Here are our top selection of liveaboards to help you to choose a perfect diving cruise trip based on your preferences and expectations
Hanifaru Bay & Mantas
Best time to go: Between June and November each year
Reasons to goSearch for offers
- UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Maldives designated as a Marine Protected Area
- The concentration of planktons attracts whale sharks and schools of manta rays
- Good photo opportunities from a different angle
Best of the Maldives
Best time to go: December - MarchWhy this one
Reasons to goSearch for offers
- These give you a very high chance to encounter whale sharks and manta rays. Hammerhead sharks, gray reef sharks, nurse sharks, eagle rays, and other pelagic species are frequent visitors
- Pinnacles, soft coral channels, and multiple drift dives are a blast
- Select from the many operators sailing in this region, ready to satisfy any of your needs
Far North of the Maldives
Best time to go: December - AprilWhy this one
Reasons to goSearch for offers
- Pick these if you want to dive in remote areas away from a lot of people. This area has yet to be discovered by most tourists
- Big groups of manta rays will whirl you in a secret pelagic dance
- Healthy and unspoiled corals abound wherever you look
Deep South of Maldives
Best time to go: February - AprilWhy this one
Reasons to goSearch for offers
- Drift away from your troubles by going on a Deep South trip
- Sharks are EVERYWHERE; we kid you not!
- You may even cross the equator. If this is something you’d like to do, welcome aboard!
You have been waiting too long to take a vacation just to go on a standard trip. Discover our special selection of long duration safarisSearch for offers
Friendly to Non-divers
You can enjoy a safari trip even if you’re not a diver. Join a liveaboard for a fabulous journey in turquoise waters. Snorkeling, spas, and tiny islands are waiting for youSearch for offers
Blue Force I
Nominated as the "Best New Liveaboard" in 2014, Blue Force I is graciously keeping its leading positions as one of the best Maldivian Liveaboards.Search for offers
The name speaks for itself, Scubaspa is a floating resort featuring high-quality SPA, Yoga and Ayurveda on top of excellent diving services.Search for offers
Its reputation of high-class vacation provider brings it to the TOP of divers' choice. This Liveaboard features an absolutely perfect combination of great services and reasonable prices.Search for offers
Lovely Liveaboard is known for its warm atmosphere that makes everybody feel like home. Sachika is a synonym to an excellent diving vacation in the MaldivesSearch for offers
Luxury Liveaboard Holidays
The best of the best! It's not only about the destination. Want to have it all? Check out our high-class selection of exclusive liveaboardsSearch for offers
Even trips to the Maldives can be affordable. Select one of these options and enjoy a diving safari that fits into your budgetSearch for offers
- View all Maldives LiveaboardsChat with us if you can’t find what you want
Reviews about Maldives Liveaboards
Great time in the Maldives
I guess it is important to note that you don't dive directly from the main boat. The main boat is where we live and eat, but there is a smaller dive boat that takes you to the actual dive sites. The travel can be very long and definitely something that I was not expecting. Despite many repeated requests from multiple people on board, the crew failed to give very clear directions as far as: 1. how long would the ride be from the main boat to the dive site or 2. the proper order of jumping 3. some update about the dive site and what it meant for changes to the dive brief. I cannot remember that one dive went as planned, but I am okay with being adaptable. What I did not like was the lack of communication. The dive guide would say : "alright, gear up" and we ended waiting another 15min before going in the water. This happened almost daily and was really frustrating. We told them many times to me more accurate about telling to gear up 1min before hitting the water, but they never listened.
The food was okay but nothing outstanding. I have done a few liveaboards and that was the least appealing food I had. It was bland.
I would probably choose a different company if I were to dive the Maldives again, just because the lack of communication was not acceptable for the standards of a liveaboard.
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.
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).
- Emperor Atoll
- Emperor Voyager
- Scubaspa Ying
- Scubaspa Yang
- Ocean Divine
- Blue Voyager (Maldives Master)
- Carpe Diem
- Carpe Vita
- Emperor Orion
- Emperor Leo
- Emperor Virgo
- Emperor Serenity
- Manta Cruise
- Fun Azul II
- Maldives Blue Force One
- Duke Of York
- Conte Max
- Princess Handy
- Blue Spirit (Sea Spirit)
- Princess Haleema
- Carpe Novo
- Blue Shark
- Maldives Aggressor II
- Seafari Explorer