If you’re a diver on a budget, you might think liveaboard trips are out of your reach. But the good news is that plenty of budget-friendly liveaboards offer incredible adventures – without the hefty price tag.
From diving in exotic locations to cruising through scenic waterways, there are plenty of options for those who want to explore the world by boat! In this guide to the best budget liveaboards, we’ll cover everything from amenities and costs to tips for finding the perfect voyage. Here are the 5 best budget liveaboards – you’ll be surprised at just how much you can do without breaking the bank!
- The Best Budget Liveaboard for a Comfortable Trip: Tillis, Egypt
- Budget doesn’t mean skimping on amenities. The Tillis liveaboard in Egypt offers everything you need for a comfortable trip.
- The Best Budget Liveaboard for a Traditional Experience: Jaya, Indonesia
For a traditional liveaboard experience, Jaya in Indonesia is hard to beat. It’s equipped with all the necessary amenities, and its traditional Indonesian design gives it a unique, rustic feel.
- Best Budget Liveaboard for a Luxury Experience: Sawasdee Fasai, Thailand
For a luxurious liveaboard experience without the large price tag, the Sawasdee Fasai in Thailand is a great option!
- The Best Budget Liveaboard for a Short Trip: Pro Dive Cairns, Australia
Pro Cairns in Australia offers a great budget option for those looking to explore the Great Barrier Reef – but don’t have time for a long liveaboard trip.
- The Best Budget Liveaboard for Shark Diving: Blackbeards Sea Explorer, Bahamas
For those looking to get up close and personal with sharks, the Blackbeards Sea Explorer is exactly what you need!
Read on for more information and details on each liveaboard.
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Like hotels, liveaboards vary drastically in terms of amenities and cost. Sometimes the differences are obvious, but other times, you can get just as much for your money with a budget liveaboard.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when booking a budget liveaboard:
Many liveaboards offer sales at certain times of the year or discounts for early bookings. Be sure to book ahead if possible and look out for any deals that could save you money. Consider booking in the off-season when fewer people travel, as rates may also be lower.
Some locations are going to be more expensive than others. Research the destinations that interest you and find out roughly how much they cost so you can plan your budget accordingly. For example, remote locations such as the Galapagos Islands will cost more than a liveaboard trip in the Red Sea.
When booking your liveaboard, always check to see what’s included and what isn’t. Some tours only include the dives and accommodation, while others might include snacks and beverages. Knowing this ahead of time will help you budget accordingly so that you don’t spend more than expected.
The size of the liveaboard is going to make a big difference in terms of cost, amenities, and even comfort levels. Bigger boats are usually more expensive but often have more amenities, better onboard facilities, and a bigger selection of destinations.
If you can, be flexible with your travel dates. The best deals are usually snapped up quickly – so if you’re willing to adjust your schedule a little bit, you could save big!
Before you book your budget liveaboard, it’s always a good idea to read customer reviews. This will help you get an idea of the quality of the boat and services offered, as well as any potential issues or limitations.
The Top 5 Best Budget Liveaboards
If you don’t want to shop around or book in advance – don’t worry! Here are some of the best affordable liveaboards which offer year-round budget-friendly trips.
People often associate budget with cramped and uncomfortable lodging, but Tillis offers spacious cabins for a fraction of the cost. You can relax and recharge after a day of adventure with a range of room options – including double cabins with air conditioning and private en suite bathrooms!
Daily housekeeping lets you enjoy a clean and comfortable cabin throughout your entire trip onboard the Tillis. This boat was also custom-built with divers in mind, providing the perfect environment to explore the ocean’s depths easily and safely. But the real magic of this liveaboard lies in its helpful and friendly crew, who go above and beyond to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.
The food is fresh and delicious, and the hospitality is second-to-none. The brilliant dive guides will also show you the most incredible sights and ensure your safety throughout every dive. With a fun and happy atmosphere onboard, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime on this amazing liveaboard.
- Routes: Shark Triangle, North and Brothers, North – Ras Mohamed and Tiran, Deep South, Daedalus, and Fury Shoal
- 13 cabins in total
- Full board meals, snacks, and soft drinks included (alcohol is extra)
- Snorkeler friendly
- Air-conditioned cabins and saloon
- Tv in cabins
- Leisure deck
- Warm water shower
- Tech diving options
- Nitrox available
- All food is included as standard
- Lots of home comforts aboard, like TVs and warm water showers
- Delicious food with lots of choices
- Amazing staff
- Great routes for exciting dives
- Chance to see various types of shark
- Nitrox is 60eur a week
For a traditional phinisi experience while cruising the waters of Indonesia – Jaya is the best budget liveaboard in the area. The team is knowledgeable and friendly, which is perfect for first-time liveaboard divers. Plus, with small dive groups at a ratio of 4:1, you’ll have ample opportunity to explore the underwater world at your own pace.
With the chance of up to 4 dives a day, you’ll have ample opportunity to explore the world-class dive sites that Indonesia is famous for. But the adventure doesn’t stop there – with Komodo itineraries that include trekking to see the world-famous Komodo dragons, you’ll gain some more amazing memories.
Jaya’s crew is experienced and organized, meaning you can sit back and relax, knowing that every detail of your trip is taken care of. And don’t let the fact that the boat is old fool you – it’s well-kept and clean, providing the perfect home base for your adventure.
- Budget routes include Komodo Trip and Komodo Cruise and Dive
- 7 cabins in total
- 5 bathrooms
- 14 maximum guests
- Full board meals and snacks
- Land excursions included as standard
- 4:1 dive groups
- Air conditions cabins
- Camera station
- Outdoor dining
- Custom-built boat for diving
- Well-organized itineraries – you won’t miss a thing
- Access to some brilliant dive sites
- Lots of marine life to see
- Authentic feeling phinisi
- The briefings are in-depth, and very knowledgeable
- Small cabins can feel a little cramped
- Only select routes are budget friendly
- The boat could benefit from some updating
- Drinks are extra costs
The Sawasdee Fasai is a custom-built dive boat that offers everything a diver could want and more. With plenty of space and amenities, this liveaboard doesn’t feel like a budget option, even if it is one of the best budget liveaboards out there – you’ll have all the comforts of home while exploring the incredible dive sites in Thailand.
The Sawasdee Fasai is a well-run liveaboard offering a clean and comfortable home base for diving exploration. The boat is modern, which gives it a luxury edge – without the high-end cost. With dive guides who know their stuff, you’ll feel safe and confident exploring Thailand’s magnificent dive sites.
We were really surprised at just how big the boat was for the price. You don’t have to worry about cramped cabins with the Sawasdee Fasai; there’s plenty of space onboard.
- Routes, Similan Koh Bon – Koh Tachai
- Maximum number of guests 30
- 15 cabins in total
- 11 bathrooms
- Air-conditioned cabins
- Warm water showers
- En-suite bathrooms
- Full board meals and snacks included
- There is a bar
- Custom-built boat for diving
- Free nitrox
- Shaded diving area
- Well-kept and decorated cabins
- Free nitrox!
- Great food options
- World-class diving in an incredible location
- A friendly crew who are always there to help
- Airport and hotel transfers are included
- Soft drinks are an additional cost
This liveaboard is the perfect choice for quick trips on a budget, offering an unforgettable opportunity to explore one of the world’s most iconic dive sites. While the excursions are only short, you can count on Pro Dive Cairns to make the most of your time underwater.
Review Score: 9.0
Pro Dive Cairns provides an unforgettable time for experienced divers who are looking for a short but memorable liveaboard trip. The staff are knowledgeable and friendly, the boat is well-equipped and comfortable – and the price is unbeatable. There aren’t many boats that offer such a great liveaboard experience at that price.
Each dive brief is well-informed, so you won’t miss a thing, and the staff is always on hand to help with any questions. The food onboard is delicious, and you will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the experience in between dives.
- 3-Day Great Barrier Outer Reef
- Maximum amount of guests 32
- Number of cabins 14
- Number of bathrooms 8
- Free WiFi
- Rental and snorkel gear is included as standard
- Full board meals, snacks, and tea/coffee
- Charging stations
- Leisure deck
- Air-conditioned cabins
- Bucket list location – the Great Barrier Reef is not to be missed
- The cabins are comfortable and have everything you need
- Great for divers who want a quick dive trip on a budget
- Spacious sundeck creates an ideal spot for relaxing after the dives
- A private dive guide is an additional $1,880 – if you don’t pay this, you don’t get a guide which makes navigating underwater challenging
With a focus on shark diving and wall diving, Blackbeards Sea Explorer offers unparalleled opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures. And if you’re a solo diver, you’ll feel right at home – this liveaboard is the perfect place to connect with other like-minded adventurers.
Review Score: 9.6
With its incredible crew, we would happily return to the Blackbeards Sea Explorer time and time again! The staff is passionate and experienced, and they always work hard to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. The atmosphere among everyone is great, with people joining from all over the world.
Aside from the clean boat, great staff, and delicious food choices – the shark diving opportunities make this liveaboard one of a kind. If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure in the Bahamas, Blackbeards Sea Explorer is definitely the way to go.
- Route: Best of the Bahamas
- Maximum guests 18
- 18 bunks (single and double)
- 3 bathrooms
- Custom-built for diving
- Indoor air-conditioned saloon
- Free wine with dinner
- Rinse hoses
- Full board meals and snacks
- Soft drinks and alcohol are all included in the price
- The crew is lovely and very entertaining
- Fishing and land excursions are included
- A small guest total allows for a personalized experience
- Only 3 bathrooms shared with 18 guests
- The boat could do with some modernizing
- No nitrox
Liveaboards can be an amazing way to explore the underwater world – but when going with a more affordable option, it’s important to ensure you’re making the most of your trip.
Almost all affordable liveaboards will offer shared cabins. This is great for socializing and meeting new people but can be a little cramped if you’re not used to it. Make sure you come prepared and are comfortable with sharing a room.
When booking on a budget, it’s important to check what’s included in the price. Ask about meal options, rental gear, and any activities and excursions offered. This will help you plan ahead and save some money.
Budget liveaboards are often smaller, which means you will find yourself in close quarters with your fellow passengers. This is a great opportunity to socialize and make new friends – so be prepared to open yourself up to conversation and get to know your fellow adventurers.
An affordable liveaboard may not have all the bells and whistles of a more luxurious boat. Don’t expect many additional activities or the best food – but with the right attitude and an open mind, you can still have an amazing experience!
Most of the best budget liveaboards will provide rental gear at an additional cost. However, when trying to keep your budget down, you can save money by bringing your own gear. Not only does this save you money, but it will also allow you to dive with familiar equipment.
A liveaboard is a boat that provides living arrangements for guests while they explore the ocean. Guests stay on board and are taken to remote dive locations, where they spend their days diving and exploring the underwater world.
We have tried to keep all the affordable liveaboards in this post below $1500. But in general, pricing can range from just a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the length of your trip and where you are traveling.
Most budget liveaboards offer scuba diving and snorkeling as their main activities. However, depending on where you are going, additional activities may be included, such as fishing, kayaking, and land excursions.
Bring essentials such as your passport, medications, a swimsuit, and dive gear. Additionally, it’s always good to come prepared with sunscreen and any other items you may need for the duration of your trip. For some more ideas, check out our dedicated post on what to pack for a liveaboard trip.
Safety should always be a priority when selecting your liveaboard. Make sure to research the boat and the company you are traveling with, and look up any reviews or feedback. Additionally, it is always a good idea to check the boat’s safety features and ensure they are up to date.
When booking a budget liveaboard, it’s important to ask about any additional fees or costs that may come up. Ask about transfers, food, drinks, rental gear, or any other activities that may incur extra fees. This will help you plan ahead and budget your trip accordingly.
This will depend on the policies of the operator you are traveling with. Usually, the dive master will assess the conditions and decide whether to continue with the trip or change routes. If you’re concerned about bad weather, be sure to check the season you are traveling in and ask your operator about their policies.
Budget liveaboards can be a great way to explore some of the world’s most stunning dive sites without spending a fortune. With the right attitude and preparation, you can have an amazing experience while still staying within your budget.
In this post, we have outlined some of the best budget liveaboards and some helpful tips to consider when booking your trip. Then, once you have chosen your liveaboard, the only thing left to do is jump onboard and start exploring!