Divers in the Solomons are usually comfortable in a Lycra or 2-3mm wetsuit. Water temp will be between 82-85 degrees, but after multiple dives per day, you may find that you need more protection - a sharkskin or hooded vest.
Viz will range from 75 to 125 feet, with occasional sites with much better viz, and yes, you will have dives with viz less than 75 ft. The Solomon Island waters are very nutrient rich. They support the entire food chain from microscopic creature to major predators. Because of this, viz may be less than that of some other world famous dives sites, but for this same reason, you will find a multitude of large and small critters to observe and photograph. In some cases viz may only be 10 or 15 feet, because of all the fish blocking your view!
Bring both macro and wide-angle lenses for your cameras. The Solomons are a photographers paradise, so equip yourself accordingly. It is also recommended you bring your laptop so that you can view and edit your images. Bilikiki is fitted with 110-volt electrical outlets for battery recharging and has large camera tables for checking equipment, as well as, digital projector and widescreen LCD TV with USB, HDMI & VGA inputs.
The currency used in Solomon Islands is the Solomon Island dollar, and this is what is required for shopping around town, and for purchasing carvings and other handicrafts from villages while on Bilikiki. Currency from other countries can be exchanged at the airport, from any of the banks in town or to a limited degree on board our vessels, from the dive masters.
The Solomon Islands is in a remote part of the world. The nearest recompression chamber is about 1,500 miles away in Townsville, Australia. You will be doing a lot of diving, probably four or five dives per day, and that adds up to a lot of nitrogen. Pace yourself, and consider sitting out a dive every now and then. Again, DAN or Dive Assure is REQUIRED. Smart divers do not dive without it.
The Villages and Villagers
You will be traveling in and among the islands during your stay and you will have many opportunities to meet the Solomon Island people. Solomon Islanders are a proud and friendly group who have been making passengers aboard the Bilikiki welcome since the first trips in 1988. You will be invited to visit their villages, schools, and churches and they will be very pleased to display, and sell, their carvings, baskets and other goods. Ship managers regularly purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from the villagers and their canoes of produce make regular appearances when we are near villages.
While anchored off their villages the ship will be visited by these very skillful sailors in their dugout canoes. The boating and swimming ability of the children is quite remarkable and very entertaining.
Solomon Island lifestyle remains very traditional, with a smattering of western influence. Village houses are still built of palm leaf intricately woven to shelter the occupants, although some corrugated iron is used for building. Villages are usually clean and neat with clearly defined paths among the buildings. Please remember that these are private homes and visitors should never enter or look into individual houses without permissions.
The Solomon Islanders raise crops in their market gardens near the villages and also raise chickens and pigs for food. Fish is also an essential part of their diet, and often when the ship is anchored off a village for the night, the village men and boys will come out to catch the fish that are attracted by the ship's lights.
Power throughout the ship is 240 V 50 cycle, using Australia style 3-prong outlets. There are also plenty of American style 110 V 60 cycle outlets for charging cameras, strobes, dive lights, etc. These outlets are only for charging purposes so if you intend to use hairdryers (who needs a hairdryer?), shavers, etc you will need to bring adapters.
While tipping is not common in the South Pacific, it is an accepted practice among live-aboard operations and others offering service to North American and European clientele. If you believe service you have received warrants it, a gratuity to be shared among all the crew should be given to one of the managers at the end of the trip.
Clothing and Dress
T-shirts, shorts, and bathing suits are suitable on-board attire, with a light windbreaker or sweatshirt for the odd cool or breezy morning, or after your evening dive. On island excursions, T-shirts and walking shorts are generally acceptable, but ladies should be sensitive to local customs, and not wear bathing suits or abbreviated shorts or other brief clothing ashore. Travel light - no need for a different outfit each day.
The Bilikiki is well maitained and carries all necessary navigation and communication equipment. The ships maintain regular radio contact wiht the office in Honiara, and limited message capabilities, for emergency or urgent communications, can be made available. The Solomon Islands is a remote area but cell phone coverage is increasing in the islands and in a few areas coverage is now provided by Solomon Telekom and Bemobile. Check with your provider or you could purchase a local sim card on arrival which normally provides (very slow) internet access on mobile devices. Otherwise, internet access is no available on board the ship. There is a satellite phone available for outgoing calls, and calls are charged by the minute. In case of emergency have your family or friends contact our office in Honiara.
Phone: + 677 20412 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please keep incoming messages brief as they will need to be transcribed and read out over the radio. If you wish to reply you may then make an outgoing call via satellite phone.