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Solomon Islands

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Solomon Islands. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Serious assaults, including sexual assault, occur in Solomon Islands. Foreigners have been attacked at knifepoint, including at popular beaches near Honiara. Avoid being alone in areas without security officers, particularly if you're female. See Safety and security.
  • You could encounter political violence and civil unrest in Solomon Islands. Unrest tends to coincide with sittings of Parliament, periods of political uncertainty, industrial relations disputes or high profile investigations, land disputes, or court cases. See Safety and security.
  • Avoid any demonstrations, protests, political rallies, concerts or other large public gatherings as they could turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • Mosquito-borne illnesses, including malaria and dengue fever, are common throughout Solomon Islands. Zika virus is also a risk. Protect yourself against mosquito bites. Take anti-malarial medication. See Health.
  • You could encounter tropical storms, cyclones, earthquakes or tsunamis in Solomon Islands. Monitor local media and relevant websites. Take official warnings seriously. Follow the advice of local authorities. See Natural disasters.

Entry and exit

Visas

Visitor visas are available on arrival for stays of up to 90 days. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact a High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of Solomon Islands for up-to-date information.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia and has at least two blank pages.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Australian High Commission for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is Solomon Islands Dollar (SBD). Declare all amounts in excess of SBD50,000 or foreign currency equivalent on arrival or departure.

International credit cards are accepted at hotels and resorts in major centres. Credit card facilities are rarely available elsewhere. You can exchange currency and access ATMs at the airport and commercial banks in Honiara and other major centres.

Safety and security

Crime

Expatriates and visitors can be attractive targets for opportunistic crime. House and vehicle break-ins occur, including against expatriates. There are recent reports of security incidents around Honiara involving expatriates, including home invasions and a violent attempted car theft. 

You could encounter verbal harassment, intimidation or assault, particularly in situations where alcohol is involved such as at nightclubs and bars. More serious attacks, including carjacking, robbery and sexual assaults, also occur. Women are most at risk, especially when alone in public places. Attacks have occurred at popular tourist sites such as Mbonege Beach.

The incidence of crime typically increases during the Christmas period, in the lead-up to major holidays and following periods of political instability. Opportunistic crime and looting can also increase during times of civil unrest.

  • Secure your accommodation. Keep doors, windows and gates locked, even if you have security guards.
  • Keep your vehicle locked at all times, including when moving. 
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Pay close attention to your personal possessions at all times, particularly on public transport, in markets and other crowded places.
  • Avoid using ATMs on the street – use ATMs inside banks wherever possible.
  • Avoid being alone in remote places or in areas without security officers, especially if you're female.
  • Avoid walking, jogging or cycling after dark or in the early hours of the morning.

Civil unrest and political tension

Political violence, civil unrest and protests occur in Solomon Islands. Unrest typically coincides with sittings of Parliament, periods of political uncertainty, industrial relations disputes or high profile investigations, land disputes or court cases.  Political tensions can rise with little notice.

Violent protests in early May 2017 by a large group of people armed with crude weapons caused damage to properties in the Tasahe area of Honiara.

  • Stay well clear of all demonstrations, political events, protests, large-scale public gatherings and roadblocks.
  • Keep an eye on the news and other sources for advice of possible unrest, protest locations and road blocks. Avoid those areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Unexploded ordnances

Unexploded World War II ordnance is still present in Solomon Islands, particularly at Hell's Point and the ridges behind Honiara, the New Georgia groups of islands, the former capital of Tulagi and the Russell Islands. The condition and stability of the ordnance is largely unknown. Take care in these areas when hiking, boating or diving. Seek local advice before travelling in these areas.

Tours and adventure activities

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including for adventure activities such as scuba diving, are not always met. Recommended safety precautions and maintenance standards may not be followed. Fire safety regulations are not always followed. Safety equipment such as lifejackets and seatbelts may not be provided.

If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Wildlife

Around Honiara, street dogs roam freely, sometimes in packs. Some packs and individual dogs attack people walking, running or cycling near them.

Fresh and salt-water crocodiles and sharks are common. Sometimes they come close to Honiara, including near Mbonege Beach. Seek up-to-date local advice before entering waters.

Remote travel

If you're planning to travel outside Honiara or Gizo, seek local advice on the availability of services and amenities for tourists in that area. Many parts of Solomon Islands are remote from medical and other emergency services.

Road travel

Most roads in Solomon Islands are in a very poor state of repair. Large potholes are common and local drivers swerve or slow to almost a stop to avoid or pass potholes, including on the main road in Honiara.

Vehicles are generally poorly maintained. Traffic lanes and road rules are often ignored, particularly at roundabouts and other intersections. Off the main highway, pedestrians often walk on roads, seemingly unaware of traffic.

Traffic jams are common in Honiara.

Rocks are sometimes thrown at vehicles belonging to members of the foreign community when driving in and around Honiara.

  • Familiarise yourself with Solomon Islands traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Drive defensively and legally.
  • Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Avoid driving at night, where possible.
  • If stopped by police, follow their instructions.
  • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • If rocks are thrown at your car, leave the area as quickly and safely as possible.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence 

You'll need a valid international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle in Solomon Islands. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance. After three months, you will need to obtain a local driver's licence.

More information: Australian High Commission

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines, which can be arranged through your hotel.

Public transport

There is no formal public transport system in Solomon Islands but privately-owned passenger vans, small buses and trucks provide transport in most areas with roads. A limited minibus system operates Honiara. Take care of your belongings as petty crime occurs.

Boat travel

Travel by boat in Solomon Islands can be dangerous. Passenger ferry services are subject to disruption at short notice. Overcrowding of passenger ferries is common. Consider flying to your destination, rather than taking a passenger ferry.

There are limited marine search and rescue services in Solomon Islands. Take additional precautions when travelling by boat. Precautions could include:

  • carrying your own life jackets, an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and satellite telephone
  • avoiding single-engine boats
  • travelling in convoy with all boats at half capacity or less, and
  • registering your departures and arrivals with a trusted friend.

Air travel

Domestic flights are often cancelled or rescheduled at short notice.  

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Solomon Islands.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Other laws

Homosexual acts are illegal. Penalties include jail sentences.

More information: LGBTI travellers

It is illegal to import or possess pornographic material.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Solomon Islands does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Solomon Islands dual nationals who are arrested or detained. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Solomon Islands. Public displays of affection and swearing in public may cause offence. Take care not to offend.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Keep your medicines in their original packaging. Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are widespread across Solomon Islands. A dengue outbreak was declared in Solomon Islands from October 2016 to April 2017. The Solomon Island Public Health Emergency and Surveillance Unit continue to carry out routine surveillance on the outbreak. Malaria is prevalent in most areas of Solomon Islands and occurs throughout the year. The Solomon Islands experienced a Zika virus outbreak in 2015 to early 2016. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to Zika virus-affected areas.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • consider taking prophylaxis against malaria
  • if you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans and possible health risks with your doctor before you travel.

More information:

Rotavirus

Solomon Islands has previously experienced outbreaks of rotavirus that have caused deaths, particularly among children. Rotavirus is highly contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact, contaminated objects or contaminated food or drink. A rotavirus vaccine for infants up to 6 months of age has been available under the Australian National Immunisation Program since 2007.

Rotavirus transmission can be prevented. Wash hands thoroughly for ten seconds using soap and water and dry with a clean towel:

  • after going to the toilet
  • after caring for someone with diarrhoea
  • before preparing or touching food and
  • before eating food.

If children show signs of diarrhoea, seek medical attention.

More information: Rotavirus

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, tuberculosis, filariasis and sexually transmitted infections) are prevalent, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.

  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.

Seek medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

Fish poisoning

Eating reef fish can result in ciguatera poisoning. Ciguatera is a naturally occurring seafood toxin.

More information: Ciguatera poisoning (Queensland Health)

Medical facilities

Medical facilities throughout Solomon Islands are limited. Emergency and trauma cases are referred to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara. Facilities in provincial areas are very limited.

Rescue and emergency services are extremely limited. If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to Australia. Medical evacuations from Solomon Islands to Australia cost upwards of A$40,000.

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) can provide information on diving safety. There is a hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in Honiara and registered dive operators can provide advice on the access arrangements.

Natural disasters

Solomon Islands experiences severe weather, earthquakes and tsunamis. Solomon Islands Government provides advice about natural disasters through local media, radio (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (AM1035) and television channels.

If a natural disaster occurs:

If you're due to arrive in Solomon Islands after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination are affected.

Cyclones and tropical storms 

Cyclone season is from November to May when heavy rain can lead to flooding, landslides and disruptions to services. Tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months. The direction and strength of cyclones can change with little warning.

If there is a cyclone or severe tropical storm, you may not be able to leave the area: flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended, and available flights may fill quickly. Access to sea ports could also be affected. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available for all those who stay.

Stay up-to-date on weather conditions and forecasts, cyclone watches and warnings throughout your stay in Solomon Islands. Monitor the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service and one or more of:

If a cyclone is approaching, follow the advice for all natural disasters above and:

  • make sure you know your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
  • identify your local shelter
  • carry your passport at all times (in a waterproof bag).

More information:

Earthquakes, volcanos and tsunamis

Solomon Islands is subject to earthquakes, volcanic activity and occasional tsunamis.

In February 2013, an 8.0 magnitude quake followed by dozens of aftershocks struck just off Santa Cruz, Temotu Province. It set off a powerful tsunami that resulted in casualties. 

On 9 December 2016, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck 70 kilometres south-west of the island of Makira, 187km from Honiara. The earthquake, a modest tsunami that followed, and strong aftershocks that continued for weeks damaged public infrastructure and hundreds of homes in the area.

The island of Savo, 35 kilometres North West of Honiara, is a cyclically active volcano.

Real-time information on earthquakes can be found on the US Geological Service website. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which you can subscribe to, provides real-time information on tsunamis in the region.

If there is an earthquake, follow the advice for all natural disasters and:

  • follow the advice of your accommodation provider and local authorities
  • monitor the The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and local sources
  • if you are in a coastal or low-lying area, move to higher ground.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 988
  • Medical emergencies: 911 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 999

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Honiara.

Australian High Commission, Honiara

Cnr Hibiscus Ave and Mud Alley
Honiara
Telephone +677 21 561
Facsimile +677 23 691
Website: solomonislands.highcommission.gov.au
Email: consular.honiara@dfat.gov.au

Check the Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) on +61 2 6261 3305, 1300 555 135 within Australia, or +677 21 561 locally (after hours please follow voice instructions and you will be redirected to the CEC for assistance).

Additional information

Additional resources