Though less than a 10th the size of the capital, Gizo is considered the Solomons' second "city." It is also the business and administrative center of the Western Solomons: There are several flights a day to the town. Gizo has an adequate hotel and several clean, comfortable guesthouses, plus banks, a post office, a row of Chinese stores, restaurants and other amenities. Outer islanders pull their canoes up on the beach and sell produce from stalls along the main street. It's also the country's most important tourist center with dive shops, charter boats and small island resorts.

Gizo is probably best known to U.S. visitors as a jump-off point for diving to the wreck of PT-109, captained by Lt. John F. Kennedy during World War II: The boat was sunk off nearby Plum Pudding Island. Either of the dive shops in Gizo can take you there. You can also don scuba gear and explore the Japanese transport ship Toa Maru, perusing the saki bottles in the galley and two-man tanks in the hold. Those less interested in diving can hike around the coast past Gizo's tiny jail to New Manra, a Gilbertese settlement. The views along this walk are splendid. 250 mi/400 km northwest of Honiara.

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