a trouble free trip.
The Solomons is a melting pot of various ethnicities, and not all of these cultural groups get along. When one cultural group is unhappy, they like to show their frustrations via protests, which often turn into riots, which then sparks looting and general lawlessness.
Avoid all protests and public gatherings. Keep an eye on local media reports (or ask hotel staff) about potential conflict. Trouble brews quickly here.
Honiara is also the crime capital of The Solomons, and wealthy-looking visitors are often a target. Leave the expensive watches and expensive jewelry at home.
Don't walk around the streets alone at night (best to go with a group or a guide), and give the early morning jog a miss.
If you do go out to a bar at night, be aware there'll always be a few locals who like to fight – there were active headhunters on these islands until the 1930s, so they probably know how to handle themselves.
During the day pick pocketing, bag snatching, mobile phone theft and general harassment is common.
These are the most common areas that experience crime in the capital: the Central Market, Point Cruz, the area surrounding old Mataniko bridge in Central Honiara (Chinatown), the Kukum area, Burns Creek/Lungga River in east Honiara, White River in west Honiara, Borderline and Kombito Market in the south-east of Honiar, and squatter settlement areas in and around Honiara.
Plus the Japanese War Memorial at Mt Austin where criminal gangs will operate in broad daylight.
The incidence of crime typically increases during the Christmas period, in the lead-up to major holidays and following periods of political instability.
If you are planning to travel outside Honiara to rural Guadalcanal, Malaita and other provinces, you should contact the High Commission for an update on the security situation prior to travel.
Foreign governments also warn their yacht-based citizens to take care in Honiara harbour where there have been reports of criminals boarding yachts at night and stealing valuables. They are usually armed and are not deterred if confronted. It's best to let them take what they want and live to tell the tale.
Unnecessary friction is easily avoided if visitors take the time to acquaint themselves with local etiquette:
Bull, Hammerhead and Tiger sharks are present throughout Solomon Islands coastal waters. The timid Reef Shark is harmless, but, unless you know the difference, be wary of all sharks.
About 50 people are killed every year by saltwater crocodiles. These are locals, well-acquainted with the ever-present danger. Unsuspecting tourists are well advised to seek advice before entering unfamiliar waters and to be wary in any case.
In and around Honiara, uncontrolled dogs roam freely, often in packs. Tourists are advised to be cautious.
Solomon Islands is part of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire', an area of volcanic activity over 40,000 kilometres long where 90% of the world's earthquakes occur. Four active volcanoes are listed. In April 2007, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the Solomon Islands killing at least 20 people and destroying villages. Another earthquake occurred in the Western Province on 4 January 2010. The resultant tsunami caused significant structural damage on the islands of Tetepare and Rendova. No lives were lost.
In 2013 a 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck the islands at a depth of 24km, which is considered very shallow. The resulting tsunami killed nine people.
The tropical cyclone season runs from November to May. Cyclones bring heavy rain and cause local flooding. Roads are damaged nd bridges often washed away. Travellers are advised to check local weather forecasts before traveling in unfamiliar areas.
You should consider taking precautions when travelling by sea, such as providing your own life-jackets, as safety regulations are not always strictly applied.
Overcrowding of passenger ferries is common and can increase the safety risk.
There are few roads in the Solomon Islands, 90% of these are on Guadalcanal and Malaita. Many are very heavily potholed and in some areas bridges have collapsed.
Standards of driving and vehicle maintenance are poor. Be especially careful when overtaking any vehicle.
Many Solomon Islanders chew betel nut and frequently open vehicle doors, including on the driver's side, when travelling at speed, in order to spit onto the road.
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