My Birthday Week Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Honiara (review and tips)

What is the Coral Sea Resort & Casino really like and what can you do in Honiara?

This year, I committed to doing more for me and focusing on myself (read about that here). For my birthday I jetted off to Honiara and I cannot even begin to express how much fun it was! Having been to the Solomon Islands in December, I barely got a chance to see much of Honiara and knew I wanted to explore more. From April 4th to 11th, I was fortunate enough to stay at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino in one of their luxury waterfront villas which was amazing!

(From top left – The Boardwalk Restaurant at The Coral Sea Resort & Casino; below it – US War Memorial; Tenaru Falls; Trying Kava; MV Taka off the shore of the resort; Bonegi; view facing back onto the Coral Sea Resort & Casino from the dock; Tenaru Falls).

Getting There

Honiara is only 3 hours from Brisbane so super easy to get to. One of the things I love about Honiara airport is the people at the top waving as you get off. I know they aren’t waving at me but it is such a cool way to enter the country. Walking through, all the staff are so friendly, my bags were out quickly and my driver from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Ben, was waiting there with my name on the sign. Such an easy start to the trip!


View of the Coral Sea Resort & Casino including The Boardwalk Restaurant from the dock.

We drove through the city chatting then as soon as we arrived at the resort I was given a warm welcome by the front desk staff. Ben unloaded my bags, I was checked in, handed a coconut as I was escorted to my villa.

The Starfish Villa

Every villa has a different carved plaque. You’ll find carvings incorporated in designs across the resort.

Right at the front, my villa was the Starfish Villa with a beautiful view from my private terrace of the ocean, The Boardwalk Restaurant, pool and resort. In the evenings, I could hear live music while relaxing in my hot tub. It was bliss!

Private hot tub, terrace and views of the ocean from one side of the luxury waterfront villas.

The other side of the luxury waterfront villa. 

Walking in, it was wonderfully air-conditioned, clean, the bed was comfy and I was surprised to find a proper sized fridge with an array of mini bar options instead of a few little bottles. The lounge is a sofa bed so if you have a family, the villas are a good option.

My bed, lounge and hot tub in the Starfish Villa at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino, Honiara

With enough space and amenities to cook if you wanted. Behind the door, there is a proper sized fridge!

Breakfast is included in your room price and there is a nice selection of either buffet or cooked options. I tried almost every variation of eggs they had and was happy with it all.

What Does The Coral Sea Resort & Casino Have?

You could just hang at the resort if you wanted to relax and be taken care of. I was there to explore more of Honiara but I still made use of the great facilities. The swimming pool is a good size and lights up at night which is perfect for me. With my complexion, I tend to avoid swimming in the middle of the day but it is warm enough here to swim at night.

Swimming pool at night with the villas and hotel accommodation in the background

The foyer is open and has a chill island vibe plus regular live music, table service and Haydn’s (a steakhouse) attached with numerous options for either drinks or meals. I had most of my meals at Haydn’s and tried The Boardwalk once. Check out their dining options here.

View of The Boardwalk from my private terrace. I loved how it was beautifully lit up but far enough away that I still had privacy when in my hot tub. Check it out on Instagram

The Casino

I don’t gamble but I have been to numerous casinos, including ones in Las Vegas. While this casino isn’t that big (for obvious reasons), I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. Immaculately clean, well decorated and laid out plus cool and comfortable. With plush carpet and seating along with a VIP room which has been established for those wanting privacy when betting higher.

A selection of casino games are available as well as the pokies. Whenever I had a look there was always people in there but it didn’t feel overcrowded and the staff were happy to help quickly. If I did like to use a casino, place bets or use the pokies, I’d be happy to do it here.

My Top Food And Drink Choices

There was an alcohol ban so cocktails and other things were limited for the start but my favourite cocktail which I had on my birthday was the White Lady. Vanilla vodka is available too which made me happy as it is one of my favourites and they have a great selection of whisky.

The Thai Chicken Curry and Thai Beef Salad were two of my favourite meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of my food but you can see a great selection of images for food and drink on the Coral Sea Resort & Casino Facebook page.

Exploring Honiara

Every time I mentioned going to Honiara people were surprised. It has a pretty bad reputation because of things from the past but I absolutely love my time there, every time. In fact, this will be the first location my daughters go when we can travel overseas. Personally, I found everyone to be extremely friendly, helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip.

Bioluminescent Beaches

I lost my mind over this which my friends (locals) found amusing. Moving around in the water made it light up blue! I legit felt like I was Ariel and may have announced “Oh my gosh! I feel like a mermaid!” with squeals of excitement. It’s the plankton that causes it and I actually squealed seeing it. I didn’t get photos (I tend to live in the moment more than take photos of whatever is happening) but I highly recommend it. We were at Hammock Beach, not too far from the Coral Sea Resort & Casino but definitely a nicer beach than those right near the resort.

Tenaru Falls

Tenaru Falls, one of the guys took this for me as I walked in.

This was top of my list because I love waterfalls. I heard it was fairly simple but I am not fit. Hilariously, my lovely guide, Alex, laughed about how women walk up and down here with babies. He did it barefoot and realistically, I preferred doing the river crossings barefoot rather than in my hiking boots. You cross the river 6 times so shoes which are good for river walking would be beneficial rather than hiking boots.

Parangiju Mountain Lodge where you start and finish. There is also a little shower to the side to rinse the mud. I got covered in mud and ended up coming back to the hotel in my bikini and a towel to clean up properly there. 

How To Book

To do Tenaru Falls you need to arrange it through the visitors’ office or Parangiju Mountain Lodge. The lodge is also perfect for a cool drink and gorgeous view after your hike. If it has been raining you won’t be able to do it as it will be too slippery. But white water rafting is an option then.

It takes around 2 hours round trip and if you are an active family, is suitable for kids. I am sure my two could do it and better than I did.

Tenaru Falls, that’s me right next to the falls. Amazing to swim here. My guides were so much fun!

After hiking and crossing the river, it is as if the trees and everything parts to open up to the waterfall. It is stunning and you can swim underneath, climb up into a little cave there and stay for a while. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip.

Snorkelling Bonegi

Look how close it is to shore! An easy snorkel for anyone at Bonegi.

Diving a wreck properly has been on my bucket list for years. Since I don’t have my certification, we hit up Bonegi where I got to snorkel the incredible wreck, see the marine life and spent some time hanging out at the beach. The wreck is so close to shore, as are others dotted around the Solomons. It is one of the things I love about the Solomon Islands – the history. Planning a significant part in WWII you will find wrecks, memorials and significant locations all around on your travels.

Honiara Central Market

A quick walk straight from the hotel to the market means you can pick up anything from food to souvenirs. You can negotiate with stall holders but I didn’t because I know what the wages are there vs what I earn.

There were lots of roadside stalls around the place too, which is where I picked up a lava lava (wrap around/sarong) and bag for my daughters which they love. Being part Maori and part Tongan, my daughters love island style gifts and use them often.

Relaxing

For the most part, I wanted to relax and spend time with my friends living in Honiara but there is so much to do around the Coral Sea Resort & Casino. You can book a boat through the resort to go fishing and the chef will prepare your catch for you back at the resort or do a day trip to islands close by. Check out the war memorials, which I did and cried. They are beautiful, moving and the views are incredible.

Take the time to walk around and read everything. 

I try to visit a war memorial everywhere I go. The amount of WWII history in the Solomon Islands is incredible and well worth taking the time to learn about and explore. 

Trying Kava

My ex-husband is Tongan and how I first learnt about kava. I’ve wanted to try it ever since but women are not allowed in some cultures. Finally, here in the Solomon Islands, I got to try kava at the Kokonut Cafe. Be warned it tastes like mud mixed with wheatgrass juice and pepper. Definitely not for everyone! It reminded me of this juice I had to drink when trying to get pregnant years ago.

See, kava looks like muddy water! You drink it from a coconut shell usually then rinse your mouth. 

The beers weren’t mine but I’ve been told it’s best to follow kava with something such as beer. I’m coeliac so didn’t.

Honiara is amazing and there is so much to explore there, then be sure to jet off to Munda, Gizo or other areas. Another option is to go on a dive tour since the Solomon Islands has incredible diving locations. (I did one with Solomon Island Discovery Cruises last year here which is how I knew about the Coral Sea Resort & Casino as guests stop here for a few hours before and after the cruise.) I’ll be heading back with my daughters in October so if you want to join us, let me know and we can arrange it! We will probably stay a night or two at the Coral Sea Resort & Casino before or after the cruise as well.

When planning a trip to Honiara, you can book anything you want to see or do easily through the Coral Sea Resort & Casino. Their customer services is fantastic.

My Tips For Honiara

Honiara is not a big, bustling city and the Solomon Islands are a developing country. Wages are much lower, the infrastructure such as roads are not the same as Western countries but the people are super friendly.

Since I typically travel alone and have had issues in other countries, I now usually have a guide with me. They know where to go, negotiate everything, translate when necessary and have the best tips. On some trips, I have worn a wedding band and at times my guide or a male travelling in our group would be referred to as my husband to stop issues. I didn’t have this problem in Honiara. My guides were great and I felt totally safe.

Safety

Staff in the resort take security very seriously. They have security guards, a whole team, cameras and management are regularly around. Everyone was super friendly making the Coral Sea Resort & Casino feel more like a home away from home rather than a resort.

That said, be aware, as you should be anywhere. Keep your bag zipped, your belongings close, use the safe in the room and be aware of what is happening around you. This was my second trip and I haven’t had issues either time nor has anyone else I know personally who have been to Honiara. In fact, everyone can’t wait to go back to the Solomons!

Get out and explore! The resort is great but there is so much to see, do and try.

Have you been to the Solomon Islands? What was your experience?