Bilikiki is back in Honiara after a 10 day trip (Oct 7-Oct 17) of a different kind, this time we hosted a group of 19 enthusiastic snorkelers from the USA and Canada all traveling with Wendy Simon from Snorkeling Etc. It was a great opportunity for us scuba divers to look at the reefs from a different angle, especially with the warm and sunny weather.
Every day we snorkeled the reefs in two or three long sessions. The group was amazed by the stunning coral gardens of Mbulo and Karumolun, with their clouds of colorful reef fish everywhere. Swimming into Leru Cut with a banded sea crate hanging from the steep wall on the surface was certainly an "Indiana Jones" moment! We spotted a multitude of critters from cuttlefish to different nudibranchs and the blacktip sharks in Karanjou excited everyone. Our trip finished in the Floridas with a beautiful morning snorkel session at Maravagi with headshield slugs, pipefish, snake eels and juvenile golden spade fish. We saved the best for last though with an adrenaline filled experience with 8 manta rays feeding in the current at Devil's Highway - what a way to finish!
Our thanks go out to all our guests for having a fun visit with us here in the Solomons and to all the Bilikiki crew, many of whom joined us as snorkel guides and critter spotters during this trip. You all did great!
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli
On our last 10 day trip (Sep 26 - Oct 6) Bilikiki took a group of 13 divers from Denver Divers in Colorado and an Australian couple around our favourite bits of the Solomon Islands.
Once again we were blessed with good weather and incredible sightings. The diving was superb with schools of jacks and barracudas at Mary Island and some exciting shark action in Marovo Lagoon and the Russells. Luck was on our side with schooling mobula rays and, after an adrenaline pumping drift across the reef plate in Devil's Highway, we were rewarded with a fantastic show of 10 manta rays feeding in the current right in front of us for more than an hour. Even a saltwater crocodile showed up briefly in Mirror Pond!
We also spotted some amazing critters during this trip like pegasus sea moths, spiny devils, robust ghost pipefish, snake and ribbon eels, and even a lonely seahorse in the sand! Simply incredible!
Our guests also enjoyed the interaction with the local villagers during the canoe markets and the village visits, the panpipe music in Karumolun had everyone clapping along.
Another beautiful trip comes to an end and we would like to thank all our guests for being great company and coming to dive with us. Hope to see you again soon!
A big thank you goes once again to the incredible Bilikiki crew for their professionalism and hard work.
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli
September 16-26, 2017
During this 10 night trip we had mostly amazing weather, great dive conditions and flat seas for our crossings. We also had a great crowd onboard led by Cathy Church, it all added up to a fantastic trip!
With the sun shining brightly we had stunning dives at sites such as Leru Cut and Mbulo Caves, the light rays streaming through these sites was like something out of a religious painting! The coral gardens at Mbulo Canyons, Kicha, Kisan and Lologan were too beautiful for words with an amazing array of colourful coral and tropical fish. At Maravagi Bay divers were treated to a real show by 13 mobular rays swimming slowly in formation right past everyone. After that it was difficult to concentrate on the numourous macro subjects at the dive site but we saw headsheild slugs, nudibranchs, angry panda anemone fish, razorfish, juvenile batfish and cuttlefish. Not to be out done by the mobular rays at least 5 different mantas turned up at the Devils Highway to entertain the divers for over an hour too!
We had some amazing cuttlefish action on this trip with lots of activity at Karanjou, males were fighting over females while the females laid eggs in the surrounding corals. Other dive sites saw a variety of marine life including banana nudibranchs laying eggs, numerous robust ghost pipefish, a few differently coloured spearing mantis shrimps, octopus, pygmy seahorses, crocodile fish and various beautiful tropical fishes.
We were joined by Cathy Church for her second straight trip, she helped everyone onboard improve their photo skills by giving short lectures and personal photographic advice. On the last night Cathy put together a slideshow of everyone’s top shots and the results were stunning. Well done everyone!
A big thank you to Tina, Oli and all of the hardworking Bilikiki crew for looking after us and showing us around the Solomon Islands. I can not wait to be back!
On our last 11 day trip we were joined by 14 photo enthusiasts under the expert guidance of Cathy Church, one of Bilikiki's favourite guests for many years! Cathy advised her guests on improving their photo skills by giving short lectures and personal photographic advice.
The photographers were especially interested in the small critters around the different dive sites and they were not disappointed. We saw enormous banana slugs, hairy squat lobsters, pygmy sea horses, beautiful headshield slugs, cuttlefish displaying their colours, mantis shrimps, signal gobies, elegant squat lobsters, ribbon eels and robust and ornate ghost pipe fish. And that is only to mention a selection of what we saw!
Mbulo Caves in Marovo Lagoon was magical with light beams coming in at different angles, it gave plenty of photo opportunities for wide angle shots. The stunning hard coral in Mbulo Canyons left our guests in awe, as did the magnificent giant sea fans along the walls. Mary Island impressed again with a school of bumphead parrott fish and a big school of jacks, all under perfect sunny conditions.
There was again something for everyone! It was a beautiful trip, blessed by wonderful weather and calm seas. We would like to thank everyone for joining us here on the Bilikiki and are looking forward to diving with you all again! A big thank you goes again to the hard working Bilikiki crew for their professionalism and great spirit. We are happy that Cathy will stay with us for another great trip, so stay tuned for the news!
With best fishes,
Tina and Oli
Bilikiki has returned to Honiara after another exciting 11 days of diving the Solomons. 19 divers from Undersea Expeditions joined us on this trip, and they brought us luck. We had beautiful weather and good visibility throughout the trip. In Mary Island we swam with big schools of jacks and barracudas, and in Kicha we encountered schooling snappers, jacks, bat fish, huge turtles and a curious sea snake. We also saw quite a few sharks along the way, and Taikulum surprised us with two manta rays and four spotted eagle rays. The macro lovers enjoyed the multitude of critters from pygmy seahorses to signal gobies, mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, pipefish, and ribbon eels.
Some of our guests celebrated diving milestones with their 300th and 500th dive respectively, and on the 31st August we had a fun "South Pacific" party to celebrate 3 birthdays! Once again, congratulations to Christopher on his 50th, to Lance on his 60th, and to Bill on his 64th birthday!
Our thanks go out to all of our guests and to all the Bilikiki crew for their hard work and professionalism.
See you all next time.
With best fishes
Tina & Oli
For the last 7 days, Bilikiki was happy to host a group of 14 doctors from the Loloma Foundation on their yearly mission to provide free medical services to the Solomon Island villagers. The doctors came from the US, Australia and the Solomon Islands.
During the week 5 clinics were set up in the Florida and Russell Island to cover ophthalmology, dermatology, pediatrics, women's health, gynaecology and general health problems. The attendance was simply amazing with a final count of 1934 patients seen in only 5 days. In some cases the Bilikiki crew helped with translations from Pijin to English, but everything went smoothly and the villagers waited patiently for their turn to see the doctor. The doctors saw everything from minor illnesses to severe health problems and probably saved at least two lives of seriously ill people during this trip.
The doctors of the Loloma Foundation do an outstanding job and we were lucky to have them onboard the Bilikiki. Their services to the local communities are invaluable and we would like to thank them for their tremendous work!
We are looking forward to seeing you all again next year and until then : "Tagio tumas" for all your help!
With best fishes,
Tina, Oli and all the Bilikiki crew
August 1 - August 15, 2017.
I am just back from running a fantastic trip with some amazing dives and great people. With 14 nights to spend diving the Solomon Islands we visited all of our favourite places and were able to go out west and dive some rarely visited spots too. Two of my favourites there were the surreal upright tuna boat and the staggering Rapichana Cut.
We spent two days at Mary Island swimming with schools of jack, barracudas and snappers, along with bump head parrot fish and all the small stuff, great nudibranchs, popcorn shrimp, and everyone's favourite, the freckled face blenny! Other highlights were Karumolun Point where, apart from all the crazy fish action, we had an ornate ghost pipefish, disco clam and orange spearing mantis shrimp. There were also sightings of pygmy seahorses, full size seahorses, mobula rays, orangutang crabs, soft coral crabs, coral hermit crabs, jaw fish, twin spot gobies, octopus and cuttlefish, plus sharks on many dives too. There was something for everyone! The last night dive was something special with a painted frogfish, juvenile pinnate batfish and to top it off a pair of halimeda ghost pipefish! It was totally awesome!
On this trip we got to congratulate Cindy for completing her PADI Open Water course and Sonia for doing her 300th dive while making every dive of the trip!
A big thank you to Nahuel & Paula (my fantastic assistants for the fortnight) and all of the hard working Bilikiki crew for making this such a wonderful trip. I look forward to diving with everyone again in the future.
July 22-August 1, 2017 Trip
Bilikiki's last 10 day trip can truly be described with only one word: exceptional! We were joined by 18 divers from Korea, New Zealand, USA, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden for some incredible underwater encounters.
On the first day we were very lucky to spot the resident saltwater crocodile in Mirror Pond in the Russells, seeing a crocodile was on the "bucket list" for some of our guests. Happy campers all around the boat even though it did get the adrenaline pumping! Day 2 took us to Mary Island and right before our last afternoon dive we were in for the treat of a lifetime. Our captain Alan spotted the blow of two whales and immediately identified them as orcas by their high dorsal fins. We headed out in the tinnies to investigate and were about to witness an incredible event: the orcas were hunting and caught a small scalloped hammerhead shark right under the tinnies!! We saw the bigger orca surface next to our tinnie with a big fish in its mouth and shake its head violently, but we were not aware of the full story until we reviewed all the video footage and photos that were taken by our guests. How lucky was that? Not only to see these magnificent animals up close in open ocean but to witness them feeding right in front of us must surely be a one in a billion chance! Of course this event dominated the talks on the boat for the next days and we were wondering what else we would possibly see?
The rest of the trip was "just" the usual fantastic Solomon's diving and we had beautiful dives in the pristine coral gardens of Marovo Lagoon and Lologhan in the Russells. We were thrilled to see that the ornate ghost pipe fish have returned to Wickham Island, and many divers fell in love with all the critters in White Beach and Maravagi, from twin spot gobies to devil stingers, nudibranchs and cuttlefish - it was all there. In the Floridas we were joined by a formation of 11 mobula rays gliding gracefully above our heads - another lucky encounter!
Our guests loved to meet the local villagers during the canoe markets and the village visits with beautiful carvings on display. The people of Karumolun treated us again to a brilliant performance of their traditional singing and dancing. For the pan pipe music at the end, everyone was clapping along.
A truly memorable trip with a great group of people has ended. We hope to see you all again and would like to thank you all for visiting us here in the Solomons. Who knows what the next trip will bring?
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli and all the Bilikiki crew
We have just had this update from Tina onboard:
This trip is starting amazingly well...
Yesterday, we had the croc in Mirror Pond and almost all the guests saw it.
But today..... we just had 2 ORCAS at 4pm swimming outside of Mary Island!!!! Capt Alan spotted them and we headed out in the tinnies. One of them had a massive fish sideways in its mouth, and we were able to see them right next and under the tinnies... Simply incredible - only day 2!!
And on top the weather is nice and the viz at Mary was fantastic.
July 11-July 22, 2017. Another 11 days of diving around the Solomon Islands has come to an end. This time we were joined by a group of 17 diving friends from the United States, they had all met during previous dive trips! For all, it was the first time exploring this remote area of the world.
As diverse as the weather during this trip were the many beautiful dive sites we visited together. Mary Island was once again a favourite with the jacks forming a thick school right on top of the reef and allowing the divers to come very close. Mbulo Canyons with its magnificent hard coral and swim throughs was equally impressive, as were the many turtles we encountered in this area. The photographers were raving about the enormous sea fans and elephant ear sponges on many dive sites. We were lucky to see everything from the big to the tiniest; sharks and eagle rays, different nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, octopus and mantis shrimp, to name just a few of the things we saw. Tulagi Switzer in the Floridas surprised us with a perfect formation of 6 mobula rays and Maravagi Bay was yet again a winner with several cuttlefish, nudibranchs, shrimpfish and a school of juvenile golden spadefish.
Topside, our guests enjoyed meeting the locals during our visits to the carving markets of Marovo Lagoon and the villagers of Karumolun in the Russells delivered an impressive performance of singing, dancing and playing their pan pipes for us. A memorable trip for everyone!
Once again our thanks go out to all our guests for visiting us here in the Solomons and also to the hard working Bilikiki crew for such a great trip.
See you all again - with best fishes
Tina & Oli