Solomon Islands

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 03 December 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Safety and Security (A ballot for the election of a new Prime Minister will be held in Parliament House on 9 December. In the past, the election of a new Prime Minister has sometimes led to civil unrest in Honiara. Australians in Honiara should exercise a high degree of caution and, as a precaution, avoid non-essential travel around Honiara on 9 December. Avoid political gatherings and monitor the local media). Outside Honiara, we advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands overall

Honiara

Summary

  • A ballot for the election of a new Prime Minister will be held in Parliament House on 9 December. In the past, the election of a new Prime Minister has sometimes led to civil unrest in Honiara. Australians in Honiara should exercise a high degree of caution and, as a precaution, avoid non-essential travel around Honiara on 9 December.
  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in other parts of the Solomon Islands. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Political violence, civil unrest and protests occur from time to time in Solomon Islands and may coincide with sittings of Parliament, high profile investigations or court cases, periods of political uncertainty or industrial relations disputes.
  • You should avoid any protests, political rallies and concerts as they may turn violent. You should exercise caution and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • You should pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Cyclone season in Solomon Islands is from November to May, however, tropical storms and cyclones may occur in other months. See Additional Information section for more advice on natural disasters, severe weather and climate.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Solomon Islands for the most up to date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

  • A ballot for the election of a new Prime Minister will be held in Parliament House on 9 December. In the past, the election of a new Prime Minister has sometimes led to civil unrest in Honiara. Australians in Honiara should exercise a high degree of caution and, as a precaution, avoid non-essential travel around Honiara on 9 December.
  • Outside Honiara, we advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in the Solomon Islands. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Civil unrest /political tension

Major political developments, particularly the selection of a new Prime Minister, have sometimes been catalysts for civil unrest in Solomon Islands, especially but not only in Honiara.

The election of the Prime Minister will take place on Tuesday, 9 December. Australians are advised to avoid moving around Honiara on that day as a precaution, in case of any security issues or disturbances.

Australian officials will also limit their travel in Honiara as a precautionary measure, so only limited consular services will be available at the High Commission.

We encourage Australians to maintain a high degree of security awareness and monitor the local media throughout this period.

Throughout this period, Australians should be especially mindful of the dangers of large gatherings. If you see a large gathering or demonstration, you should leave the area immediately.

Political violence, civil unrest and protests occur in Solomon Islands and may also coincide with sittings of Parliament, high profile investigations or court cases, periods of political uncertainty or industrial relations disputes.

Political tensions can rise with little notice. You should avoid any protests, political rallies and concerts as they may turn violent. Opportunistic crime and looting may also occur.

Crime

Criminal activity is of particular concern in Honiara and sometimes involves violence. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Expatriates and visitors can be attractive targets for opportunistic crime. You should avoid obvious displays of wealth and take particular care when using automatic teller machines and frequenting crowded places, including local markets. House and vehicle break-ins occur, including against expatriates.

Verbal harassment, intimidation, and assaults, including indecent assault, have been directed towards foreigners in Solomon Islands, typically in situations where alcohol is involved, including at some nightclubs and bars.

There have also been reports of more serious attacks, which can include hijacking, robbery and sexual assault, especially at night. You should take extra care when travelling on public transport in Honiara.

The incidence of crime typically increases during the Christmas period, in the lead-up to major holidays and following periods of political instability.

Visitors are advised to avoid walking, jogging or cycling after dark, or in the early hours of the morning and to be cautious when driving at night.

The presence of firearms in the community, particularly those in the hands of criminal elements, is a low but continuing risk.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Local travel

Rocks are sometimes thrown at vehicles belonging to members of the foreign community when driving in and around Honiara. In the event of an incident, you should leave the area as quickly and safely as possible.

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

Passenger ferry and flight services throughout Solomon Islands are subject to disruption at short notice. You should consider taking precautions when travelling by sea, such as carrying your own life-jackets, as safety regulations are not always strictly applied. Overcrowding of passenger ferries is also common.

The safety standards you might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially for adventure sports (including diving) or on boats in coastal waters and between islands. There are sometimes insufficient life jackets for boats, rafts and kayaks. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.

Fire safety regulations are not always strictly applied. In planning your activities, consider fire safety standards.

Most roads in Solomon Islands are in a poor state of repair making driving difficult. Poor vehicle maintenance and poor standards of driving also increase the risks. See our road travel page.

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. Care should be taken in these areas when hiking, boating or diving. Local advice should be sought before travelling in these areas.

Airline safety

Our air travel page has information about aviation safety and security.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Laws

When you are in Solomon Islands, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include jail sentences. See our LGBTI travellers page.

It is illegal to import or possess pornographic material. Offenders may be fined.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

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

Information for 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. We recommend that you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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 a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

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

Rescue and emergency services are extremely limited. Evacuations are generally required in cases of serious illness or accident. Medical evacuations from Solomon Islands to Australia can cost upwards of AUD40, 000.

Mosquito-borne illnesses are common in Solomon Islands. Malaria is prevalent in most areas of Solomon Islands and occurs throughout the year. The Solomon Islands is currently experiencing a dengue outbreak. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue. For information on dengue fever, see the World Health Organization’s factsheet. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria; ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof; and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.

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. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services has declared a nationwide alert following an outbreak of diarrhoea resulting in a number of deaths, particularly among children. Rotavirus is believed to be the cause of the outbreaks. It is highly contagious and spread through person-to-person contact, contaminated objects or contaminated food or drink. Rotavirus can be prevented by thorough hand washing for ten seconds using soap and water and drying with a clean towel after going to the toilet or caring for someone with diarrhoea, and before preparing or eating food. Children should be taken to a health clinic as soon as they show signs of diarrhoea. A rotavirus vaccine for infants up to 6 months of age has been available under the Australian National Immunisation Program since 2007. Further information is available at the Department of Health website.

Ciguatera poisoning from eating reef fish can be a hazard. For more information on ciguatera poisoning see Queensland Health's fact sheet.

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.

Where to get help

In a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Or
(677) 21561 locally (after hours please follow voice instructions and you will be redirected to the CEC for assistance).

Australian High Commission
Cnr Hibiscus Ave and Mud Alley
Honiara
Telephone (677) 21 561.
Website: www.solomonislands.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Solomon Islands, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Cyclones: 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 tropical cyclones can change with little warning. The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service provides up-to-date information about weather conditions in Solomon Islands, including cyclone watches and warnings. Information on severe weather is available from the World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre, the Humanitarian Early Warning Service or the Global Disaster Alert Coordination System. Our Severe weather page lists additional regional meteorological organisations.

Preparing for a cyclone: In the event of an approaching cyclone, you should identify your local shelter. Australians in affected areas should follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor the media for the latest developments. Departure may not be possible as flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended and available flights may fill quickly. The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available for all those choosing to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans and carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology publishes guides and checklists for general cyclone safety and preparedness.

Earthquakes: Solomon Islands is subject to earthquakes, volcanic activity and tidal waves. In February 2013, an 8.0 magnitude quake followed by dozens of aftershocks struck just off Santa Cruz, Temotu Province, which set off a powerful tsunami resulting in casualties. The island of Savo, 35 kilometres north west of Honiara, is a cyclically active volcano. US Geological Service provides real-time information on earthquakes.

Potential for tsunamis: In the event of an earthquake or tsunami warning, you should make your way to higher ground and follow the advice of your accommodation provider and local authorities. Monitor local and foreign information sources for latest information on tsunami warnings. You should be aware that destructive tsunamis have previously occurred in Solomon Islands. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center provides real-time information on tsunamis in the Pacific region. You can also subscribe to this service.

Solomon Island authorities provide advice of any impending natural disaster threat through local media, radio and television. If a natural disaster occurs, you should closely monitor the media such as the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (AM1035) and other sources of information about your safety. You should also keep friends and family in Australia updated about your welfare and whereabouts during natural disasters. If you are due to arrive in Solomon Islands after a natural disaster you should contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination are affected.

Wildlife

Around Honiara, dogs are often not kept under control and roam freely, sometimes in packs. They have been known to attack people walking, running or cycling near them.

Fresh and salt water crocodiles and sharks are common in Solomon Islands’ waters, and can be present on occasions in areas close to Honiara including the popular Bonegi Beach. Local advice should be sought before entering unfamiliar waters.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.