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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "This One's Gonna Be Tough To Top", Mar, 2015,

by Eric A Frick, IL, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 30 reports with 24 Helpful votes). Report 8622 has 1 Helpful vote.

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 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Perhaps like you, I have been asked by many people who find out I am a diver, "Where was your best dive?" I usually say, "My best dive will be my next dive." but I think I have to change my answer now.

After the group with which I had traveled to Fiji finished their trip and headed home, I headed to the Solomons. My Fiji Air flight went through Vanuatu. The aftermath of tropical Cyclone Pam sent a few rain showers to us in Fiji but it hit Vanuatu hard judging from the damage I could see from the aircraft doorway. I had heard the Solomons were untouched by the storm and hoped that the rumors were correct. I landed at Honiara on Guadalcanal and was relieved to see that my bag, with the Bilikiki tag I had received and attached to hopefully encourage the baggage gods to get it to Honiara on time had made it. I identified three other Bilikiki guests through their tags and we assembled at the curb and were quickly picked up by a cruise staff member and driven to the dock.

This trip was a bit of a roll of the dice. I was traveling solo and had taken pot luck on who, if anyone, I might get as a cabin mate. Would my bunkie be a pal or a boor? Would my fellow sailors be a happy bunch or an unruly mob? We cast off and, after stowing my gear in my cabin on the air conditioned lower deck, I went in search of a beverage and my cabin mate. I found Rick easily enough and he turned out to be a really interesting guy who, it seemed, had been on many Bilikiki cruises. How many, I asked. Turns out Rick Belmare is the guy who started the dive operation on Guadalcanal that became Bilikiki Cruises and that he had designed and fitted out Bilikiki and then run it for many years before selling the business. Turns out, Kellie Oldfield, one of the current owners was also aboard, in addition to dive masters Csaba and Daniela, the husband and wife team in charge of the voyage. Oh yeah, this was going to be a good cruise!

We cruised most of the evening and I was thankful to be in one of the lower-numbered cabins since those that are more forward are closer to the anchor locker and when that anchor goes down, you know it. The lower deck is kept frosty cool but it was the only air conditioned area on the boat. Breezes kept conditions quite comfortable in spaces that were not air conditioned. This is not a white tablecloth live aboard with waiters and an extensive wine cellar. You serve yourself from two or three main choices with soups and salads almost always available. The food was delicious and fresh.

We cruised to the Russell Islands, Mary Island and the Florida Islands and saw and incredible variety of sea life and stunning coral formations. Native canoes pulled aside each day and much of our fresh vegetables and fruits were bought from them. Evidently Bilikiki gives them seeds to plant. One day we had a charming and informative village visit that was truly enjoyable. The variety of dives was wonderful. I skipped the night dive most days but took the last one offered and was amazed at the truly different creatures that rule the night on the sand flats.

Dive briefings were comprehensive. Diving is done from "tinnies", open boats with outboards run by native islanders. Each accommodates eight or so divers who board after their equipment is loaded. Donning equipment is easy, as is boarding the tinnies since their gunwale meets the lower edge of the cutout on the port of Bilikiki. The boat operator or Csaba or Daniela wait until all divers are ready and seated on the gunwale and then all divers back roll into the water. The ladder at the back of the tinnies is not large but most divers had no problems getting back aboard.

All too soon, we were back at the dock in Honiara and the next morning we disembarked. A tour of WWII sites on the island was offered. It was pricey at $70 or so per person but took in most of the sites and descriptions of the action were adequate. it is a nice thing to do to off gas and wait for the proper time to check in for the long trip home.

I'm doing my best to choose scuba destinations that are new to me and avoiding too many repeat visits but I would and probably will be aboard Bilikiki again and will probably select one of their longer cruises. It was truly special.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Great Lakes, Florida Keys, Hawaii, Fiji, miscellaneous Caribbean.
Closest Airport Honiara (HIR) Getting There I few in from Fiji but many North Americans seem to come via Brisbane (BNE)

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 80-83°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Return after 60 minutes and with 500 or more p.s.i.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

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 N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Strangely enough, this particular set of passengers had very few dedicated photographers. A table in the lounge was for cameras (mostly) and there was a room above decks that featured ample charging facilities of all types.
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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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