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
Best of the Maldives
Best time to go: December - MarchWhy this one
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- 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
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
Far North of the Maldives
Best time to go: December - AprilWhy this one
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- 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
South of the Maldives
Best time to go: February - AprilWhy this one
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- 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
- View all Maldives LiveaboardsChat with us if you can’t find what you want
Reviews about Maldives Liveaboards
The boat is one of the newest on Maldives (it was built in the end of 2015). This is noticeable for its interior design.
The meal is a full board in a buffet style, but the food is really varied. We had the opportunity to choose from fish, chicken, beef, sashimi, shrimps, vegetables and fruits. We have to give chef his due (he's local by the way), everything was delicious.
Other services such as alcohol or dive equipment renting are for extra price. What concerns Azalea, they also make a night barbecue trip to the most distant sandbank of Vaavu Atoll (the closest island is about 20 km away)
The boat could be divided into 3 decks and plus a sun deck.
There are 6 Standard cabins, a few stockrooms and a crew cabin on the ground deck. They are small, but comfortable (nobody complained).
On the main deck there are two Junior Suite cabins and one large and the most expensive - Master Suite. There is a dining area on that deck as well. Breakfast and lunch are served inside and the dinner is outside.
There's an entertaining area with comfortable sofas, bar, music and TV on the upper deck.
And on the very top there is a sun deck where you can sunbathe or chill out in a jacuzzi.
The cruise usually lasts for 7 nights and 8 days visiting up to 3-5 Atolls. There are about 15-18 dives including 2 night dives in total. But in my case, the trip was shortened for one day.
I was met at the airport and accompanied to the dhoni boat which usually anchors near Hulhumalé. Then we checked in and had a lunch. Later, there was a check dive.
After that I went for a dinner. There's no fixed time for breakfast, dinner or supper. It depends on the diving schedule which is made by dive instructor.
From the early morning, before a breakfast, there is a first dive.
After the first day of diving we headed to the South Malé Atoll. All the movements are made during the day and last for about 1-3 hours.
The second dive was near Como Cocoa Resort. Apart from the beautiful and colorful corals there's nothing interesting out there.
Then we moved to the Vaavu Atoll near Alimatha Resort for night dive. This one is famous for its nurse sharks.
There were a lot of divers from other liveaboards. On that day the current was not so strong and most of the sharks were not on the bottom (the average diving depth is about 15 meters), but close to the surface where it was harder to dive because there was nothing to hold on (the current really shifts you). So it's great if we've met at least 10-15 sharks.
From the very morning the weather started to change and we did another dive near the same resort. The majority of dives we did in the channels with a strong current. There are usually many schools of fish and a lot of sharks, so it was really captivating. This time we were lucky to meet white tips sharks, a few eagle rays , turtles and a huge number of small fish.
Soon after the dive we headed to the local island of Thinadhoo. There's a nice spot near it which is called Golden Wall. It's got the name because of the color of yellow color corals which grow there. Besides we've met a sсhool of grey barracuda fish.
The last dive of the day was near the most eastern part of the Maldives - Fotteo. Here we had to make 3 dives (it's easy to imagine how much is intriguing under this water).
In the evening we were pleased by a surprise - the barbecue on a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean! However the weather became worse, the wind got stronger and ocean got rough as well. It was time to come back to yacht.
In the strong morning rain and wind we returned to the same spot and did another dive. It was one of the most impressive dive during our safari. Plenty of sharks, schools of fish, colorful corals which I’ve never seen before, wonderful grottoes and small caves - that's why this dive is memorable for.
As weather didn't get better, we have to go back.
The next dive was near Alimatha Resort (I would note that there are plenty of great diving spots near this resort).
And the last dive was in another spot near the resort. Here I've met a very curious turtle who found my camera really interesting. But it's probably because she wanted to taste it
After the dive the yacht moved to the Guraidhoo local island and Kandooma Reasort.
The morning dive was notable for the huge amount of turtles we've met - 5 or 6! I've never seen so many of them in one place before! But that was actually the only cool thing about this spot.
Then we've moved several times around North Male Atoll and finally we stopped somewhere in between One&Only Reethi Rah and Coco Bodu Hithi Resorts. Here we were to have a night dive but not in a channel so there was almost no current.
Here we've seen plenty of corals which flourish only at night, an octopus and a sea turtle sleeping under the rock. They say it's very unusual. So we were lucky!
On our last day we finally met manta rays! It's really spectacular although I've seen ten of them before.
That was a perfect ending for our diving safari around the Maldives!
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!
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).