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Friday, July 05, 2013

Biche Village, Ngatokae Island
     The following 30 day itinerary for visiting the Solomon Islands was created after many months of an intensive research, comparing the travel guides and checking out the online forums. It was designed to bring you complex experience of the Solomon Islands from above as well as below the water and includes many hiking, snorkelling, scuba diving and special cultural opportunities which can be adjust to suit the adventures you're looking for. In fact,   in this vast and untouched country with incredible natural wonders and now much less human-hungry, the possibilities of your unique travel itinerary are almost limitless. Because the Solomons were part of our 3 months journey through the South Pacific, the time constraints forced us to remove visit of the Malaita Province from our itinerary, however the rest of the travel plan exactly describes our journey. 

DAY 1: Fly to Honiara from Brisbane with Solomon Airlines or from Sydney via Brisbane with Virgin Australia. The flight arrival is about 1:30 pm and depending on the Solomon Airlines schedule there may or may not be enough time to catch the afternoon domestic flight to Munda. In case you need to spend a night in Honiara, we recommend staying at St Agnes Mothers Union Transit House which provides safe, clean and affordable accommodation right in the centre of the town (SBD $275 per nights per double room with private bathroom, book directly with St Agnes). We booked all of our flights through the British website of the Solomon airlines which enabled us to put all flights on one itinerary (4 flights including our international departure to Fiji) which ended up much cheaper as if we had booked all segments separately. In Munda you can stay either at Agnes Lodge or Zipolo Habu resort located on private Lola Island. There is also one very cheap backpackers lodge in town and it should also be possible to arrange a village home stay.

DAY 2: Scuba diving with Munda Dive: check out the dive sites such as Shark Point, Cave of the Custom Shark, Haipe Reefs or Mushroom Island. For lunch, visit the one and only Leaf House cafe, a wonderful new little place to stop for a hearty meal or a fabulous frozen fruit smoothie.  

DAY 3: Scuba diving with Munda Dive: visit the incredible WWII ship and plane wrecks.

DAY 4: From Agnes Lodge, take a Go West ferry to Gizo, the provincial capital of the Western Solomons (2 hours boat ride). In Gizo you can either book a budget room in one of the simple and very affordable lodges and guest houses (Ocean View Lodge, Rekona Lodge, Leleana Lodge, Jituzavanga Guest House, Nellos Villa MotelPhoebe's Rest HousePT 109 Guest House, Naqua Motel, Gelvinas Motel), arrange a village stay at Babanga Village or Komolo Village, or stay at the very popular although expensive Fatboys ResortGizo Hotel, or at the exclusive Sanbis Resort located on a secluded island.

DAY 5: Go Scuba diving with Dive Gizo at Toa Maru, one of the South Pacific's most popular diveable WWII shipwrecks.

DAY 6: Return to Munda with Go West ferry and arrange with Go West Tours the Skull Island tour in the afternoon or Roviana lagoon tour during the sunset.

DAY 7: Boat transfer from Munda to Tetepare Island, the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific. Check with the TDA management of the island a week or so before if there are any other people going to the island as the transfer can be cheaper if shared.    

DAY 8: Stay at the Tetepare Eco-Lodge: Follow one of the many hiking trails across the island, through Tetepare's primary lowland rainforest - some of the last of its kind in Melanesia. Go snorkelling to the outer reef around the island. Help rangers with conservation activities such as turtles and coconut crabs monitoring.

DAY 9: Tetepare Eco - Lodge: go for a full-day hike to one of the tambu (sacred) sites or to the salt-water crocodile lake. Look for the dugongs in a traditional canoe during sunset or sunrise in the lagoon just in front of the eco-lodge.

DAY 10: Boat transfer from Tetepare to Seghe area (Marovo Lagoon), stay at either Matikuri Lodge or Charapoana Lodge (not in operation in June 2013). Both will guarantee wonderful village stay with a local family who will introduce you to simple everyday Solomons' life.

DAY 11: Go snorkelling and kayaking around Marovo Lagoon, the world's largest salt-water lagoon.

DAY 12: Visit local markets and learn how to prepare traditional meals, or go fishing with local fishermen.
DAY 13: Boat transfer from Seghe to Uepi Island. Stay at Uepi Island Resort. Go snorkelling on the world-class house reef just off the Welcome jetty. Take a 2-hour coconut crab walk around the tropical rainforest.

DAY 14: Uepi Island Resort: Take an early morning trip to the nearby Manta Ray cleaning station and swim with these amazing giants - breathtaking and unforgettable experience. Go scuba diving to the local dive sites such as Uepi Point, Dive Jetty - Welcome Jetty, Charapoana Passage, the Elbow, etc...

DAY 15: Uepi Island Resort: Take a full-day scuba diving excursion to more remote dive sites (up to 4 dives a day)

DAY 16: Boat transfer from Uepi Island to the Wilderness Lodge on Gatokae Island: 

DAY 17: Wilderness Lodge: Take a snorkelling trip to nearby off-shore islands Kiche, Mbulo and Malemale, and experience 25+ metres visibility on incredibly pristine coral reefs. Take a full-afternoon  culturally very unique tour to the remote Biche village, one of the least accessible sea villages on the island. Please note that Saturday is a Sabbath Day when the villagers restrict any activities (including using of the kayak). Swimming and snorkelling are allowed.  

DAY 18: Wilderness Lodge: Follow one of the many hiking trails across the island that range from a few hours to multi-day hikes. Go scuba-diving or go searching for salt-water crocodiles with experienced guide. If the weather and sea conditions allow, visit Kavachi submarine volcano - the world’s only accessible submarine volcano which can offer adrenaline-charged snorkelling during its eruptions a safe distance from the vent.

DAY 19: Boat transfer from the Wilderness Lodge to Seghe airport (closer Gatokae airport has been closed in 2013). Book a Solomon Airlines short domestic flight from Seghe to Honiara. Stay 1 night in Honiara. Stay at either Chester Resthouse or St Agnes Mothers Union Transit House, which provides safe, clean and affordable accommodation right in the centre of the town (SBD $275 per nights per double room with private bathroom, book directly with St Agnes).

DAY 20: Book a ferry from Honiara to Auki in Malaita Province with Silentworld which operates Discovery ferry daily. Arrange your stay at Serah Kei Lagoon Hideaway in Lunga Lunga Lagoon. Other Auki accommodation options include Rarasu Motel and Auki Motel.

DAY 21: Malaita: At Serah Kei Hideaway you can choose from a whole range of unique cultural activities such as shell money production, bridal gift presentation, pan pipes demonstration, artificial island construction & local house building, traditional cooking, traditional healing and medicine, etc. 

DAY 22 - DAY 24: Malaita: Consider visiting the traditional 'bush' tribe Kwaio, who live in eastern-central Malaita's mountainous interior (2-3 day guided tour). This area is very seldom visited by Westerners and the 1000 Kwaio people who live in the mountains near Atoifi and Sinalanggu have rejected the modern world in favour of the traditional life and religion of their ancestors. If you're here to experience the cultural heritage, it doesn't get any better than this.

DAY 25: Take a ferry from Auki back to Honiara. Book a 5-day stay at either Chester Resthouse or St Agnes Mothers Union Transit House which provides safe, clean and affordable accommodation right in the centre of the town (SBD $275 per nights per double room with private bathroom, book directly with St Agnes). You can choose from a whole range of other accommodation options in Honiara to suit your needs.

DAY 26: Honiara: visit Central market and go snorkelling at Bonegi beach WWII shipwrecks (Bonegi I & II). Visit the Breakwater Cafe for a breakfast, the Lime Lounge Cafe for a wonderful healthy lunch and a fruit smoothie, and go to Point Cruz Yacht-club or more affordable Chinese Crown restaurant for a dinner. You can also visit Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel to visit one and only Japanese restaurant in town. 

DAY 28 - DAY 29: Scuba diving with Tulagi Dive: book a scuba-diving trip to one of the world-famous wreck and reef sites around Honiara or Tulagi area.

DAY 29: Scuba diving with Tulagi Dive: Iron Bound Diving

DAY 30: Take a full-day snorkelling trip to Florida Islands with Extreme Adventures.  

DAY 31: Departure from Honiara with direct international flight to PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu, or Australia (Solomon AirlinesVirgin AustraliaFiji AirwaysAir Niugini, and Air Vanuatu).


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