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Dive Review of Bilikiki in
Solomon Islands

September, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Gregg Gaylord, WI, USA
Report Number 871
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Asia, Carib, Florida, Hawaii, Eastern Pacific
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 88    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
15   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Restrictions were based on experience of diver and "no
decompression" depths.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
Another great FATHOMS expedition.  14 days of diving with numerous night
dives on the islands of the Solomon chain in the Coral Sea. 
"Somewhere between Fiji and PNG". Our live aboard was the
BILIKIKI.  They have excellent service at their web site, and you can
contact them without too much difficulty.  The business office is located
in Western Canada, so expect a "lag" in response.  Sometimes they
must contact the Solomon Islands to answer your question.  However, I
STRONGLY recommend you let THEM book your airline flights.  Using a travel
agent proved somewhat confusing very slightly more expensikive then going
straight with the Bilikiki staff.  After all, the Biliki is TOTALLY
DEPENDENT on you getting to the Solomons.  Solomon Air has limited flights.
 Do not underestimate the difficulty in getting to Honiara, Guadalcanal,
the capitol of the Solomons and departure point for the Bilikiki.  We flew
via Bribane and stayed at the Stamford Plaza Brisbane.  EXCELLENT hotel
near all the high end shopping and restaurants yet barely more expensive
then the cross town Holiday Inn.  With the free drinks you can get, the
cost difference might be zero.  Plus no cab fare to get to the good places
to eat.

The Biliki crew/captain/dive masters were excellent.  Dive plans were spot
on, dive masters were fun, friendly, and extremely willing to show you
"the small stuff".  Many thanks to Montey and Michelle for the
many pygmy seahorses, pipefish, innumerable species of shrimp, nudibranchs,
mantas shrimps, crocodile fish, leaf fish, etc, etc, etc, etc!!  The soft
corals were magnificent.  The Russel Islands were among the best sites for
Soft Corals, but all of the island chains had something to offer. The tinny
drivers and rest of the crew were extremely friendly, good people.

Three island visits were arranged to "meet the local culture" and
shop.  The natives often came out to barter/visit with us as we docked near
remote island shores.  See issues of FATHOMS MAGAZINE for a look at these
beautiful people.  

The boat is in excellent condition.  We managed to see a school of Orcas
that cruised by our boat and took a liking to the tenders that were dragged
behind our cruising ship.  Pilot Whales and Dolphins also did their usual
"bow" hunting.

Five dives per day were the usual.  We had all sorts of types of diving
including dives of the back deck when "moored", tinny diving with
NO RUSH to get on board or get to the dive sites, and mooring line/anchor
line descents for low viz diving on a few wrecks.  There were a couple of
Japanese transport boats, a few airplanes, and some PT boat station
wreckage (trucks, shell casings, barges) that were of interest. But the
prime attraction is the macro life and soft corals.  This is one place
should be on a "must visit once" list.

Nitrox diving was available for a flat fee with 32% fills.  Dive times were
not usually limited, site dependent of course.  The boat did NOT have an
air conditioned lounge, which was slightly annoying for some customers, but
the cabins were air conditioned offering an "escape" from
moderate heat.  This is a first class operation.  Travel restrictions on
the airlines are SEVERE and Solomon Air better figure out a way to get
divers to this boat WITH their equipment or, I fear, the Bilikiki operation
will end up suffering.  The weight limits are very severe and several
divers did NOT get their camera gear (and in some cases clothing) for about
6 days.  The Bilikiki did their BEST to help us outfox the Air Solomon
ticket agents.  Also, Bret Gilliam of FATHOMS carried "some
weight" with a letter promising increased weight allowances for this
"expedition" with FATHOMS.  It proved VERY helpful.  But BEWARE. 
The BILIKIKI gives you green laminated cards to attach to your luggage. 
PUT IT ON EVERYTHING including your CARRY ON.    
No TAG means NO ARRIVAL we found out.
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Other dive reports on Bilikiki Cruises

All Solomon Islands Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Solomon Islands
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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