Surface area : 28450.0 km2
Population : 509190 inhabitants
Things to take home: local handicraft (sarongs, embroidery, basketry, pottery, carved wood objects), mother-of-pearl jewels, pearls, sea shells, spices and folk music recordings. People do not usually haggle. Shops are usually open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday and from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm on Saturdays.
Local cuisine is not greatly varied, except for its fish and seafood. The most popular dishes are tapioca cakes and taro-based gruel. In hotels, you will find numerous restaurants serving rather quality European and Asian dishes.
The Solomon Islands' handicraft has a very good reputation, as well as the music played on bamboo flutes. Despite the inhabitants' mass conversion to Christianity, worshipping of ancestors is still widely practised in villages. According to ancestral beliefs, the deceased's soul is re-incarnated in birds, reptiles or sharks, becoming therefore sacred and taboo as far as consumption is concerned. Make sure not to go break taboos and proscriptions still in place in some villages, in particular by avoiding wearing clothing that is too revealing.
For a long time, the Solomon Islands had the reputation of being an expensive holiday destination, reserved to a handful of well-off tourists. Today things have changed, especially thanks to the cheaper flights. It all depends, as well, on your living standards once you're there. If you choose to follow the local way of life, by staying in small boarding houses, eating in cheap eating houses and from market stands, using public buses and boats, your daily budget should not exceed £25. However, if you opt for the 'Hollywood' style exotic way of life under coconut trees, for the azure cocktails by the side of the swimming pool of a luxurious hotel surrounded by tropical greenery and bordered by a private lagoon, for lobsters and champagne served by a white-gloved waiter, and for the chartered yacht to take you on a diving trip round the atolls, the chances are your budget will quickly sky rocket.