Poha cave, Vatuluma Posovi, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
on
January 18, 2019

Signs are rare in the Solomon Islands as are advertisements for local attractions. Naturally we were surprised to see both of them in the form of a huge billboard by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism advertising a local attraction, “POHA CAVE: Explore the early settlement of Pre-historic Melanesia.”

Signs promising fun stuff like this are just too rare to ignore in the Sollies so we geared up for a Solomon Islands hike packing snacks, fit clothes, water, backpacks, torches, the works – you never really know what to expect when you go on a hike here.

Poha Cave, a.k.a. Vatuluma Posovi, sits in the Poha Valley about 4 km west of Honiara. Just after Kakabona is a big billboard on the left of the main road with its arrow pointing “1 km” towards the bush.

The area, like many areas in the area, is being logged so if you take the wrong left you may come across a boom-bar where a settlement of disgruntled villagers live behind. And disgruntled they should be, the river has turned brown and their trees are disappearing.

If you see this you are going the wrong way.

After a quick stori – the sad usual of foreigners with a shaky agreement to plunder trees – the locals put us back on the right path to Poha where we drove through a river and passed felled logs for sale.

The sign for Vatuluma Posovi is impressive. Someone has built the most impenetrable rock wall we’ve ever seen in the Solomon Islands, there is a fence that looks to have absolutely no holes in it (yet), and there is even a toilet block which is being swallowed by giant African snails.

Poha cave, Vatuluma Posovi, Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The tricky part was getting into the site itself. The gate was locked but a woman walked past and told us we should have gotten Diana and the key before we crossed the river. Nice if someone had told us that before…

In fact, it would have been nice if someone had told us Poha wasn’t actually officially opened for business yet hence the closed gates and Diana and the key being on the other side of the river. We were informed of this after we found Diana, but thankfully she was happy to take us for a one-off tour.

NOTE: Honiara can expect an official opening for Poha Cave/
Vatuluma Posovi in February or March 2019

Diana opened the gate for us and we prepared for our guided tour.

15 steps later and we arrived.

That was… short.

So short, we could still see the gate we came through. Obviously, we had overpacked on the snacks.

Poha cave, Vatuluma Posovi, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Easiest walk in the Solomon Islands.

The cave is a scoop on the side of a cliff with a 2.5 m deep, dead-end tunnel on one side. Anthropologists have found evidence here of the early people who first arrived in Melanesia dating back more than 6,000 years ago. This is why the Government has funded the site to be preserved and promoted for tourism. Anthropologists were also able to gather evidence of cooking fires, broken stone and shell tools, and jewellery but must have taken all of that with them because we didn’t see any trace of them when we visited.

What you can still see though are the carvings people scratched into the walls way back when. Some are markings that are thought to have been a way to keep track of the years, some appear to be sophisticated cave art still without explanation.

Poha cave, Vatuluma Posovi, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Fren studying art going back several millennia.

Poha cave, Vatuluma Posovi, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Yet to be carbon dated.

Thanks to Diana’s commentary we were able to stretch our visit to about ten minutes – without her, maybe five minutes. And after all that, we still had a box of popcorn and a banana loaf left for the return trip, woo!

In summary, this is not a hike. It could have been if we felt like walking up the river from the main road but why would you when you can drive with aircon? This is a historical site visit, a very short one, but something old to look at that’s not far out of Honiara. Why not visit? It’ll only take you 15 minutes.


Getting There

From The Ofis cafe, drive 3.6 km west until you see the huge billboard on the left that says “POHA CAVE” immediately after crossing Poha bridge.

Follow the road for 1 km until you reach the Vatuluma Posovi fortress. Be prepared to take your car across a shallow river. You might get lost as it isn’t entirely clear if you’re following the right road. Stay on the right-ish.

But before you cross the river, find Diana. By Feb/March 2019 you might be able to bypass this step.

Cost

SBD 100 per head.

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Dan and Nid
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Kia ora. We are Dan and Nid. We've just moved from the Solomon Islands and are exploring New Caledonia for the next three years.

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