March 13-20, 2018
Bilikiki started off the 2018 season with a great 7 day trip. We were joined by 14 divers and one snorkel enthusiast from Australia, the USA and the Netherlands to explore the beautiful sites of the Floridas, the Russells, and of course Mary Island.
Apart from the odd shower we were blessed by nice weather and the water temperature was a very pleasant 28 - 29 C. The Russells greeted us with stunning visibility and magical dives in Leru Cut and Mirror Pond. In Mary Island a tornado of jacks waited for us at the point in a pretty fast current. While at Karumolun we had it all, from the bumphead parrot fish to the grey reef sharks and even a mobula ray! Happy faces all around.
The villagers of Karumolun were happy to see us back after the seasonal break and gave us a beautiful performance of singing, dancing and their incredible panpipe music.
It was a beautiful first trip which makes us look forward to all the other great trips coming this year. Congratulations to Peter from Holland on completing his 1000th dive with us, we wish you many more! Our thanks go out to all our guests for visiting us and to the Bilikiki crew for their professional work.
Until the next time, with best fishes
Tina & Oli
The Bilikiki's maintenance period is finally over, she is all newly painted and polished inside and out. All the crew are back from their well deserved holidays and the MV BIlikiki is looking fantastic and very ready to head out this afternoon for 7 nights.
Let the diving begin!
The Bilikiki is currently undergoing her major yearly maintenance while the harding working Bilikiki crew and onboard managers take their holidays. Charters start back in March. If you would like to book onto any trip please contact Sam and Kellie in the Bilikiki booking office email@example.com .
December 19, 2017-January 2, 2018
Bilikiki has finished the 2017 season with a beautiful 14 day trip around the Solomons. We were joined by 20 guests from 7 different nationalities to dive together, spend Christmas and New Years in a different style and meet the local villagers along the way. We also had ex-manager and Bilikiki favourite Sonia Goggel on board bringing some extra festive cheer.
We were blessed with extremely good weather and dive conditions which allowed us to visit even the more remote and exposed sites during this trip. The highlights were too numerous to mention but incuded the silvertip sharks at Penguin Reef, the impressive Rapichana Cut with its deep tunnel leading to the sheer wall outside, the huge schools of jacks and barracudas at Mary Island and the school of 15 bump heads and amazing coral at Kicha. The caves at Mbulo gave stunning photo opportunities with the light entering like laser beams and the flashlight fish impressed even some of our repeat guests during the night dive at Mbulo Canyons. A pretty rare sight (for the Solomons) was the beautiful frogfish on one of the Bonegi wrecks which got everyone super excited. There was also a playful manta ray that joined us during our safety stop in Sambulo! And of course we had "critters galore" along the way, nudibranchs, mantis shrimps, octopus and cuttlefish, pipefish, devil stingers, juvenile batfish - there were too many to list them all!
Once again the village of Karumolun gave us a performance to remember with singing, dancing and the incredible panpipe music. In the end, all of the guests joined in to sing and dance with the villagers - smiling faces all round!
We would like to thank all our guests for joining us on this wonderful trip and hope to see you again! A very big thank you also goes to the fabulous Bilikiki crew for all their hard work not only on this trip but throughout the 2017 season!
We are looking forward to diving with you in 2018 - Happy New Year from all of us here on the Bilikiki.
With best fishes
Tina & Oli
All underwater shots are from Heather Keith
Dec 5 - Dec 15, 2017 - One of the newer divers on our latest trip commented to me that it was funny how everyone spends hours looking for little slugs and shells underwater when no-one ever crawls around their garden looking for things in a similar fashion. While we are used to the variety of life on land, coral reefs offer an amazing array of new things for us to see. One of the things I love about diving is how it can bring on a child like sense of wonder about even the smallest things, I guess seeing a spectacularly coloured tropical fish at 60 is much the same kind of experience as seeing a butterfly at 5!
As I guess everything can be interesting if viewed in the right way a list of highlights could get long so here are a few of the more conventional highlights of the trip….
It is great to see the coral so healthy in so many spots! Lologhan, Kicha, Mbulo and Karumolun were among some of the really amazing spots for hard corals. Karumolun was especially great to see for me having seen it badly damaged by crown of thorns just 5 years ago! The fish life there is also even more amazing there now that Chief Raymond has not allowed fishing for a couple of years.
Leru Cut was as beautiful as ever. Mary Island offered a couple of fantastically fishy dives with the barracudas out in force. Twin Tunnels had walls of fish and patrolling sharks. Malemale was a blur of yellow soft coral and schooling fish. A couple of us even saw a crocodile swimming under the mooring line at Mary, I am not sure wonder was my most prominent emotion there though.
There were some good critter sightings too with robust ghost pipefish, some great nudis, mantis shrimp, archer fish, black ribbon eels, some fun cleaner shrimps and even a species of pipefish I had never seen before hiding under a WW2 landing craft.
The village visits were fun with Karumolun village putting on quite the show with their new PVC panpipes! The carving villages were popular too and some of the detailed work was just amazing. I was lucky enough to get “staff” prices on the couple of things I bought, that seemed to be about 50% more than normal.
The only negative was Deirdre and Andy having to leave us early but it was great to see Deirdre fully recovered on our return to Honiara and the evacuation was masterfully handled by Tina, Oli and the crew.
A big thanks to the 18 American and 1 French guest who joined us for this trip, it was fun spending time with you all and we hope to see you back soon. A big thanks to Charles for his singing, Deirdre for the helicopter excitement and Karen for the extra yuan income from the sun lounger hire.
And finally a big thanks to Tina and Oli, all the crew and the wonderful land support team for making such a great trip happen, it is highly appreciated.
Once again Bilikiki is back in Honiara after 10 days (Nov 25-Dec 5, 2017) of diving the Solomons. This time, our 20 guests came from the USA, Denmark, and Japan. And once again, the diversity of the dive sites amazed our guests, from the beautiful cuts and caves, the stunning coral gardens, the pristine walls, the "muck"-like critter dives and the wrecks from WW2. In Mary Island the barracudas and jacks were out in their hundreds, it was like swimming in fish soup! In Marovo lagoon, Kicha was once again a highlight with pristine coral and schools of snappers and barracudas, while the rumbling underwater volcano of Kavachi gave us the appropriate background sound track. The WW2 dump site in White Beach was full of critters like signal gobies, jawfish, and nudibranchs, and a stunning juvenile pinnate batfish was hiding in the shallows. Many of our guests had never seen pygmy seahorses before, so they were amazed by the sight of these tiny little beauties.
We finished our trip in the Floridas with some sharks and and an eagle ray in Petrol Point, followed by the always popular critter dive at Maravagi, where we saw octopus, cuttlefish, golden gobies, nudibranchs, pipefish, shrimpfish and saddleback clownfish, amongst others.
Once again our thanks go out to all of our guests for visiting us and to the hard working Bilikiki crew for another great trip!
Best fishes and see you again,
Tina & Oli
On our last 10 day cruise (Nov 11-Nov 21, 2017) we were joined by 14 divers from the USA, Canada and the UK. We could not have asked for better weather with bright sunny days and flat sea conditions, once again the Solomons did not disappoint above or below the surface!
We started off in the Russells with a superb dive at Leru Cut, where the light from above entered the cut like laser beams. Mary Island just keeps surprising us - after a wonderful dive with the huge school of jacks and barracudas our captain yet again spotted 4 orcas in the distance! We headed out in the tinnies and even if they kept their distance it was still amazing to observe these magnificent animals in the wild!
Kicha and Mbulo were on the list of favourites for our guests with their pristine hard corals and two curious silvertip sharks. Devil's Highway kept us waiting until the afternoon for the right current conditions but we were then rewarded with 6 manta rays feeding right in front of us - smiling faces all around! For the critter lovers we saw pygmy seahorses, jawfish, mantis shrimps, ribbon eels, nudibranchs, and flatworms, amongst many others.
The village visits to the wood carvers and the beautiful performance of singing and dancing in Karumolun were enjoyed just as much as each other.
Once again the Solomon Islands showed their best side with a huge diversity of sites and marine life - a little bit of everything for everyone! We would like to thank all our guests for diving with us and a big thank you goes to the Bilikiki crew for all their hard work.
Bilikiki's latest 10 day cruise (Oct 31-Nov 10, 2017) was all about whales and dolphins. We were joined by 19 nature enthusiasts under the expert guidance of Dr Charles Anderson from the UK. The mission was to find and observe cetaceans here in the Solomons and we were not disappointed. The days were spent with one or two snorkel sessions in the mornings and afternoons while the rest of the day we were out in open ocean trying to spot whales and dolphins. Dr Anderson gave us some very informative presentations about the different species in the evenings too.
The weather could not have been better with hot sunny days and flat calm seas. Armed with binoculars and cameras we quickly spotted big pods of spinner and spotted dolphins. The huge school of pilot whales, which we had already seen on our previous trip, was waiting for us in Mary Island. They approached the boat curiously and stayed around for a couple of hours - beautiful! During our crossing from Mary to Marovo Lagoon we came across an incredible sight: hundreds of spotted dolphins, mixed with melon headed whales and Fraser's dolphins as far as we could see! What a spectacular sight! We decided to go even closer with the tinnies and hung on to the ropes with mask and snorkel to get an underwater view of this impressively huge group. There were whales and dolphins everywhere!
Another incredible sighting was a group of at least 9 massive sperm whales that were slowly cruising past. They became curious at the sound of the Bilikiki and were very fortunate to have them around the boat for more than two hours!
We had wonderful sightings every single day and the total number of different species came to an incredible 15 in the end, including dwarf sperm whales, 3 different species of beaked whales, pygmy killer whales and again 2 orcas - the trip exceeded all of our expectations!
We would like to thank Dr Anderson and all our enthusiastic guests for this wonderful experience, we hope to see you all again soon! A huge thank you also goes to our fabulous Bilikiki crew especially our captains Alan and Joe, who seem to have eyes in the back of their heads, for some amazing sightings and for bringing us as close as possible to these magnificent animals.
November 1st - 4th Bilikiki Cruises is exhibiting at the DEMA show 2017 in Orlando. We are located in booth #2128. Kellie Oldfield and Sam Leeson will be there talking all things Solomon Islands and Bilikiki. Please drop by and say hello, we would love to see you
Bilikiki's last trip took 16 divers around the Solomon Islands over 14 days (Oct 17-Oct 31, 2017). We were blessed with beautiful weather and calm sea conditions for most of the trip. Even with a reduced visibility due to massive coral spawning we still managed to do some incredible dives with amazing sightings.
All of the highlights are hard to list but some of them included a feeding manta ray, barrel rolling in front of us and joining us again on the following dive, eagle rays and mobula rays, some good shark action on several dives and as usual all the little, incredible critters. The critters this time included robust and ornate ghost pipe fish, some pygmy seahorses, twin spot gobies, and a variety of nudibranchs. Kicha was certainly another highlight with a school of 14 huge bumphead parrott fish coming over the reef like a herd of buffalos.
Mary Island had a surprise waiting for us again: after some great dives with the schooling jacks and barracudas the crew spotted a pod of pilot whales in the distance. We went out in the tinnies to get a closer look and there were more than 30 of them, including some babies - what a treat to see them up close! Topside, the village visits and wood carving markets impressed our guests, as did the many canoe markets in the Russells and Floridas.
We would like to thank all of our great guests for coming and experiencing the Solomons with us, and a big thank you goes to the Bilikiki crew for all their hard work!
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli
Pilot Whale photos thanks to Stacy Sadler
Underwater ones thanks to Jayne Morris