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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises, Jul, 2009,

by Chuck & Julie Feinberg, New York, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 4917.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Micronesia, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Carribean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]No restrictions
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Plenty of room for cameras on the dive deck as well as a dedicated table inside for cameras. Special bins on the floor for cameras incase conditions get rough. Specific cleaning tanks for cameras. Air guns for cameras on deck. A superb charging station(all voltage). Staff can fix many problems. Staff handles cameras as they were their own. Highly professional!

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments To start let me make the ultimate comparison: The Bilikiki and their entire staff(Boat as well as landbased) can easily be compared to the Truk Odyssey which my wife and I have felt was the ultimate lieveaboard dive experience. Upon disembarking your plane you are immediately met by Bilikiki staff members who inform you of the schedule prior to going on to the Bilikiki. Whats amazing about the landbased staff is that they seem to know everyone in Honiari where you pickup the Bilikiki. This means if there are any problems concerning airlines, airport, hotels etc. they know someone important who works there and can help solve your problems. As a boat, the Bilikiki is the consumate dive boat. Each room is basically the same; bunk beds with the bottom a double bed, two areas for clothes and basic equipment and a fairly large bathroom. There is an airconditionar plus a fan that circulates the cool air. My wife and I were never too hot or too cold during our ten day dive vacation. You also can use the top bunk as another area to store equipment. There were never any off smells in our room during out entire trip. The staff did an excellent job cleaning our room each day and towels were always changed. No problems with water in the shower or sink. Upstairs you have a dedicated room for your cameras as well as plastic bins to put you photo equipment on the floor in case the seas get rough. We are in the wine business so we tend to be critical concerning food and wine. I can say that the food and wine served on the Bilikiki was the Best ever(they cooked the Best Crab dish I have ever had in the Pacific). You do have to pay for your wine but that was no problem since we did have a choice of quite a few reds and whites. Excellent Solomon Island Beer is available. All dinning is alfresco. We were never too hot due to the comfortable breezes. If it rained, the dinning area can be enclosed by rain covers. If you want to get away from the "crowd" there were numerous areas to find a quiet place. FINALLY the Diving: The dive area is a totally separate area in the stern of the boat. Similar to most good dive boats you chose your area which has an equipment area underneath your seating spot. Your tanks are filled at your spot. If you want Nitrox it is available for a price. We used nitrox on every dive. Almost all dives were from metal tinnies. Getting into and out of these two dive boats were amazingly easy and safe. All camera gear was handled professionally. Most dive sites were from one minute to five minutes from the Bilikiki. When you ascend from a dive the tinny driver was right there to pick you up. On the dive deck area there were dedicated rinse tanks for different types of equipment and these tanks were always cleaned and filled. DIVE SITES: THIS IS WHAT WE OF COURSE CAME FOR: What makes a great bottle of wine or even a great restaurant is balance and complexity. This is what makes the Solomon Islands so special. We think that the Bilikiki and its sister ship, the Spirit of The Solomons are the only two liveaboards that sail the Solomons. The staff, specifically Sam and Kelly,who are the general managers and our dive masters, ran the entire dive program.The rest of the crew also knew their sites, and which would be the best with respect to weather conditions and currents. Our dive areas were the Russell, Florida,Mary, and Moravo Islands. We also dove some superb WW11 wrecks in the Guadacanal area(Iron Bottom Sound). My wife and I have seen what we think is the best hard coral in Kosrae but here in the Solomons you have the most diverse coral in the world. Sea fans over 20 feet across, hard and soft coral perfectly healthy and colorful were found on over 95% of our dives. We dove cuts into the islands that were basically mini caves with awesome views of the jungle vegatation where the cavern met the island and spectacular lighting from the sun streaming through. You can dive any site with or without following one of the divemasters. We also dove areas that had swim throughs and swim arounds caused by boulders falling into the ocean from the island eons ago but are now mini coral hills. I have never seen the amount of medium to large fish in such abundance in all of our 800+ dives. It was fun checking them out using the many dive books found onboard the Bilikiki. On a number of sites you can acutally swim into and around tornado like schools of thousands of Horseyed Jacks and Chevron Barracuda. We saw a number of mantas as well as eagle rays.My wife and I are not muck divers but we did get turned on to the pigmy seahorses and mandarin fish seen on a number of dives. If you want to do a night dive just ask Sam or Kelly and they will organize one for you any evening. Balance and complexity is what we got on our first trip to the Solomons on the Bilikiki. No matter how great the dive sites were they couldn't have been appreciated as much as we did if it weren't for the hands on professional attention supplied by both the land and sea staff from Bilikiki Cruises.
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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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