Liveaboards – Bilikiki Cruises
Solomon Islands, South Pacific
In the midst of the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands is part of the coral triangle and home to some of the best, least visited scuba diving in the world. Filled with diverse marine life, the amazing dive sites and experiences are just a short flight from Australia or Fiji.
Bilikiki Cruises has been running liveaboard scuba diving trips and cruises in the Solomon Islands for over 25 years. Our experienced crew know the best dive sites and offer comfort and style. With 10 deluxe cabins, the MV Bilikiki is one of the most spacious and comfortable vessels you can experience. All cabins are air conditioned and include their own en-suite. There is a large sundeck, comfortable lounge and camera area, and a spacious dive deck. This ship originally sailed in 1989 as the first full service luxury live aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands
In the midst of the South Pacific and part of the coral triangle, the Solomon Islands are a remote, beautiful chain of nearly 1000 tropical islands. They are just south of the equator, a 3 hours flight north east from Australia and 4 hours north west from Fiji. They are home to nearly 600,000 people most of whom still live traditional, community based lives in villages far from the modern world.Made up of over 990 islands, each main island area has its own language, culture and traditions. Visiting a local village or two is a must for anyone visiting the islands. See the famous wood carvers from the Western Provence, hear the catchy sounds of modern day pan pipe music played on PVC piping and a pair of old flip flops, watch men and woman perform custom dances, be traditionally greeted by a bunch of warriors or escorted into a village by a “war canoe”. The best way to see a country of islands and to dive their waters is by liveaboard and the Bilikiki has been operating in these islands for more than 28 years, making her a Solomon local.
In modern history, the Solomon Islands saw some of the bloodiest and fiercest fighting in the Pacific during WW2. Names such as Bloody Ridge, Red Beach, Henderson Field, and Iron Bottom Sound will be familiar to many. Both land and sea have their share of war relics. White Beach in the Russell Islands, the Mavis Seaplane in Tulagi, the Japanese freighters in Wickham Harbour and along Bonegi Beach near Honiara are some of the most accessible WW2 wreck dives.
The Solomon Islands are home to some of the best reefs in the world and the diving is spectacular, diverse and colourful, There is not just one type of diving but an array of different habitats and ecosystems. There are pelagics and critters, wrecks, caves, amazingly healthy coral gardens, sand slopes, mangroves, walls and sea mounts. There is no ice diving but pretty much everything else is covered!
Amazingly there are very few dive operators in the Solomon Islands and this means that its extremely rare to see another dive boat during the trip. Having dive sites to ourselves is one of the many great things about the Solomon Islands.
On a trip you can expect to see some of the healthiest hard corals in the world, sheer walls covered in huge fans, magical caves and cuts with spectacular light beams, a unimaginable array of colourful tropical fish, tornados of schooling fish, sharks, tunas, travellies and mackerel hunting shoals of fusiliers. There are WWII shipwrecks, modern wrecks, plane wrecks and dump sites complete with underwater trucks and bombs, a dive site where mantas pass overhead almost as though they are checking divers out more than the other way around and another where the healthiest reef imaginable can be enjoyed to the sound of a rumbling underwater volcano not too far away. There is also an amazing diversity of macro life and cuttlefish, octopus, a mardi gras of nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, coral hermit crabs and crocodile fish are just a few of the things seen on nearly every trip.
Photos courtesy of Bilikiki Cruises, Richard Smith, Elmer Doty, Matt Smith, Tom Demeyer, Jo O’Shea, Ellen Husain, Greg Lecoeur, Tanya G. Burnett, and Peter Pinnock