indonesian liveaboard reviews banner

Liveaboards in Indonesia are amongst the very best in the world. They offer a unique opportunity to explore everything that this large, diverse and magnificent country has to offer.

Diving in Indonesia is unique due to its sheer size – with over 17,000 islands, it is the largest archipelago on earth. Located in the Ring of Fire, many of Indonesia’s landscapes are dominated by dramatic volcanic vistas which contrast beautifully with the emerald green foliage and shimmering blue ocean.

But…

It is also part of “The Coral Triangle”, the most diverse region in the world for coral reefs and the animals which call them home. You can dive with myriad sea creatures, from the smallest nudibranch to the biggest whale shark.

Here, we break down the very best Indonesian liveaboards, so you can make the best choice for the trip of a lifetime.

Why Go On A Liveaboard?

indonesia diving locations

The scuba diving in Indonesia is some of the best in the world. With famous sites like Raja Ampat, Komodo and Sulawesi, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Liveaboards in Indonesia offer myriad benefits and we believe it is truly the best way to see some of the best diving destinations in the world.

You can:

  • Beat the crowds – Certain locations are very popular with day trips. With liveaboards, you can be there before anyone else!
  • Night dives – Many of the best diving locations are several hours ride from the shore which limits night diving opportunities – unless you’re on a liveaboard!
  • Go off the beaten track – On Indonesian liveaboards, you have much more flexibility. This means that you can explore the most remote and difficult-to-access dive sites much more easily.
  • Dive at the best time – Many Indonesian dive sites, particularly in Komodo National Parks, are best at specific times of the day. If your knowledgable dive sites take advantage of the currents and tides, you can appreciate a calm, relaxing dive – or enjoy a thrilling underwater rollercoaster ride!

Indonesia boasts a wealth of excellent liveaboard locations and there are plenty of vessels, itineraries and durations to choose from.

man backflipping off a boatA liveaboard in Raja Ampat is one of the most sought after diving trips in the world. Known as “The Last Paradise”, Raja Ampat is thought to have the most diverse underwater environment in the world. It boasts thriving coral reefs along with dramatic pinnacles, caves and even mangrove forests.

Meanwhile, liveaboards in Komodo departs from Labuan Bajo. The park is a 90-minute boat ride away. Though there are plenty of sites suitable for beginner divers, diving in Komodo is famous for its exhilarating drift dives. It is these fast-flowing currents that attract so many manta rays and sharks to this nutrient-dense region.

Other excellent liveaboard destinations in Indonesia include the remote Banda Sea, Sulawesi, Forgotten Islands, Triton Bay and East Flores – though there are many others too. Meanwhile, certain Indonesian diving locations are best explored whilst staying on land, like the Gili Islands.

New to the concept of liveaboard diving? Check out our ultimate guide to liveaboard diving now!

It is an experience like no other that all scuba divers should experience in their lives. It is a great way to make friends with like-minded people from all over the world, immerse yourself in the scuba diving world and, of course, try out the best scuba diving locations on earth!

Though many liveaboards will be happy to take any diver with an open water qualification, it is important to check before you go. Some Indonesian liveaboards require a minimum number of dives or an advanced open water qualification to ensure you will be experienced enough to handle all the dive sites.

Another qualification you might like to consider before departing is your nitrox certification. Diving with nitrox isn’t as scary as it sounds – it just means you get to extend your bottom time at depth! Another benefit is that some divers report feeling less tired when diving with nitrox – useful when you’re diving 4 or 5 times a day!

Best Liveaboards in Indonesia

Here’s the pick of the bunch – check out the best liveaboards in Indonesia now!

The Tiare Cruise is a luxurious phinisi vessel, built in a traditional Indonesian style. She sails year-round on various itineraries which include Alor, Komodo and Raja Ampat. 

She accommodates just 12 guests in 6 private, ensuite rooms, lending an exclusive feel to each cruise. Each cabin also features individually controlled AC, hairdryer, complimentary toiletries and fresh drinking water. 

The air-conditioned lounge has drinks and snack stations and is ideal for socialising with your fellow guests. The sundeck, complete with loungers is great for sunbathing in between dives, whilst the shaded bow lounge is the perfect spot for an evening drink overlooking the ocean. 

The stylish, restaurant-style dining room is where you will enjoy your freshly prepared meals. The cuisine is a combination of the local fare and international options. All dietary requirements can be catered to with prior notice. Alcoholic drinks can be served, for a small additional fee. 

The spacious dive deck has individual gear stations for each diver, to make gearing up a breeze. Divers have the option of air or nitrox for a small extra fee. For those with their own dive cameras, there is a dedicated camera room with tables, hoses and charging ports. Additionally, divers will be provided with an ENOS beacon, for ultimate safety. 

The Tiare Cruise liveaboard also offers free wifi, stand up paddleboards, kayaks, land excursions and massages, so you’ll never be bored!

tiare cruise

Diving Highlights

The Tiare Cruise Indonesian liveaboard operates seasonal itineraries through famous scuba diving destinations like Komodo National Park, East Flores, Alor, The Forgotten Islands, the Banda Sea and Raja Ampat.

Nestled in the center of the coral triangle, these areas have some of the most diverse marine environments on earth. With a background of vibrant corals, you will encounter countless macro critters, schools of fish and pelagics like sharks, turtles, mantas, dolphins and even whales.

Pros
  • Dedicated camera room
  • Luxurious cabins
  • Other activities available
Cons
  • Somewhat pricey
  • Extra for nitrox
  • Extra for alcoholic beverages
AC
Yes
# Divers
12
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Extra
Drinks
Extra
Price
High
Visit Website

Gaia Love is a stunning, 40m long liveaboard vessel that caters to 22 guests in 11 beautiful cabins. Each has a private ensuite bathroom, storage and AC. They are all very spacious, averaging 20 square meters. The cabins on the top deck also have large ocean view windows and small, private balconies. 

The inner salon and dining area is modern and stylish, with a full entertainment system and dining area. The external decks provide both shaded and sunny areas to kick back and relax between dives or enjoy the al-fresco bar at the end of the day. 

gaia love liveaboard camera roomThe dive deck at the rear of the yacht has capacity for 28 divers so there is abundant space and individual gear stations to make kitting up super easy. The two skiffs will drop you off at the dive sites. There are plenty of rinsing stations including a specific camera one and a dedicated camera room for maintenance and editing. Nitrox is available, for an additional fee.

Diving Highlights

Gaia Love visits the best diving locations around Indonesia. These include the Banda Sea, Komodo National Park, Alor and Raja Ampat. Highlights include the chance to dive in thrilling drift dives in Komodo, kaleidoscopic coral reefs in Raja and whale sharks in the Banda Sea. 

Pros
  • Dedicated camera room
  • Beautiful, modern design
  • Extremely luxurious
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Extra for nitrox
  • Extra for alcoholic beverages
AC
Yes
# Divers
22
Wifi
Extra
Nitrox
Extra
Drinks
Extra
Price
High
Visit Website

Emperor Raja Laut is a great option for guests on a budget. It offers competitive prices without compromising on quality. 

This stunning yacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 ensuite cabins. The interior walls are paneled with tropical hardwood, creating a luxurious and cozy atmosphere. The cabins also provide storage space, safes and individually controlled AC. There are both doubles and twins available.

The air-conditioned lounge offers entertainment in the form of an HD flat-screen TV, games, movies, a library and minibar. The upper deck features a sundeck with loungers, ideal for sunbathing between dives or stargazing at night.

emperor-raja-laut-liveaboard-deck

Meals are traditionally eaten on the main deck, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the beautiful views. There is also an internal dining room in case of inclement weather. Wine is included with dinner, though other alcoholic beverages will be charged. 

A dive tender will make transport to dive sites and water entry quick and easy. You will have the choice of diving with nitrox or air, for no extra cost.

Diving Highlights

Emperor Raja Laut visits Indonesian locations seasonally. From June to September, she sails in Komodo National Park, famous for its abundant manta rays and ripping currents. Experience world-class diving for yourself at Castle Rock, Batu Bolong and Manta Alley. 

From November to April, she visits Raja Ampat - the Last Paradise. It is thought to be one of the most biodiverse locations on the planet, combining spectacular reefs with superb macro and plentiful pelagics. 

There are exclusive opportunities to dive in the Banda Sea as she makes her crossing between destinations, in May and October. These offer the opportunities to dive on rarely visited sites such as extinct volcanoes.

Pros
  • Beautiful, cozy rooms
  • Competitive price
  • Small groups
Cons
  • Extra for alcoholic beverages
  • No wifi
AC
Yes
# Divers
12
Wifi
No
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Extra
Price
Low
Visit Website

Designed by an avid diver and handcrafted by Sulawesi artisans, La Galigo was created with divers’ needs in mind. It is a traditional two-masted phinisi design, boldly decked out in red and black. 

La Galigo liveaboard can cater to 14 guests in 7 comfortable cabins. Each one features air conditioning, deep-sprung American mattresses and ensuite bathrooms. For the ultimate luxury, you can book The Suite, which features a 48” TV, PS4, 270-degree views and private balcony.

la-galigo-liveaboard-the-suite

The main saloon is fully air-conditioned and features entertainment in the form of a small library and TV. It is combined with the restaurant-style dining room, where you’ll enjoy your freshly prepared meals. Meanwhile the sundeck offers comfortable mattresses and sofas to recline in the sunshine.

The diving deck at the rear is spacious with plenty of room for gearing up. There are both camera stations and rooms to maintain your equipment. Nitrox is available for an additional fee. Diver tenders will take you to your dive sites, making water entry simple.

Diving Highlights

Emperor Raja Laut offers two different itineraries for its guests. From October to April, you can enjoy the lush waters of Raja Ampat and from May to September, you can sail in wild Komodo. 

Both locations are excellent choices for an Indonesian liveaboard. They combine exceptional marine biodiversity with stunning landscapes above the water.

Pros
  • Beautiful, cozy rooms
  • Competitive price
  • Small groups
Cons
  • Extra for alcoholic beverages
  • No wifi
  • Extra for nitrox
AC
Yes
# Divers
14
Wifi
No
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Extra
Price
Low
Visit Website

The Raja Ampat Aggressor is a 30m Indonesian liveaboard, built specifically for divers. With her large hull providing stability and comfort, she is perfect for long ocean journeys.

She has 8 ensuite cabins which can accommodate up to 16 guests. These all offer individually controlled air conditioning and storage space. Both doubles and twins are available.

The internal saloon is air-conditioned and homey, with comfortable sofas, a TV and a small library. The sundeck provides spectacular views and sun loungers, ideal for catching some rays between dives or stargazing at night.

raja-ampat-aggressor-liveaboard-camera-station

Guests will enjoy their freshly prepared meals in the restaurant-style dining room. The cuisine is a combination of western and local fare, with alcoholic beverages included in the price. Dietary requirements can be catered for with prior notice.

The diving deck is spacious and shaded. There is a large camera table for equipment maintenance, as well as a dedicated camera room for photo editing. Dive tenders make water entry super easy. Nitrox is available for a small additional fee.

Diving Highlights

Though named “Raja Ampat Aggressor”, this vessel visits Raja Ampat only from October to May each year. During the summer months, she visits the Derawan Islands near Sulawesi.

These locations have the opportunity to experience exceptional pelagic encounters alongside some of the best muck and coral diving in the world.

Pros
  • Dedicated camera room
  • Alcoholic drinks included
  • Small groups
Cons
  • Higher price
  • Extra for wifi
  • Extra for nitrox
AC
Yes
# Divers
16
Wifi
Extra
Nitrox
Extra
Drinks
Yes
Price
Avg
Visit Website

When to Go To Indonesia

Whilst it is possible to scuba dive in Indonesia all year round, there are defined seasons that make certain locations more popular for liveaboards during different months. It is important to check when exactly is the best time of year when planning your liveaboard trip.

Due to it’s location on the equator, temperatures in Indonesia don’t vary much throughout the year, though mountainous regions have cooler weather. However, there are tropical rainy seasons which bring heavy rains, humidity and wind which whips up the sea.

aerial shot of raja ampatMost of the country, including the Gili Islands, Bali, Nusa Penida, Alor and Komodo National Park, has a dry season that matches the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. From May to October, there is very little rain in this region and it is the best time to jump on a liveaboard. It is possible to experience Indonesian liveaboards in Komodo during these months but it can be risky as sudden storms can halt voyages at the last minute.

Conversely, Raja Ampat is found in the north of the country and experiences the opposite. The calmest time of year is from November to April. It is common for liveaboards to operate in Raja Ampat during these months and sail to Komodo National Park for the rest of the year.

Scuba Diving In Indonesia

Indonesia is widely considered to be one of the best places on earth for scuba diving. It is located in the Coral Triangle and contains over 20% of the worlds coral reefs, with over 600 different species of coral and over 3,000 species of fish!

Parts of Indonesia have a bad reputation for being difficult and dangerous to dive. This is certainly not the case.

Whilst some locations, such as Komodo, have fast-flowing drifts and unpredictable currents, as long as you dive within your limits and follow a knowledgeable guide, all should be well. As you can see on the diagram below, Indonesia has many currents to take into account! Ultimately, it is down to the diver to contact dive operators for more accurate current estimations.

Water temperatures vary throughout the year but tend to stay between 25°C and 30°C in most places. Many locations, particularly the Gilis and Raja Ampat are well known for their exceptional water clarity which can exceed 40m at times.

Plankton blooms are the culprit for reduced visibility and in certain spots, it can drop as low as 10m at times. The benefit of plankton blooms is that they attract big filter feeders like manta rays and whale sharks to feast.

Ultimately, it is down to the diver to contact dive operators for more accurate current estimations. As you can see from the diagram below, there are lots of currents to take into account!

Marine Life

As previously stated, Indonesia has some of the highest biodiversity of anywhere on earth. There are far too many species to list here, but here is a small selection of what to expect:

  • Macro – The nutritious, volcanic sands have created havens for tiny critters and locations like Tulamben in Bali are famed for the array of species that can be found on the silty seabed.
  • Turtles – 6 of the world’s 7 turtle species live in Indonesia. Whilst they can be found in most major diving locations, the Gilis are particularly famous for their reptilian inhabitants. In fact it is often referred to as the “Turtle Capital of the World”!
  • Whaleshark scuba diving in MaldivesSharks – Whilst often a source of fear, many scuba divers adore sharks. In Indonesia, species range from the tiny cave-dwelling white tip reef sharks to the intimidating grey reefs which stalk the waters of Komodo. Lombok is one of the only places on earth where it is possible to see schooling hammerheads. The whale shark, the largest fish on earth, is sighted (somewhat unreliably) all over Indonesia. However, in certain places like Cenderawasih Bay, spectacular sightings are nearly guaranteed.

Conclusion

An Indonesian liveaboard experience offers the unique opportunity to escape the modern world and escape into a world of dramatic landscapes, vivid sunsets and an ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Aboard these luxurious vessels, you can truly immerse yourself in the scuba diving experience. Build confidence, make friends and dive the best sites in the world.

Ready to dive in?