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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises/MV Bilikiki in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises/MV Bilikiki, Apr, 2010,

by Rick Troberman, WA, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 5513.

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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The choice was between Fiji and the Solomon Islands. We chose the Solomons, and I'm happy with that decision. Easy and comparatively inexpensive to get to. Non-stop (Air Pacific) LAX to Fiji. We overnighted in Fiji to make sure the luggage arrived and to get acclimated (and to spend a day in Fiji), but that is not required. Flight from LAX arrives in Fiji at 5:30 a.m., and the flight to Honiara (Solomons) departs Fiji at 8:30 a.m., so you can travel staight through if you like.

Although an older vessel, the Bilikiki is in good shape, and everything seemed to work well. The sister ship (Spirit of the Solomons) is not operating this year. The Bilikiki can accomodate up to 20 divers, although there were only 12 divers on this trip, which was comfortable. I think with 20 it would be too crowded. Because there was space available, single divers were given their own rooms. The rooms are small but comfortable, and lack much storage area. Air conditioning and a separate fan kept the temperature comfortable. Crew was outstanding. Dive guides Aiko and James did a good job, and tried to accomodate any reasonable (and even some unreasonable) requests. Tinnie drivers were excellent, and were always nearby when divers surfaced. Almost all of the diving was done from the tinnies, but the dive sites were usually within 5 minutes of the Bilikiki. Divers are assigned a numbered tank station and storage box on the dive deck at the beginning of the trip. Tanks are filled at your spot. 3000 psi and 32% nitrox was always spot on. Crew members carry your BC to the tinnie. Entries were by back roll; exit up a dive ladder. Up to five dives a day were generally available (8:00, 11:00, 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00). However the night dive followed dinner, which was a bit awkward, and tended to limit the number of night divers. The meals were varied, plentiful, and good, even for the Vegans on board. Snacks were always available between dives. Every day local villagers paddled out to the boat, selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, so the food was always fresh.

The diving was generally good, although I have recently been spoiled by two amazing trips to Indonesia, which makes a difficult standard for other areas to live up to. The diving was varied: walls, drifts, muck, caves, and some wrecks. The corals (hard and soft) were healthy, colorful and beautiful, as were the large sea fans. Not as much large stuff as I expected, although there were some large schools of Barracuda, Jacks, Bumpheads, and Fusiliers. Sadly, very few sharks, although this seems to be way it is in most places now. Reef fish were plentiful. While there was an interesting variety of small critters, they were not seen in large numbers. Nevertheless, the diving seemed to get better as the 11 day trip went on, and by the end of the trip I was quite satisfied.

The scenery in the Solomon Islands is spectacular. In fact, it is probably the most beautiful place I have been diving. The lush tropical jungles are the prototypical South Pacific islands. Our trip included stops at a local village for a view of island life, and another village stop where local woodcarvings were available for purchase. On the last day before departing back to Fiji, I did a tour of some Guadalcanal battlefield sites. The area is rich in history, and worth the tour.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving North Sulawesi; Bali-Komodo; Papua New Guinea; Australia; Palau; Tahiti (Tuamotus); Galapagos Islands; Belize; St. Vincent; Grand Turk; Cayman Islands; Bahamas; Florida Keys; Hawaii.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 85-87°F / 29-31°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-100 Ft/ 12-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco diving.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large table in main salon used as camera table. Separate rinse buckets for cameras on the dive deck. A separate room is available for charging electronics, etc. with lots of charging stations (both 120 and 240 available) Crew placed cameras in tinnies and handed to divers once in the water.
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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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