Bilikiki Cruises has been operating since 1988 and offers superb liveaboard diving to the best spots on the diverse, thriving, colourful reefs of the Solomon Islands.
A Brief History of Bilikiki Cruises
Bilikiki Cruises was founded by Rick and Jane Belmare and Roger and Janita Radford in 1988. Rick and Jane had been running land based diving in the Solomons for a while having left Canada for the warmer climes of the South Pacific. They couldn't believe their luck when they discovered the coral encrusted, wreck strewn wonders of the Solomon Islands. Roger and Janita were from Australia and ran an engineering and ship building company in the Solomons. With their combined knowledge they started Bilikiki Cruises and established the Solomon Islands' first liveaboard.
Sam Leeson and Kellie Oldfield have worked for Bilikiki Cruises since 2006, first as managers onboard and more recently in the booking office. Having worked for 7 years as the full time onboard managers they can answer all of your questions regarding the MV Bilikiki and diving in the Solomon Islands.
The Bilikiki Crew
Most of the Bilikiki's crew have been with us for many years and have an amazing amount of experience between them. Captain Alan, our chief engineer Andrew, chefs Wilson and Alick, bar man John, laundry guy John Lee and Ben the tinny driver have all worked tirelessly for us for at least 10 years. Similarly our Canadian land manager Evan and long time office employee Lyndon have been keeping the whole operation rolling along for years. We are also fortunate to have Tina and Oli as our onboard managers with their wealth of experience from working on liveaboards all over the world.
Bilikiki Cruises has always thought it important to have a positive impact on the areas we operate in. We do this in a number of ways from enforcing environmentally sound diving practices to doing everything we can to make sure the local people see benefits from our operation.
Since the very beginning, the company has handed out seeds and then bought back produce from the local villagers. This not only creates a source of income in villages with very little economic activity it also means we get fresh fruit and vegetables during our trips. The variety of seeds we hand out means not only our but also the locals diets are more varied than they would have been.
We are very happy to run annual medical trips with the Loloma Foundation who provide nurses, doctors, dentists and supplies so that Bilikiki can be turned into a floating hospital for a week or two. It is a great opportunity for people in the areas in which we dive to get health care that they would not normally have access to.
Our guests often bring things to hand out in the villages such as school supplies and soccer balls, it can make a big difference to people in villages without much of a cash economy or any shops. Obviously we can not take too much credit for this but are happy to offer advice on what to bring, drop us an email or check out our Welcome Aboard Notes. If you have spare space in your luggage, or even want to buy things in Honiara, it is a great way to help out.
We also pay to dive on the reefs we visit. Traditionally all land and the adjoining reef are owned by the tribes of the area and controlled by the local chief. Paying to dive means that Bilikiki is always welcome and provides incentives for reef owners to protect their reefs as much as possible. We also visit villages during our trips to see traditional singing and dancing which provides our guests with a great experience and the village with some much needed income and a chance to show off their cultural heritage. The same is true for the carving villages we visit, carving is the main economic activity for many people in Marovo Lagoon and getting the opportunity to buy this hand made art is a highlight for many guests, it is another win for everybody involved!