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Solomon Islands by Liveaboard

Venture off the beaten path to discover one of the Coral Triangle's hidden gems on this liveaboard trip combining whale watching and twice-daily snorkel outings.

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  • Participate in whale and dolphin surveys and look for the little-known Omura's whale, first discovered in 2004.
  • See abundant hard and soft corals, schooling fish, macro life, and sea turtles on twice-daily snorkel outings.
  • Dramatic volcanic islands offer mangrove snorkels and jungle hikes.

This unique Solomon Islands program will be a slight departure from our normal snorkel outings in that we will focus a good portion of the day looking for whales. Starting from the capital, Honiara, we sail amongst the islands in search of whales and dolphins. We will have only one morning and one late afternoon snorkel outing planned each day. After our morning snorkel we will set out on our search for marine life.

Many tropical cetacean species are present here including spinner dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, shortfin pilot whales, pygmy killer whales, dwarf sperm whales, and sperm whales. There are also reports of unidentified beaked whales. But a particular target of our expedition will be Omura’s whale, a tropical baleen whale which was unknown to science before 2004, when it was first described from the Solomons.

Each night we will anchor in a sheltered location, allowing plenty of time to visit the islands and local villages. There will also be time for snorkeling on the stupendous coral reefs—some of the most under-appreciated and unique in the entire Pacific. Most villages have traditional rights over adjacent reefs and forests, and in more remote locations we will have to pay our respects to the village elders before venturing ashore.

Read our trip leaders' reports from the 2016 Solomon Islands by Liveaboard program:


Dr. Charles ("Chas") Anderson is a professional marine biologist who has lived and worked in the Maldives since 1983. He is the foremost authority on both cetaceans and fishes in that region, and the pioneer of whale and dolphin watching there. He and his wife, Susan, lead several whale-watching trips each year where tourists take part in a national survey of cetaceans (whales and dolphins). In addition to numerous scientific papers, he is an accomplished underwater photographer, and normally presents a series of evening slide shows on marine life during the course of his trips. His genuine love of marine critters, sheer enthusiasm, knowledge, and sense of humor will contribute to your enjoyment of this trip.


Day 1 | Honiara, Embark
Board our expedition vessel in Honiara and cruise out into the adjacent Iron Bottom Sound, where, with just a little luck, we can expect our first cetacean encounters. We should anchor in good time for an introductory snorkel before sunset, and this evening there will be an orientation talk.

Days 2–10 | Exploring Solomon Islands
We explore the waters and islands of the Western and Central Provinces, although our itinerary will be very flexible to take full advantage of local conditions and wildlife sightings. Most days will start with a choice of a visit ashore (to a local village and/or for birding) or a snorkel on a nearby coral reef. Back on board for breakfast, and then we will be off, spending much of each day out at sea in search of cetaceans, seabirds, and other oceanic life. We will anchor mid- to late-afternoon, in time for another island visit or snorkel. Most evenings there will be an illustrated talk. Our path should take us to the Russell and Florida Island groups as well as Marovo Lagoon and Mary Island

On our final full day at sea we will make our way back toward our anchorage at Honiara for our last night on board.

Day 11 | Honiara, Disembark
After breakfast we disembark and transfer to accommodation ashore or to the international airport for flights home. (There are several flight options, but the easiest are via Brisbane).


The MV Bilikiki.

In 1989 MV Bilikiki sailed as the first full service luxury live aboard dive vessel in the Solomon Islands. She was also one of the first in the world to offer private showers and toilets in every cabin. MV Bilikiki has 10 deluxe cabins, all with a double bed below and single above. Her large size and a hull that was built for South Pacific seas are two main reasons why guests from around the world still say that "the Bilikiki" is one of the most spacious and comfortable vessels that they have travelled on.

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