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Liveaboard Diving Costs and Budgeting: How to Plan and Save

by Max
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Liveaboard Diving Costs and Budgeting - How to Plan and Save

Traveling to pristine, crystal-clear dive locations is a dream for many scuba diving enthusiasts. There really is no better way to do this than by going on a liveaboard diving trip. Liveaboard diving allows divers to explore the depths of remote places, far from civilization and touristic crowds.

However, planning and budgeting for a liveaboard diving trip can be challenging, especially for those new to this type of adventure. Simply sad, liveaboard diving costs add up quickly! This type of vacation can be costly and requires careful planning. But as many divers have found out, it’s well worth it in the end!

In this article, we will explore the typical costs of a liveaboard diving trip, provide practical tips for saving money, and offer recommendations for planning your next adventure.

How Much Does a Liveaboard Diving Trip Cost?

The cost of a liveaboard diving trip will vary depending on several factors. Generally speaking, the main components that make up the total cost include the following:

  • Location: Where you choose to dive will have a major impact on the cost of your trip. Locations farther away, more remote, or considered “luxury” will cost more.
  • Type of boat: Different types of boats come with different price tags. Factors like size, amenities, and features will all contribute to the cost.
  • Trip length: Most trips are priced based on the number of days. The longer your trip, the more it will cost.
  • The number of people: Some liveaboards offer discounts when more people book together, which can be a great way to save money.

Some liveaboard adventures cost only a few hundred dollars, while others cost thousands. On average, you should budget around $1500-$3000 for a week-long diving trip – but this does vary.

Budget Liveaboards vs. Luxury Liveaboard Vessels

When pricing up your liveaboard diving trip, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether to go for a budget boat or splurge on a luxury liveaboard vessel. This will obviously be the key driver in your liveaboard diving costs.

Budget vessels are typically smaller, simpler, and more straightforward. Pricier boats usually offer a more luxurious experience with extra amenities and features. Regardless of your choice, both will offer a unique and unforgettable experience. You can still take advantage of remote dive sites and get up close and personal with nature.

Your choice of boat is completely down to your personal preference and budget. But while you can save some cash by choosing a budget boat, there will still be additional costs that cannot be avoided.

The Costs Associated With Liveaboard Diving

When you’re budgeting for a liveaboard vacation, don’t forget there is more than just the cost of the boat. From airfare to equipment rentals and meals, there are many additional costs associated with liveaboard diving. Here is a breakdown of the most common expenses:

The Costs Associated With Liveaboard Diving
The Costs Associated With Liveaboard Diving

Liveaboard Booking

Of course, the main cost of your liveaboard trip is the actual booking itself. This will likely take up a lot of your budget but is the most important part of the trip. Don’t forget the total cost includes your accommodation, food, and dive fees. When you think about it, liveaboards can actually be excellent value for money.

Always read the reviews and check what is included in the price before you book – it can vary from one operator to another.

We recommend Liveaboard.com as the one-stop solution to find the liveaboard of your dreams, read up on reviews and take care of the complete booking process.

Plane Tickets

The second most expensive cost associated with liveaboard diving is usually plane tickets. Depending on your location and destination, flights can be expensive – especially if you’re traveling long distances. Try to book your flight as far in advance as possible to get the best deal, and check out any budget airlines operating in the area.


Some liveaboards will provide transfer services from the airport to the boat, but this isn’t always true. If transfers are not included, you will need to factor in the cost of transportation to get you to the port. If the distance is too great to walk, you may need to take a taxi or another form of transport.


Taxes are often included in your purchases, but sometimes they are added at check out. VAT, environmental tax, and other taxes may apply, so always check before booking. Taxes can be an additional cost many divers don’t take into account!

Food Before and After Your Flight

While you’ll have your meals provided on the boat, you need to think about food before and after your flight. You may be able to pack some snacks with you, which will help keep your costs down.


If you’re not going to board your liveaboard immediately, then you may need to factor in the cost of a hotel or hostel. You might also need somewhere to stay if there is a delay with your flight and you need to stay an extra night.

Visas and Other Important Fees

Depending on your destination, you may need to pay for a visa or other type of permit. For example, to enter Saudi Arabia (depending on where you’re traveling from), you must pay for a visa on arrival. Make sure you include these fees in your budget planning.

Dive and Travel Insurance

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s important to have insurance that covers your diving and travel activities. You can purchase dive insurance or a comprehensive travel insurance policy which will cover you for various activities. How much your insurance costs will vary based on the length of your trip, the location, and the activities involved.

Always read the fine print and know what exactly is covered by your policy before you purchase.

We recommend DiveAssurethe 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.

Equipment Rentals

Many liveaboards offer dive equipment rentals. If you don’t have your own gear or don’t want to pack it, you will need to budget for renting equipment. This cost can vary significantly between operators. Some will charge $10 for using a regulator, whereas others can charge $60 – always compare prices and check what is included in the rental package.

National Park Fees

Some dive sites, such as Komodo, are classified as national parks. Often you will need to pay a fee for access to these dive sites. These fees can sometimes be included in your liveaboard booking, but not always. Access to Komodo costs around $10 a day, depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend – so while it may not break the bank, it is still an additional cost when liveaboard trip planning.

Certificates and Courses

You can sometimes take part in onboard courses and certifications, such as getting your nitrox qualification. These are great opportunities to learn and grow as a diver, but they aren’t a requirement. If you want to get certified, then you will need to factor in the associated cost.

Additional Activities

Liveaboards can often include additional activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and land excursions. The prices for these may be included in your liveaboard package – which can be one reason why some boats are more expensive than others. If you do have to pay extra, remember you don’t have to do everything that is offered to you! But these additional activities can create some truly unforgettable experiences.

Onboard Purchases

From nitrox usage and full-board meals to alcoholic beverages, laundry services, and WiFi, many extra purchases are often available on a liveaboard. This is why checking what is included in your liveaboard booking is so important. If you know what’s included, you can plan your budget accordingly and know how much extra money you’ll need while on board. Many divers have found out the hard way that the costs associated with a liveaboard diving trip can grow very quickly if you have one or the other drink on board.

Solo Diver Surcharge

If you’re a solo traveler and choose a liveaboard without a single room option, you may need to pay a solo surcharge. This is an additional fee some operators charge if a single person wants to book a multiple occupancy room. The surcharge % can vary greatly from one operator to another.


Liveaboard staff work so hard to ensure you have a great time while onboard, and it’s always nice to show your appreciation with a tip. Some operators include the gratuity in the final price, while others leave it up to you. In either case, having some cash for tips is a good idea. 5-10% is considered a fair gratuity amount in most places worldwide.

Gifts and Keepsakes

If you take part in a land excursion or spend some other time, having some cash available for souvenirs and gifts is always nice. A keepsake of your trip can be a great souvenir or gift for friends and family back home.

Liveaboard Trip Planning: How to Save Money

Once you’ve budgeted for all the essential costs of liveaboard diving, there are some tactics you can employ to save money when planning your trip.

Book Early

If you book early, then you may be able to take advantage of early bird discounts. Many operators will offer a discount if you book before a certain date – so if your dates are flexible, it pays to book as early as possible. This also allows you to save up the additional funds needed for onboard purchases and extra activities.

Shop Around

Getting the best deal for your liveaboard trip requires some shopping around. Compare prices between different operators and find one that offers the most value for money. Make sure you read all the fine print, too – some packages may look cheap on the surface, but when you look closer, they don’t include all of the costs listed above.

Choose a Cheaper Destination

Some locations are better for smaller budgets than others. For example, the Philippines offers a great selection of liveaboards, but with more affordable prices than other hot spots such as the Galapagos Islands. Alternatively, Egypt or the Red Sea in general is known for liveaboards that are much more affordable than many other destinations. You will still get the liveaboard experience, just at a more budget-friendly price.

Travel Off-Season

If you want to save money, try to book your trip during the off-season. Research the area you are visiting and find out which months offer the best value for money. Many operators will discount prices during their off-season to attract more customers. Just because it is the off-season doesn’t mean you won’t have a great trip – it usually means fewer people and lower prices!

Stay Within Your Budget

Getting swept up in the excitement of a liveaboard trip is easy, but staying within your budget is important. Set a limit of what you can afford and stick to it – this will ensure you don’t overspend on things that aren’t necessary. With careful planning and budgeting, you’ll have a great time without blowing your budget!

Look Out For Deals and Specials

Finally, keep an eye out for special offers. While booking early can give you a discount, operators will often run sales to fill up any last-minute availability. You can also check out group deals. If you’re traveling with a large group of people, then some operators may offer special rates or discounts.

Money Saving Tips When Budgeting for a Liveaboard Vacation

For many, liveaboard vacations are a once-in-a-lifetime experience – but they can be expensive. Saving money can be difficult, especially when you’re dealing with limited availability and costly extras.

Here are some tips to help you save money so you can finally experience the liveaboard lifestyle:

Consider Your Cashflow

Before you can start looking at locations and choosing a boat – you need to know how much money you have coming in and going out. Ensure you have an accurate budget for all your monthly expenses, including food, rent, and other bills. Once you have this information, you can see what you have left to spend on a liveaboard vacation.

Open a Savings Account

Having a separate saving account for your liveaboard trip can help you stay on track with your budget. Set a monthly goal for how much money you want to save and transfer the amount to your savings account. This will help you stay disciplined and motivated when budgeting for your trip.

Decide What You Want to Experience

Do you really need to take part in each additional activity? Or are the multiple daily dives enough for you? You can save money by cutting back on activities and narrowing down your focus. If you want to do more activities, consider how to incorporate them into your budget.

Pack Your Own Gear

While onboard gear rentals are convenient, they can be expensive. If possible, pack your gear so you don’t have to rent. This can be a great money saver! Just be sure to pack everything you need (including spare parts) before you leave for the trip.

Look at All-Inclusive Packages

When looking for a liveaboard, check to see what is included in the price. Some boats come with dive insurance, transfers, all food and drinks, national park fees, and land excursions included. Compare what is included in different packages and choose the one that offers the most value for your money.

Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

One of the best ways to save money is to look at areas where you can cut your spending. Do you really need that takeaway coffee every morning? Or could you make a cup of coffee yourself? Little changes like this can be the difference between staying on a luxury boat or a budget option.

Try No-Spend Challenges

No-spend challenges can be a great way to save money for your trip. Choose a day each week, or perhaps one weekend each month, where you don’t spend any money. This will force you to think creatively and use items you already have – this way, more of your money can go towards your liveaboard vacation.

Sell Items You Don’t Need

Whether it’s scuba gear you no longer need or furniture taking up space, selling unwanted items can boost your liveaboard budget. See if there are any consignment stores in your area, or try using an online marketplace such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace!

Final Thoughts on Liveaboard Diving Costs and Budgeting

Most divers understand that liveaboard diving vacations can be a bit pricey, but don’t let the costs deter you from experiencing it. With careful budgeting and planning, you can make your dream of liveaboard diving a reality!

From choosing a budget location to packing your gear, there are many ways to save money while planning a liveaboard adventure. Always shop around, compare packages, and never be afraid to ask questions – that way, you can get the most out of your liveaboard experience.

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