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Mendana’s legacy can still be found in the Solomon Islands today with many of the islands still bearing the Spanish names he gave them: Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal and perhaps the most famous of all, Guadalcanal, the name synonymous with World War II, which takes its name from a small township in Andalucia in southern Spain.
Guadalcanal Province is also the main gateway to the Solomon Islands with regular flights arriving into the capital Honiara from Brisbane, Sydney, Fiji and Vanuatu.
A bustling city of some 70,000 people, Honiara caters to just about anyone irrespective of taste or budget and is the perfect place from which to start exploring the Solomon Islands. Complete with a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene, colourful markets, museums and many many references to the country’s bloody World War II history, just a short drive from the city centre lies the idyllic Tenaru Falls, where you can dive and swim in pools of clear water beneath a canopy of lush trees.
Take a boat ride north to Malaita, an island with bays and dense woodland and a culture unchanged across the centuries. See the remarkable man-made creations at Langa Langa Lagoon south of Auki, the capital of the Malaita province. Built on piles of stone and dead coral around the lake, a network of artificial islands support platforms for modest houses and palm tree plantations.
Positioned at the far southeastern end of the island chain, Rennell is well worth a visit to see the impressive Lake Te’Nggano, the largest area of freshwater in the South Pacific. Surrounded by stunning cliffs and ancient villages, the lake has several stunning species of bird and marine life along with a type of orchid unique to the island.
Continue to the busy cluster of landmasses known collectively as the New Georgia Group. Visit mini museums and search for World War II artifacts on West New Georgia. Head toward Tetepare to spot crocodiles and snorkel with dugongs.
The Solomon Islands archipelago lies wedged to the east of Papua New Guinea and to the north of Vanuatu. While many islands are inhabited, those nearest Guadalcanal are more accommodating to foreign visitors. Many areas remain, generally, undiscovered so be prepared to bring all necessities with you. However all islands are served by regular ferries, most of which have basic facilities on board. The weather is hot and humid year-round with the coolest months from June to August.