Bilikiki Cruises is the premier dive operation in the Solomon Islands. Onboard Bilikiki, divers are offered superb diving opportunities. All cruises start and end in Honiara. Cruise durations of 7, 10 and 14 nights are available. Bilikiki, is named after one of the sea birds in the country. The Bilikiki bird is the icon of the Solomon Islands.
Accommodation & Facilities
MV Bilikiki is 40m (125ft) in length and has a 24 ft beam, making it a very large and stable ship designed for South Pacific conditions. It offers a large sundeck, plenty of covered areas and air-conditioned cabins, as well as spacious dive decks, charging stations and plenty of camera areas, and very experienced and enthusiastic crew.
Bilikiki offers 10 deluxe cabins with a full double bed and a single above, and all cabins have private showers and toilets. None of the cabins have windows. The cuisine is superb, blending western recipes with pacific island flavours. Fresh fruits and vegetables are purchased daily from friendly villagers en route.
Diving is mostly conducted from two 6m (21ft) aluminium dive tenders which drop the divers exactly on the dive site and pick them up wherever they may surface, so there is no need for long swims or fighting currents. A well-trained crew of eleven plus two managers will load tanks and prepare all gear for the next dive. Nitrox fills are available to all Nitrox certified divers.
The dive sites are suitable for beginners as well as well as advanced divers, who can team up in buddy pairs or enjoy guided dives. There is plenty of space on board to store camera gear safely. Large tables are ideal photo work benches. TV's and DVD's allow for quick viewing of your "harvest". Power throughout the ships is 240V 50 cycle, using Australia style 3-prong outlets. There are also plenty of American style 110V 60 cycle outlets for charging cameras, strobes, divelights, etc.
Their 7 night trips will generally visit 3 main island groups within the Florida Islands and Russell Islands. Each of these island groups consists of dozens of islands and a vast array of dive sites. They also get you to dive an isolated island known as Mary Island. While 10 and 14 night trips will also travel to Marovo Lagoon in the New Georgia Island Group. 10 night trips may or may not go to Marovo depending on conditions.
The walls, reefs, pinnacles and coral gardens of Solomon Islands support an amazing variety and quantity of sea creatures. The variety of the seascape is breathtakingly beautiful. Brilliant soft and hard corals, huge sea fans, plenty of caverns and swim-throughs into and outside of island lagoons -some surfacing in freshwater pools- provide ever-changing backgrounds to enchanting as well as dramatic dive experiences.
The variety of species is staggering. Within a small space, anemone fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, humphead parrot fish and other reef dwellers can be seen individually or in schools, while just a short distance away schools of barracuda, big-eye trevally and other pelagics cruise in the blue waters. Popular with underwater photographers and those with a keen eye for the small and unusual critters are "muck dives". Mantis shrimp, ghost pipefish, and pygmy seahorses are only a few examples. Bilikiki also dives the 'Devil's Highway' which is great diving for manta lovers.
The 28-30C (82-85F) water temperatures, along with stable weather patterns contribute to excellent diving all year round. Bilikiki operates during the dryer months from April to December.
Bilikiki visits local villages for cultural performances and when in Marovo Lagoon guests get the opportunity to purchase some of the beautiful hand made carvings (all without missing any diving).
Wrecks: The Solomon Islands were the location of some of the most violent fighting during WWII; therefore, plane and shipwrecks of all sizes can be found everywhere in shallow waters as well as in the deep trench of Iron Bottom Sound between Honiara and the former capital Tulagi. Bilikiki does not offer deep or penetration wreck diving and only selects small WWII wrecks in very shallow waters as artificial reefscapes. None of the more famous wrecks in Iron Bottom Sound, like the Aaron Ward, or the Toa Maru in Gizo are featured on Bilikiki's itineraries.
Diving in the Solomon Islands is spectacular, and Bilikiki's very comfortable boat provides besides excellent service also the best overview of different dive regions in a short time and a fascinating introduction to the island cultures and their people. This cruise is well suited also for beginner divers and families (ages 12+) and should not be missed by anyone who enjoys travelling and diving in the South Pacific.