The interaction of a solitary wave with an array of surface-piercing vertical circular cylinders is investigated numerically. The wave motion is modeled by a set of generalized Boussinesq equations. The governing equations are discretized using a finite element method. The numerical model is validated against the experimental data of solitary wave reflection from a vertical wall and solitary wave scattering by a vertical circular cylinder respectively. The predicted wave surface elevation and the wave forces on the cylinder agree well with the experimental data. The numerical model is then employed to study solitary wave scattering by arrays of two circular cylinders and four circular cylinders respectively. The effect of wave direction on the wave forces and the wave runup on the cylinders is quantified. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.