Justin and Kylie,  Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises (Where We Met)

Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises: Give Your Family a Taste of the Solomons

At the end of 2018, I went on the most amazing trip of my life to a place everyone questioned both before I left and since I’ve been home, the Solomon Islands. This is one trip I think everyone should take.

Imagine pristine islands, amazing culture, wonderful experiences and a tropical paradise which hasn’t been commercialised or overrun with tourists. It’s unique, friendly, happy, full of adventure and relaxing all at the same time.

In 2018, I took a massive step back from everything I do and took the time to re-evaluate all aspects of my life. Interestingly enough, right when this trip happened, I had a lot going on in my personal life which meant that right up until the morning of the trip I was still questioning if I should go or stay home.

Going was the best decision ever… It’s where Justin and I met.

This video is from our trip. Right at the end, I am snorkelling in the red shirt.

Before I launch into it, this trip was offered by Tourism Solomons and Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises, everything I’ve written here is my own experience and my opinions.

Where Did We Go?

Upon arrival in Honiara, we were picked up at the airport and transported to Coral Sea Resort to await our boat – The Taka. Usually a dive vessel, for this trip it was transformed into an adventure boat with a little taste of everything the Russel Islands and Florida’s have to offer.

Our itinerary changed a little due to the weather but it did not disappoint! We travelled through the Florida’s and West Russel Islands which are incredible.

Surfing, stand up paddleboarding, snorkelling, water skiing and wakeboarding were on offer at Maravaghi which was stunning. Here I got a taste of the stunning marine wildlife swimming below the surface.

During our trip, we also visited Tulagi, Mane Bay, Olevugha, Roderick Bay and more. Roderick Bay is the location of the MS World Discoverer, the German cruise ship which crashed and has been left there.

MS World Discoverer in Roderick Bay

Mane Bay brought me close to tears as I watched the kids playing in the water, swinging in the hammocks, jumping out of trees and using the zipline. My kids are forever telling me they are Islanders (they are part Tongan, part Maori) and watching these kids I could see my own.

It was at this point I decided I must bring my kids with me on a trip here.

The Leru Cut is one of the most magical places I have ever snorkelled into. It’s a cut in the side of the island you can snorkel or dive through and the sunlight shines through the canopy.

What I Learned

Being able to try scuba diving was possibly the most incredible experience I’ve had. I didn’t expect to be able to do it and while it did my head in trying to breathe, change my mask and go through all the safety things, I managed to do it.

Chevonne was our scuba instructor and she was fantastic. We went through everything on the boat first, then in the water and she made sure we were confident with what we were doing. When it came time to dive, this is when Justin grabbed my hand and took me down.

Being my first time, I was both amazed and freaked out. We’d been talking on the boat but it was during this dive we became a little more confident we were interested in each other.

I tried stand up paddleboarding for the first time which is harder than it looks but I enjoyed it. Even though I’d been snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef a few months ago, I got some great tips from the crew here and they ensured I saw everything I hoped from clams closing to clownfish, sharks and World War II wrecks including a bomb.

During my trip, I managed to get stung by jellyfish (on two different days), black bruises all over my legs, sunburn on my upper thighs/lower butt area despite copious amounts of sunscreen, had nausea, got covered in a rash and learned Chevonne and her crew have more patience than anyone I know.

I felt like I was coming to her every day with a new thing and was a walking disaster but she was always so lovely about it. And despite those issues, it was still the best trip of my life. A little tip which I knew but many I have spoken to don’t – vinegar is your best friend. It is brilliant for jellyfish stings and other issues.

Around the 4th day when I got out of the water and was covered in bites or a rash or something, Robbie (one of the crew who is hilarious and so happy) basically hosed me down with vinegar, rubbed it in and made sure I was fine immediately. I’d been warned before going medical treatments can be an issue in the Solomons but realistically if you take precautions, alert the crew as soon as something is wrong, most issues are minor and can be sorted quickly. And of course, I also used a cream for the stings and rashes, along with some antihistamines and nausea tablets thanks to their medical kit.

Why Did I Love it so Much?

Obviously, the fact Justin and I met there made it pretty amazing. But this trip was so good, I went back to the Solomon’s a few times and have recommended this specific dive trip to everyone. In fact, we plan to take our kids in a few years. The water activities, snorkelling, scuba, scenery and wildlife were incredible. There was more to it though.

1. The Staff Were Amazing!

Seriously, they clearly love what they do, are passionate about their culture and sharing it with the world. I have never been on a trip where the staff went so out of their way to help in every way possible.

When snorkelling I went with different staff each time and each time they did everything they could to show and explain everything plus get amazing shots and help when needed.

2. Dietary Needs Were not an Issue

Being coeliac, food can and has been a huge issue on numerous trips. Elsewhere I have been made to feel like an inconvenience, simply not catered for or worse, they ignored it and I got extremely ill or I recognised it before I ate and went without.

Not with Solomon Island Dive Cruises. Our chefs were Freddy and Charles, who went above and beyond. They were so happy to cater to my needs, even prepping a few things for me to taste to see if I liked them before doing a full batch.

I had individual salads each night (because I also don’t have raw tomato or cucumber) and they checked with me every step of the way.

While dietary requirements aren’t an issue for most, when it is an issue for you it is amazing when you are on a trip where not only is it catered for strictly but they are happy about it and want to please you.

3. It isn’t Commercialised yet

The Solomon Islands isn’t usually the first place people think of when they want to travel to a beautiful island paradise. Having travelled a bit, I can tell you it is one of my favourite locations. Hardly any tourists, a focus on eco-tourism, amazing wildlife including whales, sharks, dolphins and manta rays right next to our boat and some of the most beautiful scenery.

I’ve done remote parts of Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam, New Zealand, Hawaii, grew up in Tasmania and been to many other areas deemed paradise, pristine or stunning. The Solomon Islands is something else.

4. The History, Culture and People

With a Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian culture, combined with World War II history, it is something of a wonder. Shipwrecks, Japanese u caves from the war and numerous locations around the Solomons will show you part of their history along with part of the world’s history. As someone who loves learning about the past and the culture of everywhere, the Solomons was a treasure for me.

The culture is unique and the people were so friendly. Our crew were outstanding and I loved getting to know a little about each one of them. A few I am now friends with on Facebook and each time I have gone back, I have met up with them.

5. It Taught me About Myself

Never before have I had such issues coming home and settling back into my old life. In fact, I don’t want to come home. This trip changed me in many ways and upon returning home I have already set in motion so many things.

While on the cruise, I mentioned some of the things I used to do and love to Justin but that I no longer did them. His opinion/advice was so simple and inspired me into action.

On top of that, talking with other men and women over there about their culture, their lives and the differences we have between here and there I was inspired. A lot is going to change in my life now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Since I have been back, I’ve had a few FAQ’s. Here are the main ones:

How Far Away Is It?

3 hours and 15 minutes from Brisbane makes the Solomon Islands extremely accessible. Coming from Melbourne I had an extra flight but not by much.

Why Go There?

Ok, it wasn’t top of my list of destinations initially but it is now. This trip had everything you could hope for – stunning islands, friendly people, amazing culture, delicious food, water skiing, wakeboarding, snorkelling, scuba diving and more.

It came at the perfect time for me and I cannot wait to take my daughters later. In fact, after seeing what I did on this trip, they begged me to take them and we have been since.

So really, why not go there?

What About The Crime?

The crime is an issue, although wasn’t for us on any of our trips personally. That said, I was more alert and it was clear that if I was not with a male, it wasn’t as safe as in Australia or Vanuatu.

Be smart, as you would with any travel. Be aware, read up on anywhere you want to go etc. Since I was always with men (either crew from the boat or in a group waiting at the airport etc) I felt fine.

At the time of writing this, borders are about to open again but they have had significant issues with riots and civil unrest. Take that into account, as while it is a gorgeous country and I have not had issues, there is a high chance you might.

One thing that was confronting was the ads saying “Do not rape” and explaining why it is wrong. On other trips, I did go out alone once, against Justin’s advice because he was held up on the boat. Huge mistake and I would never do it again.

Where Were Your Kids?

I was a single mum for years and on this particular trip, I was as well. I get this question every time I do anything. I come from a huge, supportive, fantastic family. As one of 9 kids, I have a few options.

My neighbours are community-minded and I have some wonderful friends. For this trip, my kids went between family and friends, with most of the time spent at our home with friends from Canberra who they have known their whole lives.

If you are a parent (and I know most who read my content are) there are options. Do childcare swaps, at our school parents have each other’s kids when parents have to travel so it’s not an issue. Get to know your neighbours or even look at vacation care camps.

Better yet, if your kids are allowed out of the country (mine were not at the time), take them. This will be the best trip ever for them.

Was It Expensive?

Everything was included in the trip, as it will be for you if you book the same one. Other than a few drinks and knick-knacks for my kids, there wasn’t anything extra to pay for. For an all-inclusive trip, the price was competitive, especially considering the remote locations you are going to.

That said, you could easily spend more and stay longer. Our dollar is really strong against the Solomon Dollar so the conversion is good for you.

What About Vaccinations and Other Preparations?

If I am honest, I am usually rather hopeless at preparing. To prepare I did get vaccinations recommended by my doctor for typhoid, Boostrix which lasts 10 years (both of these hurt for a few days), malaria tablets (get the more expensive ones. The cheap ones will make your skin burn like you will not believe) and there are other shots you can get. Measles and now Covid are essential vaccinations.

It’s easy to sort out and really, I didn’t need much preparation. Also, I tend to be one who throws my stuff into her suitcase the morning of the trip and will wing a lot of it.

Remember to tell your bank you are travelling. ALWAYS have travel insurance (I never travel without it) and have emergency contacts for others. I put more prep into ensuring my kids were ready, had their schedule, everything for their swimming lessons and all taken care of than I did for myself going on the trip.

Where will you travel to next? Have you been to the Solomons? What did you think?

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