My papa is a dreamer from way back.
He set sail as soon as he was old enough and learned to navigate by the stars across the great indigo Atlantic Ocean, just like his father, and his father before him.
Papa is the original bohemian traveller, drifting where the tides, winds and stars take him. My sister and I have the ocean in our veins. We were born to the seas. Sea legs before land legs. And so I came to be drifting and dreaming with my papa, his lovely partner Luciana and their trusty boat-hound Luna, through the furthest reaches of the beautiful Solomon Islands. This string of pristine islands are the most untouched in the South Pacific. Few tourists venture to the Solomon Islands, just a three hour flight from Brisbane airport. Even fewer reach the outer islands, so we set our course 5 degrees north and sailed towards the equator to find deserted coconut palm fringed beaches, colourful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and villages of leaf huts filled with papaya trees and smiling faces.
Choiseul was our destination, and what we found exceeded even my wildest tropical island expectations.
Turquoise waters jeweled with purple tipped coral, anemones hiding families of bright orange clownfish, white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters lapping their edges.
Our days were filled by collecting coconuts - freshly fallen for their sweet water, and older for their snowy white flesh to grate and squeeze milk for our supper.
We snorkelled among the thousands of shallow reefs in sparkling tropical waters, lounged in the catamaran's trampolines devouring book after book or rested in the shade of the boom. We fished only when we needed dinner, offering our hopes to the fishing God and pulling up giant Trevally, Wahoo and Rainbow Runners.
After days of spectacular lagoons spanning every shade of electric blue, our course took us east to the Arnarvon Islands. These tiny atolls are a turtle sanctuary, patrolled by rangers who protect the turtle nests and chaperone thousands of tiny hatchlings into the great wide ocean each season. We arrived just in time to see one of the last nests hatch. More than fifty adorably tiny turtles, no bigger than my palm, made their first arduous voyage over the sand and edge of the reef to fend for themselves in their watery world. Their tiny flippers going a million miles an hour as they scrambled to begin their journey.
On one of our last evenings, sailing into the sunset in search of another calm anchorage, we happened upon a pod of around fifty tiny dolphins, frolicking in the waves and surfing the wash of our bow. They stayed with us for five minutes, before disappearing as quickly as they came. They gave us no time to snatch cameras, leaving us like waking from a dream, squinting into the setting sun and wondering if they were there at all.
The Solomon Islands really is a tropical paradise. A wandering travelers dream, offering every adventure you can think of, from diving wrecks of World War II submarines to relaxing by the beach, surfing empty waves or learning about local culture. The local government is working hard to preserve the pristine islands and encourage visitors from Australia and further afield.
Where to stay:
SV Chemistry - stay aboard the spacious catamaran and the captain will tailor your trip to the island experiences you want. http://svchemistry.net
Zipolo Habu Resort, Lola Island - stay on your own private island in beautiful leaf huts open to the ocean breeze. Fly to Munda from Honiara. http://www.zipolohabu.com.sb
Surfing - on the more remote Santa Isabel island, the Solomons breaks are best in the Hawaiian surf season, Nov - March.
Photo credit: all photos by Taya taken on an Iphone 6s
If you have been to the Solomon Islands & have some useful travel tips, please do comment below!