Owned and operated by Ralph Christen, son of Urs Christen, formerly of Morgan Equipment at Birimpa, the Sohano Ocean View Apartments are by far the best accommodation one can find in Bougainville.
There are four ultra-modern apartments and seven well-furnished rooms with balconies giving a breathtaking view of the Buka Passage, Bougainville and Buka islands and the outlying reefs and atolls.
To book yourself into a holiday you're not likely to forget, click here.
Buka Passage, the narrow channel that separates Bougainville from Buka, is steeped in history and legends and packed with beautiful islands. It's also thick with fish just waiting to be hauled out. Sohano Island, in the centre of the passage, was the district headquarters from just after the war until 1960.
Click here for an article on Buka and Sohano in the AIR NIUGINI PARADISE in-flight magazine which also mentions Sohano Ocean View Apartments:
"I stayed at the Sohano Ocean View Apartments being developed by local business man Ralph Christen, an enterprising young man with a vision. His Swiss father used to work at the Panguna mine.
Though his apartments are still a work in progress, this is by far the elite accommodation of Bougainville overlooking the waterways with four ultra-modern apartments and seven rooms.
Ralph also runs a bakery and a kai bar in town."
If you're interested in revisiting Bougainville, email me and I put you in touch with Ralph.
An aerial photograph of the Buka Passage between Bougainville (left) and Buka (right) islands in the Solomon Islands in 1943. Two Japanese airfields are visible, Buka airfield (centre) and Bonis airfield (left). Today Buka airfield is Bougainville's major airport whereas Bonis is disused since the Second World War.
Located in the middle of the Buka Passage, Sohano is one of the region’s historical islands. With sparkling blue oceans, green grass and swaying coconut palms, Sohano Island measures 3km in length and width. The island is historical in a sense that it holds most of Bougainville’s memorable past and recent history.
The atoll island lies right in the middle of the famous passage like a natural light house to all sea transport. By outboard motor, it will take less than a minute to travel from Buka Town to Sohano Island. Experienced boat skippers await you at the Buka market beach front. The rate for rides across the passage is K1, but if you want to experience the Buka passage more intimately with its surrounding islands, then you can bargain with the friendly skippers to hire their boats. Boat hire is much more efficient and convenient for people trying to take their time to digest the beauty Buka offers to its visitors.
Sohano is the ideal place for you in Buka to ease your mind after a load of hard work in fenced compounds and air conditioned offices. Known as the former colonial headquarters for Bougainville in the 50s and 60s, and as a World War II landmark, Sohano gives you a spark of history to enlighten your knowledge of historical values. Not only does the island hold political history, but in the colonial times the island housed what was then known as the colonial administration that managed Bougainville in the early 1930’s.
Many of the old men today regard those days as the “good days” when everything, according to them, was much cheaper and accessible. Sohano is shaped graciously like Clint Eastwood’s cowboy hat. It has a moderate hill that has a hilltop spreading some 2sqkm around and the base more or less spreads beautifully around this hill.
In the “good days”, most of the colonial rulers on Bougainville built their homesteads up on the hilltop. The scenery from the hilltop is most heavenly. From the top, the famous Buka passage and its fast flowing tides can be seen flowing on both sides of the island. Standing by the Buka Luman Soho lodge, you can see the Buka town on your left side and the Kokopau town on your right. Buka Luman Soho is the only modern-style classic lodging facility on the small island which provides lodging and facilitates conferences including National Court hearings.
Sohano is surrounded by some of the most beautiful reefs in PNG. At the back of the island stretches one of the largest from the tip of Sohano to the neighboring Taiof Island. A lot of rare marine life and fauna exist on these reefs.
A lot of the colonial administration and provincial administration buildings have all been weathered down by the years, but evidence of their being here is still visible, reminding visitors of the transition between the old and new administration. The administration of the then North Solomon’s Provincial government houses are still intact and public servants are still occupying these houses. Not to mention some of the high profile members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government living on the island. Former Bougainville governor John Momis lived in the Governor’s residence at the Sohano hilltop.
The island’s people are multicultural, diverse in language and tradition. If you are looking for the better picture of unity among Bougainvilleans, this has to be the place. The people come from all over the region but live in peace and harmony as a community unit.