Welcome to Part 2 of our recommendations for liveaboard diving destinations for divers based in Europe.
In case you missed the Part 1, here is a link.
Enjoy your reading!
Indonesia is a treasure trove of breathtaking destinations, and among the most popular ones are Komodo and Raja Ampat. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its incredible biodiversity, pristine coral reefs, and turquoise waters. Diving or snorkeling in Komodo is a must-do, as you’ll encounter vibrant coral gardens, manta rays, turtles, and an array of colorful fish species. As for Raja Ampat, it is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, making it a true tropical paradise. Raja Ampat is famous for its jaw-dropping marine life, boasting the highest recorded coral diversity in the world. Diving or snorkeling here will expose you to a mesmerizing underwater world teeming with colorful coral formations, reef sharks, manta rays, and even pygmy seahorses. Above water, you can explore beautiful lagoons, and stunning beaches, and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes. Both Komodo and Raja Ampat offer unique natural wonders and unforgettable experiences for nature lovers and diving enthusiasts alike.
However, there are also lesser-known but equally remarkable places for liveaboard diving enthusiasts. Lembeh, renowned for its photography opportunities, offers unique marine life encounters. Misool, Alor, Banda, and Ambon are other hidden gems that offer pristine dive sites and vibrant underwater ecosystems. Whether you seek iconic sights or hidden paradises, Indonesia liveaboard diving has it all for an unforgettable diving adventure.
Komodo trips are typically short, lasting 5-6 nights. However, there are also shorter 3-night options available, which can be convenient if you wish to combine traditional hotel accommodation with liveaboard diving travel. Jelajahi Laut is one of the boats that offer these shorter cruises. One of the most affordable options in Komodo is Jaya, where you can book a 5-night trip starting from EUR 1,073 (USD 1,150). While the accommodation is basic, focusing on diving allows you to experience all the valuable dive sites, and group sizes are usually small with 2-3 divers per dive guide.
The average price for Komodo diving is around EUR 1,925 per person for a 5-night trip (USD 2,063) on Moana or EUR 2,130 (USD 2,282) on Oceanic Liveaboard. For a more luxurious experience, there are liveaboard cruises such as Majik starting from EUR 5,010 (USD 5,370) and Scubaspa Zen starting from EUR 4,245 (USD 4,550).
Unfortunately, the cost of diving trips to Indonesia may increase due to the need for transfer flights and domestic travel. However, some liveaboard operators offer trips starting from Bali, which allows you to avoid the additional expense and hassle of a domestic flight. By joining a liveaboard from Bali, you can directly embark on your diving adventure without the need for internal flights. This can be a convenient option for travelers looking to minimize travel logistics and costs while still enjoying the remarkable diving opportunities that Indonesia has to offer.
The minimum number of logged dives and certification level required to dive in Komodo and Raja Ampat can vary depending on the dive operators and specific dive sites. However, these destinations are generally known for their challenging and often strong currents, which can make diving conditions more suitable for experienced divers.
For Komodo liveaboards, most dive operators recommend a minimum certification level of Advanced Open Water Diver or higher. Some dive sites may have specific requirements, such as a minimum number of logged dives (e.g., 30-50 dives) or experience in drift diving.
Similarly, in Raja Ampat, the strong currents and rich marine life make it preferable for divers to have more experience. Advanced Open Water certification or higher is often recommended, along with a minimum number of logged dives (e.g., 50-100 dives). Some dive sites in Raja Ampat may also require specific certifications like Nitrox or Deep Diver.
The dry season from April to December is considered the best time to visit Komodo. During this period, the weather is generally sunny with calm seas, making it ideal for diving and snorkeling. The water temperature ranges from around 26°C to 29°C (79°F to 84°F) during this time, providing comfortable conditions for underwater exploration.
Raja Ampat is a year-round destination, but the peak tourist season is from October to April when the weather is drier and the seas are calmer. During this time, you can expect water temperatures around 27°C to 30°C (81°F to 86°F). The visibility is excellent, and marine life is abundant. From May to September, Raja Ampat experiences higher rainfall and stronger currents, which can create more challenging diving conditions but also bring in larger marine species.
While Indonesia may not be the most budget-friendly or easily accessible diving destination, it is undoubtedly worth the effort and investment. The country’s unparalleled diversity of marine life and stunning underwater landscapes make it a dream destination for divers. From vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish to encounters with majestic manta rays, sharks, and even rare critters like pygmy seahorses, Indonesia offers a unique and unforgettable underwater experience.
Thailand liveaboard diving offers a thrilling and immersive experience in some of the world’s most captivating underwater destinations. One of the main destinations is the Similan Islands, where vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, including manta rays and whale sharks, can be observed. The Surin Islands offer pristine dive sites with encounters with majestic marine creatures. These liveaboard experiences in Thailand promise unforgettable underwater adventures in crystal-clear waters, immersing divers in a world of wonder and natural beauty.
Duration of the liveaboard cruises in Thailand is usually short from 2 to 4 nights, but in contrast to other destinations Thailand cruises offer diving on the first and last day of the trip. These cruises are often combined with other offshore activities. This would be appreciated by your non-diving friends or family members. If your vacation is no more than 7 days, each of you can get what you want a couple of days of active diving and a few days more to enjoy Thailand’s vibrant colors and traditions. Just make sure you plan enough time for recompression after your diving adventure before the flight.
Prices for liveaboard diving in Thailand start at EUR 669 (USD 719) for the Marco Polo and Merdeka 1, offering 2-night cruises. For 4-night trips, you can expect to pay from EUR 963 (USD 834) on the Pawara, while The Phinisi liveaboard offers rates starting at EUR 1,209 (USD 1,300). These prices typically include accommodation onboard, up to 4 dives per day (including 1 night dive), basic diving equipment such as 12-liter tanks and weights, full board meals, and snacks.
Thailand is easily accessible from several European cities with convenient direct flight options. For those planning a liveaboard diving trip, Phuket airport serves as the most convenient gateway. Many liveaboard trips originate from Phuket, allowing divers to seamlessly transition from their international flight to the start of their diving adventure. With direct flights available, reaching Thailand and starting your liveaboard diving experience in Phuket is both efficient and hassle-free.
Most liveaboards in Thailand typically require divers to hold at least an Open Water Diver certification or its equivalent. Additionally, they often have minimum logged dive requirements ranging from 10 to 20 dives. However, it’s essential to note that specific dive sites within Thailand may have different requirements based on their level of difficulty or unique conditions.
The best time for diving in Thailand varies depending on the specific region and destination. For the Andaman Sea (Similan Islands, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket) the peak diving season is from November to April when the weather is dry and the seas are generally calm. Visibility is excellent during this time, and you can expect water temperatures around 27-30°C (80-86°F). However, popular sites can be crowded during December and January due to the high tourist season.
The Gulf of Thailand (Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan) offers the best diving conditions in this region from May to September, during the summer months. The water visibility is good, and temperatures range from 28-31°C (82-88°F). However, the Gulf of Thailand experiences a monsoon season from October to December, with rough seas and limited visibility.
The best time to increase your chances of encountering whale sharks and manta rays while diving in Thailand is during the peak diving season in the Andaman Sea, which is from November to April
Overall, Thailand is a great choice for travelers who are accompanied by non-diving companions. It is a country that offers a wealth of cultural, natural, and historical attractions. In addition to its stunning beaches and bustling cities, there are numerous other notable places and activities that cater to a variety of interests. Each member of the group can find something suitable, ranging from great diving opportunities to cultural experiences, adventure, or relaxation.
Egypt’s Red Sea, the Maldives, Indonesia, and Thailand all offer diverse and captivating experiences for travelers with varying interests. Egypt’s Red Sea provides an array of liveaboard options for divers of different levels and budgets, with famous dive sites and stunning underwater landscapes. The Maldives boasts incredible coral reefs, encounters with marine giants, and a range of liveaboard choices to accommodate different preferences. Indonesia stands out with its unparalleled marine biodiversity, offering a truly unique diving experience. Lastly, Thailand is an ideal destination for non-diving companions, offering cultural, natural, and historical attractions alongside beautiful beaches. Whether you’re seeking diving adventures or other activities, these destinations have something for everyone, making them excellent choices for unforgettable journeys.
*Please note that prices are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check with our customer support team for the most up-to-date information
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