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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "Extraordinary diving in the Solomons", Jul, 2015,

by Eric Schindler, AZ, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 14 Helpful votes). Report 8298 has 2 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 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments For years we have had the Bilikiki on our bucket list of liveaboards and it lived up to all we expected. A great week experience despite less than ideal weather which is rare for July. A professional operation with years of experience is evident from first booking to last day on the boat. Yes, this is not the world's most luxurious liveaboard, yet it has its charm and character nonetheless. Food is plentiful, and supplemented by fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from local villagers who canoe out to the boat at many dive sites to sell their wares. Bring school supplies and small gifts to hand out to the kids.

Alcohol is not included but reasonably priced. Staterooms are large, maintained nicely. Note that rooms are below deck and do not have any portholes; I did miss waking up to natural light. But you are not there for the boat!

Despite the unfortunate late season tropical storm that was in the area, and made for rain showers and chop, visibility still was near 100 feet on most dives, and never was below 60! The Solomons truly live up to the hype regarding corals and fish life. In my 30 years of diving, I have rarely seen more prolific fish schools or healthy coral. Schools of jacks, barracuda, angel, fusilier etc. are not unusual on many dives, and varied seascapes and diverse dives make for a nice week. Walls, drifts, channels, wrecks and intriguing caverns will all be part of your experience. Plenty of macro as well for those more fascinated by the small stuff than I.

The cruise is managed by a husband/wife team - she is Venezuelan and he is Hungarian which adds to cultural diversity and perspectives. One or the other guides each dive, meaning that only one staff is in the water for a group of up to 20 divers. Some found that concerning and would have preferred more diving staff; I appreciated their pointing out highlights at each site, and being available for more underwater "attention" if desired. Diving is done out of "tinnies", boats capable of carrying up to 10 divers with top notch crew who assist with all facets of equipment support and seem to be right there whenever and wherever you surface from each dive.

At some point your diving career you want to add the Solomons to your list of A list locations. This boat is the only realistic option so book now! We did not add any land resorts in the Solomons; one other passenger had a great experience for a few days in Giza area and this is worth considering as the boat goes nowhere near these remote islands one has to fly to.

In our case, we added Vanuatu and Fiji to our vacation. The volcano at Tanna Island in Vanuatu is one the peak experiences of my life
[tannalodge.com link] We also did the Fiji Shark Dive on Bega lagoon which is astonishing.

One thing to be aware of- most flights depart in the later afternoon and you are off the boat by 8:00 am with not much to do in Honiara. Prepare for a long day of wandering around, sitting in the hotel/café lobby.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving [Indonesia, Palau, Maldives, Philippines, Mexico, Caribbean]
Closest Airport Honiara Getting There either via Brisbane or Fiji

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-125 Ft/ 18-38 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Divers were free to manage own profiles within safe computer limits. Most dives were about an hour long, given that we rarely saw need to go below 80 feet
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 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 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated large table and storage area, as well as charging room. I am not a photographer so can not give expert comment, but the many experienced photographers on the trip had no complaints that I was aware of. Staff is quite supportive of UWP
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Duane Silversteinin CA, US at Jul 20, 2015 18:56 EST  
Thanks for your report re The Solomons and the Bilikiki. I was on the Bilikiki many years ago and agree with your comments. I also visited the volcano on Tanna and agree that it is fascinating. When did you vist? I have heard that Vanuatu was devastated by Cyclone Pam. Please let me know what shape Tanna was in as I heard it was hit hard. Thanks.
By report author: Eric Schindler in AZ, US at Jul 20, 2015 19:25 EST  
Scubadiv asked about destruction in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam. It was astonishing how little devastation we actually saw, compared to our anticipated expectations. Lots of tarps on roofs, plant regrowth, trees down, and native housing quickly being rebuilt. Certainly permanent structures with damage to some degree here and there on Tanna, but nothing like you imagine. This was four months post, and we did not do an extensive tour of the harder hit sides of the island; similarly in Port Vila, many resorts still rebuilding and most others looked fine.
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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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