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With thousands of islands and fringing reefs to explore, these are the best liveaboards in the Maldives. This island chain is the ultimate dive destination for those who love to explore the warm waters of the Indian Ocean in search of wonderful marine life. From manta rays to great pelagic fish to thriving coral reefs, the Maldives is paradise.
Come along as we show you the best Maldives liveaboard trips and reveal what to expect, the best time to visit, and other essential liveaboard tips. We’ve chosen the results based off of reader reviews, public reviews, and personal experience from our writers.
Note: The Maldives has reopened for tourism from 15 July 2020, making it one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in 2021.
Overview: Luxury Maldives liveaboard great for couples and those seeking upscale service.
Built in 2013 and renovated in 2015, the massive 50 meter long Scubaspa Yang can accommodate 38 guests at a time in 19 deluxe cabins. Choose between cabins that are twin, double, or triple bed options. Each bedroom comes with an ensuite bathroom, port lights, and a mini safe. Many also come with a mini bar. One cabin is equipped to cater to mobility impaired guests.
In between dives, guests can kayak, snorkel, practice yoga, and go on land excursions. Nitrox is included in the price of each liveaboard trip.
The Scubaspa Yang is one of the best liveaboards in the Maldives for couples and honeymooners — thanks to its heavy emphasis on privacy and relaxation. There is a 5-star spa staffed with six professional spa therapists on board.
Overview: A modern and spacious Maldives liveaboard ideal for groups and families.
MV Princess Sara is one of the newest Maldives liveaboard vessels, typically cruising on the traditional route from the North Male Atoll to Vaavu Atoll to the Air Male Atolls. This 10-cabin ship spans 40 meters long, making it a spacious pick for divers who want plenty of lounge space on the front and top decks.
With a smaller group than many of the larger liveaboard trips, the MV Princess Sara is intimate, and staff tend to be more agile when it comes to special requests. Cabins range from standard to master suite, each with private bathrooms, a hot water shower, AC, and a reading light. The master cabins feature a mini-bar and TV. Each trip also includes a beach BBQ.
Overview: The best budget liveaboard trip in the Maldives; also available for private charter some parts of the year.
The Horizon III offers long (7-14 day) trips through the central atolls from May to October, and runs short liveaboard charter trips from April to October. Sleek and modern, the liveaboard vessel is equipped with security cameras, two lounge decks, a hot tub, an onsite masseuse, and its dhoni (tender) is outfitted with a camera rinse station, Nitrox, and gear area.
Cabins range from standard, deluxe, or master deluxe; all have AC and a bit of storage space. The vessel tends to work best with private charters, making it a great budget pick for groups who want to make the most of the Maldives without combining with another ship. A major perk of chartering a liveaboard in the Maldives is you’ll have more flexibility when it comes to choosing dive sites–it’s easy to double up on a favorite spot or linger longer in a spot when there aren’t strangers to please with a set itinerary.
Overview: A Maldives liveaboard built for experienced divers who prefer to go off the beaten path.
Maldives Blue Force One takes divers to far-out dive sites where few other liveaboards venture to. This plush 42 meter boat is a part of the stunning Blue Force fleet and was introduced in 2013 primarily to sail the waters of South and Central Maldives. The eleven well-appointed cabins of Maldives Blue Force One are custom built to cater 22 divers and non-divers in its dive cabin types that all include air conditioning, a 32″ TV, ensuite bathroom, hair dryer, and remote-operated light system.
Leisure activities include relaxing in one of the two Jacuzzis, spending time on the upper deck bar, hanging out in the lounge, and going for a paddle with the kayaks and paddleboards. It’s one of the best liveaboards for groups of divers and non-divers traveling together because of the variety of activities on offer. The liveaboard provides free Nitrox and is happy to accommodate rebreather divers.
Tea, coffee and snacks are available at all times, while the main meals consist of local and Western cuisine, prepared as per the requirements of the guests and served buffet style.
Overview: A modern mid-range Maldives liveaboard with stellar reviews.
Built in 2016, the MV Emperor Serenity has been a popular liveaboard pick for those who want a trip that is as charming as it is luxurious. At 40 meters long, there’s plenty of space for 26 guests who stay within 13 cabins — all of which are a five star standard. Guests can choose between double and single bed rooms and each room comes with a TV and hair dryer.
Spend your time on the MV Emperor Serenity stargazing and sunbathing on the spacious decks. The upper deck features an open viewing area while the main saloon comes with sofas, tables, and an entertainment system.
The chefs onboard the MV Emperor Serenity serve three meals per day buffet-style as well as snack in between dives. They are happy to cater to vegetarians and other special dietary needs upon request. Dinners are complemented with a glass of wine while there are other drinks available on payment.
Overview: A boat made for divers with free Nitrox and jam-packed diving itineraries.
For a sublime diving vacation, many opt for the super sleek Emporer Virgo. At 32 meters long, this jewel of the Emperor fleet takes 18 guests on a liveaboard trip to most of the Maldives’ major diving hotspots.
The Emporer Virgo was built in 2012 and underwent total overhaul in 2017, making it one of the most modern liveaboards to cruise through the Indian Ocean. The dining room is spacious with a bar and entertainment system. On top of the deck, guests can grab a drink from the main bar and sunbathe on the deck’s comfortable chairs.
Western and Asian meals are served buffet style, and the chef ensures that food is fresh and varied at all times. Vegetarian options are available, while wine, spirits and cocktails come at extra cost.
Overview: A large, modern Maldives liveaboard that ventures to the Central and South Atolls.
Built in 2019, Infinity X has made quite the scene when it comes to modern liveaboard trips through the Maldives. This 49-meter ship has four cabin types, with ocean view suites on the top deck. Each room has a TV, AC, storage space, safety deposit box, and private bathroom. The dhoni accompanying Infinity X is similarly spacious with a large covered roof.
Trips aboard Infinity X span eight days, with most venturing to the Maldives Central Atolls. Their South Atolls trip is one of the best Maldives liveaboard trips for experienced divers, with drift dives and deep dives on offer. Unlike many of the other liveaboards featured, Infinity X does not offer Internet or Nitrox at the time of writing–inclusions that are usually standard for the region.
Overview: A budget-friendly liveaboard with an emphasis on sustainability. Offers one of the best family-friendly Maldives liveaboard trips (able to mix trips for non-divers).
The sleek, modern, and eco-conscious Eco Blue is perfect for conservation-minded scuba divers. From small touches like reusable water bottle for every guest, bamboo straws, and wildlife-minded snorkeling and diving practices, Eco Blue makes an effort to leave as little of an impact as possible. (However, meat is still served onboard). Cabins include AC, a little storage space, and there are spacious communal areas for dinner.
Trips tend to run eight-days long, usually cruising through the Central Atolls. While there are traditional dive-all-day trips, their family-friendly liveaboard trip includes two dives per day plus an island visit where non-divers can snorkel, kayak, and explore the beach. Open Water courses are also taught onboard.
Overview: One of the most intimate small-ship liveaboards in the Maldives.
The Theia, at 30 meters long, caters to just 16 divers, making it one of the more exclusive liveaboard experiences in the Maldives where divers can expect to have a very high standard of service. Built in 2006 and last renovated in 2010, the boat was designed to keep luxury and comfort in mind while designing the eight cabins — which are more spacious than most liveaboard ships in the Maldives. Each room comes with a double bed and private bathroom, though most also feature an extra day bed.
A fun bar and lounge with all the usual entertainment facilities offers a good communal area. Plenty of space is there on the sundeck to lounge and watch the stars in the sky with a drink in hand.
Food is served on the main deck and the chef and sous chef ensure that new and fresh dishes are prepared each day to satisfy the taste buds and energy needs of the divers. The snacks between meals are equally delicious and can be eaten at any time of the day.
Overview: High-value budget Maldives liveaboard that sleeps only 16 guests. Shark lovers will want to go on their Tiger shark trip.
Blue Shark One is a small-ship Maldives liveaboard that ventures out on 8 to 14 night trips through the Central Atolls and to see Tiger sharks specifically. Each of their 9 cabins has AC, a private bathroom, and sleeping space for up to three people. Meals are served buffet style, and many guests opt to eat on the sundeck.
Blue Shark One divers who sign up for the Tigershark excursion tend to be quite experienced, making it a great liveaboard for those who want a dive all day trip. Some dive sites ventured to by Blue Shark One are not popular among other liveaboards. Dive guides really cater to the interests of the group.
The best time to dive in the Maldives is from November to April. The Maldives offer great diving all year long, though the cyclone season spans from May to October, with July and August being the worst months, weather-wise. The best time to see manta rays in the Maldives is between November to April if diving in the west, and May to October if diving in the east. You can see whale sharks in the Maldives all year long though the best time is between August and November.
What certification level do you need for a Maldives Liveaboard trip?
Most liveaboards in the Maldives welcome divers who have their Open Water Certification and onwards. Some regions, like the South Atolls, tend to be better suited for experienced divers. In general, the Maldives liveaboard trips advertised as family-friendly tend to offer open water courses on the ship itself, and include other activities aside from diving.
If you don’t want to learn onboard, you will need your Open Water Certification to participate in a dive.
What you can expect to see on a Maldives liveaboard trip
The Maldives hosts some of the world’s largest and most majestic fish like yellowfin tuna, whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, and more. While there’s plenty of macro life to enjoy, most divers venture here to take advantage of the bigger creatures that call the waters of the Maldives home. Some dive sites are famous for hosting Tiger sharks, bull sharks, nurse sharks, and a variety of reef sharks! One itinerary by Blue Shark One is even centered around scuba diving with sharks!
Maldives liveaboard trip vs. staying at a dive resort
If scuba diving is your priority, it is much better to go on a Maldives liveaboard trip than to stay at a single dive resort. Why? There are thousands of islands (and infinite dive spots) in the Maldives. Shore diving or diving from a hotel will severely limit your experience of diving in the Maldives, as resort boats tend to only go so far. Many of the islands and atolls in the Maldives are uninhabited or only accessible by boat. Diving from a liveaboard is the most convenient (and likely affordable) way to see a variety of the islands’ best sites when you account for the fact most liveaboards tend to include up to five dives, food, accommodation, and transport.
Maldives liveaboard dive insurance
You will need travel insurance with scuba diving included to go on a Maldives liveaboard trip. Because dive sites are often so remote, it can be expensive to medivac or receive medical treatment should an accident happen during your journey. At the time of writing, there are four decompression chambers in the Maldives. Travel insurance with scuba diving as an added inclusion often covers your transport and treatment should you need to visit a decompression chamber.
Recommended Maldives liveaboard trip itineraries and routes
Most Maldives liveaboard trips span from eight days to two weeks. Unless you charter a private liveaboard trip in the Maldives, it’s hard to find short liveaboard trips.
Central Atolls Maldives Itinerary – “Best Of” Trip
The Central Atolls Maldives Itinerary is one of the most popular itineraries for Maldives liveaboard trips, usually lasting around eight days long. These trips tend to go to the Male Atoll, specifically the dive sites of Lankan Beyru and Rasfari Corner. This atoll is awesome for spotting manta rays, and a great spot for beginners or scuba divers who haven’t been underwater in a while–helping nervous divers ease into a full week of diving.
Then, liveaboards tend to go to South Male Atoll, with a channel dive at Kandooma Thila as a highlight. North Ari Atoll is popular for pinnacles, drift dives, and sloping reefs. The South Ari Atoll is another stop where you might spot a manta (or ten) or whale sharks. There’s a wreck dive site at the South Ari Atoll, starting at 30 meters for advanced divers. Vaavu Atoll is home to one of the best channel dives in the Maldives, and a hub for some of the larger pelagics.
South Atolls Maldives Itinerary – Advanced Divers
The remote region of the Southern Atolls offer great diving for more experienced divers. Most liveaboard trips that venture here will require a minimum of 80 logged dives and/or an Advanced Open Water certification. Think big pelagics like Tiger sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and sport fish.
At Addu Atoll, there’s a manta dive site, a shipwreck (33m), and an open ocean reef to explore. Foahmulah is often the highlight of this itinerary, with a spot aptly named ‘Tiger Zoo’ thanks to the common occurrence of spotting 10s of Tiger sharks on a single dive. Meemu Atoll is an intense drift dive site, but is worth it for the shot of seeing sharks. At night, off of Thaa Atoll is where you’re likely to lure a whale shark underneath you with the appeal of a strong flashlight.
North Atolls Maldives Itinerary – Offbeat but Accessible
The North Atolls in the Maldives are home to some of the country’s most underrated dive sites. Here, whale sharks, mantas, sharks and other great pelagics make their presence known at the Baa, Raa, Rasdhoo, and Male atolls. This is one of the least popular itineraries (in fact, it might be a challenge to find a ship that goes here!), making it the best trip option for divers who have been to the Maldives before, or who prefer a more adventurous style of scuba diving.
Maldives Liveaboard FAQs
Can non-divers enjoy a Maldives liveaboard trip?
Non-divers can enjoy a liveaboard trip to the Maldives, but it’s recommended that they choose an itinerary that’s advertised as family friendly. Family friendly liveaboard trips don’t tend to be solely centered around diving. Rather than three to five dives per day, a family friendly liveaboard trip (perfect for non divers) might have two dives plus a handful of excursions like snorkeling tours, island visits, kayaking, hiking, and more. It’s common to see friend groups of mixed diving and non-diving abilities onboard these types of trips.
Some of the most iconic sites like Haifaru Bay prohibit scuba diving, so this itinerary would be great for ocean lovers who’ve yet to snag their dive certificate. Many liveaboard trips also offer Open Water Dive courses, specifically the trips advertising ‘Best of the Maldives’ or ‘Central Atolls’ tours.
What is a dhoni?
The dhoni is a tender that services a liveaboard. Because the liveaboard ships are often too large (and too slow) to efficiently stop at a dive site without damaging the reef, most dives take place from the dhoni. These dhonis are often quite spacious, covered, and will have camera rinsing tanks. Think of the liveaboard ship itself as your home base, and the dhoni as your shuttle from home to the dive site.
What does a typical day look like onboard a Maldives liveaboard trip?
Liveaboard ships vary from one another when it comes to how many dives take place per day, and exactly they run their itinerary, but here’s what a typical day on a dive-centered liveaboard looks like.
The night before: Receive information about the next day’s dive sites and overall plan.
Sunrise: Have a quick snack before going on Dive #1.
Morning: Return for a full breakfast and spend some time relaxing on the boat.
Late morning: Venture for Dive #1. Dive briefing is done at the dive site, onboard the dhoni.
Midday: Return to the main vessel for lunch and a break.
Afternoon: Dive #3.
Late afternoon: Snacks and time spent onboard.
Evening: Dinner and sunset drinks.
Night: Potential night dive (#4).
Some liveaboard trips might only offer two dives per day plus another activity (like a village visit, hike, kayak, or other fun feature). Ships often move from point A to point B during the night, or while guests are relaxing for their surface interval. You will likely have to register your interest in doing a dive in advance (the night before), so guides can prepare gear and ensure they’re following correct rations. The great thing about a liveaboard trip is that there tends to be tons of flexibility; you only need to go on the dives you want to go on!
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