Solomons - June/July 2018

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Reefs, Wrecks and Sharks  - Solomons Expedition 

23 June - 3 July 2018

Join Ocean Geographic photographer Matty Smith on a 10 day live aboard Dive Expedition on board the MV Bilikiki 

Wildlife enthusiasts and photographers alike are invited to join Matty on the trip of a lifetime around thise wild and historic islands in the heard of the coral triangle.

"Variety is the spice of life and the Solomon Islands has it in spades!"

$US 5450 per person

Make your reservation now – 17 spots availble    

Moments after a giant manta ray had blocked out the sun, I was amid a tornado swirl of thousands of chevron barracuda. Simultaneously, the deep bassy grumble of a nearby erupting colvano reverberated through my ears and chest. The water was deep, clear and warm and I moved my camera aside to absorb it all. With a smile so wide I almost lost my regulator and thought '"this is what diving is all about!"   - Matty Smith

Barra Point, Mary Island, will be just one of many fantastic sites Matty will share with you on this expedition.

Solomons03 MattySmith

Leru Cut, where luminous blue shafts of light penetrate into the darkness of an Island crevice, Lologhan's magnificent hard and soft corals and the schooling barracuda and jacks of Mary Island are exquisite. The roar of the current and swooping manta rays makes The Devils Highway a heart stopping high octane adventure!

The peak of a deep water seamount, rising from hundreds of metres below to around 15m, sits next to two lava tubes at Twin Tunnels in the Florida Islands offering a fantastic deep dive. The tubes are encrusted with small sea fans and whip corals and join and exit into the blue at around 40m. Another notable dive here is the Mavis Flying Boat; a Japanese seaplane sunk by the allies during a covert ambush in WWII which sits on its belly, reasonably intact, in about 30m.

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Further west get prepared for the excitement of our shark dives in Marovo Lagoon! Dozens of black tip reef sharks will surround you near the surface as you enter the water. This is a great opportunity for photographers to score magical half over, half underwater shots as the sharks bump into your camera. Matty will be on hand for guidance for those who want it of course!

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Expedition Platform

Named after a distinctive local shore bird, The Bilikiki is 125ft of steel-hulled stability built specifically for the South Pacific with ten air-conditioned, en-suite cabins, a fully appointed, well-stocked camera room and a large dive deck serviced by two tender boats. Nitrox is plentiful; useful with five dive opportunities per day.

Diving from the Bilikiki will be some of the easiest diving (physically) you have done anywhere. The massive dive deck gives you loads of room for suiting up and getting your gear sorted. Large dedicated camera tables allow for any last minute adjustments with ease. The crew load everything in and out of the tinnies for you and will help you with your gear when you arrive at the dive site. An easy roll off the side of the tinnie and you’re away. After the dive the crew are right there to take your gear, and the ladder makes for an easy exit from the water before being transported back to the mother ship.

Between excellent main meals, the chef prepares snacks of fresh warm cookies and huge bowls of buttered popcorn. Wonderfully, most fresh produce has been traded directly from the islanders for the 25 years since Bilikiki started touring this area. From their dugout canoes, the islanders trade fully grown produce for seed packets, enabling them to grow more food. It’s a total win-win and a real pleasure to see the floating markets approach along with broad, beaming smiles and friendly waves.

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For the photographers on baord

Matty will be doing 3 photography tutorial presentations - the topics include:

1. Half over/half underwater photography techniques

2. Lighting techniques

3. Post process techniques

Matty will be available for mentoring and guidance throughout the duration of the trip. Sometimes it's the things we didn't even realise we needed to learn that have the biggest impact on the improvement of our photographs, and it's for this reason there won't be any set learning outcomes. He will work through any challenges you have as they arise making for a very dynamic 10 days! This also makes the trip perfect for beginners and advanced photographers alike!

His wife Lauren, an experienced model, will be on hand to pose for the photographers underwater, or give tips to anyone wanting to try for themselves and their buddies.

Trip Summary:

  • 10 nights live aboard on the MV Bilikiki
  • 5 dives per day (45 total)
  • 3 photography tutorial presentations by Matty Smith
  • Photography mentoring & guidance
  • All inclusive meals prepared by professional chefs using locally sourced produce.
  • Nitrox available
  • 10 Double & Twin rooms with en suite bathrooms and air con
  • Lounge with TV & Bar
  • 2 x Nikon DSLR cameras with Aquatica Digital water housings available for daily hire
  • Fully equipped camera room and charging facilities
  • Spacious dive deck serviced by two tender boats.
  • Experienced dive guides
  • Cultural village tours


USD 5450 pp twin share

Deposit is USD 2200

Departure: ex Honiara Airport (HIR)

Rates Include: Hotel or airport transfers in Honiara, onboard accommodation, meals and snacks, up to 5 dives per day, weights and belt, tanks and airfills

Rates do not include: Flights, USD $25 per person per night reef tax, bar drinks, Nitrox, personal purchases and dive equipment rental 

To express interest or if you need further information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you are ready to book please go to booking link

CLICK HERE to book your spot

NB. Booking is not confirmed until deposit is paid. Payment details for payment of deposit will be provided once booking is completed. Booking username and password is not the same as your OG username and password. If you are new trip client you can leave the existing client login blank and complete the booking . If you are an existing trip client please check with us first and we will let you know your trip client user ID and password which will enable you a much quicker booking process.

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Expedition Leader

matt smith 02 90x120pxMatty Smith:

Matty Smith is a UK born and bred underwater photographer who is now based in Stanwell Park NSW. After emigrating to Australia in 2007 in pursuit of furthering his photography career, Matty fell in love with the Pacific Ocean and has now made it his permanent playground.

Matty has exhibited his award winning images in over 70 countries across 5 continents around the world including the London Natural History Museum in the UK, The Louvre, Paris and the Australian Museum right here in Sydney. He also regularly speaks publically about his style and approach and writes for several popular dive and nature magazines.

Matty has featured in Nat Geo Traveller (Aus), Ocean Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, GEO, The Washington Post and The Guardian amongst many others, as well as featured in TV appearances and The Discovery Channel and Channel 7 (Australia). He has also won over 20 international photography awards including the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year title in 2014.


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