Introducing Malaita Island
Easily reached from Guadalcanal, Malaita is a hauntingly beautiful island with narrow coastal plains, secluded bays and a rugged highland interior that rises to 1303m at Mt Kolovrat. As well as a host of natural features, Malaita has an equally fascinating ethnic heritage. It’s both an adventure island and a stronghold of ancient Melanesian traditions and rich cultures. Malaitans are said to cling more tenaciously to their customs than other Solomon Islanders, and their varied cultural life has fascinated many anthropologists; no doubt it will cast its spell on you too. Some Malaitans from the central and eastern parts of the island still worship ancestral spirits. The artificial islands in the Langa Langa and Lau Lagoons are another distinctive feature of Malaitan life, and the tradition of shell-money making is omnipresent in Langa Langa Lagoon.
Malaitan people have long migrated to other parts of the Solomons, particularly to Guadalcanal. Even today, in the post-tension era, Malaitan people dominate Honiara and are over-represented in Solomons’ business, politics and power. It was resentment towards these successes and incursions that led to the ethnic tensions of the late 1990s.
Unlike in Guadalcanal and the Western Province, which are endowed with lodgings specifically geared towards foreigners, development of tourism is still in its infancy. There’s not even a dive centre (sniff!). If your idea of a great holiday includes fully-fledged resorts, shops, restaurants and animation programmes, you may leave disappointed. But if real Melanesian life and enormous natural beauty sound like the things you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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