and what people write about it




See also : Places to visit in and around Honiara

Aerial view of Honiara Honiara Airport
Aerial view of Honiara (© 2002 R. Joller) Honiara International Airport (© 2006 J. Burren)
Parliament Building Street scene
Parliament Building (© 2006 J. Burren) Street scene (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
Mendana Ave. Mendana Ave.
The main road in Honiara: Mendana Avenue (© 2003 J. Delarue)
Downtown Honiara Chinatown
Downtown Honiara (© 2004 V. Gisler) Chinatown (© 2004 V. Gisler)

Left: in the background the National Bank and the Lime-Lounge, a really good café mostly frequented by Australians. Right: Chinatown is the only part of Honiara not situated along Mendana Ave. There are a lot of shops selling all sort of clothes, cheap radios, simple food (canned tuna), and other things. [23, 2004]

Honiara Bus litter
Honiara Bus (© 2002 P. Honigmann) At the Central Market bus station (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
outside of bulding market inside
Central Market in Honiara (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger) Inside Central Market in Honiara (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
garbage pile garbage pile
Garbage pile opposite Central Market... (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger) decorated with betel nut juice (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
dirty tap water betel juice stains on wall and litter
How tap water in Honiara occasionally looks like
(© 2003 H. Oberli)
Somewhere in Honiara (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
More pictures below

Paul Theroux writes about Honiara in chapter 8 of his book The Happy Isles of Oceania:

My first impression was of a place so ramshackle, so poor, so scary, so unexpectedly filthy, that I began to understand the theory behind culture shock - something I had never truly experienced in its paralysing and malignant form. [...]

And I also wrote [in my notebook], Why should anyone come here?

Will Randall writes about Honiara in chapter 12 of his book Solomon Time:

Honiara, as I quickly discovered, is the unsightly boil in the navel of an otherwise dazzling, seductively beautiful Solomon Islands.

Christian Himmelberger, a Swiss registrar, writes in his report Als Assistenzarzt im NRH in 2003:

Some visitors who worked here as students or registrars were not able to lower their expectations and demands and adjust to local realities. Consequently they suffered more, in everyday life and in the hospital. Some also came here with very romantic ideas of this hospital in the South Seas and expected wonderful vacations. The not always very realistic description of local everyday life on this web site may have contributed to this.

Especially the picture gallery leads to dreaming and going into raptures, which is basically justified. Unfortunately, NRH is not located on the shores of the Marovo Lagoon, but in Honiara. The street scene of Honiara is dirty, dusty, and noisy, in a word, ugly. The beaches in Honiara (even in front of the hospital) are waste dumps and the seawater is heavily contaminated with E.coli, as all sewage of the city is dumped untreated into the sea. Swimming in an around Honiara? Forget it! During seven months I visited Maravagi twice and Uepi Island once. Compared to Honiara both are just like paradise. All in all I have spent 94% of those seven months in smelly and dirty Honiara.

plastic bottles beverage cans beach
A closer look at the beach near the Kiwi-House... (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
bed frame bed frames, car wreck, and other trash car wreck and trash
and the hospital (© 2003 Ch. Himmelberger)
car wreck sign on the beach waste drum
Somewhere in Honiara
(© 2004 A. Brand)
On the beach
(© 2004 V. Gisler)
Along Mendana Ave.
(© 2004 A. Brand)

Center: The beaches in Honiara are covered with garbage (although I have been told it is a lot better than it used to be before the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI a year ago!). The sign reads "NO DUMPING OF RUBBISH HERE", but the garbage underneath shows how much some people in Solomon Islands care about cleanliness and comply with regulations. [23, 2004]

Perhaps the easy going approach shown on the right has a better effect?

trash in Honiara
Somewhere in Honiara
(© 2006 J. Burren)

Reader Comments

Sat, 25 Jun 2004 02:53 UTC

How refreshing to see someone reveal the truth. Having been to the Solomons many times with lengthy stays, I have always been disappointed to see a potential paradise spoiled by local apathy and filth in and around Honiara.

But it is not addressing the "real" issues to just condemn the area, lets see if enough of us can band together and devise a strategy that may be put in place to help the problem. My name can be added to any such list that may develop.

Any further comments are welcome.

Thu, 26 Oct 2006 18:01 UTC

Men, I got shock too about Honiara. My friend just migrated there, of all places tsk-tsk...

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 07:08 UTC

Honiara is unforgettable. Of course everyone is trying to temper your expectations with talk of rubbish, filth, and dust, which is good in a way. But aren't many developing countries like this?

There's more to Honiara. It's what we would probably call "a town", albeit a large and spread-out one with its own airport and parliament. It's got a fantastic waterfront location and it takes just a five minute walk to get amazing views over the Pacific, towards Central Province.

You will find people are always friendly and interested, and if you show interest in them, you will find it easy to create lasting friendships. Their humour and warmth is something many "Westerners" should take an example to.

There's always something to do, contrary to belief. Just ask the locals or the friendly Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau staff or your hotel/guesthouse staff. Everybody's up for fun. Whether it's playing darts with the locals, having a drink in the local bars or visiting outrageous embassy parties -- you'll have the best time in your life.

Sun, 01 Jul 2007 06:40 UTC

Before us whites came to the islands there wasn't anything called rubbish as all stuff was natural and you could just drop your leftovers on the ground to rot and go away. We gave these people the plastic bag and other western junk and packets. I was there when they started selling plastic bags in the market. Big mistake. The government should have got off their fat arses and stopped it. 50 years ago there was not a name for rubbish as we know it as there wasn't any. Education must come with progress, still my best visiting place, also Ringi Cove, Kolombangara [Western Province].

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 03:49 UTC

I am a Solomon Islander residing in the UK since 1990. In our last visits back home in 2002 and 2003 we spent two weeks in Honiara each time. In 2003 the RAMSI people were there and there were signs of improvements noticeable along the streets, for example cleaning up of betel nut stalls and individuals selling there. Honiara has great potential to be made beautiful for its residents and visitors alike. It is such a small town and I am sure that if the Town Council planners, the local businesses, churches and government work together, they can make the town centre and few beach fronts there beautiful for everyone. People need to realise that by showing our visitors a beautiful Honiara with recreational areas, etc, is presenting them what real paradise the Happy Isles are! It should be our pride to impress our friends who visit our country with natural island beauty, clean town and provide leisure and recreational areas. After all it is those first good impressions that would make our friends want to visit us again and again.

Fri, 29 Oct 2010 11:57 UTC

As a child growing up there, I remember the town often dusty but not rubbish-strewn.Wrecks were everywhere, but were part of the islands' special history. I suppose at some point, "someone" will become fed up of the mess and maybe that car will be dug out of the beach! Honiara people are fantastically friendly.

Sun, 16 Jan 2011 19:05 UTC

I had the best time in my life when I lived in Honiara before independence. Such a lovely place to live then and I hope one day it can be a picturesque and clean town to live in again.

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 21:51 UTC

I worked and lived from 2007 to 2011 in Honiara, I love this country Solomon Islands with all his friendly people and will come back soon.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 05:08 UTC

I am from Solomon Islands and live in Honiara. I love my country and my people. I agree that the filth, dirt and crime that is now rampant has gone overboard. I value the useful suggestions from our good visitors and friends but not ridicule and further rubbish. I am not going to make any excuses for my people but what you see in Honiara is a reflection of early Western/British industrial revolution age, which took hundreds of years to where it is today. Let's help to educate our friendly people enough to ensure they have an appreciation for new things and new attitudes they see around them and to help preserve the pristine and natural beauties of our tropical paradise. Like the other expressions, I long for the day when Honiara will be like the good old days of my childhood years in the early 70's - pre-independence, clean, tidy and beautiful.

Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:39 UTC

I am a Solomon Islander and I grew up in Honiara, & call Honiara my home. Before the ethnic tension, the town was clean as it can be, because regulations were followed. However, after the ethnic tension, a lot of things changed, rubbish pollution was one of them, plus spitting of betel-nut carelessly. I welcome the criticisms by our friends. The problem now lies with peoples mentality, in which we need to educate our children (it doesn't really work on adults ey?) so that they grew up with good mindset in knowing how to manage the rubbish at home, thus, in public places, as they say, trim a plant when its small. We (students) are doing projects to address this issue, however small it is, it's a start.