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Dive Review of MV Bilikiki in
Solomon Islands

MV Bilikiki, Apr, 2005,

by Steve and Suzanne Turek, CA, USA . Report 1688.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Fiji, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bonaire, Roatan, Bahamas
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 83 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 200 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions imposed
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large camera table inside the salon; camera room upstairs for charging batteries; two large fresh-water tanks on dive deck; towels provided specifically for photographic equipment; E-6 slide processing available.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We had heard great things about the Bilikiki and our experience far exceeded our expectations. We were made part of the Bilikiki family the minute we stepped out of the Honiara airport! The crew, as well as the managers, Michelle and Monty was very attentive and awesome! We were on a nine-night charter (April 19-28, 2005) which was a perfect amount of time.

The weather was very nice; comfortable temperatures. We had a few rain showers, but they passed fairly quickly. Seas were a little rough during the crossings to different islands; however, they were usually very calm otherwise.

The boat is well set up for diving. There is a big dive deck at the back, with ample space to hang your wet suits after a dive. There are two big rinse tanks for camera equipment and one rinse tank for everything else. Your dive station is yours for the entire time you are on the boat. Each diver has their own plastic tray/basket to put their fins, mask, weight belt, etc. The dive deck also has two fresh-water showers to rinse yourself off after every dive. Warm towels are always available and separate towels are available for your camera gear. You set up your dive gear initially and dont touch it again (unless you are wearing it on a dive!), until you pack to go home. All diving is done via two skiffs, tinnies. The crew loads all your gear, including your camera equipment, into the tinnie and whisks you away to the dive site, which is usually fairly close to the mother ship. Entry is done via a back roll. There is no need to find your way back to the Bilikiki because there is always a tinnie there to pick you up, whenever/wherever you surface, your limousine back to the boat! You hand up your weight belt, fins, BC and tank and then walk up the ladder. Once back at the Bilikiki, the crew removes your gear as well as camera equipment from the tinnie and puts your camera in a rinse tank and puts your gear back at your dive station.

Five dives per day are offered (includes one night dive). Monty or Michelle gave a very thorough briefing before each dive. They always included a map as well as a list of critters most likely present at the site. You could dive with Monty or Michelle (they are the ones who can find the cool critters!), or you could dive your own profile. There were no dive restrictions. The diving was good to great. We didnt see too many large pelagics, but did see some reef sharks, several sea turtles and a spotted eagle ray from time to time. The colorful reef fish were plentiful. We would have liked to have seen more macro critters. Visibility was not as good at some sites (less than 50 ft.), but surpassed 100 feet at others. We dove a couple of World War II wrecks as well as a site that was a supply beach during WWII. This was probably one of the best dives of the trip..lots of interesting macro critters.

The food aboard the Bilikiki was very good and plentiful. All the meals were served buffet style and all dining was on one of the decks, in open air. Most of the fresh produce was purchased from villagers that would surround the Bilikiki in their dugout canoes. The Solomon Islander kids are a lot of fun to watch and photograph. The galley crew would provide freshly baked, warm cookies and popcorn after the first morning dive and would provide popcorn and fruit after the first afternoon dive. I do not eat fish, so Chef Michael would always provide me with an alternative when fish was the main course. At 6:00pm, nibblies or snacks were provided on the sun deck; these nibblies were wonderful! The crew caught a yellow-fin tuna one afternoon, so sashimi was the highlight of one of the evenings! You pay for all alcohol and sodas. Wine is $4.00/glass or $19/bottle, Australia dollars.

The cabins were cleaned daily and very roomy. They lacked a porthole, but did include ensuite bathrooms and plenty of storage space. All cabins are the same and include a double bed with a twin bunk above. All cabins are air conditioned, but you are not able to control the temperature.

The arranged village visits were something not to be missed. We had the opportunity to buy carvings from the villagers; the carvings are absolutely beautiful. We also participated in one of the villages Sing Sings, which is their traditional song and dance. The highlight was dancing with all the kids at the end of our visit!

Our time aboard the Bilikiki was absolutely the best! Monty, Michelle and the crew made the long travel time to the Solomon Islands, well worth the effort! My husband and I would highly recommend the Bilikiki to anyone who is interested in having a vacation of a lifetime!


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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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