Last year I was fortunate enough to spend seven months living and working in the beautiful Solomon Islands.
The ‘hapi aeles’ or happy islands of the South Pacific has become one of my favourite places on earth and I would go back again in a heartbeat.
One thing I did find before moving was a lack of information about what to pack to live in the South Pacific.
Some things we were told to bring I ended up finding there, other things I wish I had known, and there are few items that were lifesavers and I can not recommend enough.
This is not an exhaustive list and only pertains to the needs of a single young woman moving to the country.
I am sure a family moving abroad would need much more but I can not write about it because it is not my reality.
Here is my list of things you should/could pack if moving to the Solomon Islands:
If you are in it for the long haul, a few years or more, then consider bringing your own mattress.
Sleeping quarters do not bother me at all but some people found the thin, foam mattresses horrible and long for a big spring one for a good nights sleep.
It goes without saying that you will be doing something water based if you are living in the Solomon’s.
This might include diving and snorkelling as well as simply walking along the beach.
You will also be doing a lot of boat travel and this includes jumping in and out of small ‘banana boats’ into water.
With coral cuts becoming infected very quickly you will want to ensure that you take precautions, therefore invest in a cheap $20 pair of reef shoes before coming.
It was honestly one of the best things I ever purchased to bring with me and they are perfect for boat travel where you will be jumping in and out of water and beach days.
On the subject of coral cuts, things get infected and illnesses can get out of control quickly in the tropics.
Bring a medical kit with you, even if based in Honiara, as the access to medical care is not so good.
It is especially important to bring with you betadine or a really good wound cleaner to ensure that infections have a smaller chance of setting in.
Snorkelling or diving gear
You will want to take advantage of the world class reefs in the islands and snorkel at least once during your stay.
You may end up doing it every weekend or on the weekend trips.
Either way it is easier to bring a mask and snorkel from home.
I brought flippers as well, but didn’t really need them just for off shore snorkelling.
Many divers also bring their own gear to save hiring.
Again with boat travel being a necessity and big waves, rain and sometimes a crazy boat driver you and your stuff is going to get wet.
Purchasing a dry bag before I came was another of my lifesavers and you can stuff all of your electronics and a change of clothes in it to ensure that everything will be dry and water damage free when you arrive at your destination.
The culture in the Solomon Islands like the rest of the South Pacific is really conservative.
Girls this means leaving your short shorts at home and instead ensuring the your thighs are covered with skirts to your knees.
Long shorts are ok in the cities but once out in the villages you will need to be wearing a skirt or wrapping a lava lava (sarong) over your shorts.
You can purchase second hand clothing from the many bale shops in Honiara when you get there but come prepared to cover up.
But Leave the long sleeves at home
Before coming I thought I would need to dress ultra conservative like I did in Indonesia.
Well cue my surprise when I arrived to find that shoulders could be bare and you could even wear shirts with straps and that are not up to your neck.
With the heat and humidity breath easy knowing that you can get away with short sleeve T-shirts, although when in the villages it is always advised to wear a more conservative shirt.
Also leave the leather behind
Heat + Humidity = mould, mould and more mould.
Your leather products will go mouldy especially over the rainy season.
In fact some people even found their passports had mould in them!
If you have anything important like documents I recommend placing them into a plastic sleeve or zip lock bag to try to keep the humidity out.
Toiletries you can not live without
If there is a certain brand or product that you love and is essential to your life then bring it.
Otherwise I was surprised by the amount of things you can buy here from pharmacies.
Everything is imported to the islands and a lot of it comes from Australia so you can actually get quite a lot there.
The day before departing Australia I ran to the local supermarket and purchased a $20 stick bar blender.
It was one of the best things I did.
With so much fresh, cheap, tropical fruit make the most of it by making smoothies!
Just think fresh coconut water straight from a coconut tree, mango, papaya, pineapple=the best!
The beauty of living on a small island in the South Pacific is that life is slow.
Yet a lot of people get bored really quickly.
Ever wanted to start to learn the guitar or paint or learn Italian?
Now is your chance.
Make sure to bring something to do in the down time when it rains or you want to relax.
This could be a hard drive with movies, books, a soccer ball- anything you think you will use to pass the time.
I never felt bored during my time in the Sollies but many expats did.
And be creative, I started kicking the soccer ball to myself against the cement wall in our backyard for exercise and to pass the time and quite literally became the laughing stock of the neighbourhood.
But it was good fun!
Moving abroad can be stressful, especially when you are moving to a small island nation that does not even have its own Lonely Planet travel guidebook (it is the final chapter in the Papua New Guinea guidebook)
Yet the Solomon Islands is a beautiful country and with a few key items packed in your bag before taking off you can ensure that you make the most of life in this wonderful country.