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Headhunting — the practice of preserving the decapitated head of an enemy after he or she is killed — has been a well-documented part of history in ancient Melanesia, including within the South Pacific island nation of the Solomon Islands.
This creepy-yet-fascinating ceremonial practice is put on display at Skull Island, a small atoll in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province, which is known for its abundance of — you guessed it — human skulls.
Although there are other islands featuring the remains of headhunting missions, this overgrown piece of land is the only one open to the public, and it can be accessed with a small entrance fee.
Located about 30 minutes by boat from the city of Munda, Skull Island sits in a serene lagoon teeming with colorful fish, which visitors must wade through to reach the island’s shore. The island itself is small and serves as the home to several graves and a shrine of some 50 male “trophy” skulls. The skulls on this island range in age from 300 to 1,000 years old (headhunting is a relatively recent practice; it was still occurring in the Solomon Islands as recently as the late 1800s).
Visitors will notice a special display for the skulls of village chiefs, which is covered (out of respect) behind a wooden board when not viewed by visitors. There are also a few pieces of shell money on display, which was an ancient form of currency in the Solomon Islands.
The DetailsVisit Solomon Islandswww.visitsolomons.com.sb