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Rennell and Bellona Province

Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Solomon Islands Rennell and Bellona Province

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Introduction

Rennell and Bellona is a province in the Solomon Islands comprising two inhabited atolls, Rennell (Mu Nggava) and Bellona (Mu Ngiki), as well as the uninhabited Indispensable Reef. They are both inhabited by Polynesians, unlike most islands in the Solomons which are inhabited by Melanesians. The main attraction in the province is UNESCO World Heriage listed Lake Tegano on the island of Rennell. It is the largest lake in the Pacific.

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Geography

Both Rennell and Bellona are raised coral atolls.

Rennell is the larger island and has a land area of about 660 km². It is 80 kilometres long and about 14 kilometres wide. It is the second largest raised coral atoll in the world and has the largest lake in the Pacific.

Bellona is the smaller of the two islands, only 10 kilometres long and a width of about 2.5 kilometres. The total area is about 17km². It is surrounded by 30-70-metre high cliffs.

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Villages

  • Tigoa is the provincial capital and is located on the island of Rennell.

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Sights and Activities

Rennell

  • Lake Tegano, on Rennell, the largest in the Pacific, is 27 kilometres long and 9 kilometres wide. At the western end of the lake, there are about 200 islets. In addition to the unique wildlife in the area, there are also the sunken remains of several Catalina seaplanes from WWII. Some of them are in shallow water.
  • There are various caves on Rennell with streams running through them that can be great for a refreshing dip. Ask around with the locals to get someone to take you to one.
  • Sacred stones can be found on the western end of Bellona, at Metahenua.
  • Canoeing in a dugout canoe is a nice way to drift around Lake Tegano.
  • Snorkeling can be done at various places around the island. Diving is also a good possibility, around some of the wrecks at Lake Tegano for instance, but you will need to bring all your own gear.

Bellona Island

  • Aotaha (incredible cave) located on the foot of the highest point of Bellona Island.
  • Ngangomatangi: A newly established lodge with an incredible view. Beautiful and quite.
  • Tapuna caves: Where the original inhabitants of Bellona (Hiti) used to live, caves with incredible history. Brackish water where Bellonese people used for centuries before water tank was introduced.
  • Mangokuna: Another place crucial to the history of Bellona.
  • One Bay: The most beautiful part of Bellona island with a mile long beach, shallow beautiful water, and a calm blue water.
  • Ahanga: The end of the island (west), the lowest part of Bellona island. White sand and beautiful setting. Incredible sunset.

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Events and Festivals

  • Province Day is celebrated on the 20th of July

See the Solomon Islands article for a list of national holidays.

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Weather

Rennell and Bellona Province has a tropical climate with temperatures averaging 28 °C in coastal areas. May to November tends to be the drier time of the year with June to August being the coolest months of the year. The northwest monsoon season is from November to March, bringing with it warmer and wetter weather and occasional cyclones. The annual average amount of precipitation is around 3,000 mm, though locally places can get much wetter.

The weather in Bellona is perhaps the most unexpected and dangerous of all the places on earth. The island is extremely dependent on rainwater and each home has a water tank that stores water for cooking, bathing, and hand-washing of clothes and cooking/eating utensils.

However, Bellona island lies right on the hurricane path, which makes the island extremely vulnerable to both hurricanes and droughts. Between March and September, Bellona often experiences considerable dry/no rain period. Severe drought flows by a serious low-depression that then turns into the a tropical cyclone.

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Getting There

By Plane

Rennell's airstrip is located in the flatter western half of the island. Solomon Airlines flies to the island twice a week with Twin Otters[1]. For the average visitor, air travel is by far the most convenient option.

Solomon Airlines serves Bellona twice a week (Sunday and Thursday). Sunday is a late flight and Thursday is an early flight. You can make your own booking down town Honiara (Main Airline office) or online.

By Boat

There are occasional boat services travelling to Lavanggu in Eastern Rennell. You can check the schedule at the Rennell Bellona Provincial office located on the 2nd floor of NPF Plaza in Honiara. The trip takes a day and a half from Honiara. Conditions on boats in the Solomon Islands are basic at best and sleeping on deck is the norm. Limited cabin space is also available.

Mv. Renbel travels to Bellona twice a month. There is however no fixed schedule. The main office of Mv. Renbel is located in down-town Honiara, Solomon Islands' capital. This office is often sent a travel schedule for Mv. Renbel on the radio or by notice posted on public boards around Honiara.

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Getting Around

There is only one road on Rennell and only several vehicles that drive along it. The 46-kilometre-long trip from the airstrip to Lake Tegano takes about 3 hours in good weather, providing all goes well. Transportation is in the back of a pickup truck - don't expect a cushy ride, the road is rough and the vehicle will likely be packed with other people. Once you are settled in your village, most transportation will be by foot.

Bellona is only 10 kilometres long, and quite achievable to navigate on foot.

Bicycle

Bikes are an ideal way to get around Bellona. You can have a bicycle put on the boat to Bellona Island and pick it up when the boat gets there. Or you can rent a bicycle. If you stay at a Lodge or Guest house at the end of Bellona Island and want to go to the air strip or to the other end of Bellona, you would need a bike. Don't under-estimate this.

Truck

Two Provincial trucks serve the island. The blue truck is stationed at the Eastern part of the island and the white truck is based at the Western part of Bellona. These trucks serve the island on rental basis ($100).

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Eat

Guesthouses on Bellona Island provide their guests meals-mainly local food and basically sea-food. If you are not keen on trying out the local foods, you should bring your own.

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Drink

There is no running water on Bellona, only rainwater. But the islanders are accustomed to drinking coconut juice. If you wish, you can take your own mineral water with you to the island.

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References

  1. 1 Sourced Jun 09, Solomon Airlines Schedule

Quick Facts

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Population
2,377 (1999)

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This is version 9. Last edited at 7:12 on Jul 19, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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