Itinerary advice please
Replies: 30 - Last Post: Oct 13, 2012 5:43 PM Last Post By: Watsoff
Jun 12, 2012 3:25 PM
Itinerary advice pleaseI am planning to spend 4-5 weeks in November and early December in the Solomons.
My daily budget will be $50 US to cover hostel accommodation and food. I don't eat much! I have a separate transport budget of $500 for travel between and within islands.
I want to experience as much as possible within these limits.
My main interests are culture and history. I also love snorkelling and the beach.
Can you help me choose which islands to visit, and suggest a route that will maximize my time and budget?
Thankyou in advance,
Jun 12, 2012 10:19 PM
1Hi, Florida islands is the perfect place to visit. It is close to Honiara beautiful beaches for snorkelling etc etc, it is the ideal get away and prices are reasonable. contact me if you would like a tentative itinerary and estimated costs. West if good but the airfares etc is the killer...
Jun 13, 2012 6:40 AM
2You have chosen a busy time to tr to travel cheaply around Solomon Islands. In late November, and through December, the local ferries are full of school students returning home for summer holidays, and many village rest houses are used by visiting family members.
Also, there are no backpacker hostels (except one so-called in Honiara) in Solomon Islands. Budget travellers generally stay in village rest houses, or transit houses. Some of these, depending on how isolated, have very limited facilities.
With 4-5 weeks, the Florida islands (Gela) would not fill your time. One recommended place to stay in Tulagi (the pre-world-war II capital) is the Mothers Union rest house, which has twin rooms, shared bathrooms and kitchen, and a great view from the verandah.
I would suggest you also travel to Malaita, where there are fascinating traditional cultures, including artificial islands.
One or two of the boats from Honiara sometimes pick up passengers in Gela (generally Boromole village in the mouth of the passage between Big and Small Gela) or sometimes near Taroaniara.
Otherwise, return to Honiara, and book a seat on Discovery 360 (best to do this in advance in December, as it books out quickly).
Recommended accommodation for the budget-minded in Honiara is the old wing of Chester House (which also has a shared kitchen and bathroom).
The site in my sig line has lots of ideas for the adventurous, budget-minded traveller.
Jun 14, 2012 3:48 AM
3If you are looking for a cultural experience a bit off the beaten path then i would recommend Rennel island because it is untouched by tourism. If you stay at Lake Tegano in a village home stay then your $50US will be much more than you need on a daily basis, however getting there might take up you whole travel budget. The lake is beautiful and the people that live in the villages along it shore are so friendly. They have such a tranquil environment and all know that they live in an abundant paradise.
If you enjoy snorkelling then there a war planes in the lake that are an interesting snorkelling trip or it is an hours walk to the ocean for some of the most beautiful untouched coral reefs i have ever seen. The local village fisherman makes to trip to the ocean 3 times a week where he spear fishes day and night and comes back with his catch. We even spent a night camped on the beach witch was a lovely memorable experience.
I have a friend from a village at the lake who has a website http://tegano-lake.com/ . He orgainsed our trip for us and he is happy to help other travellers interested in visiting. We had such an amazing time here and it is well worth a visit.
Jun 14, 2012 7:04 AM
4The only comments I would make about the Rennell suggestion are that, like Gela (Florida) you would not want to spend the whole 5 weeks there, and that the culture of Rennell is Polynesian, not like the Melanesian culture of the majority of Solomon Islands. It would be a pity not to spend at least part of your time with Melanesian cultural groups (including Malaita, Guadalcanal and Gela).
If you decide to go there, plan to go at the beginning of your stay, as transport options are much less frequent or reliable than Malaita or Gela. Otherwise you could risk missing your plane home.
I should add that it is pretty much impossible to have a fixed itinerary in Solomon Islands, especially if you are a budget traveller. Internal transport does not usually run to timetables (except planes, which should, but often get cancelled or bogged, due to the state of the airstrips).
Transport between most islands outside Guadalcanal generally requires returning to Honiara.
Jun 21, 2012 8:32 PM
5Bit late on this one, but I'd highly recommend Nugu (near Maravagi, in the Floridas) as a cool little place to stay for a few days. Its low-key, only 1.5 hrs boat ride from Honiara (weather permitting) and relatively cheap. Good for snorkeling, diving (if you bring your own gear/tanks from Honiara), and generally chilling out. The local guys who run the place are super friendly too. Its a bit of a well-kept secret for local expats (not anymore, I guess).
With only $500 travel budget, you're not going to get too far in the Solomons. Luckily there's plenty to do around Honiara if you ask around (walks, waterfalls, snorkeling, diving, cultural stuff, home/village stays etc). The best stuff (IMHO) is out in western province, but from memory return airfares would exceed your budget.
Also your accommodation budget won't go too far either. Your best bet is to try and meet some of the expats and see if there's someone who's willing to put you up or find a house-sit (it happens, but you need to ask around - try starting at the Lime Lounge in Honiara).
Jul 15, 2012 11:34 PM
6A true adventure tour to rennell island would take only 3 to 4 days from Honiara.
You only need some fitness with no underlying health problems.
Rennell world heritage site tours offer reasonable rates plus low impact activities.
Our tours are designed to give you a 40km road tours(4WD), short (1hr)coastal boat ride (see the highest atoll on earth), bush trekking (see some endemic birds),lake tour,and see our culture. It is like seeing 3 different worlds in one tour.
In Honiara : Kitano Mendana Hotel and Heritage Park Hotel are good
Jul 16, 2012 6:11 AM
7In Honiara : Kitano Mendana Hotel and Heritage Park Hotel are good
But way over the OP's $50 US a day budget.
Jul 17, 2012 9:58 AM
8Thankyou all for your replies and your continuing interest in my dilemma!
I now have my longhaul ticket leaving Vancouver on November 3. I have a 4 week stopover in Fiji and on December 4 continue on to New Zealand for 4 months.
So I have to choose between spending those 4 weeks in the Savu Savu and Taveuni areas of Fiji that I haven't visited before, or taking a roundtrip flight to the Solomons where I have always dreamed of going.
It seems within the confines of my budget that I would have to restrict travelling around to Honiara, Malaita and nearby islands. Culturally, I believe this would be really satisfying, but I would appreciate some beach time too.
All and any thoughts most welcome!
Jul 17, 2012 10:39 AM
9Not much swimming near Honiara, unless you have transportation to Boneggi or Boneggi II beaches (a fee applies). Then there's the Tambea Resort further out; I spent a couple of days there in 1990, however at that time it was on the skids. It's under new ownership now and is probably spiffy and costly, have no idea. Honiarahomestay or Ozziegiraffe might know.
Jul 18, 2012 6:12 AM
10As far as I know, Tambea never re-opened after the tension. It was actually quite good in the 90s.
Gela, and particularly Maravagi, is a possibility for beach time, but be careful any quote for Maravagi includes both food and transport, as these can put the cost up.
The artificial islands in Malaita allow for swimming and snorkelling around them, but they don't have either white sand or places where you can swim in western-style swimmers - a lava-lava (sarong) at least is required to respect kustom.
Maalu'u in the far north of Malaita has sandy beaches in the area.
It is also possible with the Pacific Arts Festival just over, that somewhere has opened in the Doma area of Guadalcanal.
Jul 29, 2012 7:58 PM
11as already identified, your budget wont get you far in the Solomons...just got back from a few weeks there and was surprised how 'expensive' it is, especially where boat transfers are involved (most places)....Maravagi cost $100 Australian return boat transfer, $35 OZ per night for a bungalow, and approx $50 OZ per day for the 3 meals...if you then pay bill in Solomon $$ you lose out even more as the exchange rate he gives you is 10% less than Honiara.
Apparently it's quite good snorkelling there, but they dont have any gear so take your own (I didn't)....and some small beaches. Nugu sounds cheaper for staying there, but the boat transfers for there were more expensive (unless you find others to share the ride).
Langa Langa Lagoon on Malaita does have some small beaches you can canoe to...I stayed at Serahs Hideaway and it costs 300 SBD per day for a bed and 300 SBD per day for meals (300 SBD = $43 OZ) plus 600 SBD boat transfer each way (cheaper if they have others to drop off/pick up) from Auki. The MV boat from Honiara then costs 450 SBD return to Auki.
Then there is the costs for 'cultural activities' eg. shell money making, or pan pipe group, at Serahs at 300SBD each.
All the costs add up...if you are keen mainly for beach time you might be better off stopping in Fiji...??
Jul 30, 2012 7:14 AM
12My daughter and I are currently planning a trip to Solomon Islands in October this year. We have booked plane tickets from Australia to Honiara, and have booked four nights accommodation at Tetepare Eco Lodge. We will have one brief night in Honiara on the way over and will then have 4 nights spare. Are there any tourist destinations we could visit on the way to or from Tetepare to give us another experience in the Solomons. It seems at this stage we will already be spending considerable time travelling so thought there may be a place on the way back to Honiara that wouldn't necessarily take extra time. Any thoughts at all would be appreciated. I can see already people on this forum have some valuable ideas but I cant seem to put the places together in my mind. Cheers, Julia from Australia
Jul 30, 2012 8:20 PM
13Julia...you could do a couple day trip over to Savo Island which is a short & cheapish boat trip from Honiara....I didn't make it there, but there are walks to a couple 'volcanoes', boat trip to watch dolphins (apparently) and other activities.
Or if you are going to Western Province for Tetepare maybe better off visiting other areas in that province...maybe Marovo lagoon....depends a bit on what your interests are....environment/culture/diving..???
Western Provnice seems to be the main 'tourist' destination, or the most accommodation anyway.
Kolombangara is another island in thst province that has couple days trek up a volcano, witha lodge half way up.
Maybe the locals/expats will have better suggestions for you...??
Jul 31, 2012 6:33 AM
14There really isn't anywhere else you can go en route from Western Province to Honiara, as transport to each of the Provinces originates in Honiara. However, from Honiara you have the option of 3 closer islands with reasonable transport - Savo and Gela usually by open outboard boat, Malaita on the larger 360 Discovery, or by plane.
Consider Serah's in the Langa Langa Lagoon near Auki, Malaita, or Maravagi on one of the smaller Gela (or Florida) islands.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$37.58 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$19.64 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$325.00 per night