Finishing up our 3rd day in Kiribati, in the late morning we headed to Tarawa’s Bonriki International Airport to catch our flight out to The Solomokn Islands. Let’s just say the Bonriki International Airport is still a work in progress.
This was the entrance:
Immigrations is a booth 2 steps away from check-in:
There’s not even x-rays for baggage screening; and there’s only one gate:
After a minor scare when one of our travelers lost his passport, only to find it 10 minutes on the floor of the bus before departure, our 11:50am flight first took us back to Nauru for a one hour layover, where we then transferred through security again just to get back on the same aircraft.
Then it was another hour of flying to Honiara, the capital city of the world’s 15th least visited country where Queen Elizabeth II still rules over as a nation part of the British Commonwealth – the Solomon Islands.
Unlike Bonriki International Airport in Kiribati, the Honiara International Airport has a proper terminal:
After we arrived, we headed to our digs at the Honiara Hotel where we freshened up, enjoyed an extravagant buffet dinner with some traditional dancing in the background, and took up their offer for free one hour massages, which was one of the best I ever had.
Of note, I got the honeymoon suite for my room, which is the same bed that Kate Middleton and Prince William slept on when they were here in September 2012:
We woke up early the next morning for breakfast where the hotel’s owner, Sir Thomas Chan, came up and literally read my fortune. Afterwards the group got together and we explored all the monuments to WW2 where the Japanese and Americans fought.
We began with the Guadacanal American Memorial on top of a hill:
We then followed up with Bloody Ridge, the site of Battle of Edson’s Ridge (or also known as the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, Battle of Raiders Ridge, and Battle of the Ridge).
Here U.S. soldiers repelled an attack by the Japanese forces in September 1942, the second of three separate major Japanese ground offensives during the Guadalcanal Campaign:
Fun factoid: Solomon Islands is a great place to see the Melanesian people exhibit their unique gene for naturally blonde hair. The expressed gene for blonde hair among Melanesians is a distinct variant that can be expressed in dark-skinned indigenous people:
From Bloody Ridge, we returned to the airport for the memorial commemorating Henderson Airfield, a historic airstrip in the Pacific Theater of WW2 that was originally a Japanese airbase before being captured by the U.S. Marines. It has since been converted into Honiara International Airport:
There’s a Memorial Park right outside arrivals:
We then headed to the sprawling Honiara Central Market where we bought some local food and souvenirs:
We then drove by Parliament, which looks like a lair for a James Bond villain …
…and then spent half an hour at the National Museum to learn about the basic history of the Solomon Islands. There’s also a more updated exhibit that chronicles the multi-national efforts by RAMSI (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands) in the early 2000s to peacefully quell the chaotic riots that took place in the Solomon Islands.
We then drove into the outskirts to chow down on street food for lunch:
And to finish off our day, we headed over to Mbonege/Bonegi Beach for some fascinating Japanese WW2 wreck snorkeling and underwater photography:
You don’t have to swim too far here to see the sunken Japanese cargo ship right off the beach. I didn’t even wear any snorkel gear; just a pair of goggles and a GoPro:
– At time of posting in Honaira, The Solomon Islands, it was 87.8 °F – Humidity: 77% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear