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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "Solomon Islands on Bilikiki", Oct, 2018,

by Lisa Vitale, TX, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 10657 has 4 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Getting There: I flew Fiji Airways, LA to Nadi, Fiji then on to Honiara. Because of the flight schedules, had to spend one night in Fiji going, on the way back had to spend a night in Honiara and one night in Fiji.

Boat: The rooms were fine, I was in a twin with two beds, no bunk in the room I was in which was nice and they had enough storage space. Typical room/bathroom on a liveaboard. Although I do think the boat is due for an overhaul, definitely showing its age. Food is buffet style, it was good, I would have liked some local dishes though. Deserts were great! Dining was done on the front deck outside. This is nice and there were plastic ďcurtainsĒ they would put down if it was raining or too windy. Breakfast was always at 6AM, lunch around 12:30, and dinner at 7PM.

Dive Operation: They offer up to 5 dives a day which I really liked. The dive schedule: 7:30AM, 10:30AM, 1:45PM, 4:45PM, and 8PM (if a night dive was offered), with times were adjusted as necessary. The dive deck is a bit small for 20 passengers. There was not enough room for everyone to have a basket under their seat or get ready all at the same time.

All diving was from tinnies, there were two. It is a bit awkward at first and not as easy as other operations, but you get it figured out. They divide you up into 3 groups, you place your nametag on which group you want to be in. There is only one divemaster in the water each dive and the whole boat dives the same location at the same time. You can do your own thing or follow the dive guide. But with all divers in the water and only one guide its was difficult to follow them without a bunch of divers around. I did not like this setup at all, Iím used to other operations that split the passengers into 3 groups, a guide with each group, and dive times a bit spaced out so everyone is not diving on top of one another. I tried to be in the last group so I could be behind everyone, I donít like it being that crowded underwater.

The setup for photographers was terrible (see comments in UW Photography).

Diving: The first half of the trip we had some beautiful diving in the Russell Islands (1 day), Marovo Island (3 days), and Mary Island (1 day). The corals were beautiful in these areas. Not a lot of fish compared to other places and there was not much small stuff at all. We did have some great pelagic fish dives on Mary Island!

Our trip was interrupted by an air conditioner failure on day 4 of a 10-day trip. Three nights without AC, 2 of which I had to sleep the main salon because our room was too hot, we were right next to the engine room. The evening of day 5 we headed back to Honiara to get it fixed. We did 2 wreck dives on Guadalcanal while the AC was being fixed then we headed to the Florida Islands where we spent the next 3.5 days. The diving in the Florida Islands was marginal at best. A lot of dead coral in the areas they took us, according to the dive guides this is due to a crown of thorns outbreak. It was disappointing that with much better diving elsewhere that we spent that much time in an area with marginal diving. I suspect this had something to do with the AC issue. Although, if that is the normal itinerary they need to change it. There were only a few good dives in that location (at least the areas they took us), 1 day would have been enough. They did compensate us by not charging for any of the onboard expenses, but that was not equal across the board as some folks were diving nitrox and others were not. I fully understand that things happen but this was a pricy trip and that that did not make up for 4 days of marginal diving.

Water was warm, 82 to 84 degrees, and most dives had little to no current. I wore a 5 mil full wetsuit, but I get cold after repeated dives regardless of temperature. Visibility was great the first 5 days of diving (usually 60 to 100 feet), and spectacular on Mary Island (100+ feet). Once we moved to Guadalcanal and the Florida Islands the visibility was much worse, 30 (or less) to maybe 60 or so feet.

We went to a couple of carving markets in villages where you could buy from local artists. And we did a village visit where a group of ladies did a traditional dance/singing for us. This was very cool!

The crew was great and extremely helpful. I had an equipment failure (first time), fortunately it occurred while loading the equipment on the tinnie and not while I was underwater. They went into action and I was in the water 10 minutes later with the rest of the group.

This trip was one of the pricier trips I have taken to that part of the world and I donít feel that I got my money's worth. I'm sure some of that had to do with the AC issue. I'm glad that I went but I probably would not go back.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Mexico, Belize, Cayman, Roatan, Turks and Caicos, Sea of Cortez, Galapagos, Hawaii, Flower Gardens, Maldives, Palau, Fiji, Philippines, Lembeh Strait, Raja Ampat, Papau New Guinea, Australia, Socorro, Komodo
Closest Airport Honiara Getting There Went through Fiji, via Fiji Airways

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, surge, no currents
Water Temp 82-84°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-120 Ft/ 9-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None unless we had to pull anchor to head to another location then they might limit us to a 60 minute dive.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was no dedicated camera table/room. They reserved one table in the main salon for cameras. You had to keep your camera equipment in baskets stored under the table. Many folks would leave their cameras set up on the table and there was no room for others to get their gear ready. The table is only large enough for about 5 cameras at one time. The charging room was on the level above the main salon which made it logistically difficult. I suspect the charging room was once the camera room but they outgrew it. However, given the small table in the main salon dedicated to cameras, the charging room would be a better option. There was a table on the back dive deck for you to place your cameras prior to the dive, then you told the guys which one was yours when it was your time to load up for the dive. Overall, the setup was terrible for photographers.
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Report currently has 4 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Jerome M Hobart in NY, US at Dec 14, 2019 20:03 EST  
Since there have been a number of battery fires, having the camera charging area upstairs( not in your room below deck) behind the Captain's Bridge is an excellent idea.
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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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