Bilikiki has returned to Honiara after another great 10 day trip (Apr 27-May 7, 2018) around the Solomon Islands. This time we were joined by 20 divers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Once again we were lucky to see a huge variety of marine life, from the big to the very small. One of our highlights was definitely the morning dive on Karumolun Point, where we saw a number of bumphead parrot fish feeding on the reef, grey reef sharks, schooling jacks and barracudas in the blue, a friendly cuttlefish hiding in the reef, and then an eagle ray flying past followed by a beautiful formation of 5 mobula rays gliding just under the surface!
Mary Island showed off its best side as well, with a huge school of chevron barracudas and plenty of jacks. Kicha was another favourite with schooling fish and its incredible coral garden in the shallows. Our divers were especially interested in some of the wrecks so we dived on the two of the Japanese freighters in Marovo Lagoon as well as on two sea planes in the Floridas. Happy campers all round!
The macro lovers were also not disappointed, from cuttlefish to devil stingers, nudibranchs, winged pipe fish and pygmy seahorses there was a lot to discover and to photograph. And the cherry on the cake? We saw another sperm whale cruising past right before going into the tinnies for our afternoon dive at Malemale!!
We had a fun trip and we hope to see you all back soon!!!
Until the next time - with best fishes
Tina & Oli and all the Bilikiki crew
April 17 - April 27, 2018. Bilikiki is back in Honiara from another great 10 day trip around the Solomons. Onboard with us was a group of 20 British, Austrian and South African dive enthusiasts coming to discover the underwater sites and experience the local village life. We dived our way through the Russells and Mary Island before going on to Marovo Lagoon and the Florida Island group. Highlights included the two Japanese wrecks in Marovo with loads of fish and critters, great shark action on several dives, including a big silvertip at Wickham, stunning hard coral gardens at Kicha and Mbulo, and plenty of critters at Maravagi and White Beach. And that is just to name a few of the amazing things we saw!
Topside, our guests enjoyed meeting the villagers to see their wood carvings and to sing along with the panpipe music in Karumolun.
We would also like to thank our divers for being so much fun in sometimes difficult weather conditions, you were brilliant! And as always a big thank you to all the hard working Bilikiki crew!
Tina & Oli
A very special thank you goes to our guests and coordinators of the shipment Noreen and Dave Downs sent and to the supportive guests of the Cathy Church photo cruise in September of last year who were so impressed with the local village life that they donated some really nice inflatable solar lights. We were very happy to distribute the lights with the help of Chief Raymond to each family in Karumolun village and to the canoe market at Mane Island. They are all extremely happy about this fantastic present and they all send their warmest regards and thanks.
Photos thanks to Tina Gauer
For our last 7 day trip the Bilikiki transformed from a dive liveaboard into a busy research vessel thanks to an international team of 17 scientists from the University of Utah and the Solomon Islands National University. We were blessed with good weather and had sunny days with a refreshing breeze, the occasional rain showers were short.
All we talked about during this trip was sea grass, tunicates, molluscs, and shipworms. The dive deck quickly filled up with samples of wood, sample buckets and lab equipment. The salon and restaurant transformed into a laboratory with test tubes, microscopes and computers. While the divers of the group were collecting and photographing according to their field of interest, others were busy cataloging, dissecting and preserving the found specimens.
We heard a lot of science talk during this trip, along with some English, Portuguese, German, Filipino, Nepalese, Japanese, Chinese and Pijin - what a great crowd of people from all over the world! The village visit to Karumolun gave a welcome and beautiful break to the hard daily science work and on our cruise back to Honiara we encountered a group of sperm whales - one of them breaching! What a way to finish this trip!
The group was extremely satisfied with their findings and rated this special expedition a complete success. Hopefully some of the chemical components they found in the collected animals will one day help to cure the diseases of the world.
A huge thank you to this enthusiastic and fun group, and of course to the Bilikiki crew for catering to all their needs.
With best fishes,
Tina & Oli
March 20 - March 31, 2018.
The Bilikiki is back from a wonderful trip with a great crowd of people. We dived our way around the Russell Islands, Mary Island, Marovo Lagoon and the Florida Islands doing some spectacular dives, visiting villages and buying carvings. We saw everything from mantas, sharks, barracudas and jacks to tiny pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, octopus (well some of us saw octopus), ornate ghost pipefish, orang-utan crabs, disco clams, crocodile……(pause)….fish and loads more. Some lucky divers even saw a Spanish dancer on their night dive while others saw a frogfish! Congratulations to Konrad for doing every dive on offer, to Heidi for completing her nitrox course and to Mark who identified a whopping 577 species of fish during the trip!!!! Thank you to everyone for being such fun and hopefully we will see you all again someday soon. Lastly thank you to Tina & Oli and all of the Bilikiki crew for their hard work and for looking after us so well.
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 protected] .
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.