Thursday, March 31, 2022

Niger

Niger Flag



Why visit Niger?
For the experienced traveler visiting under developed countries to experience architecture, culture, desert scenery, game parks, and museums.



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Ceremonial knives, colorful fabrics, copper ware, jewelry, leather goods, swords, and woven blankets.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Dambou (cereal). Djerma (stew). Jollof (rice).
  • Local Drink to Try: Biere Niger (beer).


Fun Facts
  • Niger is pronounced nee-JAIR (French).
  • Second largest landlocked country in West Africa.
  • Their rice is considered amongst the best in the world.
  • The Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve is amongst the largest in the world.
  • The international attraction of the Guérewol Festival was featured in National Geographic magazine.


Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (September) Cure Salee. 
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Concord Day, Labour Day, Independence Day, Republic Day, and Christmas Day.


Good to Know
  • Lacks infrastructure.
  • French is the official language
  • Requires tolerance of high temperatures.
  • Lodging stays with armed Security presence is suggested.
  • Open sewers exist along the streets of Niamey.
  • Crime occurs day or night. 
  • Walking alone is not recommended.
  • Tap water is not drinkable.
  • Literacy rate is among the lowest in the world.
  • Northern Regions are known to have land mines.
  • Limited facilities exist outside of Niamey.
  • Sanitation conditions are below our standards.
  • Do not swim in still waters.
  • Northern area is covered by large and semi deserts.
  • Avoid walking in front of someone who is praying.
  • Photographs of the airport, broadcasting stations, government buildings, military or police personnel, political or student demonstrations, are prohibited.
  • Road safety is a concern.
  • Men and women should dress conservatively.
  • Air quality is poor (Niamey).
  • International Driver’s license is required.
  • Horns should not be used after dark. 
  • Tourism is unevenly regulated and inspections do not commonly occur. 
  • Prevalent Disease: Dengue Fever, Malaria, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Zika Virus.
This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport and two blank pages for entry stamps.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination required. 

Prone to drought, high humidity, and wildfires.

  • Best Time to Visit: October - March
  • Coolest Months: November - February
  • Hottest Months: April - May, October
  • Peak Season: June - August


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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Nicaragua

Nicaragua Flag


"The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes"

Why visit Nicaragua?
Ideal for the ecotourism traveler seeking to enjoy architecture, birdwatching, culture, deep sea fishing, hiking, horseback riding, lakes, parks, plantations, preserves, reserves, rivers, sand skiing, swampy lagoons, rugged beaches, surfing, volcanoes, and wildlife.



San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Photo Credit: Quaint Planet/Pixabay



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Baskets, cigars, coffee, embroidery, hammocks, jewelry, leather goods, pottery, rum, and wood carvings.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Baho (stew). Gallo Pinto (national dish). Guirila (tortilla). Mondongo (tripe soup). Nacatamales (meat dish). Tajada (plantain chips). Vigoron (pork dish).
  • Local Drink to Try: Chicha (alcohol). Flor de Cana (rum). Tiste (cacao). Tona (beer). Victoria (beer).


Photo Credit: Juana Mairena/Pixabay



Fun Facts
  • La Isla de Ometepe (volcanic island) was nominated for the "new seven wonders of the world".
  • Volcan Masaya National Park is an accessible active volcano.
  • U.S. Marines who occupied the country are credited with introducing baseball.
  • Has the lowest minimum wage in the world.
  • Rio Coco is the largest river in Central America.
  • Only 7 of the 50 volcanoes are considered active.
  • Home to the world's rare freshwater sharks (Nicaraguan shark).
  • For decades, home to the world's largest demining efforts.
  • Bosawás Biosphere Reserve the second-largest rainforest amongst the Americas.
  • Granada is the oldest colonial city in the Americas.
  • Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America.
  •  Fresh juices are commonly served in a plastic bag with a straw.
  • Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve was created by an eruption thousands of years ago, eventually filling with water.


Photo Credit: Sheryl Maiorano/Pixabay



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Caballo Español Pura Sangre Fair, Fiestas Patronales, International Dariana Poetry Symposium, Rio San Juan Carnival, Viva León Festival, (February) International Poetry Festival, Music & Youth Festival, (March) Joy for Life Carnival, (May) Fiestas Patronales, Palo de Mayo Festival, (June) Ometepe Expo, (July) Carnaval, Fiestas Patronales, (August) Crab Soup Festival, Equestrians of Managua, Fiestas Patronales, International Fishing Tournament, (September) Fishing Fair, (October) Fiesta del Toro Venado, (November) Equestrian Rally, Folkloric Festival, Latin American Surfing Competition, and (December) La Griteria.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Day of Love and Friendship, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday. Labor Day, The Sandinista Revolution Day, Santo Domingo Celebrations Start, Last Day of Santo Domingo Celebrations, Battle of San Jacinto, Independence Day, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas Day.


Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (aka: Granada Cathedral), Granada, Nicaragua. Photo Credit: Lukáš Jančička/Pixabay


Good to Know
  • Avoid public demonstrations.
  • Official language Spanish, English is widely spoken.
  • Eastern area has a low population and is undeveloped.
  • Not considered an accessible friendly destination.
  • Those who speak English don't usually understand restrooms, so ask for a toilet instead.
  • Crime is a known issue.
  • At the airport, you'll purchase a Tourist Card for $10USD.
  • Carry your passport with you at all times.
  • Land mines exist along the countryside near the Honduran border.
  • Popular tourist beach area is in the southwest Pacific corner (San Juan del Sur).
  • Prevalent Diseases: Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, Giardia, Leptospirosis, Typhoid Fever, and Zika.
  • Hiking in volcanic or remote areas is dangerous. 
  • Tourism is unevenly regulated, inspections are uncommon.
  • The the most visited volcanoes include: Concepción, Cosigüina, Masaya, Mombacho, Momotombo, and Ometepe Maderas.

  • Dry Season is between November - April.
  • Among the poorest countries in the Americas.
  • Indigenous tribes along the Mosquito Coast speak their own language, Miskito.
  • Has a Departure Tax ($42 USD), normally included in the flight price.
  • Most roads along the Caribbean Coastline are unpaved.
  • Birdwatching is best at Gran Reserva Biologico Rio Indio-Maiz, La Isla de Ometepe, mountains of Matagalpa, Rio San Juan, Volcan Mombacho, and Volcan Masaya.
  • Road signs are limited or non-existent.
  • Cerro Negro Volcano (León) is popular for sand skiing.
  • Rainy Season is May - October.
  • Avoid exploring after dark.
  • Majority of eco-lodging is on Ometepe Island.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • Reefs off the Corn Islands are the only accessible dive sites.
  • Offers one dive shop in San Juan del Sur (Corn Islands).
  • Diving is best March - April.
  • Drivers must carry: driver’s license, emergency triangle; fire extinguisher; inspection sticker, proof of insurance, and registration sticker.
  • Police presence is limited outside of major urban areas.
  • Popoyo Beach (central Pacific coast) offers the best beach surfing.
  • Corn Islands are windy from November - February.
  • Corn Islands best weather is March - April.
  • Ferry Service is between San Jorge and Ometepe Island.
  • Natives are known to eat armadillos, boas, guinea pigs, iguanas, and turtle eggs.
  • Drones and similar devices are not permitted.
  • Taxi service is not metered so ask for a rate before entering.
  • Only basic, limited emergency medical services are available outside Managua.
This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination required from select countries. 
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry: $10,000USD.
Subject to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions.
  • Best Time to Visit: December - February
  • Coolest Month: January 
  • Hottest Months: March - May
  • Peak Season: December - April


Photo Credit: pdro-enrique/Pixabay



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage SitesLeón, León Cathedral, and León Viejo.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay


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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.  

Monday, March 28, 2022

New Zealand

New Zealand Flag




Why visit New Zealand?
For the adventurous outdoorsy traveler seeking to enjoy beaches, bungee jumping, caverns, cycling, fishing, fjords, glaciers, golf, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, meadows, mountain climbing, mountains, picturesque coastline, rain forests, sailing, scenery, scuba diving, skiing, surfing, thermal baths, vineyards, and wildlife.



Wellington, New Zealand (North Island). Photo Credit: Bernd Hildebrandt/Pixabay



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Artwork, bone carvings, cheeses, fleece jackets, honey, glass vases, jade jewelry, olive oils, possum-skin accessories, shell jewelry, sheepskin rugs, tea towels, wood carvings, and wool sweaters.
  • Local Cuisine to Try:  Anzac Biscuit. Bouton d'Or Brie (cheese). Camembert (cheese). Cheerios (cocktail sausage). Cheese Roll (snack). Fish & Chips (staple meal). Hokey Pokey Ice Cream (honeycomb ice-cream). Jaffas (candy). Kāpiti Cheese. Kumara (sweet potato chips). Kiwi Meat Pie. Maori Hangi (traditional dish). Pavlova (dessert). Possum Stew. Rewena Paraoa (sourdough bread). Whitebait Fritter (fried fish). Whittaker's Chocolate (candy).
  • Local Drink to Try: Lemon & Paeroa (soft drink). Lewis Road Creamery Flavored Milk. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (wine). Phoenix (beer). Speight’s (Beer). Stolen Rum.


Photo Credit: Pawel Grzegorz/Pixabay



Fun Facts
  • Abel Tasman (1603-1659), Dutch Explorer upon arrival thought the islands were Staten Land.
  • Auckland was ranked (2016) the world's third most livable city. 
  • Was formerly named Nova Zeelandia.
  • Five largest inhabited islands are Chatham Island, D'Urville Island, Great Barrier Island, Stewart Island, and Waiheke Island.
  • Consists of two main landmasses, the North Island and the South Island with over 700 smaller islands. 
  • South Island is the largest landmass.
  • Fiordland National Park (Te Anau) stretches almost 3 million acres.
  • Horse races their most popular spectator sport. 
  • Home to 13 of 18 penguin species in the world.
  • Tuatara lizard has a third eye sensitive to light.
  • Does not have any poisonous animals.
  • Home to almost half the world's population of dolphins, porpoises, and whales.
  • Queen Charlotte Sound (South Island), is considered one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. 
  • Dependent on international trade.
  • Largely exports dairy cows.
  • Hosts the world's largest Polynesian Festival (Pasifika) attracting over 200,000 attendee's annually.


Waiau River, New Zealand. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) ASB Bank Tennis Classic, Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta,  Heineken Open, KapCon, Wellington Cup Race Meeting, World Buskers Festival Festival, (February) Auckland Arts Festival, Brebner Art Deco Weekend, Couch Soup, Devonport Food & Wine Festival, Garden City Festival of Flowers, Hawke's Bay Wine & Food Festival, Marlborough Food and Wine Festival, Speight's Coast to Coast, (March) Arrowtown Autumn Festival, Celebrate Pasifika Festival, Ellerslie International Flower Show, Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, New Zealand International Festival of Arts, North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival, (April) Auckland Easter Show, Fletcher Challenge Forest Marathon, Warbirds Over Wanaka, (May) Bay of Islands Country Music Festival, Bluff Oyster & Food Festival, Matariki Festival, Māoriland Film Festival, Winetopia, (June) Food & Wine Classic (F.A.W.C), National Agricultural Fieldays, (July) Christchurch Arts Festival, G-TARanaki Guitar Festival, Queenstown Winter Festival, (August) Bay of Islands Jazz & Blues Festival, Boobs on Bikes, Wellington on a Plate (WOAP), (September) Alexandra Blossom Festival, Gay Ski Week, Montana World of Wearable Art Awards, Whitianga Oceans Festival, (October) Dunedin Rhododendron Festival, Kaikoura Seafest, Nelson Arts Festival, NetHui, Queenstown Jazz Festival, (November) Canterbury A&P Show, Southern Traverse, Toast Martinborough, and (December) Nelson Jazz Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year’s Day, Day after New Year’s Day, Waitangi Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.


Auckland, New Zealnad. Photo Credit: Bernd Hildebrandt/Pixabay 




Good to Know
  • Local Customs may inspect digital cameras, hard drives, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Failure to comply could result in $5,000NZD fine.
  • Failure to declare goods: honey, fresh fruit, plants, or seeds is subject to a $400NZD fine.
  • West Coast area is best for surfing.
  • North West Circuit (Stewart Island) is a challenging hiking trail.
  • Insect repellent is required to protect against mosquitoes and sand fly.
  • Queenstown is a popular resort town (Otago). 

  • Swim on lifeguard patrolled beaches due to riptides.
  • Avoid spitting in public. 
  • Sobriety checks are common.
  • Christchurch (South Island) is the driest city.
  • Has a strong anti-smoking environment in public places.
  • Ferries service is available from Cook Strait between Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island).
  • Traffic moves from left.
  • Auckland is densely populated.
  • Failure to declare goods that should be quarantined, holds up to $100,000NZD and/or up to five years in prison.
  • North Island is less mountainous.
  • South Island has a cooler climate.
  • Road roundabouts are popular.
  • Hokitika Gorge (west coast) is a popular attraction for a bridge suspended over Hokitika River.
  • Roads tend to be curvy, narrow, and steep.
  • Cell coverage (South Island) can be spotty.


Photo Credit: VK1960/Pixabay



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with three months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Required Vaccination from select countries. 
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000NZD.


Tongariro Alpine Crossing (Tongariro National Park, North Island), New Zealand. Photo Credit: tongariro/Pixabay



Subject to cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and volcano eruptions.

  • Best Time to Visit: February - March
  • Coldest Months: July - September 
  • Hottest Months: December - March
  • Peak Season: November - March


Mount Taranaki (aka: Taranaki Maunga), (North Island), New Zealand. Photo Credit: Fred T/Pixabay



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Te Wahipounamu, Tongariro National Park, and the Subantarctic Islands.


Bob's Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo Credit: Bernd Hildebrandt/Pixabay




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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.  

Friday, March 25, 2022

Netherlands

Netherlands Flag




Why visit the Netherlands?
For travelers seeking to enjoy architecture, art, beer breweries, canals, castles, cheese, culture, cycling, diamonds, festivals, historical sites, horseback riding, museums, open-air street markets, palaces, roller skating, shopping, stamps, tulips, water sports, and windmills.



Amsterdam, Netherlands. Pixabay: millionairemob/Pixabay



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Cheese, chocolate, decorative tile, Delftware pottery, diamonds, licorce, tulip bulbs, and wooden shoes.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Beemster (cheese). Bitterballen (meat stew). Bossche Bol (filled pastry). Edam (cheese). Gouda (cheese). Hutspot (mashed potatoes). Leerdammer (cheese). Leyden (spiced cheese). Oliebollen (donut pastry). Poffertjes (traditional pancake). Rookworst (sausage). Stroopwafels (syrup waffles).
  • Local Drink to Try: Advocaat (alcohol). Beerenburg (alcohol). Boerenjongens (brandy). Bokbier (beer). Bruidstranen (alcohol). Chocomel (chocolate). Citroenbrandewijn (gin). Grolsch (beer). Hertog-Jan (beer). Jenever (gin). Koffie Verkeerd (coffee). Korenwijn (alcohol). Oranjebitter (liquor). Schelvispeke (brandy). Verse Munt Thee (mint tea). Vieux (alcohol).


De Haar Castle (Kasteel de Haar) Utrecht, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Ellen/Pixabay



Fun Facts
  • Home to the oldest (1500s) standing European armies.
  • During the 17th Century (1601 - 1700) the arrival of tulips (from Turkey).
  • Dutch language classes are mandatory for newcomers.
  • Home (Amsterdam Hilton) to the "Bed-In for Peace" press conference protesting (1969) the Vietnam War with John Winston Ono Lennon (1940-1980), English Musician and Yoko Ono (1969–1980).
  • Port of Rotterdam is the busiest European seaport.
  • Rearview mirrors on residential canal exterior windows are used to see knocking visitors.
  • Keukenhof Gardens (Lisse) is one of the world’s largest flower gardens.
  • By nationality considered the tallest people in the world.
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is the third busiest European airport.
  • Roodharigendag (Breda) is a 3-day gathering of redheads from all over the world.
  • Gold is kept below canal levels against thieves.
  • Has over 400 rail stations.
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands are Lesser Antilles Islands of the Caribbean territories: Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten.
  • Estimated to have 18 million bicycles.
  • Considered amongst most liberal in the world legalizing: abortions, euthanasia, LGBT Rights, prostitution, and recreational drugs.
  • Has several Belgian exclaves.
  • Max Emilian Verstappen, Belgian-Dutch Motorsports Race Driver currently was the first Dutchman to win a Grand Prix. 
  • Home to the largest fleet of active historical ships in the world.
  • Largely exports apples, chilis, cucumbers, floral bulbs, and tomatoes.
  • Ranks as one of the most bike-friendly countries.


Spring Tulips. Photo Credit: Nick115/Pixabay



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Jumping Amsterdam, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Tulip Day, (February) ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, (March) Boekenweek, Silent Walk, The European Fine Art Fair, (April) Bloemencorso, Koningsdag, Rotterdam Marathon, (May) Holland Festival, Theater Na de Dam, Vereniging de Hollandsche Molen, Vondelpark, World Press Photo Exhibition, (June) Amsterdam Roots Festival, AnimeCon, Bosch Parade, Dutch Music Festival, Festival Classique, George Mosse Fund, Holland Arts FestivalHolland Festival, Incubate Festival, Maand van het Spannende Boek, Oosterpark Festival, Pinksterlanddagen, Parkpop Music Festival, Pinkpop, Terschelling Oerol Theatre Festival, (July) Amsterdam Gay Pride, Cannabis Cup, North Sea Jazz Festival, Over Het IJ Festival, Rotterdam Summer Carnival, (August) Amsterdam Canal Festival, Bicycle Tour, Bloemencorso Vollenhove, Canal Run, De Parade Theatre Festival, Festival of Early Music, Haarlem Jazz, Jazz in de Gracht, International Fireworks Festival, Mosseldag, Pluk de Nacht, Sail Amsterdam, Scheveningen Fireworks Festival, Stichting Grachtenfestival, (September) Bloemencorso Zundert, Jordaan Festival, National Restaurant Week, Netherlands Film Festival. Roodharigendag, Step In The Arena Graffiti Festival, (October) Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), Amsterdam Marathin, (November) Amsterdam Sinterklaas Parade, Campzone, Crossing Border Festival, GLOW Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Horti Fair, International Vocal Competition, Leather Pride, Le Guess Who, Museum Night Amsterdam, (December) Amsterdam Light Festival, Gouda by Candlelight, Winterland Maastricht, and World Christmas Circus.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, King's Birthday, Liberation Day, Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, Whit Monday, Christmas Day, and Second Day of Christmas.


(Windmill) Groningen, Netherland. Photo Credit: Thelma/Pixabay



Good to Know
  • Boasts in world-class art.
  • Not a good beach destination.
  • Some areas offer nude swimming.
  • Speed limits are strictly enforced by radar. 
  • Not a good mountain destination.
  • Largest cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is one of the largest duty-free shopping centers in the world.
  • Seat belts and child seats are required.
  • In the Red Light District prostitutes are known to throw photographing on-goers into canals.
  • Permissible blood alcohol level is .05% and .02% for driver’s holding a license for less than five years.
  • Avoid public demonstrations.
  • Native mannerisms are often direct with a no-nonsense attitude.
  • High-speed rail line is available between the Amsterdam metropolitan area and the Belgium border; trains running from Paris and London.
  • Beware of bicycle stoplights at busy junctions.
  • Avoid walking on designated bike paths.
  • Tulip Season is April - May.
  • A damp destination, so packing a raincoat and umbrella are necessary
  • Ferry service connects to Great Britain.
  • Tourists are known targets for bag snatchers, pickpockets, other petty theft.
  • Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague is prone to road congestion.
  • Parking spots are scarce and expensive.
  • U.S. credit card containing only a magnetic strip is not usually accepted. A chip and pin card is recommended.
  • Keukenhof Gardens (Lisse) is open between March - May.
  • Largely offers bicycle parking facilities in city and train stations.
  • Vehicles are not allowed in parts of the city center.
  • South offers festivals that never occur elsewhere throughout the country.
  • Lanes in the center of two-way streets are reserved for buses, taxis, and trams.


Alkmaar, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski/Pixabay



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with three months of validity and two blank page for entry stamp.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000EUR.


Volendam, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Mel/Pixabay


  • Best Time to Visit: May - October
  • Coldest Months: December - February
  • Hottest Months: June - September
  • Peak Season: July - August


Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Rudy & Peter Skitterians/Pixabay



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Colonies of Benevolence, Droogmakerij de Beemster (Beemster Polder), Dutch Water Defence Lines, Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Lower German Limes, Historic Area of Willemstad Inner City and Harbour Curaçao, Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal (D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station), Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout, Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House), Schokland and Surroundings, Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht, The Wadden Sea, and Van Nelle Factory. 


Groningen, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Rudy & Peter Skitterians/Pixabay



Ready to embark on custom and 
personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel
Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals


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                                        All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice.  

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Flag Why visit Solomon Islands? Ideal for the adventurous experienced off-the-beaten path travelers seeking to enjoy battle ...