Introducing West of Honiara
Life becomes very sedate as one heads west through some of the north coast’s delicious scenery. Urban existence is left behind once the road traverses White River and crawls its way along the scenic coastline.
The area boasts a high historical significance. The seas between Guadalcanal’s northwestern coast and Savo island were the site of constant naval battles between August 1942 and February 1943. By the time the Japanese finally withdrew, so many ships had been sunk it became known as Iron Bottom Sound.
Popular with locals and expats at weekends, Mamara Beach (S$25) has black sand and is OK for swimming and bathing. About 1km further west is Turtle Beach (S$25), an appealing strip of white coral sand fringed with coconut trees.
Just past the Bonegi II site, there’s a bush track that heads inland and runs about 400m to a well-preserved US Sherman tank (S$30) called Jezebel.
At Ruaniu (also known as Bonegi III), about 4.5km west from Bonegi II, there’s a 6500-tonne Japanese transport ship, believed to be the Kyushu Maru, that lies just offshore – another superb playground for divers.
About 25km from Honiara, a turn to the south from the coastal road brings you to the Vilu Open-Air Museum (S$50). Here there are US and Japanese memorials, four large Japanese field guns and the remains of several US aircraft.