30 August 2011

Solomon Islands Scuba Diving Trip on the Bilikiki

Solomon Islands Scuba Diving

 10 Days on the Bilikiki

Ten days on a boat? Could my landlubber guts handle it? Would my Eustachian tubes hold up? Would I get attacked by an underwater crocodile? Read on and find out..

A Brief Overview of the Solomon Islands

  • The Solomon Islands are located in the South Pacific: west of Fiji and east of Australia. The nearest country is Papua New Guinea (to the north).
  • The Solomon Islands = 922 islands and atolls spread out over 1,000 miles. That's about the distance from Seattle to Los Angeles.
  • There are land-based dive operations, but a liveaboard boat makes the most sense. Each night, the boat moves to a new island while the divers sleep - you wake up each day in a fabulous new dive spot.
  • Only a third of the islands are inhabited and the total population is just over half a million.
  • Roughly 4,000 tourists per year visit the Solomon Islands (that's 1/5th of the Rose Garden, or 1/4 of the Honda Center). By comparison: Disneyland gets 40,000 tourists per day.
This wasn't my first liveaboard, I did a 7-day trip on the Palau Aggressor in 2009 where I logged 17 dives before my ears said no more! For those of you who don't dive, ear problems plague many divers (me included). As a diver descends to depth, the ambient pressure changes and you need to "equalize" your ears. If you've ever swum to the bottom of the deep end, you've experienced that feeling.

The Bilikiki trip was ten days. I would need to hit a new personal record for dives the fun would be over halfway through the trip, but the promise of seeing a mantis shrimp, cuttlefish, beautiful coral gardens, crocodilefish and maybe an actual crocodile - it was too much to resist. So... off to The Solomons.

After 12 hours of air travel, we boarded the boat (Bilikiki) in the main city - Honiara, Guadalcanal (yes- that Guadalcanal). As for the rest - please take a look at the video below. I crammed ten days and twenty-seven dives into six minutes, dammit. Reading this post as an email? View my Bilikiki Solomon Islands Scuba Diving video on Vimeo.

There are a few things we saw that didn't make it into the video. Yes, we saw a crocodile on one of the dives (see photo evidence below). Also, we were able to see the Milky Way some evenings. Whoa.

A big thanks to Sam, Kellie, Sarah, Steve, the Bilikiki crew and the kind and wonderful folks who dove with us.

Further Reading / Viewing

For an excellent video of underwater life in the Solomons (including a "disco" clam) please check out Underwater Scenes from the Solomon Islands or view the embedded video below. Jack and Sue Drafal also have a great video of a music performance from a Solomon Islands village we visited. For up-to-date info about diving in the Solomons check out the Manager's Log or the Bilikiki Facebook page.

For more mediocre travel videos with pretty-okay music and nice underwater images (where applicable), check out:

Japan 2007
Alaska 2009
Palau 2009