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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "Bilikiki", Jun, 2016,

by Edward Leibowitz, NJ, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 8976.

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 On June 25, I started my trip to the Solomon Islands to board the Bilikiki on June 28. Took 27 hours of flight time to get there, starting from Newark,NJ. I flew United to Sydney Australia and Virgin Australia from Sydney to Brisbane to Honiara. Virgin Australia can be a nuisance with luggage. When I went to check in Sydney, they told me that I cannot have two carryons and I would have to pay 120 AUD for the second bag. However the clerk let me load up my checked bag to 50 LBS and didn't charge me any additional to take 2 carry-on bags onto the plane. However going back from Honiara after leaving the Biliki. I was not as lucky and had to pay approximately $100 USD for my second bag. I tried putting everything into one bag, so that I would only have carry-on. But they claimed my bag was too big. There was plenty of room for this bag in the overhead storage area of the plane. I missed my flight from Brisbane to Sydney since this bag got trapped under other bags on the luggage conveyor belt. Had I been permitted to carry-on this bag I might have been delayed even though Virgin Australia left 50 minutes late. This was the only negative thing about this trip.
Jenny of Reef n Rainforest booked the Bilikiki for me. Jenny told me that she cannot be bothered booking frequent flyer passage on an airline unless I was willing to pay her $250/hour. She also uses Fiji airways from LA to Honiara. If you use Fiji airways you did not have to overnight in Australia. However , I found that there were a lot of negative comments about the food, seats, bathrooms and their strict luggage policies. I had enough frequent flyer miles for a one way trip to Sydney on United. For these reasons I flew United and Virgin Australia. The Bilikiki is an older boat that is very well maintained. The cabins all on the lower level were very nice and comfortable. The only problem was the air-conditioning which made the lower level of the boat extremely cold. I would sleep with a sweater and pants, since it was so cold in the room due to the A/C. Also between dives I used to go back to my cabin to change to dry clothes. It was like walking through a freezer when I had to go back to my room to change between dives to my dryer clothes. There were no individual thermostats in the rooms.
Food was very good. All meals were served buffet style. However once the food was gone, there was no additional food put out.
Diving was very good. The corals were very nice. On the first two days of the trip we were diving to 100 feet on most dives. Later on during the week we were doing high current dives to 50-60 ft.
On one of the dives we went into a cave and the dive-master told us we had to immediately get out, since there was a 6 ft saltwater crocodile resting on a ledge in the cave. The crocodile did not attack anybody.
When you go diving in the Solomon's, let the dive-master lead the way. On the last dive of the trip we exited the tinnys in shallow water and were pushed by a very fast current towards a wall where you could sit between the rocks or use a reef hook to watch the fish. On this dive I saw two large manta rays while at this location for 45 minutes.
On other dives we saw a particular type blenny with a white vertical stripe that could only be found in certain parts of the Solomon Islands.
I enjoyed diving with Daniela, who came from Venezuela and Chaba from Budapest Hungary. I'm far from being an excellent diver and both were very helpful. I'm 73 and probably the oldest diver on the boat.
All of the dives were back rolls off two tin boats. However return after the dive was to the Bilikiki.
There were also 3 re-breather divers on the Bilikiki.
You can do up to 5 dives (4 dives + 1 night dive) per day on the Bilikiki. I found the schedule rather hectic. It seems that you were diving every 1-1.5 hours daily. I myself did 4 dives per day and a total of 19 dives per week. The trips to the various islands could be rough.
I saw manta and eagle rays on many dives. On some of the dives there were schools of jacks, barracudas and bat-fish. I saw a few grey sharks. It is a good idea to bring a reef hook for the high current dives. Chaba had a long rope attached to his reef hook enabling myself, Chaba and another diver to use the same reef hook. Reef hooks can be purchased on the Bilikiki for $25.
I missed out on an excellent night dive at Mane because I was too tired after 4 dives that day. People told me that did this dive that it was one of the best all time night dives.
Nitrox is available for $20/day. I used Nitrox on all my dives.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week on the Biliki. I was on the seven day trip. There is also a longer trip.
The Solomon's are not easy to get to from the USA mainland. If you don't mind the long flights to the Solomon's you will have a wonderful time diving on the Biliki. I live in New Jersey making it a rather long trip for me.
I highly recommend the Biliki.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Palau, Cocos, Dominica, St Croix, Yap, Truk, Fiji, Bonaire, Cayman
Closest Airport Honiara Getting There Virgin Australia uses only one plane in both directions from Honiara to Brisbane.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 77-82°F / 25-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100-125 Ft/ 30-38 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions The dive-masters told us the best depths to stay at on all dives.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Subscriber's Comments

By Jennifer B Collister in OR, US at Jul 11, 2016 12:28 EST  
I charge a flat fee of 300.00 (not 250.00 per hour) to work with a customerís frequent flyer miles. It often takes several phone calls back and forth with the customer going over options; long hold times with the airlines and in depth knowledge of airline partners and routings. If it goes smoothly, I often waive the fee or reduce it. My perseverance has obtained free tickets when the customer has given up, saving them thousands of dollars. We do recommend Fiji Airways because of the ability to get two 50 pound bags from Los Angeles to Honiara when your purchase their "dive pack" saving the customer hefty overweight fees. Australia is very strict about the carry on weight making it very difficult, especially for photographers to fly via Australia.
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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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