• Solomon Islands!

    Solomon Islands: Looking up at palm trees. Go Now!

    Solomon Islands
    This Melanesian country is best known for its many islands and beaches... and this natural landscape (pictured) is why most people go. Don't miss out on the unique Melanesian culture and foods though! Begin Your Journey!

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    Tonga: Coastline. Go Now!

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    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

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Food, Dining, & Drinks in the Solomon Islands

Historic Diet

The historic diet on Solomon Islands is quite limited since few plants or animals are native to the islands. Prior to the arrival of the first people few edible plants existed and there were almost no land animals either. Despite this, a few foods arrived via water prior to the first people and with the first people came many other foods from the nearby island of New Guinea. Much of what is known as the traditional diet, or the islands' staple foods, are not native to Solomon Islands, but arrived later with the first settlers.

The most important edible plant found in Solomon Islands prior to the arrival of the first settlers was the coconut, which made its way to the islands by water. The coconut was and still is a staple food for the people as this food is used for its milk and flesh. Other than the coconut, most of the foods the first settlers ate were brought with them to the islands.

Although there were few plants available on Solomon Islands, and even fewer land animals, the sea life in the surrounding waters did, and still do, make up a significant part of their diets; these sea animals include crabs, turtles, fish, and even water fowls.

Culinary Influences

The first culinary influence to reach Solomon Islands likely came with the first wave of people to the islands. Either this group of people or later groups brought with them pigs, rats, and dogs, all of which they used for food. One of these early waves of people also brought plants including taro, rice, yams, breadfruit, bananas, lemons, and sugarcane. Since there were numerous early waves of people to the islands, reaching back as far as 30,000 years ago, it is unknown when or with whom these foods arrived, but they were definitely present by the 1200s, although it's more likely they arrived at least a thousand years earlier.

Through these various waves of settlers to the islands the diet changed, but to what extend and with what additions is unknown. By the time the last large migration took place the traditional diet on the islands was well established and has continued for centuries. This diet, both then and now, is primarily based on pork, fish, yams, taro root, coconuts, rice, and the many fruits.

Although the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, there was little European influence on the islands until the 1800s when settlement began. The Spanish, British, and Germans all settled to a degree and they brought with them foods that they were familiar with, including both plants and animals. This included cattle, chickens, wheat, potatoes, and pineapples among others. These foreigners also introduced spices from Asia.

During World War II the Japanese took control of the islands, which led to fierce battles and the loss of much of the arable farmlands. This destroyed much of the food production on the islands, but at this same time new technology entered the islands to help make up for some of these losses. Transportation and storage techniques allowed for foods to last longer and be transported, meaning the smaller growth numbers were slightly balanced by the new technology that allowed the importation of foods and longer shelf lives (although the lands were still destroyed and people were out of jobs). The islands have since almost fully recovered from the damages as farming is again a large and important industry.

Today the diet remains somewhat divided between the local people and the foreigners, but today few of these foreigners are settlers; most are tourists. The local diet remains much as it has in the past, but ethnic restaurants are now opening in Honiara, including Chinese and European foods as they are gaining popularity, both by foreigners as well as by some locals.

When & Where to Eat

Most people in Solomon Islands start the day with coffee or tea and a small breakfast, such as a bread of some sort, fruit, or even fish and rice. Breakfast is usually eaten at home prior to school or the workday.

Lunch was traditionally the largest meal of the day in the Solomon Islands and for some people this is still true. For these people, lunch is a large feast at home with family, which can last a couple hours. The foods served for lunch tend to be local foods and generally include vegetables, fruits, rice, and perhaps a protein, like fish. For the people who have a more rigid work schedule, most commonly in the larger towns, lunch tends to be smaller and is eaten at work, often times consisting of the previous day's leftovers.

For those who have large lunches, dinner is the secondary meal as it tends to be much smaller, often just consisting of leftovers from lunch. For those who eat lunch at work, dinner tends to be the largest meal of the day and can go on for hours as many of the above mentioned foods are served. Dinners are often eaten in the home.

Staple Foods

Breadfruit (ulu): this fruit is very common
Coconut: coconuts are used for their milk and flesh
Rice: a common base or side for many meals
Taro: taro root is prepared in numerous ways; it is one of the main staples in the South Pacific
Yams: yams, a member of the potato family, are found in many meals

Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes

Tapioca pudding: this dessert, whose name is self-explanatory, is a favorite

Dining Etiquette

Dining in Solomon Islands is generally very relaxed as rules are scarce, dress is usually casual, and tardiness is expected. More importantly, the dining experience differs greatly between dining in a village with a family and eating in a restaurant catered to tourists. Due to these extremes the most important thing to remember is to follow your host's lead.

Many people arrive a few minutes late (or later) so you may do the same as time is less important than it is elsewhere. As you begin eating little fuss will be made for mistakes, although there are a couple rules that should be followed. The most important of these is that you will notice most people will go out of their way to cater to you and your needs; return this favor by trying everything served to you and graciously accepting their hospitality.

How you eat is again a question and one of the areas where you will provide little offense if done incorrectly. Many people eat with their hands, but in restaurants you are expected to follow international dining etiquette, including eating in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). Once you are finished eating there is also a question as to whether or not you should leave food on your plate; generally speaking you can eat everything or leave some behind, but more importantly you should try everything offered and don' eat more than others dining with you.

Generally, if eating in a restaurant, the host is expected to pay for everyone present. If you are the host, do not leave a tip, no matter how good the service was. This is a request commonly made by the people of Solomon Islands as well as tour companies based in the country; tipping creates jealousy and is not a healthy practice in the country and they prefer to keep it that way.

Celebrations & Events

There are a few foods that can typically be found at celebratory events and holidays in Solomon Islands, including poi, tapioca, and cassava. Poi is a very traditional food found throughout Polynesia made from taro root and is served as a side (perhaps more accurately as a sauce-like substance). Tapioca and cassava can also be found throughout the year, but again tend to be present at most celebrations, both of which are served in the form of pudding.


Solomon Islands import all major international drinks and brands so any popular drink can be found on the islands, such as juices, soft drinks, tea, and coffee. However for a more authentic taste of the South Pacific try kava. This drink is made from the kava plant's roots, which are ground to release liquid, then water is added and the juice is drunk. This drink gives a very relaxing effect, yet is not considered a drug in the countries of the South Pacific.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages in Solomon Islands beer tends to dominate as the local favorite, there is even a local brewery called "Solomon Breweries" in case you want to try the local beer. However, for the tourists numerous types of wine and hard liquor are also available in many hotels and nice restaurants. The locals rarely drink wine, but there is a significant hard liquor drinking culture in the islands.

The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Solomon Islands, although in very limited areas it might be. The most cautious course of action is to entirely avoid the tap water and items that could be made from or with the water, such as ice, fruits, and salads. If you do decide to drink the local tap water first check with your hotel or guesthouse to learn the cleanliness of the water in that area. If the water is safe, remember that many people may have trouble adjusting to the local tap water as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to if you are not from the region.

This page was last updated: April, 2013