Guadalcanal Province

Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Solomon Islands Guadalcanal Province

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Introduction

Guadalcanal Province in the Solomon Islands covers most of the island of Guadalcanal, except for the capital Honiara, which is administered by the Honiara Town Council.

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History

In the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Japanese drove the Americans out of the Philippines, the British out of British Malaya, and the Dutch out of the East Indies. The Japanese then began to expand into the Western Pacific, occupying many islands in an attempt to build a defensive ring around their conquests and threaten the lines of communication from the United States to Australia and New Zealand. The Japanese reached Guadalcanal in May 1942.

When an American reconnaissance mission spotted construction of a Japanese airfield at Lunga Point on the north coast of Guadalcanal, the situation became critical. This new Japanese airfield represented a threat to Australia itself, and so the United States as a matter of urgency, despite not being adequately prepared, conducted the first amphibious landing of the war. The initial landings of US Marines on 7 August 1942 secured the airfield without too much difficulty, but holding the airfield for the next six months was one of the most hotly contested campaigns in the entire war for the control of ground, sea and skies. Guadalcanal became a major turning point in the war as it stopped Japanese expansion. After six months of fighting, the Japanese ceased contesting the control of the island. They finally evacuated the island at Cape Esperance on the north west coast in February 1943.

Immediately after landing on the island, the US Navy Seabees began finishing the airfield begun by the Japanese. It was then named Henderson Field after a Marine aviator killed in combat during the Battle of Midway. Aircraft operating from Henderson Field during the campaign were a hodgepodge of Marine, Army, Navy and allied aircraft that became known as the Cactus Air Force. They defended the airfield and threatened any Japanese ships that ventured into the vicinity during daylight hours. However, at night, Japanese naval forces were able to shell the airfield and deliver troops with supplies, retiring before daylight. The Japanese used fast ships to make these runs, and this became known as the Tokyo Expres. So many ships from both sides were sunk in the many engagements in and around the Solomon Island chain that the nearby waters were referred to as Ironbottom Sound. The Battle of Cape Esperance was fought on 11 October 1942 off the northwest coast of Guadalcanal. In the battle, United States Navy ships intercepted and defeated a Japanese formation of ships on their way down 'the Slot' to reinforce and resupply troops on the island, but suffered losses as well. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November marked the turning point in which Allied Naval forces took on the extremely experienced Japanese surface forces at night and forced them to withdraw after sharp action. Some Japanese viewpoints consider these engagements, and the improving Allied surface capability to challenge their surface ships at night, to be just as significant as the Battle of Midway in turning the tide against them.

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Geography

The island of Guadalcanal is 6,500 km² with a rugged interior. The tallest point is Mount Popomanaseu, peaking at 2,332 metres.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

National Museum & Cultural Centre

The National Museum & Cultural Centre in Honiara is a good place to go and learn about the local culture. There are also several traditional houses constructed behind the museum, each in the style of a different province. Location: Mendana Ave, Honiara. Ph: (677) 22098. Open Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm, Sat 8:00am-12:00pm.

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Events and Festivals

  • Province Day is celebrated on August 1st

National public holidays in the Solomon Islands are as follows:

  • New Year's Day - January 1. Most of the celebrations for New Year are around Honiara. However, the resorts around the country, especially beach resorts, generally organize something for tourists. If visitors find themselves along Mendana Avenue in Honiara, they should keep an eye on personal possessions, particularly when a crowd is around.
  • Good Friday to Easter Monday - Easter is an important celebration in most areas of the Solomon Islands, especially in larger cities when Christianity is practiced by the majority of the population. Honiara usually hosts a fun run during this day, and going to Mass is a wonderful way to get involved with the people.
  • Queen's Birthday, June 10
  • Independence Day - This is one of the most important days of the year for locals. Independence Day in the Solomon Islands occurs on July 7 each year. Basically, thousands of natives flock to the capital city, Honiara. Here, a range of parades, performances and celebrations are held. Tourists will need to book a hotel in advance if they are going to travel to the capital during Independence Day celebrations.
  • Christmas Day - On the 25 December, Christmas brings much joy to the people of the Solomon Islands. Most locals will move back to their home towns outside of Honiara, or visit relatives who live in the rural areas. Honiara becomes quiet for a few days. Nevertheless, churches and community halls usually hold an event or gathering on Christmas, so tourists shouldn’t feel left out.
  • National Day of Thanksgiving, December 26

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Weather

Guadalcanal 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.

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Getting There

By Plane

Honiara International Airport (HIR), formerly known as Henderson Field, is located 10 kms out of the capital Honiara on Guadlacanal and is the main point of entry into the country. Solomon Airlines provides international connecting flights to Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu and domestic flights throughout the islands.

Newly launched SkyAirWorld flies 5 times weekly between Honiara and Brisbane, Australia. As a result of this new competition, airfares to the Solomons from Australia have dropped significantly.

There is a departure tax at the airport of SI$40. Duty free limits are 250 grams of tobacco, 200 cigarettes, two litres of spirits and any other dutiable goods not exceeding SI$500.

By Boat

Cruise ships sometimes include Guadalcanal on tours of the South Pacific. At the time of writing (June 09), Paradise Adventures is listing a trip including the Solomon Islands on its itinerary.

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Getting Around

Taxis are relatively plentiful and cheap in Honiara. They can be either ordered of flagged down. There are also frequent minibuses that operate along the coastal strip from Henderson to White River stopping making numerous stops along the way (SBD$3 any distance).

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Eat

There is surprising variety in Honiara with many restaurants catering to expats. This includes hotels listed below. There are a number of eateries near the museum, to its left if you are facing it from the main road. A range of lunch foods and drinks are on offer, including fish 'n' cassava chips and green (drinking) coconuts. The Central Market, located on the main road, is a great source of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fish and chips, as well as uncooked fish, are also sold there.

  • The Lime Lounge. Is a coffee shop located near the Central Market serving coffee, cakes, burgers and sandwiches. It is relatively expensive.
  • The Taj Mahal (Located downtown). Has good Indian and Sri Lankan food though a little pricey and only open at certain times of the day.
  • Point Cruz Yacht Club. The favoured hangout of expats in Honiara, the yacht club has a variety of simple and inexpensive meals available nightly.

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Sleep

  • United Church Resthouse, Lower Vavaya Ridge Road, ☎ +677 20028.
  • Honiara Hotel (Located overlooking Chinatown). Has several restaurants; an excellent French restaurant, a Chinese restaurant (planned) and a general restaurant serving sandwiches and burgers.
  • King Solomon.
  • Iron Bottom Sound Hotel.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 13:25 on May 29, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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