I’m looking out toward the horizon, over tepid crystal clear waters in search for the right words to describe such a pristine view. Words cannot describe. It’s like I’ve walked right into the August page of some travel guide’s best of calendar. Now who’s a lucky boy?
“Bae iutufala laekem wat nao fo kai kaim?” asks our guide David. He is always smiling and genuine in his pride for this unique island – Santa Catalina, known locally as Owariki. We’ve just stepped off our weathered yellow banana boat, traveling across the 2.5 km sound from the big brother island Santa Ana (Owarafa). “Mi laekem for kai kaim in about tu fala hours mi tinkem” I respond in my broken Pijin. I ponder for a moment what David has in mind for dinner.
He leads us up a short meandering path from the white sand beach through brightly coloured fishing boats, past some children laughing at our sheer presence and onwards to our carefully manicured village. We set down our bags at our family stay lodgings ready for a serious dose of ‘chillax.’
Closing my eyes I breathe out and take in the village sounds and smells. I hear the chatter of a few women scrapping coconut whilst the fresh aroma of the desiccant fills the air. My ears prick to the sound of frying and I turn to catch the scent and sight of a barracuda being readied for dinner. A group of children rush past me chasing a beaten up soccer ball heading towards the beach. Some of the fishermen have just come in for the day.
This small quaint village consisting of individually unique leaf huts is one of seven on the island. I sign the guest book to find there was a flurry of people here not long ago for the island’s annual spear throwing festival called Wogasia – A cultural event lasting a week at the end of May. “A record 32 attendees!” says David with a sense of achievement. And that it is, as Santa Catalina is located at the far most easterly point of the Makira province and is well off the regular tourist stomping trail but don’t let that deter you. It’s the land that tourism forgot and that’s the real charm.
This low raised coral atoll is jewel of untouched Melanesian culture. Complete with some of the most exceptional carvers in the Pacific, it’s much too hard for us to resist a few cheeky souvenirs. These are some of the happiest people I’ve ever met, and rightfully so. Smooth, soft white sand beaches shadowed by towering plentiful fruit trees all surrounded by gorgeous cobalt blue waters covering a spectacular reef bursting with colourful aquatic life. After an aimless bare foot walk through the shallows and a spot of shell collecting we head back.
Who knows how long it’s been now. The only thing that brings us back is the setting of a lightly red golden sun over the distant hills of Makira island with vanishing warm paint strokes of light bouncing over a sea draped in silk.
Time has really taken on a different guise here. There’s no time table. There’s no official tours. There’s no rush. And that’s the whole point. DC
Getting ThereSolomon Air flies to Santa Ana from Henderson Airport, Solomon Islands, (677) 20031, flysolomons.com
Staying ThereThere are no rest houses on the island but you may organise lodgings with an elder once you arrive.
See & DoAsk a village elder about where to visit on the island and take a self guided tour. Wade out to the reef for a bit of aquatic exploring. Make sure you try the local seafood – crayfish, reef fish, squid and the list goes on!