Solomon Islands Department of Commerce, Employment and Tourism : Tourism Information

Western Province and Marovo Lagoon World Heritage Nomination

Map of Western Province

Saeraghe Beach, Ghizo Island (1) 

An easy catch from Marovo Lagoon (2) (see sport fishing links)

Western Province is perhaps the most visited region of the Solomons. It is home to many Melanesian and some I-Kiribati (settlers from the Gilbert Islands in the 1950's and 60's) tribes who appreciate and welcome visitors. The main two languages are Marovo and Roviana, although there are many other languages spoken, too. 

The province has as its centerpiece the largest double barrier lagoon in the world, Marovo Lagoon, nominated for World Heritage Listing. Literally thousands of islands scatter the lagoon, from tiny coral islets on the fringing reef to massive 1600m volcanic islands (some are still active and can be visited such as Simbo and the undersea volcanoes near Ngattokae such as Kavachi ). Inside the lagoon, the islands are surrounded by spectacular coral formations and white  sand beach, the lagoon waters shimmering in every shade of blue, turquoise and jade green. 

Rightly so, the region is a world renowned scuba dive location, with not only the natural wonders to marvel at, but WW2 ships and aircraft, too. There are internationally accredited dive companies and schools in several centres including Gizo, Munda and Uepi Island Resort. Gizo, the capital, is a quiet peaceful town, but has all the facilities needed by visitors, such as banks (ANZ, NBSI), luxury hotels, guesthouses and backpacker accommodation, bars, restaurants, custom dancing and arts available (the region is famous for its carvings such as ebony marine carvings inlaid with nautilus shell). A splendid market, sports fishing boat hire and even surfing areas, all accessible from Honiara via Solomon Airlines which flies twice a day, and Pacific Airlink which also has several weekly flights. There are numerous airfields serviced by both companies scattered around Marovo Lagoon. Local guides are available for historical and cultural tours and bush walks to tambu sites.

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Rogosakena Eco Resort , Marovo 
Lagoon
(3)

There is a plethora of accommodation including hotels, resorts and a uniquely Solomon Islands experience - the many traditionally built and family owned eco-resorts. Several offer dive and fishing packages, too.  Contact the visitors bureau for details (visitors@welkam.solomon.com.sb) or look for information on our accommodations pages

 

 

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Rogosakena Eco Resort , Marovo 
Lagoon
(3)

 

The Western Province was an area feared for head hunting in the 19th Century. The use of human heads or skulls was central in the burial customs and death beliefs of many of the Marovo Lagoon islands' people. Frequent raiding took place between islands in search of heads which were used in many rituals including burials and the launching of new Tomoko (war canoes). Raids extended not only within Marovo Lagoon, but also as far as Guadalcanal and Isabel, where the southern coast became so depopulated and terrorised that the remaining population were reduced to building and find shelter in tree forts. Prior to about 1850 the situation had calmed down for a long time during the so called "Great Peace"; however, the arrival of Europeans with iron axes to trade quickly destabilised the region leading to  renewed raiding. Of all the Western Province, Roviana was the most feared for head hunting. War canoes carried carved figureheads called nguzu nguzu on their prows in the shape of a dog with either a skull or a dove in it's paws depending on the ill or goodwill of the mission. 

 

Scene from Mbilli Village, Marovo
 Lagoon
(1)

On Marovo Lagoon (2)

The headhunting was put down by force by the British District Commissioner, George Woodford, in 1900. 

References:

Marovo-English Dictionary of Environmental Terms, Edvard Hviding, Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen/Western Province Provincial Administration, 1995, UBP, ISBN 82-7453-012-8

"Ethnographical Notes in New Georgia, Solomon Islands", 
B.Somerville, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 26, 1897  pp 358-359   

"The Suppression of Head Hunting in the Western Solomon Islands", 
Jim Boutilier   

"Guardians of Marovo Lagoon, Maritime travel present & past: Seafaring in the Contemporary Pacific Islands",  Edvard Hviding, Pacific Islands monograph series 14, University of Hawaii Press

"Burial Customs and Grave Sites on Pre-Christian Nggatokae, Western Solomon Islands", Lindsay Wall, Rolf Kuschel, Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania, Vol X, No. 1, Apr 1975

 

View from Gizo across the harbour to Kolombangara (1)
Island near Gizo (4)
On an islet near Gizo. (4)
Kolombangara Islands and volcano, viewed from Gizo.(4) 
Mangroves, Matikuri Resort, Marovo Lagoon.(5)

 

Beach scene near Seghe.(5)

A beach in Western Province (2)
Babanga resort near Gizo (1) link
Babanga island eco resort (1) link

Osia Ta'asi, Babanga Island Resort, demonstrating canoe transport near Gizo (1)

Waiting for the Iuminao (1)
The M.V. Iuminao, interisland ferry loading at Gizo wharf. No cruise ship but a very colourful experience as it winds it's way through the vast Marovo Lagoon from Honiara to Gizo. 

A new vessel M.V. Tomoko, operated by Trans Western Shipping, now operates a weekly service between Honiara and Gizo via Yandina and Marovo with extended services to the Shortland Islands.
(1)

Penjuku village, Ngattokae Island (1)

Rendova Island from the top deck of the Uminao (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the plane, flying over Marovo Lagoon. (5)

 

 

       

Taxima, Racheal and family from Penjuku Village, Ngattokae(1)

Examples of fine carvings made by artists from the Western Province. 
Can be mail ordered from Melanesian Handicrafts.
Gizo harbour(6)

Provincial Government Contact Details

west web map.jpg (35184 bytes)

Maps courtesy of Bob Vincent, Eddie Kakai and Mick Saunders of The Map Factory, Census Office
census@welkam.solomon.com.sb

Photographs by:

  1. David Leeming
  2. Websters Publishing
  3. Ralph Tenapiko
  4. Richard Majchrzak,
  5. Sophie Kavoukis

 

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