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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "A Nice Alternative to Indonesia", Jun, 2015,

by Richard J. Troberman, WA, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 8629 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 $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my second trip to the Solomon Islands on the Bilikiki (the first was in 2010). This was a private charter by professional photographers Andy Sallmon and his wife, Allison Vitsky. Getting there was more complicated and took longer than the first trip, as Fiji Airways and Solomon Airways have been having a dispute over landing rights, and flights from Fiji to Honiara are now limited to just a few flights each week. In 2010 I flew from LAX to Nadi (Fiji) on Fiji Airways, overnighted in Nadi, then flew to Honiara the following day. This time the flights did not line up, so in order to avoid having to spend several days in Honiara, I flew from LAX to Auckland and Brisbane on Air New Zealand (you can also go through Sydney and Brisbane). After spending a day in Brisbane, I flew to Honiara the next morning. The Bilikiki crew met us at the airport, picked up our luggage, and took us to a local hotel before boarding the boat.

The boat has been well maintained, and many of the crew from 2010 were still on board. They were all friendly and attentive to all of the divers' needs. One of the owners, Kellie Oldfield, was also on board. The cruise directors, Csaba and Daniela, were experienced, friendly, and professional, and went out of their way to accommodate any reasonable requests. When the charging unit for my Cobalt computer failed, Csaba provided a spare. Andy, Allison, and Kellie were wonderful hosts, and all of the divers were experienced, so it was a great group of people to dive with. Many knew each other from previous trips, and those of us who were new to the group were welcomed with open arms.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. Unseasonable rain followed us throughout the trip, and we were plagued with a lot of green water and low visibility. Since the charter was designed as a wide angle photography experience, the weather and water conditions put a bit of a damper on some of the more famous photography sites, like Leru Cut. There was an unusually strong current at Barracuda Point, and mask-ripping current at Jackfish Point that I had only previously experienced in the Tuamotu Atolls in Tahiti (Fakarava and Tiputa Pass). The good news was that Kellie, unlike many boat operators, was willing to burn as much fuel as necessary to try to get us away from the inclement conditions, and she and the crew were very flexible trying to provide the best diving experience possible given the conditions. In addition to the usual itinerary, some of the highlights included multiple dives on a relatively new upright Tuna boat wreck and a Mavis seaplane that remains in good condition.

Almost all of the diving is done from two tinnies, but the dive sites are usually within five minutes of the Bilikiki. The tinnie drivers were excellent, and always nearby when divers surfaced. Because this was a photography charter, at some dive sites we were able to break into separate rotating groups of three or four divers per tinnie in order to avoid overcrowding.

Food was varied, good, and plentiful. Snacks were always available between dives. One of my favorite things about diving on the Bilikiki are the daily visits by the locals who paddle out to the boat with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and crabs to sell. Kellie started this tradition years ago by telling the locals what types of fruits and vegetables she would purchase, and even provided them with seeds to get them started. So fresh fruit, vegetables and other items were available throughout the trip.

I had been spoiled (so I thought) by several trips to Indonesia since my first trip on the Bilikiki. But the Solomon Islands offer a good alternative, and it was a place that was nice to come back to. It has a wide variety of diving available, from muck to wrecks to large schools of fish, some sharks, and some spectacular topography. And if you are a history buff, especially WWII, the area is rich with historical significance (Guadalcanal). The Bilikiki is a very well run operation that I would recommend to anyone.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, PNG, Palau, Tahiti, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia (Bali, Komodo, North Sulawesi, Lembeh, Ambon, Raja Ampat, Cenderawasih Bay, Alor, Borneo), Philippines, Hawaii, Galapagos Islands, Cayman Islands, Grand Turk, St. Vincent, Bahamas, Florida Keys.
Closest Airport Honiara (HIR) Getting There From Seattle: LAX, Auckland, Brisbane, Honiara.

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 79-83°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 25-75 Ft/ 8-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No deco, and don't be stupid.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots 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 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large camera table available on dive deck, plus large table in main salon for overflow camera equipment. Separate rinse tanks on dive deck for cameras. There is a separate room on the top deck with lots of charging stations (both 120 and 240 available). Crew places cameras in the tinnies, and hands them to divers once in the water. Following the dive, crew returns cameras to boat, rinses them, and puts them back on the camera table.
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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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