Maldives Liveaboards

Here are our top selection of liveaboards to help you to choose a perfect diving cruise trip based on your preferences and expectations

Reviews about Maldives Liveaboards

Emperor Explorer Liveaboard Explorer LiveaboardEmperor Fleet, 3 reviews

Emporer Explorer 23-30 May 2021

Dive managers Gabriel and Maria ran a great trip. Food was excellent, dive briefings were thorough, divers were very polite, and the crew were extremely helpful. I traveled by myself and left with some great friends. Thank you for the memories! Would definitely recommend Emperor and Maldives to any diver with Advanced Open Water certification.
Maldives Blue Force One Liveaboard Blue Force One LiveaboardBlue Force Diving (Maldives), 8 reviews

The crew you can trust!

It was not an easy trip - late May, challenging weather, strong wind, rough sea and unforeseen changes caused by a pandemic. But thanks to the crew, the captain and managers, overall the trip was just perfect. As Judith from their customer support team said, "it has been a demonstration of our capacity for action and resolution when things don't go as expected" and it's 100% true.
Amazing team of a great boat! Diving is organized very well, many dive guides, small groups, informative and fun briefings performed by boat co-owner who works as a dive guide and never misses a dive, four Mares Horizon rebreathers and certified guides.
Rich choice of delicious food every time for all - vegetarians, meat or fish eaters, spacious cabins that are cleaned every day while guests are diving, even yoga mats and dumbbells for your morning workouts.
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Scubaspa Yang Liveaboard Yang LiveaboardScubaspa, 7 reviews

Had the time of my life

I went on a one week adventure with Scubaspa Yang and it was everything I could imagine and more. I booked Sea Star cabin which was comfy, spacious and beautiful. It has a purple mood light - nice little touch. Scubaspa Yang is the biggest liveaboard in Maldives and the most beautiful boat I ever stepped on. It has gorgeous bar where bartender Sajiv was making superb cocktails. The boat has spacious sun deck and lovely spa where one can enjoy treatments during the cruise. I booked the Balinese massage and for almost an hour I felt like I’m in different world. The buffet meal selection is top restaurant quality. Every night it was themed with cuisine from different country (Mexican night was my favorite). The team was absolutely amazing. All the way from Simon, the cruise manager to the fantastic boat crew, especially Pavel who was so helpful, the lovely housekeeping team, the Captain, the waiters - especially Jim, who was an absolute star and to me the best waiter in Maldives. Huge thank you to Jahwed and Sheppa for amazing dives. Maldives it’s true paradise for scuba divers, it tops destinations such as Seychelles, Zanzibar and Philippines.
It’s really hard to pick what was best so here are my top three: dinner on deserts island, encounter with a large school of friendly nurse sharks and seeing a whale shark for the first time.
Thank you so much Scubaspa and hoping to be back for another adventure soon!
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Questions and Answers

Why go diving on a liveaboard in the Maldives?

The Maldives has an amazing range of underwater wildlife to discover, including some of the top attractions such as whale sharks and other shark species. However, the truly remarkable sights to see are the giant mantas, some of which can be as much as 6m/20ft across!

There are great locations where you can meet such stunning creatures while diving in the Maldives by liveaboard diving which are at quite shallow depths, meaning that you can see the animals more clearly, can get much closer to them and can stay among them for much longer periods of time as you will not be using your air at such a high speed. In some cases, you could be lucky enough to have mantas passing right over your head, almost close enough to touch!

Maldives Dive Sites

Maldives safari boats give you direct access to reefs, channels, thilas (underwater islands), cleaning stations and even a few wrecks. The reefs often act as barriers, presenting a solid, impenetrable wall to the ravages of the Indian Ocean and creating the paradise within which liveaboards in the Maldives operate. These colourful and lively locations are often patrolled by whale sharks and similar creatures.

The channels - known locally as kandus - are generally found around the border of an atoll, with currents running through their coral-encrusted walls. This makes them perfect hunting grounds for sharks, tuna and mantas, as well as perfect drift diving sites, though the current can sometimes get quite strong, making this a challenge best suited to more experienced divers. Thilas can be found across channels as well as between the islands of the Maldives. While they present some of the easiest conditions for diving, they are also home to plenty of beautiful marine life, making them no less rewarding.

The really must-see sites while diving in the Maldives are the cleaning stations, where you can witness the astounding partnership between deadly predators and fish which are easily small enough to be considered prey. Mantas and sharks visit and stay for as long as 20 minutes to have parasites picked out of their gills, skin and even their mouths in a miracle of animal cooperation!

Shallow lagoons and crystal clear water are also perfect for snorkeling.

Maldives Liveaboard

Most of the top dive sites are, as you would expect, away from populated islands. Relying on shore-based diving would require long boat rides to and from the dive sites each day, giving you fewer dives each day. Even then you might never see some of the very best places as they are out of reach of smaller vessels. Diving in the Maldives with liveaboard removes that long commute and puts you right over the best sites, not just those closest to the resort.

The large Maldives safari boats provide an impressive range of facilities and, as the water around the atolls is very calm, they are also very comfortable, even if you have difficulties with motion sickness. There are hundreds of boats operating a wide variety of itineraries, which also makes prices of the liveaboard which operates in the Maldives generally quite reasonable. Of course the Maldives seem as not a cheap destination for diving, however, there is definitely a range of yachts to choose from. You can go for luxury liveaboard or stick to a more budget yacht. Most routes start and end in Malé, with different itineraries available at different times of the year.

How to choose an itinerary and when to go

The Maldives has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons created by the two opposing monsoon cycles. The most popular for sun-seeking tourists is the dry season from about January to May, created by the winter northeastern monsoon. However, diving is still possible throughout the wet season from June to December, though some itineraries will be unavailable because of rough conditions created by the southwest monsoon. As the country straddles the equator, temperatures remain pretty consistent throughout the year at an average water temperature of 27-30°C/81-86°F.

The Best Time for Diving on Liveaboard in the Maldives

The best time to scuba dive in the Maldives is from January to March, in the driest part of the dry season. The seas are at their calmest, providing crystal-clear waters with extremely good visibility. The months before and after this period are still generally good, but your chances of seeing a whale shark are lower.

The rough seas created by the wet season stirs up nutrients from the seafloor and creates a lot of plankton. While this dramatically reduces visibility, it also attracts mantas and whale sharks. This means that this period can be especially good for specific LOB diving itineraries in the Maldives. However, May to November is still widely considered to be the low season for diving in the Maldives.

You shall also keep an eye on prices, many liveaboards offer discounted trips and specials throughout a year.

Most Popular Maldives Liveaboard Trips

Most of the Maldives safari boats offer 7-night trips, with 10 to 14-night trips being much rarer due to there being less demand for them as they exceed most peoples' budget for liveaboard diving in the Maldives. Depending on the duration of the cruise, boats usually visit 1-3 atolls or as many as 5-6 atolls in one trip. It is important to note, however, that a greater number of atolls visited does not automatically make it a better choice. It is possible to get all of the top marine life encounters and some great macro diving and awesome night diving all from just a single atoll. It is much more important be in the right place at the right time.

Central Atolls Liveaboard Itineraries

North Malé - South Malé - Ari Atolls: Starting from Malé, this itinerary, with some variations, is the most popular one for 7-night packages during the winter high season months. The best time for this itinerary is January to March, though December or April sailings are also pretty good. Along with the Rasdhoo and Vaavoo Atolls, this itinerary is also commonly known as Best of Maldives.

North Malé - Baa - Raa Atolls: This itinerary is also a good one for the winter months, but can also also make for a memorable experience during the wet season. It visits some of the best places to witness the migration of mantas and whale sharks, with Hanifaru Bay on Baa Atoll being the real highlight.

Far North Liveaboard Itinerary

Haa Alifu Atoll: This is the northernmost atoll in the Maldives and is well-known for providing great opportunities for spotting mantas at practically every dive site, especially from September to October. There are, however, only a few Maldives liveaboards that operate in this atoll.

Deep South Liveaboard Itinerary

Deep South Atolls: This part of the Maldives is one of the most interesting for divers, especially those who have come to see sharks. Whale sharks can be found at Gaafu Atoll, and thresher sharks, white-tip sharks, and tiger sharks can be found at Foahmulah Island. The only time when Maldives liveaboards operate here is mid-January to mid-March.

Liveaboards of Maldives: read before you go

Most of the best diving liveaboard sites for Maldives are pretty deep and some feature strong currents, so it’s recommended to complete the Advanced Open Water Course before arriving, and to have equivalent diving experience. Diving insurance is required on all Maldives safari boats. The maximum depth you will be diving to is 30m/98ft. Decompression diving, solo diving and technical diving are strictly prohibited.

Recommended equipment for every diver includes a torch, reef hook, compass, and surface marker buoy. DIN valves are used on every LOB in Maldives, so if you use yoke valves, please remember to bring your own adapter with you. Some equipment is available for rent and should be pre-booked before your trip. Some equipment (particularly hooks and torches) may be not available for rent and can only be bought unless booked in advance. All items and services sold on liveaboards are subject to a 12% sales tax.

Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months after your date of arrival. All nationalities are able to get a free 30-day tourist visa on arrival from the immigration desk at Malé International Airport, though you will need to have a return flight ticket booked and ready to show. The 30-day stay rule does not apply to the citizens of the following countries - Brunei (15 days) and India (90 days).

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