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Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

By Jsbdsl @jonnyblair

“Solomon bites the worm” – Mark Morris.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Arrival into Honiara, Solomon Islands

In my 30s, and with hindsight, I felt like my time in Australia (I arrived in my 20s) was a little bit naïve. I spent almost 2 years in the “land down under”, mostly staying in Parramatta (my heart felt home in Australia), Devonport and Poatina (where my Antarctica dream came true). Yet, for the first year on my Working Holiday visa, it is the ONLY time in my life where I spent 365 days in a row without leaving a country, without even taking a flight!! I was the worst country hopper and global backpacker ever and tried to make amends recently by including my visit to The Empire of Atlantium, but even then – that was on day one. I really didn’t visit “Oceania” at all. It’s a continent whose biggest two countries are Australia and New Zealand, the others are often neglected by tourists, myself included. The Solomon Islands would have to wait.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Arrival into Honiara, Solomon Islands

In Australia, I overlanded through 6 of the country’s 8 Provinces/Territories except for my trip to Tasmania (“we may never meet again”) which I went in by boat on the Spirit of Tasmania as a foot passenger and left 5 months later in my car on the same ferry. It was a magical time of my life of course, but I didn’t earn any backpacking spurs, I was there to work hard, earn money and backpack the excrement out of Australia. In Tasmania alone, I whackpacked over 30 cities, towns, villages or islands including Bruny Island and the West Coast Wilderness Railway. I left Australia for New Zealand on the last day of my first year Working Holiday Visa.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Backpacking in Honiara – lost in Solomon Islands

All of that fades into historical irrelevance when you realise I spent almost 2 years in Australia and a double brace of weeks in New Zealand and classed myself as an Oceania visiting backpacker. I lied. I’d never even been to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Nieu, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Tokelau, Vanuatu etcetera. I was a novice in Pacific Ocean backpacking. But then in 2019, I finally made it to some (not all) of those Oceania countries, one of which was The Solomon Islands.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Finally I arrived in the Solomon Islands!

I knew little or nothing about this series of remote islands known as The Solomon Islands, other than they have a FIFA listed international football team, a decent rugby team, lots of islands, diving options, World War 2 history and a capital city called Honiara. It was time to find out.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Local Dancing, Honiara Hotel, Solomon Islands

Typically, I flew into Honiara and it was free visa on arrival (Northern Irish passport – Irish+British), after our time in three even less whackpacked countries – Nauru, Kiribass and Them There Marshall Islands. We stayed in the Chinatown district of the capital city, Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal in the country The Solomon Islands, which I will refer to often as “the worm biter”. Here’s a quick fire list of things I did in the worm biter’s capital (Solomon) that you could also do.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Solomon Islands money

1.Watch the Sunset from the Central Market
Pacific Ocean Islands do well on sunrise and sunset. Get the brace in. We headed to the harbour at the seafront by the central market. While it didn’t blowdry our minds, it did at least provide a memory worthy of the first sun sinker over the worm biter. Half-sunken shipwrecks gleamed their ugliness upon a fish and cucumber market coming to the close of day. Your dream, can never earn enough.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Watch the Sunset from the Central Market, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

In Central Market, Honiara, Guadalcanal

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Watch the Sunset from the Central Market, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Watch the Sunset from the Central Market, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Watch the Sunset from the Central Market, Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

2.Understand the World War 2 History
There might be more truth in the “Solomon bites the worm” phrase than first met your eye. It was here, in the 1940s that the Japanese invasion brought the Australians, USA-ers and New Zealanders into action. In 1942 alone, there were 18 bloody battles here. Read up on it and visit the Guadalcanal American War Memorial.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands campaign was a major part of the Pacific War Battles during World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of (Papua) New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942. The bloodshed continued for 3 years, destorying land, buildings and claiming the lives of thousands.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

The sad war history in the Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

A shipwreck in Honiara Harbour

3.Stay at the Quirky Honiara Hotel
In 2013, I stayed in the Eclectic Hotel in the wacaday city of Vank in rural Nagorno Karabakh, a country which many buck eejits believe doesn’t ordinarily exist. I loved the madness and randomity of the Eclectic Hotel.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Late evening drinks at Honiara Hotel, The Solomon Islands

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Late evening drinks at Honiara Hotel, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Pool at Honiara Hotel, The Solomon Islands

In the intervening years, I’d also stayed in a few peculiar and obscure hotels and hostels, most notably I remembered the Lady Hamilton in Stockholm (Sweden), the Noclegi Rekord in Starogard Gdanski (Poland), the Hemingway Inn in San Jose (Costa Rica).

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Staying at the Quirky Randomic “Willy Wonka” Honiara Hotel in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Staying at the Quirky Randomic “Willy Wonka” Honiara Hotel in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

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Staying at the Quirky Randomic “Willy Wonka” Honiara Hotel in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

But here – the quirky Honiara Hotel felt like a magical kingdom straight out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, to read more about it, check my post on my stay at the Honiara Hotel.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

A Welcome Drink in Honiara – Coconut Juice

4.Shake Hands With A Man Who Knows Queen Elizabeth II (Sir Thomas Chan)
When exiting my room (812) at the Honiara Hotel for the first time, I bumped intill a striking Chinese looking gentleman. This is no ordinary man. This is Sir Thomas Chan.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Sir Thomas Chan meets Sir Jonny Blair, Northern Irishman in Poland

" data-orig-size="2000,1500" sizes="(max-width: 615px) 100vw, 615px" data-image-title="Sir Thomas Chan meets Sir Jonny Blair, Northern Irishman in Poland" data-orig-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318.jpg" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"CLT-L09","caption":"cof","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"cof","orientation":"0"}" width="615" data-medium-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-400x300.jpg" data-permalink="http://dontstopliving.net/staying-at-the-quirky-randomic-willy-wonka-honiara-hotel-in-guadalcanal-solomon-islands/cof-260/" alt="Sir Thomas Chan meets Sir Jonny Blair, Northern Irishman in Poland" height="461" srcset="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-615x461.jpg 615w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-400x300.jpg 400w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-768x576.jpg 768w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-285x214.jpg 285w" class="size-large wp-image-81461" data-large-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/IMG_20190811_194318-615x461.jpg" />

Sir Thomas Chan meets Sir Jonny Blair, Northern Irishman in Poland

Sir Chan shakes my hand, later poses for a photo, takes time to chat and accepts my business card. He’s met Queen Elizabeth II four times, he is knighted by the British government as a Sir, and he was invited to a Royal dinner at Buck House in 2013.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Sir Thomas Chan meets the Queen of England.

Sir Thomas Chan is the brainchild, owner and personality behind the Hotel Honiara, easily by country mileage one of the coolest hotels in the world, certainly from my journeys.

5.Get a Solomonese Lady (or Man!) to Give You a Massage
I’ve had a fair few massages on my travels in different countries including Chinese style, Phillipeno style, English, Polish and even Moldovan. Here in the worm biter you can get a local lady to massage you.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

A Solomonese Massage in Honiara

6.Try the Best Local Hat-trick of Beers
Perhaps the beeraholic in me was gagging for a drop of Solomonese beer. The reason being that The Solomon Islands actually has its own beer! The other countries in the Pacific often import beer only so this was a novelty.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Trying all three local beers in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Our previous country hat-trick didn’t even have their own beer made in those countries. It was all exported, mostly Fiji Gold (from Fiji), VB (from Australia) and Bud Lightyear (from Untied States). Here in the worm biter, I was able to drink SolBrew, Canoe Lager (blue) and Canoe Lager (brown). SolBrew was the best in my opinion. I didn’t go out on the rip in the city at night so can’t really write about a pub crawl, but I did have a beer in three different bars (2 in the hotel, 1 in the airport!)

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Having a Canoe at Honiara Hotel, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Having a SolBrew at Honiara Hotel, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Sol Brew – Solomon Islands beer

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

A Sol Brew in the airport bar

7.Pose With the Colourful Solomon Islands Flag
The worm biter has a decently coloured flag, blue, green, white and yellow. We posed with it a few times including down by the harbour with my Northern Ireland flag.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Posing with the Solomon Islands flag

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Solomon Islands tourist

" data-orig-size="1024,512" sizes="(max-width: 615px) 100vw, 615px" data-image-title="Solomon Islands tourist" data-orig-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_.png" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" width="615" data-medium-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-400x200.png" data-permalink="http://dontstopliving.net/can-you-be-more-pacific-my-next-adventure-to-7-new-countries/1024px-flag_of_the_solomon_islands-svg/" alt="Solomon Islands tourist" height="308" srcset="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-615x308.png 615w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-400x200.png 400w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-768x384.png 768w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-600x300.png 600w, http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_.png 1024w" class="size-large wp-image-80486" data-large-file="http://s8319.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/1024px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg_-615x308.png" />

Solomon Islands flag

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Posing with the Solomon Islands flag

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Posing with the Solomon Islands flag

8.Admire the City View from Guadalcanal American War Memorial
Apart from just understanding the World War II history here, while at the Guadalcanal American War Memorial, the location itself provides that special viewpoint. Admire the harbour and the viallge life of the interior.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Admiring the view over Honiara, Guadalcanal, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Admiring the view over Honiara, Guadalcanal, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Views over Honiara, Guadalcanal, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Views over Honiara, Guadalcanal, The Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Backpacking in the Solomon Islands – Honiara War Memorial

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital)

From here, you can see right down to the harbour in the north, and to the south the valleys and mountains of Guadalcanal island (which houses Honiara).

9.Visit some Churches
The Solomon Islands has a lot of churches and there are no shortage of services in Honiara, and the country in general.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Churches of Honiara

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Churches of Honiara

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Churches of Honiara

10.Watch traditional Solomonese Dancing
It might seem like a gimmick but we watched the local dancing in the hotel, which was very impressive. If you have more time than us and are not on a 6 country in 14 days tour, you can also get out into the wild and see the dancing in a more rural surrounding.

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Local Dancing, Honiara Hotel, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Local Dancing, Honiara Hotel, Solomon Islands

Backpacking in The Solomon Islands: 10 Cool Things To Do in Honiara (Thon Capital), Guadalcanal

Local Dancing, Honiara Hotel, Solomon Islands

This was just a quick tour of Honiara, well worth a visit and the capital of the 15th least visited tourist country in the world.

Here are some videos I made while backpacking in Honiara, The Solomon Islands:

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