As an avid scuba diver, one of my favorite ways to experience the underwater world is by going on a diving liveaboard. A liveaboard boat is a diving vacation where you live on a boat and spend your days diving in different locations. It’s an immersive way to experience the ocean and marine life, and it’s also a great way to meet new people who share your passion for diving.
However, choosing the right liveaboard can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you make the best decision for your next adventure.
1. Decide on your budget
Liveaboard boats vary a lot with regard to pricing, from budget-friendly options to high-end luxury vessels. Before choosing the best boat to liveaboard, it’s important to decide on your budget. Consider how much you’re willing to spend on your diving trip and how many days you want to be on the liveaboard boat.
It’s important to also keep in mind that the cost of the diving liveaboard trip may not be the only expense you’ll incur. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of flights, transfers, and any additional expenses such as equipment rental or park fees. Even though I have my own equipment, sometimes the cost of the extra baggage ends up being more expensive than just renting the gear when you get there. So for some things like my BCD that take up a lot of space, I choose to rent rather than transport if I’m flying with a budget airline.
It’s important to remember that cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to liveaboards. A cheaper dive liveaboard may mean sacrificing comfort or safety, while a more expensive liveaboard boats may offer more amenities or a better diving experience.
Once you’ve set your budget, start looking for the best boat to liveaboard that fit within your price range. Keep in mind that some liveaboard dive may offer discounts or promotions during certain times of the year, so it’s worth checking for deals before booking.
Don’t forget to factor in any additional costs when comparing prices between liveaboards. For example, some liveaboards may include all meals, drinks, and equipment rental in the price, while others may charge extra for these things.
2. Research the best Liveaboard Destinations
Once you’ve decided on your budget, the next step is to research the best liveaboard dive trips. This is my favorite part! Dreaming up al of the underwater adventures I can possibly experience.
There are so many amazing destinations around the world that offer liveaboard diving, so it’s important to consider factors such as the time of year, the type of marine life you want to see, and the level of diving experience required.
I wrote a whole blog post on this that you can read here.
Some of the most popular liveaboard dive trips include:
The Red Sea: Known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, the Red Sea is a popular destination for liveaboard diving. With a variety of dive sites ranging from shallow reefs to deep wrecks, the Red Sea offers something for divers of all levels.
The Maldives: With its warm waters and stunning coral reefs, the Maldives is another popular destination for liveaboard diving. The Maldives is known for its abundance of marine life, including sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks.
The Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique marine life in the world, including hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas, and giant manta rays. Liveaboards in the Galapagos offer a once-in-a-lifetime diving experience for experienced divers.
Indonesia: With over 17,000 islands and a vast array of marine life, Indonesia is a top destination for liveaboard diving. From the muck diving of Lembeh to the vibrant coral reefs of Raja Ampat, there’s something for every diver in Indonesia.
Thailand: Thailand is a budget-friendly liveaboard destination that offers a variety of diving experiences, from the colorful reefs of the Similan Islands to the whale sharks of Richelieu Rock.
When researching liveaboard destinations, consider factors such as the time of year, the water temperature, and the level of diving experience required.
By researching the best liveaboard destinations, you can find a trip that offers the type of diving experience you’re looking for, whether it’s spotting whale sharks in the Maldives or exploring wrecks in the Red Sea.
3. Consider the diving experience
When choosing a liveaboard boat, it’s important to consider the diving experience that it offers. This includes factors such as the level of diving experience required, the types of dive sites that are available, and the length and number of dives that are offered each day.
If you’re a new diver, it’s important to choose a dive liveaboard that caters to beginners. Look for trips that offer shallow dives with easy conditions, as well as experienced guides who can provide support and guidance throughout your dives. You may also want to consider taking a dive course before your trip to help you feel more comfortable underwater.
For more experienced divers, consider liveaboard boats that offer more challenging dive sites. This could include wreck dives, deep dives, or drift dives. Make sure that the liveaboard boat you choose has experienced dive guides who can help you navigate these types of dives safely.
It’s also important to consider the length and number of dives that are offered each day. Some liveaboard dive trips offer multiple dives per day, while others may only offer one or two. If you’re looking to maximize your time underwater, look for a liveaboard that offers multiple dives per day. However, keep in mind that more dives may also mean a more tiring trip.
Ultimately, the diving experience should be a top priority when choosing a diving liveaboard. By considering your level of experience, the types of dive sites available, and the number of dives offered each day, you can find a trip that offers the perfect balance of adventure and safety.
4. Check the best boats to liveaboard (and the crew)
Another important factor to consider when choosing a liveaboard boat is the boat and crew. This includes factors such as the size and layout of the boat, the quality of the facilities, and the experience and qualifications of the crew.
First, consider the size and layout of the boat. Liveaboard boats come in all shapes and sizes, from small sailboats to large motor yachts. The size and layout of the boat can have a big impact on your comfort and enjoyment during the trip. Make sure to choose a boat that has enough space for everyone to move around comfortably, and that has amenities such as a lounge area, dining area, and sun deck.
Next, consider the quality of the facilities. Look for liveaboard boats that have well-maintained cabins with comfortable beds, air conditioning, and en-suite bathrooms. It’s also important to consider the quality of the food that is served onboard. Look for liveaboard boats that have experienced chefs who can provide a variety of fresh, healthy meals throughout your trip.
Finally, consider the experience and qualifications of the crew. The crew should be experienced, friendly, and knowledgeable about the destination and diving conditions.
Look for liveaboard boats that have experienced dive guides and crew members who can provide support and guidance throughout your trip. It’s also important to make sure that the crew members have the necessary qualifications and training to handle emergencies.
You can also research the best boat for liveaboard online and read reviews from past customers. This can give you a better idea of the quality of the boat and crew, as well as any potential issues that you may want to be aware of.
5. Itinerary and Duration
When choosing the best boat for liveaboard, you should also consider the itinerary and duration of the trip. Different liveaboard boats offer different itineraries, depending on the location and the dive sites in the area.
Consider how long you want to be on the boat and how many dives you want to do. Some liveaboard boats offer shorter trips, such as three or four days, while others offer longer trips that can last up to two weeks or more.
It’s important to choose a trip length that suits your experience level and diving goals. If you are a new diver, you may want to start with a shorter trip to get comfortable with liveaboard diving. If you are an experienced diver, you may prefer a longer trip that allows you to explore more dive sites and experience more challenging dives.
You should also consider the itinerary of the diving liveaboard trip. Some liveaboards may focus on specific areas or dive sites, while others may offer a more varied itinerary. Consider the type of diving you want to do, such as wreck diving or shark diving, and choose a liveaboard boat that offers dives in those areas.
It’s also important to consider the season and weather conditions in the area you will be diving. Some dive sites may be better during certain times of the year, and weather conditions can also affect the safety and comfort of your dive.
By choosing a liveaboard trip with a suitable itinerary and duration, you can make sure that you get the most out of your diving experience and enjoy all the dive sites that the area has to offer.
6. Book Early
One important tip for choosing a liveaboard dive trip is to book early. Liveaboards can fill up quickly, especially during peak season, so it’s important to book well in advance to secure your spot.
Booking early can also give you the opportunity to take advantage of early bird discounts or promotions that may be offered by the liveaboard company. This can help you save money on your trip and allow you to put those savings towards other aspects of your travel or diving experience.
By booking early, you also have more time to research and compare different liveaboard boat options, ensuring that you find the best boat and itinerary to suit your needs.
In addition, booking early can help you avoid the stress and disappointment of finding out that the liveaboard boat you want to join is already fully booked. It’s always better to plan ahead and secure your spot early to ensure that you can enjoy your liveaboard diving trip without any worries or last-minute changes.
7. Pack Wisely:
When it comes to liveaboard diving trips, packing wisely is essential. As you will be spending several days or even weeks on a boat, it’s important to pack only the essentials to avoid clutter and ensure that you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.
Some items to consider packing include:
Diving gear: Be sure to pack your own diving gear, including your wetsuit, fins, mask, regulator, and BCD. While some liveaboards may offer rental gear, it’s always nicer to bring your own to ensure a comfortable fit and familiarity with your equipment. I always bring my own mask, fins, and dive computer. But if I’m short on space I don’t mind renting a wetsuit and BCD for example.
Clothing: Pack comfortable, lightweight clothing that is suitable for the climate and activities you’ll be doing. Consider packing layers as temperatures can vary from day to night and from one location to another.
It’s important to note that liveaboards may have limited storage space, so it’s best to pack in a soft-sided duffel bag or backpack rather than a hard-sided suitcase. And don’t forget to check with the Liveaboard company about any specific packing requirements or restrictions.
Choosing the right liveaboard boat can make all the difference in your diving trip experience. By considering factors such as safety procedures, budget, diving experience, boat and crew, itinerary and duration, booking early, and packing wisely, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable liveaboard diving trip.
Don’t forget to research the best destinations for liveaboard diving and read reviews from other divers to get an idea of the quality of the liveaboard and the diving experience.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, a liveaboard diving trip can be an unforgettable adventure that allows you to explore some of the world’s most stunning dive sites.
With a little preparation and research, you can choose the best boat for liveaboard and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.