Solomon Islands

A Week at The Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Honiara, Solomon Islands

What is the Coral Sea Resort & Casino Really like and what can you do Around Honiara?

For my birthday in 2019, I jetted off to Honiara and I cannot even begin to express how much fun it was. This was the second time Justin and I were able to see each other in person.

Having been to the Solomon Islands in December, I barely got a chance to see much of Honiara and knew I wanted to explore more. From April 4th to 11th, I was fortunate enough to stay at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino in one of their luxury waterfront villas which were amazing!

Getting There

Honiara is only 3 hours from Brisbane so super easy to get to. One of the things I love about Honiara airport is the people at the top waving as you get off.

I know they aren’t waving at me but it is such a cool way to enter the country. Walking through, all the staff are so friendly, my bags were out quickly and my driver from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Ben, was waiting there with my name on the sign. Such an easy start to the trip.

We drove through the city chatting then as soon as we arrived at the resort I was given a warm welcome by the front desk staff. Ben unloaded my bags, I was checked in and handed a coconut as I was escorted to my villa.

The Starfish Villa

Right at the front, my villa was the Starfish Villa with a beautiful view from my private terrace of the ocean, The Boardwalk Restaurant, pool and resort. In the evenings, I could hear live music while relaxing in my hot tub. It was bliss.

Walking in, it was wonderfully air-conditioned, clean, the bed was comfy and I was surprised to find a proper sized fridge with an array of mini bar options instead of a few little bottles. The lounge is a sofa bed so if you have a family, the villas are a good option.

Breakfast is included in your room price and there is a nice selection of either buffet or cooked options. I tried almost every variation of eggs they had and was happy with it all.

As you can see, inside the villa is well laid out and has all the amenities you need.

What Does The Coral Sea Resort & Casino Have?

You could just hang out at the resort if you wanted to relax and be taken care of. I was there to explore more of Honiara but I still made use of the great facilities. The swimming pool is a good size and lights up at night which is perfect for me. With my complexion, I tend to avoid swimming in the middle of the day but it is warm enough here to swim at night.

The foyer is open and has a chill island vibe plus regular live music, table service and Haydn’s (a steakhouse) attached with numerous options for either drinks or meals. I had most of my meals at Haydn’s and tried The Boardwalk once. Check out their dining options here.

The Casino

I don’t gamble but I have been to numerous casinos, including ones in Las Vegas. While this casino isn’t that big (for obvious reasons), I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is.

Immaculately clean, well decorated and laid out plus cool and comfortable. With plush carpet and seating along with a VIP room which has been established for those wanting privacy when betting higher.

A selection of casino games are available as well as the pokies. Whenever I had a look there were always people in there but it didn’t feel overcrowded and the staff were happy to help quickly. If I did like to use a casino, place bets or use the pokies, I’d be happy to do it here.

The Pool

It’s a basic pool but decent in size. Situated right at the front, near the foyer, it’s easy to access. No food or drinks are allowed near the pool and it’s not covered so be sure to have sunblock.

At night, it lights up beautifully.

 

My Top Food And Drink Choices

There was an alcohol ban so cocktails and other things were limited for the start but my favourite cocktail which I had on my birthday was the White Lady. Vanilla vodka is available too which made me happy as it is one of my favourites and they have a great selection of whisky.

The Thai Chicken Curry and Thai Beef Salad were two of my favourite meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of my food but you can see a great selection of images for food and drink on the Coral Sea Resort & Casino Facebook page.

(The Boardwalk Restaurant at nigh from the Starfish Villa)

Exploring Honiara

Every time I mentioned going to Honiara people were surprised. It has a pretty bad reputation because of things from the past but I absolutely love my time there, every time. In fact, this will be the first location my daughters go to when we can travel overseas. Personally, I found everyone to be extremely friendly, and helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip.

Bioluminescent Beaches

I lost my mind over this which my friends (locals) found amusing. Moving around in the water made it light up blue. I legit felt like I was Ariel and may have announced “Oh my gosh! I feel like a mermaid!” with squeals of excitement.

I didn’t get photos (I tend to live in the moment more than take photos of whatever is happening) but I highly recommend it. We were at Hammock Beach, not too far from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino but if you go further out there are nicer beaches. We needed to stay close.

Tenaru Falls

This was top of my list because I love waterfalls. I heard it was fairly simple but I am not fit. Hilariously, my lovely guide, Alex, laughed about how women walk up and down here with babies. He did it barefoot and realistically, I preferred doing the river crossings barefoot rather than in my hiking boots. You cross the river 6 times so shoes which are good for river walking would be beneficial rather than hiking boots.

Justin Saula and Kylie Travers at Tenaru Falls, Solomon Islands

How To Book

To do Tenaru Falls you need to arrange it through the visitors’ office or Parangiju Mountain Lodge. The lodge is also perfect for a cool drink and a gorgeous view after your hike. If it has been raining you won’t be able to do it as it will be too slippery. But white water rafting is an option then.

It takes around 2 hours round trip and if you are an active family, is suitable for kids. I am sure my two could do it and better than I did.

After hiking and crossing the river, it is as if the trees and everything parts to open up to the waterfall. It is stunning and you can swim underneath, climb up into a little cave there and stay for a while. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip.

Joshua, a friend of ours and cousin of Justin’s ex-wife

Snorkelling Bonegi

Diving a wreck properly has been on my bucket list for years. Since I didn’t have my dive certification yet, we hit up Bonegi where I got to snorkel the incredible wreck, see the marine life and spent some time hanging out at the beach.

The wreck is so close to shore, as are others dotted around the Solomons. It is one of the things I love about the Solomon Islands – the history. Planning a significant part in WWII you will find wrecks, memorials and significant locations all around on your travels.

Honiara Central Market

A quick walk straight from the hotel to the market means you can pick up anything from food to souvenirs. You can negotiate with stallholders but I didn’t because I know what the wages are there vs what I earn.

There were lots of roadside stalls around the place too, which is where I picked up a lavalava (wrap around/sarong) and bag for my daughters which they love. Being part Maori and part Tongan, my daughters love island-style gifts and use them often.

Relaxing

For the most part, I wanted to relax and spend time with my friends living in Honiara but there is so much to do around the Coral Sea Resort & Casino.

You can book a boat through the resort to go fishing and the chef will prepare your catch for you back at the resort or do a day trip to islands close by.

Check out the war memorials, which I did and cried. They are beautiful and for me, so emotional, plus you can see clearly where things happened.

Trying Kava

My ex-husband is Tongan and how I first learnt about kava. I’ve wanted to try it ever since but women are not allowed in some cultures. Finally, here in the Solomon Islands, I got to try kava at the Kokonut Cafe.

Be warned it tastes like mud mixed with wheatgrass juice and pepper, or a turmeric latte. Definitely not for everyone. It reminded me of this juice I had to drink when trying to get pregnant years ago.

Honiara is amazing and there is so much to explore there, then be sure to jet off to Munda, Gizo or other areas. Another option is to go on a dive tour since the Solomon Islands has incredible diving locations.

I did one with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises first which is how I knew about the Coral Sea Resort & Casino as guests stop here for a few hours before and after the cruise.

My Tips For Honiara

Honiara is not a big, bustling city and the Solomon Islands are one of the least developed countries in the world. Wages are much lower, the infrastructure such as roads are not the same as in Western countries but the people are super friendly.

Since I typically travel alone and have had issues in other countries, I now usually have a guide with me. They know where to go, negotiate everything, translate when necessary and have the best tips.

On some trips, I have worn a wedding band and at times my guide or a male travelling in our group would be referred to as my husband to stop issues. With Justin, I was completely safe, although most assume he is my houseboy or guide, not a partner.

Safety

Staff in the resort take security very seriously. They have security guards, a whole team, cameras and management are regularly around. Everyone was super friendly making the Coral Sea Resort & Casino feel more like a home away from home rather than a resort.

That said, be aware, as you should be anywhere. Keep your bag zipped, your belongings close, use the safe in the room and be aware of what is happening around you.

This was my second trip and I haven’t had issues either time nor has anyone else I know personally who has been to Honiara. In fact, everyone can’t wait to go back to the Solomons!

Get out and explore! The resort is great but there is so much to see, do and try.

Notes Since 2020

We were locked down in the Solomon Islands in 2020 so had to stay in Honiara then plus we have a lot of family there. Our trip there in 2020 was for child custody with Justin’s ex-wife (amicable and easy. We are all friends, she and I talk all the time). It meant we were in Malaita, another island when borders closed.

When we got to the ferry to return to Honiara we were told Australia’s borders were closed and we had to stay. I wrote about being locked down in the Solomon Islands, what we did, how we did it, and how things were different.

Unfortunately, in recent times, there has been a lot of unrest in the Solomon Islands. Anyone visiting when borders open needs to be aware of this. We will still go and love it, many might not feel as safe as us though. For us, the Solomon Islands is a second home due to the family and the amount of time we’ve spent there living and working.

Have you been to the Solomon Islands? What was your experience?

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