How to Choose a Liveaboard Trip

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Most scuba divers will want to choose a liveaboard trip wisely. After all, they aren’t cheap! Even the most budget-friendly liveaboard trips can cost hundreds of dollars. Regardless, a liveboard trip is sure to be an unforgettable experience that is sure to make priceless memories.

In this guide, we’ll cover the top considerations you should have when choosing a liveaboard dive trip. It’s a common mistake to hop online and search for a liveaboard vessel–for us, choosing a liveaboard ship is one of the last things that you should consider and it’s more like the icing on the cake!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where am I going?
  • What type of marine plants and animals do I want to see?
  • What type of diving do I want to do?
  • How many days do I have?
  • And, what is my budget?

These questions are not arranged in order and they may be interchanged depending on your situation. These are only guiding questions that will lead you to choose the right liveaboard trip based on the factors above.

Where am I going?

This question will lead to your destination. If it is your first time going on a liveaboard trip, you’ll likely have your eyes on a destination you’ve never been to before.

Consider that you will need to fly in and out of the destination of your choice. To cut down on costs and maximize your vacation days, we suggest you choose an accommodation that is located near the marina or port where your liveaboard vessel is anchored. While this is an added cost to your trip (on top of the airfare), you’ll be able to roam around the region and pay visits to popular tourist spots.

Reminder: this is just your jump-off point and the real destination is where you’ll be scuba diving. Even if the city you depart from is not a place you’d like to see, the dive sites you’ll be exploring may just be worth the trip. These dive sites may be grouped together or scattered around several islands.

Not sure where to start? Check out our recommendations: Best Liveaboard Trips Around the World

To give you an example: after searching the web, you are convinced that Tubbataha Reefs is your chosen dive site, which leads you to the Philippines as the country of destination.

What type of marine plants and animals do I want to see?

The marine life that you want to see may influence the destination that you will choose. You have to take note that no two dive sites are the same and that each of them houses a unique set of marine life.

Some regions are renowned for their non-moving organisms (like corals, algae, sponges and sea fans to name a few) that live on limestone and other base foundation. These tend to house colorful reef fish and interesting smaller critters. If you love large marine residents, you’ll likely be diving in deeper water, further away from a reef.

With this, you may ask questions like:

  • Do I want to see sharks? If so, what type of sharks?
  • Do I want to see the biggest fish in the world?
  • Do I want to see manta rays?
  • What about vibrant corals?
  • Or, maybe orcas swimming around ice-capped fjords

If you are considering marine life as one of the basis of choosing a destination, then take a look at our compiled list of liveaboard trips:

What type of diving do I want to do?

Your certification level and experience will determine what type of diving you can safely do. For beginner divers or those holding an Open Water Scuba Diver certification, you are limited to dive not deeper than 18 meters (60 feet). With this, we highly recommend you choose a destination where its dive sites are shallow and protected from strong waves, wind, and currents.

For experienced divers or those who are holding Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver or higher, then you have the liberty to choose challenging dive sites that often rewards you with amazing marine life.

If you are into wreck diving or if you have a Wreck Diver Specialty Certification, then you are lucky as the itinerary of most liveaboard trips will visit at least one wreck diving site. You can check our Best Liveaboard trips for Wreck Diving.

How many days do I have?

Unless you have given up living on land, your liveaboard vacation is bound by time. How much time can you allocate for a dive trip? Depending on the destination, most liveaboard trips will disembark on a 2- to 7-day journey, that’s if the dive sites are near. But for dive sites that are located far offshore or in the middle of the ocean, then your itinerary usually includes a 7- to 12-day journey.

That is so far as the number of days is concerned. But how about the month you are due for a vacation? To facilitate planning, you can check out our best liveaboard trips per month:

What is my budget?

After thorough selection of the destination, marine life you want to see, the type of diving you want to do and the duration and month of your vacation, it will boil down to budget.

As previously mentioned, on top of the rates published by liveaboard companies, you need to allocate funds for airfare and accommodation. When it comes to food, you only need to allocate funds for food while on land. Food onboard is typically included in the package.

If you want to be pampered and indulge in opulence, you can check out our Best Luxury Liveaboard Trips around the World. And if you do not want to spend too much, budget liveaboard trips will do the trick. After all, the dive sites of a luxury liveaboard and a budget liveaboard are the same. Check out our Best Budget Liveaboard Trips around the World.

Note: If the itinerary of your chosen vessel includes diving in a marine park, there are environmental fees to be paid. Please clarify this with your liveaboard company if such fees are already included in the package as some do not include this.

We hope that we have guided you in choosing the right liveaboard trip for you.

Ready to go diving? We’ve discovered the best liveaboard trips around the world.