October 2007 rainbow over Tulagi Island
October 2007 rainbow over Tulagi Island
Location in the Nggela Islands
Location in the Nggela Islands
Tulagi is located in Guadalcanal
Tulagi is north of Guadalcanal Island
Coordinates: 09°06′S 160°09′E / 9.100°S 160.150°E / -9.100; 160.150
Country Solomon Islands
Province Central
Island group Nggela (Florida) Islands
 • Total 2.08 km2 (0.80 sq mi)
 (2009 census)
 • Total 1,251
Climate Af

Tulagi, less commonly known as Tulaghi, is a small island — 5.5 by 1 kilometre (3.42 by 0.62 mi), area 2.08 square kilometres (0.80 sq mi) — in the Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Ngella Sule. The town of the same name on the island (pop. 1,750) was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942 and is today the capital of the Central Province. The capital of what is now the state of Solomon Islands moved to Honiara, Guadalcanal, after World War II.

The island was originally chosen by the British as a comparatively isolated and healthier alternative to the disease-ridden larger islands of the Solomon Islands archipelago.

In October 2019, the government of Central Province signed a deal to grant the 75-year lease of the entire island of Tulagi to a Chinese company China Sam Enterprise Group.[1] However, this was declared unconstitutional by the Solomon Islands after a week; thus, the deal was cancelled.


Tulagi Island during World War II


The first recorded sighting by Europeans was by the Spanish expedition of Álvaro de Mendaña on 16 April 1568. More precisely the sighting was due to a local voyage done by a small boat, in the accounts the brigantine Santiago, commanded by Maestre de Campo Pedro Ortega Valencia and having Hernán Gallego as pilot.[3][4]

World War II

The Japanese occupied Tulagi on May 3, 1942, with the intention of establishing a seaplane base nearby (see Japanese Tulagi landing). The ships in Tulagi harbor were raided by planes from USS Yorktown the following day in a prelude to the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Allied forces, primarily the 1st Marine Raiders, landed on August 7 and captured Tulagi as part of Operation Watchtower after a day of hard fighting.

After its capture by United States Navy and Marine Corps forces, the island hosted a squadron of PT boats for a year which included LTJG John F. Kennedy's PT-109, as well as other ancillary facilities. A small 20-bed dispensary was operated on Tulagi until its closure in 1946. The island also formed part of Purvis Bay, which hosted many US Navy ships during 1942 and 1943.


The present-day Tulagi has a fishing fleet.

Scuba diving

Tulagi offers some excellent scuba diving. The wrecks of USS Aaron Ward, USS Kanawha, and HMNZS Moa are close by, and the wrecks of Ironbottom Sound are not much further off, to the south and west. These three ships were all sunk in the same Japanese naval air raid, part of the Operation "I" on April 7, 1943. The Ward lies upright and intact, its deck replete with artifacts, on a sandy bottom at 70 metres (230 feet), about 20 metres (66 feet) deeper than one can safely dive on compressed air.

Tulagi is developing a tourism industry based on scuba.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Chinese Lease of Entire Island Is Deemed Illegal in Solomons". The New York Times. 24 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Tulagi, Solomon Islands". Weatherbase. 2011. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.
  3. ^ Sharp, Andrew The discovery of the Pacific Islands Oxford, 1960, p.45.
  4. ^ Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.133.

Coordinates: 9°06′S 160°09′E / 9.100°S 160.150°E / -9.100; 160.150