HONIARA

Soloman Islands

Honiara is the capital city of Solomon Islands, administered as a provincial town on the northwestern coast of Guadalcanal Island. As of 2009 it had a population of 64,609 people. The city is served by Honiara International Airport and the sea port of Point Cruz, and lies along the Kukum Highway.

Info Honiara

introduction

Honiara is the capital city of Solomon Islands, administered as a provincial town on the northwestern coast of Guadalcanal Island.

As of 2009 it had a population of 64,609 people. The city is served by Honiara International Airport and the sea port of Point Cruz, and lies along the Kukum Highway.

The airport area to the east of Honiara was the site of a battle between the United States and the Japanese during the Guadalcanal Campaign in World War II, the Battle of Henderson Field of 1942, from which America emerged victorious. After Honiara became the new capital of the British Protectorate of Solomon Islands in 1952 with the addition of many administrative buildings, the town began to develop and grow in population.

Since the late 1990s, Honiara has suffered a turbulent history of ethnic violence and political unrest and is scarred by rioting. A coup attempt in June 2000 resulted in violent rebellions and fighting between the ethnic Malaitans of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and the Guadalcanal natives of the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM).

Although a peace agreement was made in October 2000, violence ensued in the city streets in March 2002, when two diplomats from New Zealand and numerous others were murdered. Conditions became so bad in Honiara that in July 2003 the Australian military and police units moved into the country to restore order. In 2006, riots broke out following the election of Snyder Rini as prime minister, destroying a part of Chinatown and making more than 1,000 Chinese residents homeless.

The riots devastated the town and tourism in the city and the islands was severely affected.

info
POPULATION : City: 64,609 
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE : UTC (UTC+11)  
LANGUAGE : Melanesian, English (official;spoken by only 2-3% of the population)
RELIGION : Church of Melanesia 32.8%, Roman Catholic 19%, South Seas Evangelical 17%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.2%, United Church 10.3%, Christian Fellowship Church 2.4%, other Christian 4.4%, other 2.9%
AREA : 22 km2 (8 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 29 m (95 ft)
COORDINATES : 9°26′S 159°57′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 50.76%  
 Female: 49.24%
ETHNIC : Melanesian 94.5%, Polynesian 3%, Micronesian 1.2%, other 1.3%
AREA CODE :
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE : +677
WEBSITE :

Tourism

THINGS TO DO:

  • Take a guided trek to one of the waterfalls nearby, such as the beautiful Matanikau Falls, about a two-hour walk from the starting point a short bus-ride from the city centre. Information on this and other walks can be found on the Exploring Solomons Wikispace.
  • Check out a service at one of the many churches. South Seas Evangelical Church has an easily-found location next to the central markets and beautiful singing. Its main Sunday service is at 9:30am. There is also a smaller evening service there most Sundays at 5pm.
  • Beach it.
  • Visit the museum. Located across from the Mendana Hotel.
  • Wander through the bustling Central Market. It is a site to behold, in particular on Saturday mornings where you can pick up flowers and hand-made jewellery and crafts.
  • And dive, explore, make plans or see the rest of the country.

History

The name Honiara derives from nagho ni ara which roughly translates as "place of the east wind" or "facing the southeast wind" in one of the Guadalcanal languages.The town has not been extensively documented and little detailed material exists on it.

The Battle of Henderson Field (1942), the last of the three major land offensives conducted by the Japanese during the Guadalcanal Campaign of World War II took place in what is now the airport area about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) to the east of the city centre. During the battle, the US Marine and Army forces, under the overall command of Major General Alexander Vandegrift, repulsed an attack by the Japanese 17th Army, under the command of Japanese Lieutenant General Harukichi Hyakutake.The US forces were defending the Lunga River perimeter, which guarded Henderson Field on Guadalcanal, that had been captured from the Japanese by the Allies in landings on Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942. Hyakutake's force was sent to Guadalcanal in response to the Allied landings with the mission of recapturing the airfield and driving the Allied forces off of the island. The Japanese initially landed with 3,500 troops but the force soon grew to over 20,000 personnel in total, roughly equal to America's 23,000; each side had about 13,000 troops.

From the top of Mount Austin at 410 metres (1,350 ft), panoramic views of the north coastal plains, Savo and Florida islands, and the battlefields of World War II can be seen. The Japanese had held this hilltop in the second half of 1942 and showered artillery fire on American troops at the Henderson airfield below the hill. Eventually the hill was captured but the Japanese held on to the Gifu, Sea Horse, and Galloping Horse ridges for about a month. Most of the Japanese died of starvation, banzai assaults or direct killing.

Hyakutake's soldiers conducted numerous assaults over three days at various locations around the Lunga perimeter. Along the Matanikau River, the principal river flowing through what is now central Honiara, tanks attacked in pairs across the sandbar at the mouth of the river behind a barrage of artillery. Artillery, including 37 mm (1.5 in) anti-tank guns, quickly destroyed all nine tanks. At the same time, four battalions of Marine artillery, totalling 40 howitzers, fired over 6,000 rounds into the area between Point Cruz and the Matanikau, causing heavy casualties in Nomasu Nakaguma's infantry battalions as they tried to approach the Marine lines. Both sides incurred heavy losses during the events of the overall battle, especially the Japanese attackers.[6] After an attempt to deliver further reinforcements failed during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942, Japan conceded defeat in the struggle for the island and evacuated many of its remaining forces by the first week of February 1943. The Quonset hut built by the Americans can still be seen in the back lanes of the town and numerous memorials give testament to the war.

Climate

The climate is tropical, more specifically a tropical Rainforest climate, with an average daytime temperature of about 28 °C (82 °F).

The water temperatures range between 26 °C (79 °F) and 29 °C (84 °F).

Damper periods are predominant between November and April. The average amount of precipitation per year is about 2,000 millimetres (79 in) and thus somewhat lower than the average on the Solomon Islands as a whole (3,000 millimetres (120 in)). However, Honiara is subject to monsoons.

Climate data for Honiara
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)31
(87)
31
(87)
30
(86)
31
(87)
31
(87)
30
(86)
29
(85)
29
(85)
30
(86)
31
(87)
31
(87)
31
(87)
30.4
(86.4)
Average low °C (°F)23
(74)
23
(74)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
22
(71)
22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22.7
(72.8)
Source: Weatherbase

Geography

Honiara is located on the northwestern coast of the island of Guadalcanal and includes a sea port at Point Cruz. The Matanikau River flows through the town, past Chinatown, badly affected by the 2006 riot. The town revolves around the Kukum Highway, which connects it with the Honiara International Airport (formerly known as Henderson Field) about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) to the east of Honiara across the Lunga River. To the west of the town centre are the suburbs of White River and Tanaghai.

Economy

Honiara developed economically at a much faster rate than other parts of Solomon Islands; during the 1960s and 1970s some two-thirds of the investment into economic development in the country went into developing the infrastructure of Honiara, despite the fact that at the time only some five percent of Solomon Islanders lived there. Honiara, like many other ex-colonial cities, still reflects the political, economic and cultural structure of its former metropolitan mentor much more than it does the national traits of Solomon Islands society.

Honiara is Solomon Islands' springboard for tourism activities. The country's tourist office, Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau, is on Honiara's main thoroughfare, Mendana Avenue. Situated between the Yacht Club and the popular Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel, its officers provide tourist information and can radio ahead to announce visitors' arrivals to guest houses in the remoter areas. Honiara contains several banks including the Westpac Bank, the ANZ Bank and the National Bank.

The violence which had plagued Honiara and the islands since the late 1990s had a devastating impact on the economy due to the fact that virtually all tourist organisations around the world specifically warned tourists wishing to visit the islands to stay away, especially in 2002 and 2003 at the peak of the troubles.

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

The only international airport in the Solomon Islands is Honiara International Airport (Henderson Field), served by the following airlines.

  • Fiji Airways [www] (once weekly service from Nadi)
  • Air Niugini [www] (twice weekly to Port Moresby and twice weekly to Nadi)
  • Solomon Airlines [www] (4/5 times weekly service to Brisbane)
  • Virgin Australia [www] have flights to Brisbane every Tuesday and Thursday.

 


Transportation - Get 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).

Hotels

- BEST RATED -

Hotels

- BEST VALUE -

Shopping

  • Crafts

There are many craft/souvenir shops located along the coastal strip. Handicrafts such as wooden carvings are also often sold in the covered area of Panatina Plaza carpark, and outside the entrance to the Rain Tree Cafe.[www]

Additionally, the central market is a great place to by local handicrafts, jewellery and lavalavas (sarongs). The latter come in a range of fabrics and brightly-coloured dip-dyed designs.

  • Clothing

There are a number of shops selling secondhand clothing, which can be found easily along the main street and elsewhere.

Handmade kids' clothing such as skirts can be found at the Central Market.

  • Other

A helpful guide to shopping in the Solomons can be found here: Solomon Island Newbie Guide: SHOPPING (What to buy part one) Includes some great gift ideas.

Restaurants

There is surprising variety in Honiara with many restaurants catering to expats.

  • 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 near the airport has excellent Indian and Sri Lankan food and is excellent value.

  • Korean BBQ

Located on what looks like wasteground near the Central Market. They serve excellent dishes even though the decor is quite rustic.

  • Honiara Hotel

Located overlooking Chinatown has several restaurants; an excellent French restaurant, a Chinese restaurant (planned) and a general restaurant serving sandwiches and burgers.

  • Iron Bottom Sound

There is an excellent Japanese restaurant here with a terrace where drinks can be served. An excellent place to watch the sunset.

  • The Yacht Club

The favoured hangout of expats in Honiara, the yacht club has a variety of simple and inexpensive meals available nightly.

  • Rain Tree Cafe

A beautiful sea front location on the west end of Honiara amid quiet gardens and under a thatch leaf house. Great coffee, smoothies, lassies and fresh organic food, wood fired pizzas. A great place for sunset meals, breakfasts and hanging out on weekends. Allow ample time for your order to be prepared. Locally owned and operated by local women. BYO. Rain Tree Cafe Website

  • Lunch bars near the museum

There are a number of eateries here, on the same side of the main road as 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.

  • Buy your own

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.

A helpful list of places to purchase groceries can be found here: Newbie Honiara Guide: Food

Sights & Landmarks

As the capital of Solomon Islands, Honiara contains the majority of the major government buildings and institutions, including Honiara Lauru Land Conference,Honiara Solomon Islands College of Higher Education, International School in Honiara, University of the South Pacific Solomon Islands, Honiara Solomon Islands Ports Authority. These centres are involved in marine research in Solomon Islands . The Dodo Creek Research Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is based in Honiara. Honiara Central Market is the centre of trading activity in the islands and contains many market stalls selling a wide range of goods. East of the mouth of the Mataniko River is the beach where, in the shallow waters of the sea, wrecks of a Japanese ship destroyed on 23 October 1942 by American artillery and small arms can be seen. At the back of the beach there is a settlement called the Lord Howe Settlement, consisting of a large community of Polynesians from Ongtong Java in the Western Provinces. Chinatown, with its high porches, is said to look like an "Asian Wild West".

Honiara Children's Park is a property of the Honiara Beautification Committee. The park, the only children's recreation area in Honiara, is located along the eastern coast of Honiara town as all other areas in the region are private property. According to a study, the park is in danger and needs to be protected as the coastline is subject to erosion; the erosion is recorded to be about 6–8 metres (20–26 ft) between the old coastline and the eroded coastline. This erosion needs to be checked by building a retaining wall.


War memorial and peace park

The Guadalcanal American Memorial is a significant attraction. It was built at the initiative of Robert F Reynolds, Chief of Valors Tours Ltd. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Red Beach landings, the US War Memorial was dedicated on 7 August 1992. An account of this is also inscribed on red marble tablets inside the monument compound. The Solomons Peace Memorial Park, built by the Japanese war veterans in memory of all those who were killed in World War II, is about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) down the coastal road. There are numerous other relics from World War II in and around Honiara . Also seen is the memorial erected in honour of Sergeant Major Jacob Vouza, a highly decorated war hero who escaped after the Japanese tortured him and lived to tell his story.


National Parliament and Government House

The National Parliament house, located on the hill above Hibiscus Avenue, built with American aid, is a concrete structure of conical-shape, which was inaugurated in 1993. The dome has exquisite tapestry, frescoes, and traditional artwork. The parliament building was built at a cost of US$5 million in honour of the 450 US soldiers and 1,200 marines who died during the Guadalcanal operations during the war. Ironically the building was originally built by a Japanese firm.

Museums & Galleries


Museums

The National Museum, located opposite the Mendana Hotel, has exhibits of traditional handicrafts and historical artefacts, particularly exhibits on archaeology, currencies, arms, languages, personal ornaments, traditional music and dance, agricultural implements, life and natural environs of the country, fishing tools and tackles, and many publications and handicrafts. The Cultural Centre of the museum has a display of eight traditional houses, built in 1981, from the nine provinces of Solomon Islands. The museum hosted the first Melanesian Arts and Crafts festival in 1998, and also organises dances on the festival stage opposite the museum. There is also a (155 millimetres (6.1 in) Japanese howitzer on display between the museum and the police station, which is called "Pistol Pete". It was used for bombarding the Henderson Airfield during the Guadalcanal fighting. On the opposite side of the police station is the Central Bank, which has a display of traditional currency. It also has some exquisite Rennellese wood carvings and paintings. The Cultural Centre behind the museum has exhibits of several traditional architectural styles. The National Art Gallery arranges painting exhibitions at the Old Government House, the former residence of the Governor General. A large collection of historical importance can be seen at the National Archives which is open to the public.

The Botanical Gardens of the National Art Gallery is popular for afternoon strolls, and is noted for its orchids and shrubs. It houses a herbarium, a lily studded waterbody, well-planned walkways, and the Watapamu village, representing a typical village of the islands, which is named after the water pump located nearby. An Anthropology Museum is also located in Honiara, which has exhibits of recent origin.

Things to do

  • Take a guided trek to one of the waterfalls nearby, such as the beautiful Matanikau Falls, about a two-hour walk from the starting point a short bus-ride from the city centre. Information on this and other walks can be found on the Exploring Solomons Wikispace.[www]
  • Check out a service at one of the many churches. South Seas Evangelical Church has an easily-found location next to the central markets and beautiful singing. Its main Sunday service is at 9:30am. There is also a smaller evening service there most Sundays at 5pm.
  • Beach it.
  • Visit the museum. Located across from the Mendana Hotel.
  • Wander through the bustling Central Market. It is a site to behold, in particular on Saturday mornings where you can pick up flowers and hand-made jewellery and crafts.
  • And dive, explore, make plans or see the rest of the country...

Safety in Honiara

Stay Safe

Note that there has been civil unrest and riots in this city. It is worth keeping up-to-date with travel advisory warnings, such as those provided by the Australian or New Zealand governments.

Take care whilst at the Central Market for pick-pockets.

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