The Maldives is truly a diver’s paradise. A nation of more than 1,190 islands sprawled across 27 atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is ideal for liveaboard adventures. Whether you want to spot the world’s largest population of manta rays, dive with whale sharks or explore shipwrecks, liveaboards in the Maldives offer a wealth of experiences.
From luxury cruises to some more affordable options, liveaboards here can cater to almost anyone. But as the Maldives is such a hot spot for divers, planning your liveaboard vacation can be a little overwhelming.
This is why we have put together this ultimate guide to liveaboards in the Maldives – to help you make the most of your liveaboard diving Maldives experience!
Liveaboards in the Maldives offer a unique opportunity to explore some of the world’s best dive sites. The stunning coral reefs, abundant marine life, and crystal-clear waters make liveaboard diving in the Maldives a dream for many divers.
If you have never heard of liveaboards, they are basically boats that carry divers to different dive sites. On liveaboards, you live and eat with the same crew and fellow divers throughout your trip, making a great sense of community. You can visit some hidden gems and far-flung islands that you wouldn’t be able to access with day trips.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at why the Maldives is the perfect location for liveaboard diving.
Many liveaboards in the Maldives cater to divers of all levels and experiences. Some dive sites are best suited to experienced divers due to strong currents in certain areas of the atolls (like the Ari Atoll). But there are plenty of liveaboard trips designed for beginners, with lots of liveaboards not requiring any significant logged diving experience.
The rich waters of the Maldives offers unparalleled opportunities for divers. From reef sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks to colorful corals, giant lobsters, and morays – the liveaboard diving Maldives experience will provide plenty of memorable wildlife sightings.
It’s no secret that the Maldives is home to some of the best dive sites in the world. From the iconic Shipward in Lhaviyani Atoll to the Manta Point and the beautiful coral gardens of Maaya Thila – liveaboards make it easy to access these remote dive sites.
Not to mention Banana Reef, Rainbow Reef, and Girifushi Thila – which are just a few of the many areas worth checking out.
Crystal clear waters are what await liveaboard divers in the Maldives. The water temperatures range from 80-86°F (27-30°C) year-round, and visibility can reach up to 50 meters! These conditions allow liveaboard divers to view all the majestic marine life, stunning coral reefs, and dramatic wrecks that the Maldives has to offer.
Plus, if you’re a fan of underwater photography, liveaboards in the Maldives are the perfect place to capture some breathtaking shots!
Not everyone has friends or family members who love diving as much as they do. While one essential rule when diving is never to dive alone – liveaboards can provide solo travelers with a great opportunity to enjoy liveaboard diving in the Maldives.
The liveaboard experience is a social one, and solo travelers will be welcomed by other divers and crew members alike. Depending on your chosen liveaboard, you may need to share a room with another diver. But, some liveaboards do offer single occupancy options at an additional cost.
Not all marine life is active during the day. Maldivian reefs are teeming at night, and some of the best itineraries for Maldives liveaboards include night diving. Depending on your liveaboard trip, you can experience fantastic underwater creatures such as cuttlefish, octopus, sleeping parrot fish, or even nurse sharks!
The Maldives is full of dive resorts. Every atoll has its own resorts and hotels, and many of them come with their own dive shop. But, for keen divers, liveaboards offer a more immersive and unique experience. By exploring more dive sites and experiencing stunning sunsets in remote locations – liveaboards are an unforgettable way to enjoy the beautiful islands of the Maldives.
While some vacationers may prefer a dive resort, many divers believe nothing can compare to a liveaboard.
The liveaboard diving Maldives experience is incredibly enticing. But before you book your liveaboard, there are a few things to consider.
There are many regions and atolls to explore in the Maldives. When picking your liveaboard, be sure to check where it is set to visit.
Most Maldivian liveaboards focus on the central atolls, including Male, Ari Atolls, and Felidhoo – all top-rated diving sites.
Far less crowded than the central region, you can find drift dives and many ocean life sightings in the north. Lhaviyani, Baa, and Raa Atolls are popular liveaboard spots in the north.
Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaalu are two of the less visited liveaboard areas, but they offer some of the best liveaboard diving in the Maldives. Very few liveaboards travel this far out, but if you’re looking for more adventure – it is certainly worth considering.
You will find some of the most beautiful dive sites in the south, such as Maaya Thila. This area is relatively untouched and offers excellent chances for spotting exotic marine life.
Full of sharks, mantas, and vast groups of fish – deep south liveaboards are best reserved for advanced divers. Here you’ll find dive spots such as Addu Atoll and Huvadhoo Atoll.
Across the world, you will find a range of liveaboard boat options. Some liveaboards are large, luxury vessels, while others are smaller and more basic. The liveaboards found in the Maldives are often on the luxurious side and are usually steel-hull motorboats or yachts.
Steel-hull boats are the most common liveaboard option in the Maldives and are designed with safety, durability, and comfort in mind. The boat size depends entirely on the liveaboard operator, but liveaboards in the Maldives usually range from 25 to 40 meters long and typically accommodate 14-25 divers.
If you want to go the more traditional route, dhoni liveaboards are also available. Dhonis are wooden boats that have plied the waters of the Maldives for centuries and offer a truly local experience. A dhoni is typically much smaller than a steel-hull liveaboard and usually only suitable for 8-12 divers. More often, a dhoni will follow liveaboards and act as a shuttle service from the liveaboard to dive sites – but some operators have adapted dhonis to be more liveaboard friendly and be used for liveaboard trips.
Liveaboards in the Maldives can range from 4 days up to 15 days, depending on where you decide to explore. Generally, most of the liveaboard diving Maldives excursions will last for 8 to 15 days. It is crucial to consider the duration of your liveaboard trip, as it will determine what sites you can explore.
Most liveaboards in the Maldives will provide their guests with up to 3-4 dives per day. However, some liveaboards offer more or less than this, so it is essential to check before you book. There are usually amenities aboard, and most liveaboards will offer guided dive tours to help divers make the most of their experience.
Some liveaboards will require divers to have a minimum amount of logged dives before joining a liveaboard trip. This is because some itineraries are best suited to more advanced divers. Don’t worry; many liveaboards in the Maldives require no logged dives at all!
You must have dive insurance if you wish to participate in most liveaboard diving Maldives experiences. But don’t worry if you have not signed up for one yet. Most liveaboard operators will allow you to add on dive insurance when booking your vacation.
We recommend DiveAssure – the leading dive insurance with the most comprehensive Diving Accident and Dive Travel insurance plans. Get your dive insurance now and enjoy your scuba diving vacation without worries.
Experienced divers know and appreciate the benefits of diving on Nitrox, especially when on a liveaboard. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen helps extend the bottom time of dives. This is perfect for liveaboards, as the multiple dives per day will be quite limited in bottom time without Nitrox. Many liveaboards in the Maldives offer nitrox for an additional cost. Some liveaboards also offer nitrox courses onboard if you do not have a nitrox certification yet.
If you’re the type of diver who has curated their own set of equipment, it’s unlikely you’ll need to rent any. But for those who do not own (or do not want to bring) their own gear, most liveaboards in the Maldives offer rental options. Be sure to check with the liveaboard company before you book so there are no surprises.
Another important factor to consider when liveaboard diving in the Maldives is the season. The best season for liveaboards in the Maldives is from November to April, which is the dry season. During these months, you can expect warmer temperatures, calmer waters, and more fish life – making liveaboard diving even more enjoyable.
Some liveaboards do run year-round. If you’re looking for a budget liveaboard trip, it’s worth looking for liveaboards outside the dry season months. Just be aware that April to October is monsoon season, and liveaboard trips may be affected by bad weather.
Each liveaboard will have its own itinerary, so you must research it before booking. With this being said, here are some of the best itineraries for Maldives liveaboards, which many liveaboards will offer:
This liveaboard itinerary will typically include the central atolls, such as the North Ari and Rasdhoo Atolls. In this itinerary, you will find whale sharks, various wrecks, and some of the best manta ray spots in the Maldives.
The best itineraries for Maldives liveaboards that focus on the central atolls usually last 8 days. This is by far the best way to experience everything liveaboards in the Maldives have to offer.
For thrill-seekers and liveaboard adventurers, liveaboards in the southern atolls will be ideal for you. This liveaboard itinerary is usually longer, around 15 days, and takes divers to more remote and less accessible areas. Here you will find some of the best night dives around as well as amazing soft corals, tiger sharks, stingrays, and whitetip reef sharks.
During a deep south liveaboard itinerary, you can expect to visit areas such as Kandooma Thila, Vaavu Atoll, and Thaa Atoll. Although to book one of these more advanced liveaboard adventures, you often have to have a minimum of 80 logged dives. Some liveaboard operators may even ask for 100 logged dives. But if you fit this criterion, the deep south is one of the best itineraries for Maldives liveaboards.
As we previously mentioned, liveaboards in the Maldives are often on the luxurious side. But there are other factors to consider, including the length of your liveaboard trip and the type of boat.
For larger yachts and cruise ships, you can expect to pay around $2700 for an 8-day trip. For 15-day liveaboard trips, they can set up back up to $5000. The liveaboard prices for smaller vessels are usually much cheaper. For a 7-day liveaboard trip on a smaller vessel, or dhoni, you can expect to pay around $1400.
To take the guesswork out of liveaboard diving Maldives, we have put together our list of the best liveaboard boats in the Maldives:
Length: 50m Width: 11.2m Nitrox: Yes (paid) Cabins: 19 Maximum capacity: 40 guests Rental Gear: Yes
The Scubaspa Yang Maldives offers one of the most luxurious experiences! With 10 cabins and 9 suites, each fitted with air conditioning, guests can relax comfortably while exploring the beautiful Maldives. When you need a break from underwater activities, head to the hot tub or bar for relaxation and a cold beverage. If you need to stay connected while on vacation, paid internet access is available.
The Scubaspa Yang also features a spa and leisure deck should you feel like further unwinding. Snorkelers are welcome, too; there are plenty of opportunities for both divers and non-divers alike. Finally, tantalize your taste buds with delicious culinary options; there’s something for everyone, no matter your dietary preferences. Voyages include Deep South and Best of Maldives itineraries, lasting for 8 days.
Length: 43m Width: 11m Nitrox: Yes (free) Cabins: 12 Maximum capacity: 22 guests Rental Gear: Yes
For a beautiful liveaboard diving Maldives vacation – Carpe Novo is a wonderful liveaboard with plenty of amenities. Get ready for 8 days filled with incredible diving opportunities, and their itineraries often cover many popular dive sites around Male. Onboard life is just as remarkable: sink into your air-conditioned cabin after an exciting day at sea, or enjoy al-fresco dining courtesy of the onboard chef.
Solo travelers are also welcome in the two single cabins. We can’t forget to mention some of the included extras – paid internet, en suite bathrooms, and camera charging stations! And if that wasn’t enough to get you excited – you can wind down during breaks with a drink at Carpe Novo’s bar.
Length: 42m Width: 11m Nitrox: Yes (paid) Cabins: 12 Maximum capacity: 24 guests Rental Gear: Yes
The Blue Force One liveaboard offers a trip of a lifetime in the gorgeous Maldives! This luxurious boat has all the amenities needed to make your time on board extra special. Whether traveling as a family, couple, or group, you can enjoy 8 unforgettable days exploring the stunning central atolls.
Guaranteed departures and an impressive selection of activities are just some of the highlights of this experience. In addition to snorkeling equipment, kayaks, paddleboards, and a sundeck, you’ll also have access to daily snacks and plenty of delicious food – including local options! To top it off, you’ll have a dedicated crew to ensure your safety and comfort throughout your voyage. No wonder they were voted the best Maldives liveaboard in 2018!
Length: 35m Width: 10m Nitrox: Yes (free) Cabins: 10 Maximum capacity: 20 guests Rental Gear: Yes
The Carpe Diem liveaboard is the perfect destination for divers of all abilities. Enjoy a luxurious underwater experience with year-round diving opportunities covering all areas. The 8-11 day long options provide plenty of time for divers to explore the beauty of the Maldives. You can also choose from a standard, double, or deluxe cabin option – all of which include an en suite bathroom.
On board, there is an experienced dive crew for guidance. Passengers can also enjoy paid internet, as well as a leisure deck, library, and charging stations. When it comes to sustenance, you are spoilt for choice with many food and drink options available; upgrade to full board if you so wish! There is even a fine dining option, which you can enjoy on the open-air terrace.
Before you embark on a liveaboard dive trip in the Maldives, you must be prepared. Here is a list of what to bring for a Maldives liveaboard trip:
- Dive certification information and dive log
- Dive insurance confirmation
- Credit card or local currency (for onboard purchases)
- Scuba diving gear (if not renting)
- Scuba diving equipment (torch, fins, regulator, etc.)
- Base layers
- Surface marker buoy (SMB or DSMB) – some liveaboards may require you to bring your own
- Passport and other necessary travel documents
- Required medications
- Clothing suitable for warmer climates (consider an evening outfit too)
- Swimsuit and beachwear
- Towels (while most liveaboards will provide you with towels, bringing an extra one can pay off)
- Sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses)
- Personal items (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
- Camera or video equipment (if desired)
- Books or magazines (for downtime onboard)
- Dry bag for wet clothes
- Electronics (phone, laptop/tablet, headphones, charger)
- Water bottle
Liveaboards in the Maldives offer a fantastic opportunity to explore this beautiful destination and its stunning underwater world. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver – liveaboard trips allow you to take advantage of all this location offers.
With so many liveaboards available, it is easy to find one that fits your needs and budget. So, why not start planning your liveaboard trip in the Maldives today? You won’t regret it!