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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises/Spirit of Solomons] in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises/Spirit of Solomons], Oct, 2009,

by Curt Andrus, TX, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 5237.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Mexico (Coz & Baja), Bonaire, Caymans, Dominica, BVIs, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, St. Maarten, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Seychelles, Fiji, Palau, PNG, Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive to your certification, Nitrox limits on depth, virtually no limit on time.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Diving to your profile was definitely the mode. There were DMs in the water, but you didn't have to follow. For those who rely on DMs to point stuff out, you may have been disappointed. For experienced divers & critter hunters you already know what you're doing, so no need for guides.
Boat was laid out pretty well. Storage in some rooms (mine included) was virtually non-existent. Pack lightly! Bathroom also had very little space to set anything down. Difference between Spirit and Bilikiki is that Spirit has some single cabins w/ shared facilities whereas Bilikiki is all doubles w/ ensuite facilities. We had a little problem with a compressor in the cold storage room, so had to return to port early in the trip for repairs. Only missed 2 dives, but the onshore support had repair people scheduled for when we arrived to minimize our time there. Camera table was the main deck salon, so all dining/socializing was on the upper deck. Weather cooperated mostly, but the enclosed upper deck has roll-down plastic on the railings to protect diners from wind/rain. Tank fills were a reliable 3,000psi and 31/32% Nitrox. All diving was done from tenders (tinnies) which easily accommodated 8-9 divers. Back-roll entry and return to the boat via an attached metal ladder. Crew was always there to help with gear, cameras, etc as you got back on the tinny.
Fruit & veggies were purchased daily from locals visiting the back of the boat to sell their produce. Very good fresh food. Meats, although we caught fresh fish from the boat, were predictably overcooked. Assortment of drinks and snacks for between dives was plentiful.
Diving had a variety of profiles. The 1 wreck dive was in green water with 20' vis. Other wall dives had excellent vis, little to moderate current, and some dives could have been from a moored boat - no current. One dive had notable surge, but that was the exception. Reef life was abundant, variable, and in excellent shape. Hard coral on steroids, a fair amount of soft coral, and plenty of cronoids, anemones, & other inverts. A couple sites had schools of jacks & barracudas. Bumphead parrot fish, Napoleon wrasses, and a wide variety of other parrots, angels, butterflies, blennies, gobies, and wrasses, black- & white-tip reefsharks were on quite a few dives too. Turtles were present but all seemed rather small.
Trips to villages were done on a couple days. Villagers had carvings for sale - masks, bowls, baskets, plaques, utensils, etc. all looked well-crafted with a variety of woods and inlays. Money can be exchanged on your first day between landing and when the bus picks you up from the hotel (you normally have a few hours between landing and getting onboard the boat). The bank is a short walk down the street from the hotel.
Getting to the Solomons was pretty straightforward, one flight from Fiji with a stop in Vanuatu, but no plane change. From the US, going through LAX put me in Fiji with a couple hours layover before getting on the plane to Solomons - no need for a day room. Same for the return trip. Layover in Fiji was a little longer, but not so long you need a day room.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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