Polynesian Outliers

Overview

Introduction

On the fringes of the Melanesian Solomons are several small islands known as the Polynesian Outliers—Sikaiana, Rennell, Tikopia, Bellona and Ontong-Java. No one quite knows how these Polynesian enclaves came to exist on the fringes of Melanesia. Rennell (called "The Canoe" by the locals because of its shoreline cliffs) and Bellona may be reached via Solomon Airlines, but the only way to get to more interesting Tikopia is by sea. Tikopia, which is 660 mi/1,060 km east of Honiara, is unaffected by tourism (before going, read Raymond Firth's anthropology classic We, the Tikopia). Church missionaries and government schools are, however, discouraging some traditional practices (such as the burial of the dead inside houses) and encouraging a Western style of dress with the younger generation (Tikopia traditionally go topless). Nevertheless, Tikopia retain most of their traditional customs and are ruled by four chiefs. At Sikaiana, closer in (it can only be reached by sea from Honiara), we enjoyed the local people's music and dancing almost as much as they enjoyed performing. This is one of the most isolated spots in the world. The Outliers are recommended only for the experienced adventurer with unlimited time. 140 to 610 mi/225 to 1000 km southeast of Honiara.

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