The Best Liveaboards in the Maldives27th March 2017 | Sarah Morlock
The Maldives in the Indian Ocean is a destination for lovers of manta rays, whale sharks and tropical waters. Here, you’ll visit coral atolls specifically in search of these gentle giants and more. On a good trip, you might spot mantas, whale sharks, hammerheads, nurse sharks, reef sharks, barracuda and a variety of tropical fish.
While diving in the Maldives, you’ll see a variety of underwater environments. Most experienced divers will want to head for the underwater pinnacles (thilas), which are caked in corals and home to huge schools of fish. Further afield, the passages between islands (kandus) are home to epic drift dives with big marine life.
Because the Maldives is home to hundreds of small islands, often isolated with minimal diving facilities, many areas are only accessible by diving safari. While it is possible to island hop by sea plane, diving from a liveaboard is often a much more cost effective way to see the best dive sites.
Liveaboards in the Maldives usually depart from Male, which is the capital city and located in the North Male Atoll. However, some itineraries begin in the country’s north or south and require short flights from the international airport. The typical length of trips in the Maldives is 7 days, but some more remote itineraries may be as long as 10 nights.
The best time to dive in the Maldives is from January to April. During this time, the northeast monsoon arrives, bringing excellent sea conditions and plankton-rich waters. This in turn attracts mantas and whale sharks to the atolls. With that said, it is possible and enjoyable to dive in the Maldives year-round.
Do note that some itineraries in the Maldives may only be suitable to intermediate and advanced divers due to heavy and unpredictable current.
Best Luxury Liveaboard: Scubaspa Yang
One of the most luxurious liveaboards in the world, Scubaspa Yang is one of the biggest and most comfortable ships ever built in the Maldives.
The magic of the Scubaspa Yang liveaboard is its dual purpose as both a dive boat and a five-star wellness retreat. The spa occupies a whole 300-square-meter deck, so you can rest assured that this ship will take care of you both under and above the water.
When you book a Scubaspa holiday, you’ll have to choose which combination suits you best. You can go for all diving, a combination of diving and spa treatments, or even just spa treatments for the whole week. If you travel with a non-diving partner, this ship is a great choice.
A large ship with 19 cabins, the Scubaspa Yang has three decks to provide enough room for everyone. In addition, the boat is staffed with a large and accommodating crew.
If you’re looking for the most luxurious diving holiday possible in the Maldives, Scubaspa Yang is right for you.
Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: MV Leo
A great choice for experienced divers, the MV Leo combines touches of luxury with a diving-centric holiday.
The ship itself was fitted for divers by divers. Each itinerary is scheduled to take advantage of the best conditions for wildlife viewing, and this ship offers trips to rarely visited destinations, including the Southern Atolls. In addition, experienced divers are welcome to dive without a guide. Furthermore, the boat can accomodate rebreathers, and Nitrox is included.
In terms of topside amenities, the MV Leo has it all. There’s a Jacuzzi on deck, and a full bar is staffed by the helpful crew. 24 divers can travel with the boat in 12 air-conditioned cabins.
For experienced divers or those searching for a well-priced boat with a touch of luxury, the MV Leo is a great choice.
Best Budget Liveaboard: MV Ari Queen
Well-equipped in terms of scuba diving facilities, the MV Ari Queen promises that all guests will have the best possible experience. Two dive pros are ready to accompany divers on all dives, and the spacious dive deck has room for everyone’s equipment. On a typical itinerary, you’ll enjoy 1 dive on the first day along with 3 dives on each full day and 1 dive on the last day of the trip. This means you’ll dive a total of 17 times. Occasionally, this budget-friendly liveaboard offers rare two-week itineraries.
Topside, the steel-hulled yacht provides 24 guests with 12 ensuite cabins. There’s also a lounge with a TV, and the sundeck hosts an open-air bar for enjoying the sunny views while sipping on your post-dive cocktail. 15 crew members will ensure your every need is catered to.
If you’d like to visit the traditionally pricey Maldives, but are worried about the price, look no further than the MV Ari Queen.
The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are a few more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in the Maldives, click the button below.