About my handicap

I travel in a foldable active wheelchair, which I cannot manoeuvre myself. At night, I need an electronic respirator to relieve my lungs. This means that I need access to electricity throughout the night. Furthermore, I need to take several medications daily. Therefore, in the countries that I travel in, it is important that there is a sufficient level of health care in case of an emergency. On Gizo island there is a hospital with international volunteer doctors. However, for real emergencies you need to be flown out to Brisbane (3 hours flight). Thus, emergency evacuation should be covered by your travel insurance.

Transport on the Solomon Islands

As the Solomon Islands consist of six main and 900 small islands, the main modes of transport are boats and small planes, operated by http://www.flysolomons.com/ Aeroplanes from Brisbane to Honiara are usually larger, with the planes from Honiara to the other islands usually smaller (that is, less than 30 seats). The boats’ sizes vary as well and you should contact the accommodation or tour operator to find out which boats are provided and if they can accommodate your needs.

We travelled in a motorboat and a smaller boat for diving and I was lifted into both boats in my wheelchair.

On the bigger islands there are also cars available. We took one pick up to get from the international airport in Honiara to the national airport. However, you can also walk if you wish, as it is about a 15 minutes’ walk from the international terminal.

Communication

Telephones are usually available at any resort, but it is not guaranteed that all resorts have cell phone connection. Accessing the Internet can be very difficult. At our resort, the Internet did not work and the manager did not have a smart phone to share the Internet. If you buy a local sim card you can purchase access to the Internet but we were not able to test this. Check with your proposed resort or accommodation before you arrive to see if there is Internet or telephone connection.

Food and drinks

The Solomon islanders like to eat heavy foods such as fried fish and bounteous amounts of potatoes and root vegetables. We also tried a typical dessert which was a very creamy fruit, heated and topped with coconut milk. Try to get to a local market to see what is on offer and ask your resort to cook certain things for you. We visited the market one day and got to choose all kinds of different seafood (lobster included) that our chef then cooked for us to perfection.

Religion and culture

Due to missionaries coming to the Solomon Islands, 95 per cent of the Solomon Island people are Christians, with diverging styles. However, tribal beliefs are still very prominent and can be seen in rituals and dances.

Tour operator:

Usually the resort where you stay will feature as your tour operator and give you recommendations about activities and assist you in getting around.

Resort

We stayed on Imagination island. The manager, Gili, and his staff were super accommodating. Being a small resort, we really enjoyed the cosiness and the friendliness of staff. The food was yummy, even tough a lot was fried. There was no a la carte menu and one meal was served for all guests. The cook, however, was quite creative, and you can also make personal requests.

The island is a small strip of land – perhaps 50m by 20m – and features about 8 bungalows over the water and about 6 rooms on land. The meals are served at the bar/restaurant which is built on stilts and accessible via a walkway over the water. This also gives you opportunities to spot little sharks, squids and other beautiful colourful fish just on your way to breakfast, lunch or dinner. While we were there, another restaurant was being constructed to provide an option to escape if noisy day visitors occupy the bar. However, these visitors usually only gather over the weekend and we did not experience any disturbances. The paths are sandy, so you need assistance to get from  your room to the restaurant and back. The resort provided ramps to overcome the few steps that existed throughout the resort.  An important note: there is no 24 hour electricity available. Usually the diesel generator is cut off at about 10pm until 6am. However, options are via batteries and also to leave the generator on which you will need to arrange with Gili directly. The bungalows over the water are simple, but spacious. The bathroom was a bit small but for us, sufficient. They provided a plastic chair for showering and we discovered that you could also put the chair on the veranda and have a beautiful outdoor shower.

Activities- Diving:

The Solomon Islands are famous for their underwater world. We went with Dive Gizo, a diving school based in Gizo which is operated by an Australian, Kerrie, and her German husband. We were happy with their services, so you need to make sure that you explicitly mention how many dive masters and instructors you need to assist, as they seemed to be tight in qualified staff. However, we appreciated their concerns about safety and accommodation of all our needs.

Overall, we loved our adventure at the Solomons!

It really feels remote and due to its people, tropical sun and turquoise blue waters, it really makes an exotic island adventure. We would go again anytime!