NEW: Live availability - see below
Bilikiki Cruises has been a longstanding dive operator in the Solomon Islands. Currently operating one of their two liveaboard vessels, the MV Bilikiki (currently no departures are scheduled for MV Spirit of Solomons), divers are offered superb diving opportunities, from ships consistently rated among the best live-aboards in the world. Trips run in length from 7 - 14 days and depart from Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.
The walls, reefs, pinnacles and coral gardens of Solomon Islands support an amazing variety and quantity of sea creatures. The varieties of fish are staggering. Within a few yards of each other, individually or in schools can be seen anemone fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, humphead parrot fish and other reef dwellers 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". The amount and variety of sealife is astounding. Manta shrimp, ghost pipefish, and pygmy seahorses are only a few examples of what you may find.
There are 3 main island groups that you will dive: Florida Islands, Russell Islands, and Marovo Lagoon in the New Georgia Group. Each of these island groups consists of dozens of islands and a vast array of dive sites.
The number of wreck dives depends on the interests of the people on board. Most of the wreck dives are far too deep, even for well experienced divers, Divers still find ample evidence of the war action that sunk these vessels, lots of ammunition and machinery in the holds, as well as dishes, bottles and other evidence of ship board activities.
Diving is from a skiff (tinnie). The crew will load everything you need, and help you into your gear when the tinnie gets on site. Then you just roll over the side and enjoy the riches of the sea. When you finish your dive the tinnie will be right there, with the crew ready to take your gear. Then you just walk up the ladder and the tinnie whisks you back to your ship. There are two tinnies and one is always on site so there is no need to wait for other divers before heading back to the mothership which is standing off only a couple of hundred yards away.
Bilikiki offers unlimited diving, with the dive day built around five daily dives. Your diving will not have a lot of restrictions, so you can dive within the bounds of common sense and safety
When Not Diving
Bilikiki will arrange a village visit at least once on every trip. You'll have a chance to meet the Islanders, see and purchase carvings and baskets and visit their schools and churches. If anchored off a village the Islanders will come out in their canoes to market produce and carvings, or just watch what's going on. The children are a real delight. They are naturals in the water, swimming or on it in their dugout canoes.
If you like fishing, the crew will gladly take you out for some early morning or evening hand-lining for tuna and other pelagics. Plan on having your catch for sashimi that evening.
About the Ships:
Both M.V. Bilikiki and M.V. Spirit of Solomons travel to the same dive sites and offer the same high standards that have made Bilikiki Cruises well known among divers. Both ships are 125 feet long and 24 feet wide. Photographers will enjoy the, large carpeted camera tables’ right on the dive deck for last minute adjustments.
In 1989 MV Bilikiki sailed as the first full service luxury live aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands. She was also one of the first in the world to offer private showers and toilets in every cabin. MV Bilikiki has 10 deluxe cabins, all with a double bed below and single above. Her large size and a hull that was built for South Pacific seas are two main reasons why guests from around the world still say that "the Bilikiki" is one of the most spacious and comfortable vessels that they have travelled on.
M.V. Spirit of Solomons (currently not scheduled for departures)
Offering unparalleled space and comfort, immense sun decks, plenty of covered deck space and air-conditioned accommodation, MV Spirit of Solomons, or "Spirit" as she is known to those who know and love her, follows in Bilikiki's tradition in Solomon Islands. Spirit has 7 deluxe cabins with ensuite, and 6 smaller cabins that are available to single travellers with no extra surcharge. Her immense al fresco upper dining deck is the ideal place to relax and unwind in the evening and between dives.