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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Head to the Solomon Islands - an Ideal Getaway for World War II Enthusiasts.


For a war enthusiast, not many places offer a getaway as perfect as the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal is the third largest island in the Solomon Islands and was a hotbed of political activity during the war. The bitter Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 was the first major offensive attack by the Allies against Japan during the war. This historical battle has made the island an important historical site. Needless to mention, for a WWII aficionado, a visit to the Solomon Islands is like watching history come alive.

A favourite attraction amongst war history visitors is the Vilu WWII Outdoor Museum that has war relics such as American fighter planes through to Japanese artillery, on display in a unique outdoor setting.

Also in Guadacanal, you will find the Betikama School of Relics, once a US camp area; and the Skyline Ridge US Memorial, built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war and important battle zones such as Point Cruz, Henderson Field and Hill 66.

The capital of Solomon Islands, Honiara, is also located on Guadalcanal and this city was the centre of more than six months of battle action in 1942. During this war, over 40 battle ships and war planes were lost at sea and the wreckage can be seen at what is now known as the "Iron Bottom Sound". Several boats and ships offer tours of these wrecks, some lying just metres away from the shore where you can even snorkel through the wrecks. Its most unique to find wrecks in such shallow water as they are usually only for the hardier divers. Bonegi beach is a favourite spot for snorkelers of wrecks.

The second largest town in Solomon Islands – Gizo, found in the heart of the Western Province boasts the 450 feet Japanese transport ship Toa Maru. The Toa Maru is still amazingly, in very good condition. Currently lying on its starboard side, enthusiastic divers can see many WWII artefacts within the ship as well as Saki bottles, gas masks and a cooking wok.

A trip to Gizo also demands a visit to the small but picturesque Kennedy Island. This is remembered in history as the island where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shipwrecked along with the rest of the crew of PT 109.

Munda, also in the Western Province has many sea-based attractions with diving trips revealing the Casi Maru, a 16 metre deep, 700 ton Japanese freighter that lies in Mbaeroko Bay. 12m below the waters of the Rendova Lagoon, war tourists can also see the SBD Douglas Dive Bomber that was hit by Japanese shore guns in 1943.

Visit the www.visitsolomons.com.sb for information on WWII tours which start from $200 per person.

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