With 26 idyllic atolls spread over 800-kilometres, each home to its own vast lagoon scattered with scores of tiny tropical islands, the Maldives was destined to become one of the world’s best liveaboard diving destinations.
Often offering up to four dives a day, liveaboards help guests maximise their time in the water. They also allow travellers to cover large distances and see more of the Maldives’ best underwater experiences – from the famous manta rays of Hanifaru Bay to the thrilling sharks of Fuvahmulah. And, with most vessels offering onboard comforts that can rival some resorts, many consider scuba safaris to be the best method of exploring this island nation’s huge number of dive sites. In this article, we’ve selected five of the best liveaboards in the Maldives, so keep reading to find your favourite.
For dedicated divers wanting an affordable liveaboard holiday in the Maldives, Carpe Diem is easily the top choice, thanks to its reasonably priced itineraries and a handful of premium facilities. At 35-metres long, this modern motor yacht comfortably accommodates up to 20 guests within ten inviting cabins and has been designed to incorporate several stylish social spaces for relaxing between dives. But best of all, despite its moderate price tag, Carpe Diem offers several perks you’d expect from a more expensive liveaboard, including underwater photography facilities and complimentary nitrox during low season. From $225 per day.
Home to some of the most exclusive private island resorts on Planet Earth, you might ask why you’d ever swap the Maldives’ iconic five-star luxury for a simple sea safari. Well, luckily, you don’t have to. Scubaspa Ying, along with its twin vessel Yang, has been redefining the notion of a luxury liveaboard since 2013, offering the largest onboard spa in the Maldives and a full suite of sumptuous services, from open-air massages and beauty treatments to guided meditation and yoga. And, with an onboard gym, Jacuzzi, and open-air cinema to complement its unparalleled spa and scuba packages, it’s no surprise that Scubaspa Ring and Yang are the only vessels in the Maldives to receive the coveted PADI 5-Star Dive Resort status. From $408 per day.
Blue Force One
Boasting stylish interior design and first-class service throughout every voyage, Blue Force One has become a firm favourite among discerning divers visiting the Maldives. A dedicated swim platform ensures stress-free water-based activities and provides easy access to the accompanying dive boat, where divers will find individual storage space for their gear. Experienced scuba divers will also enjoy making the most of nitrox blends and designated areas for camera equipment. During surface intervals, Blue Force One provides plenty of high-end facilities to while away the hours, including an on-deck Jacuzzi, watersports including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, and a funky, full-service terrace bar at the back of the boat. From $249 per day.
If you’re in the mood for a slightly more authentic experience, the Nautilus Two is a 43-metre wooden vessel built to a traditional Maldivian design. What’s more, the large indoor lounge and dining areas are separated by a five-metre traditional fishing boat, which makes for a stunning centrepiece. The overall style of Nautilus Two is simple yet sophisticated, with warm wooden furnishings and sleek outdoor social spaces, including an open-air Jacuzzi. Watersports available aboard this vessel include kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing, and snorkelling, while the accompanying 23-metre dive boat guarantees stress-free diving at all times – even during far-flung voyages to the remote southern atolls. From $199 per day.
The Emperor Fleet is well known within diving circles, but one of the best features of this vessel is its ability to provide world-class liveaboard experiences to divers and non-divers alike. While custom-built for scuba diving, this beautiful 40-metre vessel comes with some fantastic facilities for guests of all kinds including surprisingly spacious cabins, a modern spa on the main deck, and a section of enriching excursions to look forward to. Plus, non-diving guests are provided with complimentary snorkelling gear and a 50 dollar voucher to spend on board. When it comes to freebies, those looking to scuba dive during their trip aren’t forgotten about either. As if vibrant reefs, current swept channels, and encounters with manta rays and sharks weren’t enough, divers with adequate certification can make the most of free nitrox – meaning safer, longer, and more enjoyable dives. From $304 per day.