Another amazing 10 day trip has finished, this time with 20 divers from American research organisation REEF. The trip was under the experienced guidance of Christy Semmens, who was celebrating doing her 1000th fish survey.
The participants were equipped with slates to identify as many fish species as possible on the various dive sites and habitats around the Solomon Islands. The participants were amazed not only by the variety of dive sites and habitats, but also by the number of different species that inhabit these areas. As soon as we entered the water the divers tried to note every fish they saw, some of them familiar species, others new to many of the participants. The late afternoons were filled with presentations by Christy about the different fish species, their habitats and their particular markings and colorations to make identification easier.
An abundance of fish species was recorded on this trip and we are looking forward to the complete results once all data has been uploaded to the REEF
website. The Solomon Islands has an amazing diversity of fish so the results are sure to be interesting.
Our trip also included several visits to the villages in Marovo Lagoon to see the magnificent wood carvings produced there by the local craftsmen, as well as a guided tour around the village of Karumolun by the community chief Raymond to show our guests how life works on a small island here in the Solomons.
We would like to thank all our guests for being so enthusiastic on every single dive and a special thank you goes out once again to all the Bilikiki crew for their hard work during the trip.
Tina & Oli
Photos thanks to Tina Gauer
Bilikiki’s latest trip was a 10 day adventure to some of the best spots in the Solomons. I was lucky enough to be joined by a great group of guests and we all enjoyed some fantastic conditions and amazing diving.
The trip started with a bit of wild weather but the sun came out for Leru Cut and dives on the rarely visited south side of Mary Island included some sharks, schooling jacks and a curious crocodile! The visibility was really good throughout the trip and Marovo Lagoon was no exception, Mbulo Caves is always a favourite and the amazing atmosphere of the swim throughs and caverns made for an unforgettable experience and some great photos. Other dives produced massive schools of fish, bumphead parrotfish, sharks, pygmy seahorses and some magic scenery.
Back in the Russells, we visited Karumolun village to see some traditional singing and dancing and be shown around the village by Chief Raymond. There were sharks, jacks, barracudas and bumphead parrotfish on the point and bats, pygmy seahorses, squat lobsters and eagle rays at Batcave. White Beach was fascinating for both its historical wreckage and the critters found there, including mantis shrimp, mandarin fish, spawning sea cucumbers, nudis and pipefish. The east Russells produced some beautiful fish and coral dives, it was great to see the reefs doing so well.
We finished the trip in the Florida Islands where we hit a bit more current and a couple of friendly mantas at Devil’s Highway. Twin Tunnels was another favourite and we had some critters too with sightings of demon stingers, cuttlefish, pipefish and shrimp fish to name a few.
It was great to meet such a fun crowd onboard and congratulations to Sarah-Jo and Lauren for passing their nitrox and advanced courses while expanding their knowledge on the effect of pressure on snake beans. A massive thanks to the whole Bilikiki team including Tina and Oli for hosting such an excellent trip.
Thanks too to underwater photographers Brett Lobwein and Matt Smith for the photos (Matty has a trip in 2018 so check out his page for details and more amazing shots from this trip).
I can’t wait to get back!!!
March 11- March 21, 2017
Bilikiki is back from her major yearly maintenance looking amazing and ready for her first trip of the 2017 season. Tina and Oli and all the Bilikiki crew have returned from their well deserved holidays and were joined by a great group of divers, many who had been on the Bilikiki before. Tricky, Janet, Deirdre, Andy & Tim from Dive Centre Manly in Australia, Sharon & Dick from the USA, and from Canada Joan, Valerie, Allen (Bilikiki Cruises former North American Sales agent) and the founders of Bilikiki Cruises Rick and Jane Belmare, plus myself. Not only did we have fantastic weather but we had sensational diving as well, with something for everyone. The sea was flat and calm and the water temperature was a lovely 30C (86F) on all dives, viz was amazing and the nightly conversations were highly entertaining. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so stay tuned for photos and video of the trip to come. A big thank you to all the Bilikiki crew and Tina & Oli for making the trip run so smoothly and picking out some cracking dive sites. To everyone who was onboard we hope to see you all again.
Bilikiki is undergoing her yearly maintenance and has been in dry dock having her hull cleaned while Tina & Oli and the crew enjoy their well earned holidays. There is still space available on the trips in March if you would like to join us.
Bilikiki is back in port after the last trip of 2016, it was an amazing 14 day adventure over Christmas and the new year with 18 divers from Switzerland, Germany, Holland, the UK, and the USA.
Our trip started with some beautiful reef dives in the Florida Islands along colourful walls and current exposed points where we saw plenty of grey reef sharks and bumphead parrot fish. We then headed out to the Russell Islands for not only some stunning dives but also to celebrate Christmas with the local villagers of Karumolun. We first visited their island and they gave us an incredible performance of singing and dancing accompanied by their superb panpipe music played with the help of flip-flops. Many guests were so moved they left in tears. In the evening we were then joined by 40 villagers on the Bilikiki who came to sing Christmas carols for us - our guests were very touched and in the end everybody joined in with this superb choir. A Christmas that many will certainly never forget!
Of course we had some very memorable dives during this trip too, it is hard to mention all the incredible encounters! From silvertip, grey reef, oceanic black tips and even a hammerhead shark to eagle rays, turtles and sea snakes there was plenty of big stuff. There was little beauties like pygmy pipefish and pygmy seahorses and also pristine coral gardens and walls covered in gigantic sea fans and soft corals - there was plenty to see and enjoy for everyone.
We could not have spent our last trip with a nicer group of people under the guidance of our "old" friend Sonia Goggel. It was a tearful good bye at the end of the trip but we are looking forward to seeing you all again very soon. We are very happy to say Sonia is back to host a trip next Christmas too.
On behalf of all the Bilikiki crew and team we hope you had as good a holiday season as we did and would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy new year. We are looking forward to diving with you in 2017!
Tina & Oli
Bilikiki is back in Honiara after 10 days with 18 snorkel enthusiasts led by Lee and Ethan from Coral Triangle Adventures. With the water at a very pleasant 30C the snorkelers spent two long sessions in the water every day exploring the beautiful coral reefs of the Solomon Islands.
Everyone was amazed by the diversity of the pristine hard and soft corals and all their numerous inhabitants. We spotted turtles, many different types of anemone fish, shrimps and even sea snakes hunting for prey. The excitement was high when the snorkelers were surrounded by several inquisitive black tip reef sharks, the experience dominated the talks over lunch. The late afternoons were filled with informative presentations about different marine biology related subjects by Ethan and Lee.
In Marovo Lagoon we visited several islands with their stunning wood carvings on display. The village of Karumolun gave a fantastic performance of singing and dancing, accompanied by their pan pipes which had everyone clapping along. Two birthdays were celebrated along the way too, especially remarkable was the 91st birthday of one of the participants! We wish you all the very best and many more exciting adventures ahead.
Our thanks go out to all our guests for being such a great group and also, as always, to the hard working Bilikiki crew.
Best fishes and Merry Christmas
Tina & Oli
Bilikiki is back in Honiara after an amazing 10 day trip with 19 enthusiastic divers from The Scuba Company in New Mexico. It certainly was one of the best trips of this season with incredible sightings and lots of fun.
There were so many great things it is hard to mention them all but let me start with one of the first night dives in the Russell Islands. It was already a good dive with lots of interesting shrimps and flashlight fish so everyone was happily heading away from the reef for the safety stop after 60 minutes. This is when the magic happened, two huge sailfish, one almost 3 meters long, showed up and started to circle the divers. One sailfish quickly disappeared into deep water but the other one made some extremely close passes even bumping into the divers! What an adrenaline rush and for sure a dive of a lifetime. Michael Wanke even managed to get a great photo despite having on a macro lens!
Our luck continued with manta rays at Devil's Highway and mobula and eagle rays on other sites. We were joined by plenty of sharks, black tips, white tips and grey reefs at many spots but at Kicha Island two big silvertips came to check us out, swimming in perfect harmony while a juvenile silvertip and some grey reef sharks kept their distance in beautiful clear water. Mary Island was incredible as well with an enormous school of jacks and barracudas swirling around us. Our divers loved the shallow pristine coral gardens with swim throughs and caves and also the diversity of critters like pygmy pipefish, pygmy seahorses, signal gobies, coral hermit crabs and flatworms.
Many of our guests found unique Christmas presents in the wood carving markets of Marovo Lagoon and our village visit to Karumolun in the Russell Islands was crowned with an outstanding performance of the villagers playing their pan pipes and singing and dancing for us - what an incredible treat!
We cannot thank our guests enough for being such a fantastic group of people, enjoying the Solomons to the max! We will miss you and hope to see you all again soon! A huge thank you also goes to the hard working Bilikiki crew who make it all happen!
Tina & Oli
Underwater photos thank to Michael Wanke
Trip Report November 15-29, 2016
Bilikiki has returned to Honiara after another great 14 day trip with 18 guests from Austria, Germany, the UK, the USA, Israel, Italy, and Australia.
The dives sites were as varied as the nationalities onboard with cuts, caves, coral gardens, dramatic drop offs, "muck” dives, ship wrecks, plane wrecks and seamounts. There was something for everyone! We had wonderful encounters with mantas, eagle rays, mobula rays, five different types of sharks (black tip, white tip, grey reef, silver tip, and a leopard shark) and of course the huge schools of jacks and barracudas, which were as impressive as always. Also for the critter fans there was plenty to see from nudibranchs to signal gobies, mantis shrimps, jaw fish, pygmy pipefish and pygmy seahorses. The diversity of marine life on the dive sites is so impressive.
Along the way we stopped in several villages in Marovo Lagoon to visit the wood carving markets and get in touch with the local villagers. Everyone also enjoyed the performance by the villagers of Karumolun in the Russell Islands who sang and danced for us and showed us around their beautiful village.
It was a great trip and our thanks go to all our guests, as well as the hard working Bilikiki crew.
Tina & Oli
Bilikiki Cruises is exhibiting in booth #3086 at the DEMA Show in Las Vegas. Please drop by and say hello to Kellie & Sam.
After an amazing 7 day trip with 14 guests from the United States, Sweden, the UK and Australia, Bilikiki has returned to Honiara. We were blessed with good weather and sea conditions and the water was at a very pleasant 29-30C/84-86F.
It is hard to name all the highlights of this trip but for sure the shark encounters, with at least 25 to 30 grey reef sharks circling us at very close range, at Curacoa Shoals and Passage Rock were top of the list. The current was strong at Devils' Highway so after an adrenaline pumping drift across the reef we got the chance to observe 5 manta rays feeding right in front of us. Smiling faces all around! Also the incredible abundance of critters left our divers in awe, we had mantis shrimps, nudibranchs, signal gobies and pygmy seahorses to name only a few.
Our guests also enjoyed the fruit and vegetable markets from the local canoes and the visit to a local island with its smiling villagers. The performance of traditional dances was again unforgettable.
We would like to thank all our guests for diving with us here on the Bilikiki and for being such a great, fun group! It was a pleasure to have you all onboard and we hope to see you again in the near future.
Many thanks from Tina, Oli and all the Bilikiki crew