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Dive Review of MV Bilikiki in
Solomon Islands

July, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Sylvia Seaberg, CA, USA
Report Number 2084
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Visit the Bilikiki Cruises Website

Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
PNG, Fiji, Palau/Truk/Yap, Vanuatu, Belize, Red Sea, Australia, Bali,
Hawaii, Saba, Bahamas, Grenadines, Virgin Islands, Mexico, California
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy, dry  
calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
83   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth restrictions self-enforced by Nitrox usage.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Boat was very photo-friendly. Good camera table and other photo
accoutrements.  E-6 film developed quickly.  Dive briefings included lens
and photo recommendations and dive master Monte was available to lend
individual advice.    
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
We were a group that chartered the entire boat.  Experience levels ranged
from newly-certified (30 dives) to very experienced (well over 1000 dives).
 The boat did an amazing job of selecting dive sites that satisfied all
skill levels.  From surfacing after the first dive up to our last dive of
the trip (10 days) our collective mood could be described as ecstatic. 
Divers manage their own dive profiles and Nitrox is plentiful.  Most diving
is done from tinnies that depart the mother ship, drop divers and then
follow the bubbles until divers surface, a no-brainer.  Diving is monitored
from the deck (in-and-out to ensure all on board) and safe but not
micromanaged.  The walls and bommies are in pristine condition and boast a
veritable cornucopia of hard and soft corals, ascidians, sea fans, crinoids
and other reef life.  We saw endless varieties of small critters, a huge
diversity of reef fish, nudibranchs, shrimps, and many others just too
numerous to name.  Check out the Bilikiki website.  Macro opportunities are
ubiquitous and include such oddities as pygmy seahorses, mantis shrimps and
Caledonian stingers among others.  Wide angle afficionados will be equally
pleased with endless opportunities including wrecks, colorful terrain,
schooling barracuda and jack, etc.  Boat Mgrs. Monte and Michelle are
well-acquainted with critter types and hangouts and are happy to share
their vast knowledge with those who care to join them.  They did everything
in their power to ensure our satisfaction; when one of our group developed
ear problems and had to limit his SCUBA Monte took him out on a tinnie to
snorkel and film a gray whale.  Night dives are usually done while the ship
is at anchor; these were quite easy but packed with plenty to see and
typically lasted around 75 minutes.  Photographers will be in Nirvana.  We
photo wanna-be's were thrilled with our shots roll after roll...when Monte
gives advice, take it.  Digital cameras (video and still) also hit the
mother lode.  Large pelagics were not viewed except the occasional reef
shark, some whales, eagle rays and a manta. The water was very warm, most
of us wore skins instead of wetsuits, the remainder wore mostly 3-5 mm. 
Currents were moderate at most, typically they were slight or non-existant,
except on wrecks where they kicked up mightily (but we were warned). 
Weather was a pleasant combination of sun and slight cloudiness, mostly dry
with an occasional tropical shower and some breeze.  The boat, although
old, was stable, comfortable and dry.  Cabins were roomy enough for two
plus a hefty assortment of large souvenirs.  Each cabin had AC and private
head/shower.  AC not adjustable in-cabin so we had to jury-rig a cardboard
diffuser.  Cabins/heads cleaned daily.  Fabulous dining area is on foreward
deck, open air but protected, with incredible views from both sides.  Salon
contains good assortment of critter ID books, local history, photo manuals,
novels, etc.  The crew was outstanding!  One of the best crews our group
has ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Managers Monte and Michelle were
kind, friendly, funny, knowledgeable and have a unique relationship with
the crew and islanders.  They have been with the boat approximately 6
years.  During that time Michelle has provided fruit and vegie seeds to the
islands visited by the boat.  As a result islanders are able to grow a
variety of produce that the boat purchases at every stop.  Michelle's
foresight has resulted in economic opportunity for the locals as well as
daily fresh produce for the boat and its customers...brilliant!  Their
hands-on style is perpetuated by the rest of the crew; they are sweet,
endlessly accommodating, and always available to assist in any manner
possible.  Food was outstanding, hard to believe that such food was
produced on a daily basis at the ends of the earth.  Without going into too
much detail, all meals included a variety of usual items accented with
daily specials.  All meals included hot dishes, freshly baked bread,
lunches and dinners included fresh fish and a variety of salads.  Special
diets were happily and imaginatively accommodated; our vegetarians,
fish-hater and food allergists were pleased at every meal, inform the boat
in advance.  Evening hors d'oeuvres were sublime and included fresh sashimi
whenever possible.  While not necessarily "gourmet", the meals
and snacks were delicious, varied and plentiful.  Evening desserts,
however, rivaled the best restaurants.  The bar stocks plenty of booze, but
the wine left a bit to be desired.  Although stored correctly on the boat,
many bottles of both red and white had gone bad due to heat and/or sunlight
exposure and it usually took more than one try to get a decent bottle. 
Booze and drinks other than water and limeade (delicious and mixes well
with rum) cost extra.  The boat motors at night to maximize dive times and
except for one particularly bumpy ride motoring was not unpleasant. 
Forward cabins will hear the anchor lift and drop so bring ear plugs.  Our
trip included several island visits where we had the opportunity to barter
for/purchase exquisitely carved bowls, figures, tables and other items.  I
was on the Biliki 14 yrs. ago and did not purchase anything to my lasting
regret.  This time I was prepared with cash, D-cell batteries and t-shirts
(and bartered my fanny pack too).  Michelle will give a tutorial on quality
of craftsmanship and bartering/negotiating techniques.  Airfare and boat
costs are not cheap, however all agreed that our trip aboard the Bilikiki
was one of the best, if not THE best, dive trips we have ever experienced. 
You must be self-sufficient so bring your own pharmaceuticals including
antibiotics (and leave them with Michelle on your way 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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