Asia and Oceania

Solomon Islands Flag of Solomon Islands

Still current at: 10 June 2008
Updated: 30 May 2008

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Solomon Islands). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • In April 2006, political tensions in the Solomon Islands resulted in wide-scale civil unrest. Political tension in Honiara has eased significantly since the new government took over in December 2007, however the risk of civil disturbance remains. You should exercise caution and avoid public gatherings and large crowds and monitor local information sources. See the Crime and Political Situation sections of this advice for more details.

  • If you are visiting, or are resident in the Solomon Islands, you should exercise caution at all times and maintain a high state of personal awareness.  We strongly advise you to ensure that you are comfortable with, and regularly review your own and your family's security arrangements.  You should take up to date advice about day trips or travel around the area close to Honiara, refrain from travelling around Honiara at night and avoid public gatherings and large crowds.

  • On 2 April 2007, a tsunami hit the Western and Choiseul Provinces of the Solomon Islands.  More than 50 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.  See the Natural Disasters section of this advice and Hurricanes for more details.

  • The tropical cyclone season in the Solomon Islands normally runs from November to May. 

  • There is a low threat from terrorism in the Solomon Islands.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • Very few British nationals visit the Solomon Islands each year. Most visits are trouble-free. The main type of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in the Solomon Islands in 2007 was related to the tsunami in April 2007.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism in the Solomon Islands.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
 
For further information see Terrorism Abroad.

Crime

The Solomon Islands Police Force has limited resources and response times to calls for assistance are likely to be slow.  Law and order in the Solomon Islands is fragile.  There appears to have been an increase in reported robberies with threatened violence in expatriate homes.  Incidencies of pick-pocketing and harrassment against expatriates, particularly at Central Market, has increased.   
 
There is also the potential for trouble due to civil unrest and drunken behaviour.  Foreigners and expatriates may be particularly attractive targets for violence.  You should exercise caution if going to local nightclubs as instances of drunken attacks are not uncommon.  You should be aware that such venues rarely have adequate fire precautions in place.
 
You should take security precautions at all times in Honiara, and maintain a high state of personal awareness.  You should also avoid travel around Honiara at night, where possible. Since late December 2007 there have been several incidents reported in the vicinity of Lungga bridge late at night.  The attacks have included rock throwing and attempted road blocks. You should therefore take care if travelling to and from the airport to meet late night flights.  If you plan to visit rural Guadalcanal, take day trips outside Honiara or visit the island of Malaita you are advised to check this advice before travelling. Visits to other provinces in the Solomon Islands are generally trouble-free.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Solomon Islands Country Profile.

Since the wide-scale civil unrest that took place in the Solomon Islands between 18 and 22 April 2006, the political situation has remained relatively calm. At the time, rioting resulted in 90% of China Town and several other buildings in the capital Honiara, including one major hotel being destroyed.

Manasseh Sogavare was ousted from his position of Prime Minister following a vote of no confidence on 13 December 2007 and a new government is now in place. Political tension in Honiara has eased significantly, however the risk of civil disturbance remains. You should exercise caution and avoid public gatherings and large crowds and monitor local information sources.
 
Local Travel

Inter-island travel is by air to mainly grass and coral airstrips, or by ferryboats.

Road Travel

There are few roads in the Solomon Islands, 90% of these are on Guadalcanal and Malaita.  Only a few of the main roads are of reasonable quality.  The rest are very heavily potholed and in some areas the bridges have collapsed.  Standards of driving and vehicle maintenance are poor.  Be especially careful when overtaking any vehicle.  Solomon Islanders chew betel nut and frequently open vehicle doors, including on the driver's side, when travelling at speed, in order to spit out the juice onto the road.  Drivers should also be particularly careful when driving in and around town.  A lack of pedestrian discipline and cars travelling at speed has resulted in a number of fatal accidents.
 
As in the UK, if you are involved in a road accident the law requires you to stop and stay at the scene until the police arrive.  However, there may be circumstances where this is not sensible or wise, such as the gathering of a large and hostile crowd.  If you feel this is the case, then you should drive immediately to the nearest police station to report the incident and the police may accompany you back to the scene of the accident.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.

Air Travel

Air safety has been good but reliability of services can be patchy and cancellations occur.  Domestic flights are particularly prone to disruption and visitors with international connections should note and plan accordingly.

Sea Travel

Salt water crocodiles are native to parts of the Solomon Islands, and there have been sightings on beaches.  Local advice should be sought before entering unfamiliar waters, including lakes.

Ferry services are usually crowded and safety regulations not always strictly applied.  It is advisable to bring your own lifejacket if contemplating sea journeys.  Journeys to small and/or remote islands are usually in small-motorised “canoes”.
 
For more general information see River and Sea Safety 

Local laws and customs

Drug use is illegal in the Solomons, and can lead to prison sentences.  Swearing is a crime and can lead to large compensation claims and even jail.

Dress codes, particularly for women, are modest and you will gain respect by dressing appropriately.  In certain areas there are ‘taboo’ sites only visited by men.

Solomon Islanders do not object to being photographed but you should ask permission first.

Land ownership in the Solomon Islands is an important and sensitive issue.  Walking and trekking off the beaten track, therefore, may require payment of a “kastom” fee to the landowner.

Homosexuality is illegal in many Pacific countries, including the Solomon Islands.  Open displays of affection between same-sex partners may offend local inhabitants and you could face a prison term if you are found guilty of committing homosexual acts.
 
For more general information for different types of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas
 
Visas are not required for British nationals visiting the Solomons.  You should be in possession of a return or onward ticket.   We strongly advise all British nationals (including those residing in the Solomon Islands) to obtain a multi-entry visa for Australia.
 
Passport validity
 
You should have at least six months validity on your passport.
 
Travelling with children

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

Health

Medical facilities are very basic throughout the Solomon Islands.  There are limited hospital facilities and medical supplies are not always available.  Doctors are few and far between.  The National Referral Hospital in Honiara frequently runs out of blood supplies and presently has a very limited stock of oral re-hydration salts, paracetamol and basic antibiotics. You should take a basic medical kit with you when visiting rural and remote areas.  

Malaria, typhoid and hepatitis A are common to the Solomon Islands.

Scuba divers should be aware that there is now a decompression chamber in Honiara.  Registered dive operators can provide information on access arrangements.

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to the Solomon Islands and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health
 
Natural Disasters
 
The Solomon Islands are a part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire"; earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic activity can occur at any time.
 
The 'ring-of-fire' is a horse-shoe-shaped zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that surrounds the basin of the Pacific Ocean.  It is 40,000kms long and is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, island arcs, and volcanic mountain ranges and/or plate movements.
 
It is understood that 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, which is a direct consequence of plate tectonics and the movement of collisions of crustal plates. The island of Savo, 35 kilometres North West of Honiara, is a cyclically active volcano
 
Earthquakes
 
At 0740 local time on 2 April 2007 a magnitude 8.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of the western Solomon Islands, close to Gizo.  The earthquake was followed by a tsunami, that sent waves several metres high into Western Province, Solomon Islands, 215 miles north-west of the capital, Honiara.  Widespread damage occurred in the towns of Gizo, Noro, Simbo, Ranogga, Shortlands, Munda, Vella La Vella, Kolombangara, Taro and the southern coast of Choiseul, including Sasamunga.  At the time of the disaster the Solomon Islands government declared a State of Emergency in Western and Choiseul Provinces, but this has now been lifted.  Although there were no British or EU casualties, there were more than 50 people killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.
 
Although destruction of property was widespread, Gizo is slowly returning to normality, with all resorts and hotels open for business.  You should keep in touch with your tour operator for advice on the local situation.
 
Tropical cyclones
 
The tropical cyclone season in the Solomon Islands normally runs from November to May.  You should monitor local and international weather updates form the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  You can also access http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.  See Hurricanes for more details.

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  For the Solomon Islands this should include a provision for medical evacuation.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance for more details.
 
If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
Registering with the British High Commission
 
You should register with the British High Commission on arrival (if necessary via your hotel reception).
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Replacement Passports

The British High Commission in Honiara does not issue passports.  Applications for a new passport should be submitted to the High Commission for processing.  Where possible, you are advised to apply at least two months before your passport is due to expire.  You should be aware that you will not be allowed to retain your old passport whilst waiting for the replacement to be processed and returned.
 
Urgent applications will be forwarded by commercial courier to the British High Commission in Canberra, and the courier cost will be added to the passport fee.  You should be aware that our High Commissions will process your application as quickly as possible but, due to the distances involved, it is likely that there will be a delay in issuing you with a full replacement British Passport.  Less urgent applications will be forwarded to Canberra via the Diplomatic bag free of charge.

Where necessary the High Commission will issue an Emergency Passport.  Emergency Passports are valid for a single journey back to the UK using agreed transit points as necessary, or to Commonwealth countries provided a prior arrangement exists with the authorities of the Commonwealth country concerned.

The High Commission will be able to advise you which of these options best suits your circumstances.

Mobile network and Internet access

There is a GSM phone service in the Solomon Islands.  Coverage, however, is limited to Honiara, Gizo, Munda and Noro.  You should contact your service provider for further details.  Solomon Telekom offer a hire service for their mobile phones and satellite phones.

There are a few Internet cafes in Honiara; costs range from SB$16 (£1.06) to SB$120 (£8) per hour.
 
Money
 
There are three banks operating in the Solomon Islands, but banking facilities outside the major towns are non existent.  There are a small number of ATMs in the Solomon Islands including one at Honiara Airport.  Current experience is that these operate efficiently.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Solomon Islands, Honiara, British High Commission

Address:

British High Commission
PO Box 676
Telekom House
Mendana Avenue
Honiara

Telephone:

(677) 21705
(677) 21706

Fax:

(677) 21549

Email: bhc@solomon.com.sb

Office hours:

GMT:
Sun-Wed: 2100-0100 / 0200-0500
Thurs: 2100-0100 / 0200-0400

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0800-1200 / 1300-1600
Fri: 0800-1200 / 1300-1500