Early European encounters with Pacific cultural landscapes were immediately written up as strikingly sensual experiences, able to both challenge and be domesticated by metropolitan sensibilities. But concern for the sensory faded during systematisation of scientific enquiry in the region. A review of archaeological research exploring the senses in the Pacific reveals a modernist tendency to prioritise visual knowledge and a model of immaterial, inaccessible sensory experience. But studies hint at empirical contexts of great potential. An example from the Solomon Islands demonstrates that a multi-sensory and re-materialised theory of perception facilitates understanding connections between material culture style and socio-cultural structures.