WORLD WAR II
The calm waters of Solomon Islands were greatly disturbed during the year of 1942, when, with the raging of World War II, there was significant loss of life on both sides, until the eventual retreat of the Japanese forces. Henderson Airfield and its surrounds were one of the key focal points of attention, and after coming under the US led allied forces control, became a key launching pad for attacks further afield.

Many of the sites remain untouched and you can even find artefacts scattered in many battlefield locations. Locals, whilst working in their gardens and village grounds, still find human remains from this bloody past.

Naval battles took place in the area and a number of warships were sunk in the waters off the coast, hence the name Iron Bottom Sound. Many of the wrecks have become popular dive sites.

Mr John Innes is a local WWII history enthusiast who lives in Honiara for most of the year. Mr Innes charges S$200 for an informative day tour of the major battle sites around the capital. Tours run on Saturdays, when a group comes together. Contact John on (+677) 38338 or via email: innes@technisyst.com.sb
Alternatively, try Destination Solomons Travel and Tours on (+677) 23444 or via email: destsolo@solomon.com.sb

THE GIFU
The Gifu was an important forward command post in the Japanese attempt to win back Henderson Airfield. It was taken in a fierce battle by American forces in early 1943, which ended in a final banzai attack. The Japanese named it after a district in their country. Wartime relics have been collected by the villagers and can be viewed for S$10. Talk to Peter who lives opposite the relics, on the left as you near the path for entry to the main battle area and foxholes.
Continue past the Japanese Memorial 1.6km and turn right at the large white star on the road which marks the Final Destruction of Japanese Forces. Follow the road 700m through the village to the end (custom fee S$20 per head).

MT AUSTEN
The top of Mt Austen gives one a spectacular view out to sea and across the mountain ranges. From the road there is a track hedged by tall grass and a forest of trees leading up to a small clearing named 'Grassy Knoll'. The clearing reveals a foxhole, used by the Japanese as an observation point, with a clear view of the Henderson Airfield.
Continue past the Japanese Memorial for 4km where a road branches off to a smaller track to the left. Follow this for 400m to the end (4WD recommended). You then walk 10 minutes on foot towards the ocean to find the main foxhole and observation point.

BLOODY RIDGE
Bloody Ridge is situated very close to the Henderson Airfield. The ridge is also called Edson's Ridge after Colonel Merritt Edson and his elite team known as the Edson Raiders. They defended the ridge against the Japanese, who attempted to capture the airfield. The front line is visible and pigtail wires are still scattered through the tall grass.
Take the road inland next to the Memorial Park at the airport. Keep heading inland and when you arrive at the gate, pay the custom fees (ask for Jimmy, around S$20 per head).

VULU WAR MUSEUM
This provides an up close look at war relics that were salvaged in the aftermath of World War II. The outdoor museum is nestled in a shady garden and exhibits a variety of American aircraft and Japanese artillery. There are plaques and memorials to each side of the battles. Anderson and Silvia look after the museum and are happy to guide tourists through and answer questions about the varied and interesting artefacts. Entry fee is S$25 per adult and S$5 for children.
Follow the main road travelling west out of Honiara past the various beaches. From Bonegi Beach, travel a further 10 mins before reaching the end of the sealed road. Now on the unsealed road travel 1.3km then take the turn off to your left where you'll see an old metal unused sign pole. Follow this road for 800m through the gate to the entry.

US WAR MEMORIAL
The US War Memorial sits atop Skyline Ridge on Skyline Drive and offers an insightful overview of events that took place in and around Guadalcanal during World War II. There are detailed marble plaques set throughout the memorial and remarkable views to help you get your bearings and identify some of the battle sites.
The memorial is easy to find, as you head east out of town turn right at the Catholic Church. Take the next major road left and follow the road up the hill.

JAPANESE MEMORIAL
SOLOMON'S PEACE MEMORIAL

As you arrive at the memorial you can sense a quiet and restful atmosphere. The stone monument stands tall at the end of a paved square, which is surrounded by red hibiscus and white frangipani, the Japanese national colours. The memorial was built by war veterans and families to commemorate those who had lost their lives.
Head east out of town and turn right at the large Church of Melanesia, just after the main soccer stadium. When you reach the top of the hill, follow the road along Kola Ridge for over 2km until you come to a T intersection and Borderline Police Post. Turn right and follow the road for another 1km until you come to the memorial.