How to find the best liveaboard for scuba diving
There's nothing more satisfying than immersing yourself in the deep blue sea below, slowly gliding through the water with all the other fish. We love the underwater world and did a lot of scuba diving during our big trip in Asia.
The most common way to enjoy scuba diving is on day trips with a good tour company. However, as we progressed and became more experienced, we started to seek out liveaboard scuba diving experiences, which allow you to stay in the water for longer. One of our favourites was our liveaboard on the Samata yacht in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia.
Based on our experiences, we've set out how to find the best liveaboard for scuba diving, including what to look for and suggestions for some of the best liveaboard destinations. In addition, check out this excellent article about the importance of diving with a sustainable liveaboard.
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Identifying the ideal boat for you
Just like planning a dive, you will want to ensure the boat you're staying on will help you accomplish your vacation goals. You might be thinking, “Goals for a vacation…really?” But in all seriousness, you need to be clear as to whether you're going on a vacation to relax and get a gorgeous tan, or instead to see new things, amazing animals, master your underwater photography or admire sights that very few human eyes have captivated.
Different boats and different locations will give you different opportunities to experience the perfect vacation, so the first thing you need to do is decide what you want to get out of your vacation, and then identify the ideal boat which will help you meet these goals.
What sort of diving do you want to do?
Similar to setting goals, you will want to ensure that the boat you choose offers the type of diving you want to do. For example, if you want to maximise your time in the water, you maybe happy with a smaller boat. However, if you want plenty of relaxing time, you may prefer a more luxurious boat.
In addition, if you're looking to expand your diving skills, you will also want to find boats that have instructors that can teach you specific skills, like nitrox diving.
Total length of your vacation
This is important to factor in because some of the best liveaboard experiences are quite remote and will require a specific length of time. Some liveaboard cruises only offer a set travel itineraries, so if say you only have 5 days for your vacation, and your South Asian boat only offers a 7 days liveaboard, you may have to choose a different area to explore, or increase the length of your vacation.
Is everybody in your group diving?
When you're planning your scuba diving trip with your other half who is not into diving, you can easily find a compromise with the right sort of boat. Liveaboards across the world expand their repertoire of services to accommodate groups of mixed travellers, whether they're into snorkelling, kayaking, local tours, deserted island picnics or just snuggling up watching a movie on board.
This is important because some boats are tailored only to scuba diving, so will have minimal frills for non-divers.
Most liveaboards are around 33 metres (100 feet) long, so you will be sharing that space with other divers. When choosing your liveaboard, it's always a good idea to look at the boat's capacity. Some very luxurious yachts will take no more than just 8 passengers, while other will cater to large groups of 40.
Whilst the diving community is very sociable, you will want to consider how comfortable you are being in a small space with relative strangers for the duration of your liveaboard.
The quality of food on board
This is an important factor to consider when researching your liveaboard. The cuisine offered will vary greatly depending on which type of boat you choose. For example, just because you're in the Red Sea doesn’t mean you will be eating local Middle Eastern specialties. So if you're expecting a wide variety of culinary adventures on aboard, you should definitely research the menu on board before booking.
In addition, most boats will offer options to meet your dietary requirements whether you're lactose intolerant or celiac. However, you should definitely check the options with them beforehand.
Liveaboard destinations to inspire you
- The Similan Islands: diving in Thailand is a dream and the Similan islands a must, especially for spotting manta rays and whale sharks.
- The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: our gay cruise in the Galapagos islands was a definite highlight in our big Latin America trip and a liveaboard here would be a one-in-a-lifetime experience.
- The Maldives: we did a lot of scuba diving in Thoddoo island in the Maldives and loved it. Liveaboard boats here are famous for being luxurious, featuring massages and spa services.
- Komodo National Park, Indonesia: diving in the Komodo National Park was without doubt our best scuba diving experience to date. With a liveaboard you can reach the more remote diving spots.