Travel to Honiara, Solomon Islands
Fly to Honiara, Solomon Islands on Guadalcanal Island.
Snorkel the vibrant waters of the Solomon Islands, with their colorful coral reefs rich with iridescent fish, shimmering tropical lagoons, and jungle-clad volcanic islands. Populated by people who maintain a subsistence lifestyle, the region has been unchanged for hundreds of years. The walls, reefs, pinnacles, and coral gardens throughout the island’s harbor host an impressive array of soft and hard corals. With a diversity of fish and invertebrates, expect varied wildlife sightings such as nudibranchs, pipefish, pygmy seahorses, mantis shrimp, rays, sea turtles, and sharks. You’ll enjoy two to three snorkeling excursions a day, complemented by visits to intriguing cultural villages and invigorating jungle hikes on uninhabited islands. Look for cetaceans while the ship charts its course toward new snorkel sites. Join us on this expedition in partnership with the Oceanic Society and Planet Deep to snorkel and explore one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world: the Coral Triangle.
Itinerary Updated: March 2020
|Apr 19||Travel to Honiara, Solomon Islands.|
|Apr 20||Arrive in Honiara.||Hotel in Honiara|
|Apr 21||Fly to Gizo or if joining from our Solomon Islands trip, relax, and in the afternoon embark on your snorkeling adventure.||On board the Bilikiki||B, D|
|Apr 22||Snorkel and explore Ghizo Island and survey for whales during afternoon transits.||On board the Bilikiki||B, L, D|
|Apr 23-24||Snorkel and survey Tetepare and Rendova Islands.||On board the Bilikiki||B, L, D|
|Apr 25-27||Snorkel and experience village life in the New Georgia Islands.||On board the Bilikiki||B, L, D|
|Apr 28||Snorkel and explore Mborokua Island on foot.||On board the Bilikiki||B, L, D|
|Apr 29-30||Snorkel the Russell Islands.||On board the Bilikiki||B, L, D|
|May 1||Disembark in Honiara and join our cetacean identification and conservation workshop or fly home.||B|
Wayne is the Oceanic Society’s Director of Conservation Travel Programs, and in 2013, he received his Master’s degree from Harvard University in Environmental Management and Sustainability. He has studied tropical marine ecosystems for over 15 years, working for the USFWS, National Marine Fisheries Service and with university groups leading snorkeling excursions in the Indian and Pacific oceans since 1992. Wayne has led research and ecotourism programs for Oceanic Society since 1998, including tours to Midway Atoll, Micronesia, Suriname, Belize, Tonga, Fiji, Kenya, and Raja Ampat.
Almost as tall as a ship’s mast, German native Johannes has spent more than a decade in the Coral Triangle and has been a Cruise Director in Raja Ampat and the surrounding regions. He is a founding member of Planet Deep (www.planetdeep.org) – one of the non-profit organizations we are collaborating with for this expedition. With more than 5,000 dives logged within the Indonesian archipelago, he is full of enthusiasm for the underwater world and loves to share it. When he is not on the ship spotting cetaceans and rare critters, he is busy building a sustainable resort on Alor island in Indonesia with his partner.
Benjamin is a marine mammal ecologist who specializes in oceanic cetaceans. He is the Director of the Coral Triangle Oceanic Cetacean Program for APEX Environmental and co-founder of Planet Deep (www.planetdeep.org) a non-profit focused on the conservation of oceanic and deep-sea habitats. Benjamin has partnered with governments, other NGOs, local communities, and industry groups to help protect oceanic hotspots for cetaceans and other large marine life in the region. He is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the World Commission on Protected Areas, and three IUCN Specialist Groups. He is also a technical advisor on the impact of marine debris on marine mammals for the Indonesia Waste Platform.
Fly to Honiara, Solomon Islands on Guadalcanal Island.
Arrive in Honiara for an overnight and to recover from your flights. Our local agent will transfer you from the airport to your hotel. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange divergent airport transfer and extra nights.
Join from our Solomon Islands trip or arrive from your flight to Gizo on Ghizo Island. Board the ship in the afternoon for a trip briefing, before meeting your new shipmates at the festive welcome dinner. During transits, you will search for whales, dolphins, and seabirds, and if you want to participate in surveys, you’ll learn to use our Rapid Ecological Assessment survey techniques.
Located on Ghizo Island, Gizo is the capital of the Western Provinces. With approximately 6,000 inhabitants, it is also the second largest town in the Solomon Islands. During WW II Gizo was an important base for the Japanese and later for the US; for wreck divers, the waters surrounding the island present a wealth of sunken airplanes and ships brought down in battle.
The Ghizo area has many excellent snorkeling and diving sites, plus several sites of cultural and historic interest. In 2006, marine experts recorded the second highest reef fish biodiversity in the world in Ghizo (after Raja Ampat in West Papua, also part of the Coral Triangle). Large pods of resident spinner and spotted dolphins are often seen in the waters off Ghizo, frequently bow-riding and spinning alongside the vessel.
Navigating down the Blanche Channel and the west coast of New Georgia Island, you’ll sail to the jewel-like Tetepare and Rendova islands. Ultra-remote, even by Solomon Islands standards, these islands are best described as some of the “last Edens.”
On lush, uninhabited Tetepare, find green tree skinks, sea turtles, and mangrove monitors wandering on the black beaches, and hike into the pristine forest to find an astonishing variety of butterflies and birds. The island has been protected from logging by the Tetepare Descendants’ Association, who manage and protect the island’s resources as a conservation area. In the forests around the water, you might find large populations of the rare coconut crab, the world’s largest land-dwelling crustacean that grows up to three feet across. The island is fringed with untouched coral reefs, where you can snorkel amongst a spectacular diversity of fish, and maybe even spot a few of the resident crocodiles making the reef their home.
Hop to nearby Rendova, populated by indigenous people living a subsistence lifestyle from the abundant resources on the island, as they have for hundreds of years. Explore calm lagoons amidst stunning mountain backdrops and swim with Hawksbill turtles, reef sharks, and dolphins.
Information on whale and dolphin diversity and distribution in this region is very sparse, although the deep, open waters around the islands are suspected to host sperm, beaked, and blue whales, as well as many species of dolphins. Help scientists look for these cetaceans on the water between island visits and snorkels to deepen our understanding of marine mammals in the Coral Triangle.
Marovo Lagoon is the world’s largest enclosed reef lagoon and earns its World Heritage status from its mix of biologically and culturally significant wonders. Its turquoise-blue waters are dotted with hundreds of small islands fringed with sandy beaches and covered by coconut palms and rainforest, making it an idyllic and pristine tropical paradise. Spend an exhilarating two full days snorkeling and exploring in this extraordinary lagoon.
Cetaceans are frequently sighted in Marovo’s waters including resident spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales (in the deeper passages of the lagoon), and occasionally orca and dugong. The abundant and generally docile reef sharks of Marovo carry a special place in local culture, considered to be a key species in the ecosystem, and sometimes as guardian spirits.
Visit local communities on the inhabited islands to see the exquisite woodcarvings made by local woodcarvers; if you are lucky, watch one of the expert carvers at work honing his craft. See day-to-day village life for the subsistence fishermen who inhabit these islands; a special experience not to be missed.
Sail overnight to one of the most remote and isolated islands in the Western Solomon Islands, Mborokua or Mary Island. Mborokua is the halfway point between the Russell Islands and Marovo Lagoon. At sunrise, approach this volcanic island while looking for sperm whales and other oceanic cetaceans that frequent these deep waters. Mborokua offers fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities, including spectacular reef drop-offs and large schools of barracuda and trevally. Here, thousands of colorful damselfish, anthias, surgeonfish, and other species congregate in schools, creating breathtaking flashes of light as they move in unison.
With hundreds of coral species on the shallow reef floor, you will see firsthand how corals provide food and shelter for various fish species, and how the interactions between different organisms create an interdependent ecosystem. After snorkeling, you may have the opportunity to go ashore and explore the uninhabited island's jungles.
The Russell Islands are made up of two scenic volcanic islands, Pavuvu and Mbanika, with rugged terrain and amazing beaches. Their numerous deep, sheltered bays are perfect for coral reef growth and offer exceptional snorkeling. Various whales and dolphins inhabit these waters, including a resident pod of short-finned pilot whales as well as spinner, spotted, Fraser’s, and Risso’s dolphins. It is a perfect start to your exploration of the remote waters of the Solomon Islands.
Explore a variety of fascinating seaward reef environments, including sloping coral gardens and barrier reefs. Observe how the abundant fish communities take advantage of food brought to the reef by strong ocean currents and waves. Look for adult reef fish like sweetlips and blue tang hiding in the corals while the larger predators circle above. Swim through the beam of light illuminating the narrow crevice of the Leru Cut and pop your head out of the water to see the vine-clad vertical rock walls and listen to the soft hum of the jungles above.
Between snorkels, you can help survey for whales as you travel to a new site. The Solomon Islands have an unusually large number of marine mammals, almost half of which are endemic to the region.
During the afternoon, you’ll pass near to the historic WW II naval battleground of the Iron Bottom Sound, named in remembrance of the dozens of US and Japanese warships and planes that sank there during the Battle of Guadalcanal from 1942 to 1943.
Disembark after breakfast to transfer to your hotel (not included) or to the Honiara Airport. Stay to join our 2-day cetacean identification and conservation workshop (not included), or fly home.
Snorkel the vibrant waters of the Solomon Islands, with their colorful coral reefs, dazzling tropical lagoons, and volcanic jungle-clad islands.
In 1989 MV Bilikiki sailed as the first full service luxury live aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands. She is a large, stable, comfortable vessel and consistently rated one of the best live aboards in the world.
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy||$8,930|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except four internal flights in the Falklands listed as included), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 100% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$2,000|
|Second||January 1, 2020||$2,000|
|Final||October 15, 2020||Remaining Balance|
Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $500 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.
|Dates||Forfeited Amount per Person|
|On or before January 1, 2020||$500|
|January 2 to October 14, 2020||$4,000|
|On or after October 15, 2020||100% of tour cost|
The Solomon Islands are humid throughout the year, with an average temperature of 80°F. Water temperatures normally range between 82–86°F. April to May and October to November are considered the “shoulder seasons” with relatively dry weather and calmer seas. Rain can be expected at any time, but usually only lasts a short while.
No special skills are needed to participate, but you should be in general good health, and be able to climb up and down a ladder on your own. Participants should be adventurous and prepared for living aboard a ship. Practice snorkeling beforehand, to be sure that you are comfortable with your gear, and to determine that it’s functioning properly. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Airfare is not included in trip costs.Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Honiara, Solomon Islands (HIR) by April 20. Book your flight from Honiara to Gizo on April 21. Depart from Honiara, Solomon Islands (HIR) in the afternoon on May 1.
Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in this region. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the incredible wildlife and overall experience were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.