For the cultural authenticity, turquoise lagoons, underwater adventures and WWII significance. ''Kastom'' in the local Pijin language means living traditionally and rural subsistence is still the way of life for many islanders. This developing nation of 992 islands needs tourism income as their legacy primary industries are in decline. Education isn't free here and they like to say ''Bring a visitor, educate a child.'' The raw beauty of the place and people will touch your soul. ''Welkam to the Hapi Islands!''
Start with the modest National Museum in the capital Honiara and get a feel for the Melanesian culture and history of the Solomons. Visit the poignant US and Japanese war memorials and Vilu War Museum and learn about the pivotal WWII Battle of Guadalcanal. Check out the market in Honiara and then head to the Western Province to experience the incredible lagoon life, above and below the surface.
The menus at the restaurants, hotels and resorts feature lobster, shellfish and other fresh-caught seafood dishes. But the real joy is a shared meal at a traditional village, a feast that may include root vegetables, reef fish, tapioca, eggplant, dried bananas and seaweed. It is considered impolite to just drop in so for advice about how, where and when to visit – or even stay – ask the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (visitsolomons.com.sb). These cultural tours often begin with a screaming, intimidating, spear-brandishing ''welcome'', followed by handshakes, luminescent smiles and bon homie. Another ''culinary'' experience is chewing betel nuts with lime powder made from coral. Expect your teeth to display a ''healthy'' red glow and to feel a mild euphoria (apparently). SolBrew is one of the best beers in the Pacific and an ideal complement to a lagoon sunset.
The treasures that lie beneath the warm, placid lagoon waters are some of the most diverse and fascinating in the world. Living and lurking in and around the lagoons and coral reefs are dolphins, manta and eagle rays, barracudas, grey reef sharks, dugongs, sea turtles, seahorses and a thousand species of reef fish, as well as neon slugs and colourful fans. There are so many sunken WWII aircraft, ship and submarine wrecks off Honiara, the waters are known as Ironbottom Sound. Other popular dive sites can be found at Marovo Lagoon, Uepi Island, Munda and Roviana Lagoon. If you're in Munda, don't miss Skull Island, where many ''trophy'' skulls now reside, a reminder that the headhunting days in these parts were not that long ago.
Take home a Nguzu Nguzu or two. Carved stone and wooden statues of this venerated God Warrior are usually portrayed as a bust with a large head and circular ear ornaments. His little arms clutch a head (for war) or a bird (for peace) beneath a wildly protruding jaw. Other genuine souvenirs include stone shell money and traditional weapons, if you don't mind a chat with Australian Customs Officers upon your return.
In Honiara, stay at the Heritage Park Hotel or Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel, both of which have western standards and good restaurants. The best resorts are Tavanipupu and Fatboys in the Western Province. Tavanipupu in Marau Sound – where Wills and Kate stayed in 2012 – offers luxe private bungalows, western mod cons and a hammock-load of serenity. Fatboys Resort on Mbabanga Island is an idyllic six-bungalow lagoon-side retreat with a decidedly fun attitude. They'll feed their ''pet'' sharks into a frenzy off the jetty and then assure you it's safe to snorkel.
Solomon Islanders don't have much but are still ''hapi'' to share. Reciprocal generosity – of spirit and the more tangible variety – is appreciated. Kids – just say NO to betel nuts.