Maldives Liveaboards

Here are our top Maldives liveaboard selections to help you choose a perfect trip based on your preferences and expectations. Take a look to find your ideal voyage

Reviews about Maldives Liveaboards

10101Carpe Novo NovoCarpe Diem Maldives, 1 review

Amazing time on Carpe Novo

I dove for a week on the Carpe Novo in August and cannot say enough about it. I cannot think of one bad or even neutral thing to say about the experience. The boat is new this year, so it is very clean, modern, and comfortable. There is a part of the boat to suit anyone's needs for sun, shade, air con, social or private time. The food was amazing, with enough variety to suit anyone's taste. The crew worked hard to make everything run smoothly. They were well organized for dives, with equipment and tanks always ready. The dive guides were professional, friendly, and knowledgeable. The dives were incredible, to include an amazing manta cleaning station with no less than 9 rays at the same time and a night dive with so many nurse sharks! Healthy reefs and lots of variety of fish to be seen and photograph. I highly recommend this live aboard and most definitely plan to return some day soon! You will not be disappointed. Cheers!
9.5101Adora Boat Club, 1 review

Great Safari Experience - worth it!

The Best of Maldives xtra tour was magnificient, the boat was perfectly fine, my cabin luxurious, the guides (all local) were relaxed and polite and the food really excellent! It was worth the money, I appreciated the service and was luckily able to see everything under water what Maldives has to show!
8.6103Emperor Atoll AtollEmperor Fleet, 3 reviews

Best of Maldives

Great experience! The staff were attentive, helpful, and friendly and the food was plentiful and delicious. The boat wasn't the most spacious or modern, but we chose it for the more affordable rate, as well as the advanced - level diving and small group, and it was well worth it. We saw several species of sharks, sea turtles, and rays on almost every one of our 17 dives, in addition to beautiful reefs, walls, and caves and huge schools of fish. We also saw eel, octopi, cuttlefish, lion fish...but the highlight of the trip was a baby whale shark. Boat staff spent hours searching for us and were the first ones to spot it in an area that can quickly become overrun with snorkel boats full of tourists clamoring for a glimpse. We really enjoyed our experience with this liveaboard and would recommend it to others. That said if you are an American diver used to working with tank pressures in psi and cubic feet be forewarned that everything is in bar and liters. This is not a problem if you dive a standard 80 cu ft tank @ 3000 psi . In bar a standard fill is 200 bar or 2900psi. The 100 psi difference is not an issue. Unfortunately not all the 80 cu ft tanks are standard pressure some of them are high pressure or 3300 psi. If you get one of these tanks and it's filled to 2800-2900 psi u are diving 70 cu ft of gas instead of 80 this shortens your dive time by 5 to 10 min a tank. Over 17 dives that's alot of underwater time missed. Moral of the story know your tank size and insist on a proper fill. This includes the optional 15 liter or HP 100 cu ft tank that is 100+dollars more for the week. Great diving!

Questions and Answers

Why go diving on 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 Maldives 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 Maldives liveaboards 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 pray. 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!

Maldives Liveaboards

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. Maldives liveaboard diving 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 range of itineraries, which also makes Maldives liveaboard prices generally quite reasonable. 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 Maldives Liveaboard Diving

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 sea floor 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 Maldives liveaboard diving routes. However, May to November is still widely considered to be the low season for diving in the Maldives.

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’ Maldives liveaboard budget. 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 Liveboard Itineraries

North Malé - South Malé - Ari Atolls: Starting from Malé, this itinerary, with some variations, is the most popular one for 7-night trips 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.

Maldives liveaboards: read before you go

Most of the best sites for Maldives liveaboard diving 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 Maldives liveaboards, 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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