Jase and I both grew up in Townsville in far north Queensland. However, we did not know each other there. Jase has lived in the Solomon Islands for most of his life – growing up between Uepi Island and Townsville.
On the other hand, I had more of a mainstream life in Townsville as a kid and then as a health professional living on the Gold Coast after completing my university studies. We met when I volunteered as a pharmacist for a medical tour in the Solomon Islands, hosted at Uepi Island Resort in 2013.
As it turned out, we had many friends in common and it seemed crazy that we hadn’t met until I landed on a little grass air strip at Seghe, Marovo Lagoon. We immediately formed a friendship with a lot of shared passions and goals in life. We both loved to explore and in our first year together we counted over 60 plane tickets, mostly from visiting one another!
Living the Dream in the Solomons
Jase had been based on Uepi Island for around nine years before I moved to live and work on Uepi Island back in 2015. We have now been living in the Solomon Islands together for over five years. In that time, we have had a wedding and two children – Arlo (three years) and Ophelia (18 months).
Our typical day (pre-covid) would usually involve waking up early to open the resort and greet our guests at breakfast. Alongside Jase’s parents who also live and work at the resort, we are responsible for all meal planning, arranging activities for our guests, organising our staff of local employees and keeping everything in the resort running to standard.
We usually try to squeeze in a water based activity (scuba diving, free diving, snorkelling, swimming or stand up paddling) everyday and enjoy our time together as a family. We love getting to know our visitors and whenever possible we like to get in the water and share experiences with our guests as this is the most rewarding part of managing the resort!
Why the Solomon Islands Should be on your Bucket List
The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of over 900 islands boasting amazing environments above and below the surface. The Marovo Lagoon is the longest salt water lagoon in the world and the outer barrier reef islands provide access to diverse marine environments that attract incredible creatures such as shark species, manta rays, turtles and dolphins.
There are numerous outdoor activities you can do or you can take the more relaxed approach and lay in a hammock sipping on a cold green coconut! Tropical fruits are plentiful in the Solomon Islands and fresh sustainably caught seafood is available on most islands of the archipelago.
Favourite Places in the Solomon Islands – Uepi & Oravae Cottage
Our home on Uepi Island in the Marovo Lagoon obviously holds a special place in our hearts. Our family has been a part of this community for over 30 years now and our efforts in protecting the marine environment have led to us preserving some extraordinary coral reef ecosystems.
Jase and I absolutely love to escape to completely untouched islands in our area. There is a very special feeling when you are the only people for miles and there is so much to see under the surface! We also love taking longer trips to islands in the Western Province of the Solomons to chase waves. Usually our go-to spot is Oravae Cottage just out from Gizo.
9 Awesome Things To Do in the Solomon Islands
I love the Solomon Islands and there is so much to do here. From snorkelling and scuba diving, to local markets and war heritage sites, to amazing hikes and wildlife displays – there is never a shortage of things to do in the Solomons! Below are my top recommendations for your visit:
1. Snorkel or Freedive through the Coral Gardens
The coral gardens in the Solomon Islands are so diverse and offer something for every skill level – whether you are a casual snorkeler or experienced freediver. Swimming with manta rays is an experience like no other! You will be in awe when you see these creatures.
2. Go Scuba Diving in Reefs, Caves & Wrecks
The Solomon Islands has spectacular diving spots. You can explore fringing reefs, hard and soft coral gardens, go cave diving, shark diving, night diving and more. There are multiple WWII wrecks (fighter planes) to dive, scuttled wrecks and more around the country depending on your interests.
3. Take a Sea Kayaking Tour of the Lagoon
Taking a tour of the Marovo Lagoon by a short or long kayaking trip is a magical way to see the islands and immerse yourself in the local culture – camping under the stars and enjoying sunrises and sunsets along the way.
4. Spot Marine Life on a Paddle Boarding Adventure
Paddle boarding is such a magical way to explore marine life. Hands down, it’s the best way to spot turtles, manta rays and other creatures from the water! Plus it’s a great workout if you go for long enough.
5. Chase the many Waterfalls of the Solomon Islands
There are some wonderful waterfall hikes in Guadalcanal. This island was an important battleground in WWII and is full of history and war relics. It’s also full of epic waterfalls such as Mataniko Falls. Visiting the island is a must-do for history and nature lovers, as you can combine the two.
6. Shop at a Local Carver’s Market in the Solomons
The Solomon Islands is home to some of the South Pacific’s most talented handicraftsman and wood carvers. Wood artwork here is impeccable and the markets offer so much more than tacky souvenirs/throw away gifts.
7. Visit the World War II Heritage Sites of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is famous for an Allied campaign against the Japanese that stretched from August 1942 to February 1943. The war heritage sites on the island are fascinating to discover. You can enjoy long hikes on the island such as the Galloping Horse Ridge which is full of history.
8. Star Gaze up at the Infinite Nights Sky
The Solomon Islands are about as geographically remote as possible which means there is no light pollution or noise to be found on any of the islands. No matter where you are, be sure to take a night walk and look up to appreciate the stars. They will absolutely blow you away, night after night!
9. Check out the Amazing Turtle Reserves
Islands such as Tetepare and Arnavon Islands are the perfect places to visit turtle research stations. If you are lucky you might see the turtles laying eggs. This is a must-do for animal lovers looking for a unique activity.
Being Part of the Marovo Community in the Solomons
Our family has been a part of the Marovo community in the Solomon Islands for over 30 years. Both through our employment of villagers and through our work in our family’s charity, Solutions pa Marovo, which works in health, education and development. Our staff here are our family.
The culture of the Solomon Islands is so warm and welcoming and the local people are very jolly in the islands. There is always a joke to be had and smiles all round. And why not?! We are living on an island paradise after all.
Fresh Food of the Solomon Islands
Depending on where you are in the Solomons, the local produce markets can provide affordable and good quality fruits, vegetables and seafood. In the larger towns, you will have access to food stores and butchers.
Here on Uepi, we grow a lot of our own fresh produce but we also purchase food directly from the local villages and our closest market place once each week at Seghe. We have arrangements with some local fisherman for the purchase of sustainably caught seafood and we catch our own.
The all inclusive experience for our guests here at Uepi includes amazing food, focused around fresh, local produce and seafood. In the capital of Guadalcanal, Honiara, there are several great restaurants and cafes. Our favourite spot for breakfast, lunch and coffee is The Breakwater Cafe.
Staying at Uepi Island Resort
Uepi Island Resort is our home and best depicts our idea of the perfect island escape! If you are travelling to the capital our preferred hotel is The Coral Sea Resort Hotel. If you are looking for surf be sure to check out Oravae Cottage. In Marovo Lagoon you can stay here with us at Uepi Island Resort to enjoy some of the country’s best scuba diving and snorkelling.
Special Moments with Marine Life
Our most memorable experiences in the Solomon Islands are always related to the environment and the moments we are able to share with creatures in the water. Imagine a hammerhead shark swimming toward you, or holding your breath as a giant manta ray swims over your body, leaving just inches between you. These are the moments you never forget!
Recently we were lucky to witness a leatherback turtle (endangered) laying eggs on a remote beach of Vangunu Island. It was surreal! The following day we observed the conservation team extract the eggs from the nest to relocate them to the hatchery for safekeeping to ensure the best survival of the species. This was a once in a lifetime experience!
Travel Tips for the Solomon Islands
Before you visit, be sure to confirm you have a minimum of six months validity on your passport as this is a common cause for travellers being refused entry. Also, pack plenty of swimwear and light wear clothing. It’s culturally inappropriate at times for women to show their thighs.
Women should wear knee length skirts/pants or a lava lava when visiting a local village, especially in the more remote islands. Please be mindful of the environment. Use reef safe sunscreen, don’t bring plastics unless you carry home the waste and always admire the coral without touching!
Apart from that, just enjoy your time in paradise! I’m sure you will fall in love with the Solomon Islands just like we have over the years 🙂