Ranking 7th on the list of Least Visited Countries in the World, the Solomon Islands are slowly opening up to foreign visitors after the resolution of the ethnic tensions which shook the country. It is a country rich in sceneries and cultures that are just waiting to be known, but it is also rich in testimonies to some of the most important battles of World War II.
The Guadalcanal campaign was a turning point in the Pacific Theatre. It was from that moment that the Allied forces transited from defensive operations to offensive operations against the Empire of Japan. A series of fierce battles, with crushing defeats and glorious victories on both sides, ultimately led to the Allies securing this part of the world and their lines of supply between the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Guadalcanal takes its name from the island on which the country’s capital, Honiara, is located. As you would guess, many historical sites and memorials can be found around the island; in fact, vehicles wrecks, foxholes and forts can still be found all over the country. Let’s have a look at three of the most interesting on the island!
The American Memorial
Located on a hill behind the main road of Honiara, the American memorial is surely the first place history buffs should stop. Here, you not only get the best vista of the city, but also an interesting summary of the campaign. Rather than limiting itself to steles with names of fallen heroes, the memorial’s marble steles retell the different phases of the conflict. This memorial is free and open every day.
There is also a Japanese Memorial. However, this one might appear less attractive to visitors as it was stripped of many of its statues and plates by pillagers during the tension. It is located in the suburbs of the city.
Vilu War Museum
Located a few kilometres north of Honiara but an hour away once the terrible state of the paved road is taken into account, the Vilu War Museum is a private collection of aircraft wrecks collected in the surrounding jungle. Here, a lovely lady walks you around those reminders of the war, explaining to you the different functions and capacities of each planes. It is quite something to be able to see and touch those iron war machines. Entry is 100 Solomon dollars (around 13 USD).
On the way back to Honiara, guides in the know can take you to the wrecks of a Sherman tank and many different warships. These sunken warships can also be visited while scuba diving – an amazing experience.
Tetere Beach War Museum
This time south of Honiara, on another moon-like road filled with craters, the Tetere Beach War Museum is another private collection, this time of tanks. You will find there many tanks in different state of decay. You’re free to walk around, climb on the tanks and take amazing photos. On the way back, pay attention the signs marking Hell’s forest – a jungle still riddled with unexploded ordnance.