Western Province, Solomon Islands
Western Province is the largest of the Solomon Islands provinces. The area is famous for its beautiful tropical islands, excellent diving and snorkelling, stunning coral reefs, World War II wrecks, eco-tourism lodges, and head-hunting shrines. The province contains many small lagoons and most of the country's tourist trade outside of Honiara. The provincial capital is Gizo.
Snorkelling in Marovo Lagoon
World War II Wreck Dives
Beautiful Beach Retreats
Head Hunting Shrines
Hike Kolombangara Volcano
Places to Visit
Western Province Travel Guide
The Western Province of the Solomon Islands is the tourism centre and one of the safest destinations to travel in the country. The main town of Gizo is located about 375km to the north-west with five daily flights connecting from the capital of Honiara. These are some of the northern most islands of the Solomon Islands sitting near the equator it lies in the equatorial zone free of damaging cyclones making it a popular spot for visiting yachts.
The bustling seaside town of Gizo is surrounded by world renowned scuba diving and snorkelling, half a dozen small island resorts with thatch huts perched over the lagoon, sublime sandy beaches, the beautiful symmetrical volcano of Kolombangara which can be ascended on an overnight hike and some of the most welcoming traditional villages in the Solomons. Gizo is a fascinating town to explore. The harbour bustles with small boats visiting from every direction, even some come as far as Papua New Guinea's Bougainville island and it's a place where islanders meet and catch-up and full of energy. The main hotel, Gizo Hotel, has a good restaurant overlooking the harbour and doubles as nightclub on weekends. There are other rowdy bars to visit, and the fabulous market full of woven baskets of fish and vegetables. The market is a good place to sample the mildly euphoric betel nut, chewed with lime and pepper.
Offshore from Gizo is a large protected lagoon with a splattering of small islands, a handful of which have a small beach resort including Fat Boys, SandBis and Imagination. Perhaps the most famous island though is the uninhabited Kennedy Island (except for a caretaker). The small coral island is where ex US President John F Kennedy swam ashore after being shipwrecked during a battle in World War 2 and spent several days hidding out before being resued. Relics on the island including anti-aircraft guns and a memorial to Kennedy. Like most of the small islands in this lagoon it has a beautiful white sandy beach and good snorkelling.
About an hour by boat or a 15-minute hop by plane is the small town of Munda with its massive WWII built runway which now has international flights direct with Brisbane making it a convenient base to start your travels. Surrounding Munda is a massive lagoon littered with hundreds of tiny islands making it an intriguing spot to explore by water, whether on kayak, jet ski, yacht or trawling for fish from a game fishing charter. Munda is also a major World War II wreck destination, has superb coral reefs, particularly famous for soft corals and there's a long-established scuba diving operators based at the town's main waterfront hotel, Agnes Lodge. The lagoon is also home to Skull Island, famous for its human skull shrines.
To the south of Munda are several islands of outstanding ecological beauty. Vangunu Island is high volcanic island with dense rainforest, coastal fishing villages, hiking trails to lookouts and is surrounded by the largest salt-water lagoon in the world, Marovo Lagoon. The sheltered lagoon boasts exceptional scuba diving with pristine, often unexplored coral reefs and much healthier marine diversity. Apart from turtles, dolphins, sharks and rays you might spot a salt-water crocodile or dugong too. There are a dozen small eco-lodges dotted around the lagoon offering both cultural immersion and scuba diving excursions. The region is accessed from a small airstrip at Seghe.
Tetepare Island is a smaller 120 sq km volcanic island south of Munda and accessible only by boat. Previously uninhabited, Tetepare is now a managed conversation centre with an eco-lodge for guests seeking out its fantastic snorkelling reefs with an abundance of dugongs and turtles feeding off the abundant sea-grasses; and well-marked hiking trails zigzagging amongst lowland rainforest with orchids, ferns, butterflies and 76 species of birds, some endemic.
Western Province Travel Information
If you're in the Western Province, you should try to make time to visit Gizo, Munda and Marovo Lagoon. Thanks to reliable inter-island boat and plane services, they can easily be combined and toured at a comfortable, leisurely pace.
Solomon Airlines offers daily flights from Honiara to Gizo and Munda, and you can travel between Munda and Gizo, also on Solomon Airlines. There are airports at Gizo, Munda, Seghe, Viru, Ramata, Gatokae, Ringgi Cove, Barakoma, and Balalai.