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Capital of the Solomon Islands


Pictures of Honiara
Vilu War Museum
World War II sites

By Richard Moore

Honiara is the main city on Guadalcanal and people’s opinions of the city are not high.

Initially, it is fair to say we could see why few suggest having a lengthy stay in the country’s capital.

It hasn’t recovered from the ravaging of catastrophic floods and litter covers the streets, but the people are polite and quick to return a smile.

And it does have some nice restaurants, although peak-hour traffic and wandering pedestrians make for some heart-in-the-mouth moments.

Honiara is a good base from which to explore the island of Guadalcanal.

For World War II buffs there are plenty of things to see on day trips around the island.

We began with a visit to the US Skyline Memorial in Honiara with a knowledgeable battlefield guide, Michael Ramosaea. The memorial sits overlooking the city and the views are worth checking out.

The Stars and Stripes and Solomons flags fly over the carved marble memorial walls, which tell of the bloody battles fought to clear the islands of the invading Japanese and the high cost in lives that were claimed on the land, in the air and on the sea.

On the Honiara waterfront there is a statue to the courageous Allied Coastwatchers who, together with local islanders, monitored Japanese shipping movements.

Outside the police headquarters is one honouring Sir Jacob Vouza - a retired police officer whose bravery saved an American force from a surprise Japanese night attack.

About 50km west of the capital is the Vilu War Museum.

The museum building is basic but when you go through to the outside displays you see what the place is all about.

There are the remnants of planes, engines and intact Japanese artillery pieces.

The Vilu museum is inspiring and visitors making the effort to see it will not be disappointed.

Our last night in Honiara was spent at a very nice Chinese establishment called the Mandarin Restaurant where the food was superb.

Normally I'm not a massive fan of Chinese cuisine but the food in the Mandarin would almost have me flying back to Honiara for a night out it was that good.

Anyway, on our last morning we headed out early to visit a few more key WWII sites.

The first stop was Hell’s Point, a sealed off area littered with unexploded ordnance from the war. But, they had some Japanese tanks and so we snuck in to get some pictures – only to be yelled at by a rightly grumpy policeman who asked if we had not seen the massive sign saying “No Entry.”

Still, we got the shots …

Then it was on to Alligator Creek, the site of the battle of Tenaru where US Marines held off a huge Japanese attack after being warned of the assault by war hero Sir Jacob Vouza.

It was a bloody affair with more than 800 Japanese being killed. The battle features in the first episode of the TV miniseries The Pacific.

We drove off road a ways and came to the Ichiki Memorial, a shrine to the Japanese troops who died in that battle.

Next stop was Red Beach where the Allied forces first landed on Guadalcanal. There’s not much to see other than the occasional wire cord sticking out of the sand.

The same can’t be said of Tetere War Museum where scores of Amtracks – amphibious landing vehicles are standing about.

The museum is owned by Samwell Basoe who is the grandson of Sir Jacob Vouza.

We would need more than a couple of days in Honiara to check out all of the sights on offer around Guadalcanal and after you get your mind around the city's semi-organised chaos it's not such a bad place to stay.


Copyright 2014 RICHARD MOORE