Taxis are another affordable way to get around town in the Solomon Islands. They’re a good option to get somewhere at night when buses aren’t available (or safe), or when you’re packing four coconuts and a pineapple and just want to get dropped off at your doorstep.
Hailing a taxi is pretty standard in Honiara – stick your hand out and hope. Getting a taxi driver that isn’t going to rip you off is a little harder. Before you start driving, always confirm with the driver that their rate is 10 SBD per kilometre. Take the metre reading at the start of your journey so that you know what an honest price should be once you get to your destination.
In saying that, it’s always better to call a taxi in Honiara from a legitimate company rather than hail them. Below are the two companies we’ve used without hiccups or rip-offs (as far as we know, anyway).
Kings Taxi – 27888
Inner City – 27772
Because there are no street addresses in the Solomon Islands, it can be difficult getting a taxi to successfully find your house especially if you don’t have any landmarks nearby. If you think you are going to use taxis a lot, the best thing to do is to save the number of a trustworthy taxi driver who has dropped you off before – that way they already know where your house is. Another tip, if you’re moving into a new house, is asking the old tenant how they explained directions to taxi drivers. Often they may know a landmark you don’t or one that used to exist such as “the green water tank” along our street which has been years removed but still famous with taxi drivers.
So, what’s up with the tints?
One thing you’ll notice straight away with cars in the Solomons are the homemade tints. These tints are dark. The darkest tints you’ve ever seen because they’re illegal in New Zealand. So dark, you can’t see anything inside, and barely anything outside. For a country where road quality is so bad, it baffles me why so many car owners here have made the deliberate decision to further frustrate their driving experience by adding tints that they can’t see properly out of.
One way some drivers have overcome this challenge is by tinting only most of the windscreen, which means you see drivers hunched over trying to see the road from the visible part of the windscreen.
There are several reasons for the tints but one reason in particular which is special to taxis: private liaisons.
In the Islands, everyone knows everyone and your business is not always your own. For the romantically involved, communal village life means that it can be difficult for a couple to get some private time. Tinted taxis provide one method of… getting some.
Some men will have a “zero two”, a second girlfriend on the side. Some even have “zero two” and “zero three”. These taxis are an excellent way to keep these private liaisons secret from their real girlfriend, “zero one”. Park up, pay a little extra and the taxi driver steps out for a wee while so a couple can have some privacy.
There are also ‘car parks’ for 30 SBD a session around Honiara where taxis can park which is a great alternative when renting out hotel rooms isn’t an affordable option for many. Some high-end car parks may have a few tarpaulins hung up between the trees for taxis/couples to park beside for some extra ambience.
They say people will look twice at you if you get into a tinted taxi. I just think twice about sitting in the back seat.