Recently named the ‘best kept travel secret‘ on the planet, the Solomon Islands is a scattered archipelago of some 990-odd richly forested mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls lying less than three hours flying time from Brisbane.

Affectionately known as the ‘Hapi isles’, the Solomon Islands has been attracting international tourism since 1568 when Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana first sailed into this tucked away corner of the South Pacific.

Mendana’s legacy can still be found in the Solomon Islands today with many of the islands still bearing the Spanish names he gave them, such as Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal and, perhaps the most famous of all, Guadalcanal, the name synonymous with World War II which takes its name from a small township in Andalucia in southern Spain.

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Credit: Kirkland Photography

But for the most part the Solomon Islands and their quiet, reserved people – a mix of Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian cultures – were left pretty much alone after Mendana’s visit until 300 years later when Great Britain was given control of the entire territory.

Things changed dramatically during World War II and the Solomon Islands became a household name when the forces of Imperial Japan invaded, the region becoming the scene for some of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theatre and most famously the battle of Guadalcanal when thousands of Japanese and US servicemen lost their lives.

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Credit: Kirkland Photography

2017 is particularly significant as it marks the 75th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign which effectively halted the Japanese advance towards Australia and the corresponding 100th birthday of a certain Lieutenant John F. Kennedy who fought there before going on to become one of the most famous of all US presidents.

Little has changed in the Solomon Islands since then and it’s thanks to this that the Solomon Islands have become such a breathtakingly fresh destination for those international travellers hardy enough to get off the beaten track and look for a new and very different experience.

Today World War II buffs, veterans and their families – mostly American and Japanese – SCUBA divers and surfers looking for the ultimate uncrowded wave, make up the bulk of the 24,000 or so international travellers who visit every year.

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Credit: Kirkland Photography

But the destination is fast attracting a brand new breed of travellers from around the world – family groups, bird watchers, honeymooners, sports fishermen, yachtsmen, culture-lovers and simply those looking to make their own tracks.

The newly emerging, multi-faceted Solomon Islands can pretty much cater to every taste, desire and budget with its myriad choice of accommodation – from the ‘big gun’ hotels of the capital Honiara to boutique resort accommodation, eco-lodges and home-stays dotted across the entire archipelago.

Best of all, and quite a surprise for many travellers, the Solomon Islands are very easy to reach from Brisbane flying Solomon Airlines’ four weekly services.

 

Solomon Airlines – the ‘best little airline in the Pacific’

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Solomon Airlines, the national airline of the Solomon Islands and the ‘best little airline in the Pacific’ will proudly celebrate 55 years of unbroken service in October.

Today Solomon Airlines operates its regular international Airbus A320 services from Honiara to Brisbane and Sydney (operating to seasonal demand), Vanuatu and Fiji while its ongoing codeshare agreements with Qantas Airways, Air Nuigini, Air Vanuatu and Air Kiribati give its passengers – and the Solomon Islands – access to the globe.

Solomon Airlines also provides a vital domestic air lifeline for some 500,000 Solomon Islanders living in the archipelago as well as ease of access for the 24,000 international visitors the Solomon Islands attracts every year.

The pride of the Solomon Airlines fleet is the sleek Airbus A-320 configured to 16 ‘Executive Business Class seats’ aka ‘Belama Club Class’ and 120 in economy class with all passengers benefiting from full in-flight service including meals and beverages with no more to pay.

Open to all passengers, the airline’s ‘Belama Club’ membership offers several incentives ranging from priority check-in and express clearance in Brisbane and additional baggage allowances, preferential onboard ‘Belama Class’ seating and exclusive access to the ‘Belama Club Lounge’ in Honiara International Airport.

‘Belama Plus’ members can access the Qantas Club Lounge in Brisbane and Sydney, Air Nuigini’s Executive Club Lounge in Port Moresby and Fiji Airways’ Tabua Club Lounge in Nadi.

For more information on the Soloman Islands, and a little inspiration, visit www.visitsolomons.com.sb today.

Have you visited paradise, er, I mean the Soloman Islands? Let us know what you thought of the destination below.

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