What makes Solomon Islands a unique country to travel to?
Solomon Islands form an archipelago in the Southwest Pacific Ocean approximately 1,200 miles northeast of Australia. The capital, Honiara, is located on the Island of Guadalcanal. Solomon Islands is a parliamentary democracy within the British Commonwealth. Tourism facilities are limited, particularly outside Honiara.
Petty theft is common in some parts of Solomon Islands, so take extra care while walking the streets, going to the market, or going out at night. Guided or group tours are generally safer than traveling alone. Landowners may demand money if you enter their land without permission. Home invasions, burglaries, and violent crime typically increase in the months approaching the Christmas holiday season.
Gang-based criminal activity has increased in and around the Burns Creek area in East Honiara and in the Borderline area, which is close to the Japanese WWII memorial. You should not go alone to the Japanese memorial . Use caution when shopping in the central market area as purse and mobile phone snatching is common. Police have established a post at the Market area where you can report crimes.
Yacht-related robberies have increased. The perpetrators—usually armed with knives and clubs—board yachts at night while the occupants are asleep and steal valuables and money. Most criminals are not deterred even when boats are anchored off-shore.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law too. Every care should be given when purchasing pharmaceuticals. There are no guarantees that the medicines you purchase in Solomon Islands are genuine.
While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws. U.S. laws don’t apply, and your U.S. passport won’t help you if you do something illegal overseas. Foreign laws, legal systems, and criminal penalties can be vastly different than those in the United States. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Solomon Islands, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy of your arrest. You may also request to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
While English is the official language, there are 65 indigenous languages spoken in the Solomons. Solomon Island Pijin enables islanders from differing language groups to communicate. The vocabulary is basically English, but the grammar is Melanesian. 93% are Melanesians, 4% are Polynesian, and some Micronesians re-settled from the Gilbert Islands.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Hospitals and pharmacies in Solomon Islands are limited to populated areas and religious missions. The nearest reliable medical facilities are in Australia or New Zealand. There is a hyperbaric recompression chamber in Honiara at the In-the-Zone Medical Centre, phone (677) 23485 or (677) 23482; however, medical conditions resulting from diving accidents may require medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Serious medical treatment requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. If you anticipate the possible need for medical treatment in Australia, obtain entry permission for Australia in advance. Entry permission for Australia can be granted by the Australian High Commission in Honiara but is easier to obtain before you leave the United States (see section above on Entry/Exit Requirements).
Malaria occurs throughout the year in most areas of Solomon Islands. We recommend that you seek medical advice on taking prophylaxis against malaria and that you use an insect repellent at all times. Outbreaks of the mosquito-borne illness, dengue fever, occur from time to time. For information on dengue fever, see the World Health Organization Factsheet. Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic, and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, filariasis and sexually transmitted infections) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before traveling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhea.
Safety and Security
Acts of political violence and civil unrest sometimes occur in Solomon Islands and may coincide with Parliamentary sessions and court cases. In November 2011, the election of a new Prime Minister was followed by protests in Honiara that resulted in some injuries and property damage. Civil unrest can also occur at sporting or cultural events that attract large crowds, especially if alcohol is involved.
You can obtain up-to-date safety and security information by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Solomon Islands is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic in Solomon Islands moves on the left side of the road. Paved roads are found only in and around Honiara. These two-lane paved roads are poorly marked and have many potholes. Roads are not well lit at night. The remaining roads in Solomon Islands are made of coral or gravel or are dirt tracks. Be careful when driving off main roads to avoid trespassing on communal land.