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As a remote, island nation with over 1,000 coral-fringed islands separated by current swept channels, it’s easy to understand why the Maldives is one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations.

From healthy coral reefs teeming with schools of fish to whale sharks, manta rays and even tiger sharks. You name it, the Maldives has it. The abundance of marine life in the Maldives is truly breathtaking.

With the archipelago stretching over 35,000 square miles, the Maldives are, without a doubt, best explored on a liveaboard.

And as a result, there’s an overwhelming variety of dive liveaboards to choose from.

With so many options out there, you’re probably struggling to figure out which Maldives liveaboard is the best option for your next trip.

We’ve pulled together all the essential information on dive liveaboards in the Maldives including our recommendations of the best liveaboards for budget, midrange, and luxury trips.

 

Why choose a dive liveaboard overstaying in a resort?

 

diving at maldivesYou might be thinking…

‘Can’t I just base myself in one of those beautiful resorts and dive?’

Yes, you can dive in the Maldives from one of the beautiful resort islands. You’ll be able to enjoy the space, comfort, and convenience of a hotel. But you’ll miss out on the best diving this country has to offer.

On a dive liveaboard you have access to many more, and if we’re totally honest, much better dive sites than those reachable from the islands.

And if that’s not enough, your dive trip will also be cheaper.

Yes, you read that right.

Think about it:

When you take into account the additional cost for the accommodation on top of your diving you’ll find that a liveaboard trip offers you much more for your money than diving from a resort.

Of course, this depends slightly on the level of luxury you’re looking for. But for the number of dives, liveaboards tend to be a more affordable option. And we know you’ll want to clock up as much bottom time as possible in this diver’s paradise.

So, now you’re certain that a liveaboard in the Maldives is the way to go, let’s take a look at your options.

Scubaspa Yang is one of the most highly reviewed liveaboards in the Maldives, and for a good reason. Expect 3 dives per day at the region’s best sites, with free nitrox for those qualified. Plus snorkel trips, kayaking, yoga classes, and a mini gym to keep you occupied.

And if you’re looking for comfort this liveaboard has you covered. With luxurious cabins, an on-deck jacuzzi, fine dining, free WiFi, and a professional spa you’ll be very well taken care of. For what this boat offers, it’s really good value for money.

Want to review some other options? Keep reading…

 

Best Liveaboards In Maldives

Here, you’ll find 8 of the best liveaboards currently cruising the Maldives.

We’ve done all the research for you, so you can choose the boat that best fits your budget knowing you’ve picked one of the top liveaboards on offer.

 

Budget Liveaboards

 

Who said liveaboards in the Maldives have to be insanely expensive?

These boats offer outstanding diving and comfortable accommodation at an affordable price.

If you’re looking for an affordable, yet top quality, liveaboard in the Maldives then look no further than the MV Ari Queen.

Ari Queen offers 12 twin or double cabins each with individual temperature controls, private hot-water bathrooms, and ample storage space. The deluxe cabins and luxury suites also feature a flat-screen TV, mini-fridge, and endless ocean views.

When you’re not asleep or underwater, there’s plenty of space to relax onboard. Enjoy the entertainment system in the large air-conditioned lounge, sip on a cool drink at the open-air bar, or top up your tan on the spacious sun deck.

With 3 delicious buffet-style meals served in the spacious saloon and complimentary snacks and beverages available throughout the day, you’ll never go hungry.
And don’t forget there will be a beautiful sunset BBQ dinner on a deserted island. A highlight of every trip!

With shore excursions and snorkel visits available for non-divers, and group discounts available, Ari Queen is superb value for money if you’re a group of divers and non-divers looking for an unforgettable experience.

Pros
  • Open-air bar
  • Hot showers
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • Wi-Fi not included
  • Nitrox not included
AC
Yes
# Divers
24
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Low

 

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carpe novo liveaboard

This beautifully designed modern yacht will take you to the best scuba diving spots in the Maldives without breaking your budget.

Despite being included as one of our budget liveaboard options, the Carpe Novo still offers you a luxury experience. Each of the 12 carefully crafted cabins features ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning, ample storage, and a selection of movies and music on flat-screen TVs.

Carpe Novo boasts an inviting indoor lounge where you can simply relax, enjoy a book from the onboard library or make the most of the HD entertainment system. And on the upper deck, you’ll find a luxurious al-fresco dining room, a fully equipped main bar, and a spacious sun deck.

The swim platform provides guests with the opportunity to take a refreshing dip whenever the boat is anchored.

As well as trips to the most iconic dive spots throughout the Maldives, MV Carpe Novo also offers specific manta-focused itineraries for fans of these charismatic creatures.

If you’re looking for top-quality service with a reasonable price tag, then you simply can’t go wrong with the Carpe Novo.

Pros
  • Beautifully-designed cabins
  • Amazing food
  • Free Nitrox
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • Wi-Fi not included
  • No onboard spa
AC
Yes
# Divers
12
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Low

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blueforce one liveaboard

And the final budget-friendly liveaboard on our list is the Blue Force One. Designed with both divers and non-divers in mind, it’s the perfect choice for those traveling with a non-diving buddy.

Blue Force One offers 4 different types of ensuite cabins including a family suite, all beautifully designed with your comfort in mind. And with three spacious sundecks, a plush living room, and upper deck bar you’ll never be short on space to relax onboard.

Not only will this magnificent yacht show you the magic of the Maldives underwater world, but it’ll also provide you with unrivaled experience above the surface.

When you’re not diving or relaxing, you can enjoy a variety of watersports including stand-up paddleboards, surfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, or kayaking. There’s even the opportunity to take a spin on one of the jet skis!

A highlight of a trip on the Blue Force One has to be soaking in one of the two onboard jacuzzis under a sky full of stars.

If you’re looking for the perfect balance between entertainment and relaxation, Blue Force One is the best liveaboard for you.

Pros
  • Two Jacuzzi included
  • Watersports included
  • TVs inside cabins
Cons
  • Wifi not included
  • Nitrox not included
  • No onboard spa
AC
Yes
# Divers
20
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Low – Avg

 

Mid-Range Maldives Liveaboards

If you’ve got a little extra budget to play with then you might like one of our more mid-range options.

Maldives Aggressor II LiveaboardWith the Aggressor II you don’t need to compromise on comfort to experience the best diving the Maldives has to offer.

This elegant liveaboard features 11  lavish staterooms all equipped with private bathrooms, individual climate control, port window, and TV.

Enjoy your time between and after dives relaxing in the shaded outdoor lounge area or in the jacuzzi up on the sundeck. Or unwind with one of the movies on the HD entertainment system in the spacious indoor saloon.

The chefs aboard the Aggressor II know how to keep you fuelled for your diving adventures. With an impressive range of local and western cuisine served buffet style at breakfast and lunch, followed by a delicious 3-course dinner menu, you’ll never go hungry.

Plus there’s a selection of fruit juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and local beer and wine all complimentary throughout your trip.

With top-notch dive guides, fantastic food, and beautiful interiors the Aggressor II offers you an amazing all-round liveaboard experience at a reasonable price.

Pros
  • Luxurious cabins
  • Jacuzzi deck
  • Complimentary drinks
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • WiFi not included
  • Nitrox not included
  • No onboard spa
AC
Yes
# Divers
22
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Avg

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Emperor Explorer Liveaboard MaldivesEmperor Explorer is one of our favorite liveaboards in the Maldives. Built and launched in 2019, this contemporary yacht combines world-class diving with world-class hospitality.

Akin to a floating boutique hotel, each of the 13 luxurious cabins offers aircon, private hot-water bathrooms, and plenty of storage space. There’s a comfortable air-conditioned lounge on the main deck that opens up to a stunning open-air dining area.

The upper deck boasts both a spacious covered and open area ideal for checking out the footage from your day of diving or just relaxing, star gazing, and soaking up the wonderful Maldivian ambiance.

What makes the Emperor Explorer one of our favorite liveaboards are all the little extras they provide. As well as an onboard spa they provide free nitrox and a complimentary glass of wine with dinner. Even the non-divers are also looked after with free snorkeling equipment and a $50 voucher to spend onboard.

The Emperor Explorer’s experienced crew go above and beyond to provide you with an unforgettable diving trip, providing the professionalism and top quality service that you’d expect from an Emperor liveaboard.

 

Pros
  • Free Nitrox
  • Complimentary wine
  • Onboard Spa
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • WiFi not included
AC
Yes
# Divers
26
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Avg

Visit Website

 

Luxury Maldives Liveaboards

And if you want to dive and cruise the Maldives in ultimate luxury then look no further than these 3 beautiful vessels.

 

scuba spa yang

>Winner of the South Asian Travel Awards Leading Liveaboard 2016 – 2018 and an official PADI 5* Maldivian vessel, the Scubaspa Yang offers an unbeatable experience.

With a team of highly experienced PADI instructors and dedicated divemasters you know you’re experiencing the best diving that the Maldives has to offer.

Prepare your body for a day of world-class diving with a sunrise yoga session on the spacious upper deck. Pamper yourself in between or after dives at the award-winning onboard spa offering you the ultimate in floating relaxation. And finish the day with a movie beneath the stars in the open-air HD theatre. 

This spacious and elegant liveaboard offers 10 cabins and 9 suites, each artfully crafted and individually decorated to the highest standard. As well as ample space to unwind with a large air-conditioned saloon, elegantly designed terraces and spacious sundeck complete with hot tub.

Food on the ScubaSpa Yang is an experience in itself. From grilled salmon to roast lamb, creative vegetarian options to tantalizing desserts, your taste buds will be well and truly looked after onboard. And don’t forget about the sizzling BBQ on an uninhabited, sugar-white sandbank and the farewell cocktail party!

Scubaspa Yang and her crew really do have every detail covered to ensure you have a truly unforgettable trip, both above and below the surface. They can even cater for weddings and honeymoons onboard! 

If comfort and relaxation are your priority, then you can’t go wrong by booking a trip on the Scubaspa Yang.

Although a little higher price than most liveaboards, it’s most definitely worth it!

Pros
  • Beautifully-designed cabins
  • Free WiFi
  • Fishing & kayaking available.
  • Spa & yoga onboard
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • Nitrox not included
  • Little expensive
  • Max capacity of 40 divers
AC
Yes
# Divers
40
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Low

Visit Website

scuba spa ying

If the Scubaspa Yang doesn’t have availability or you’re looking for a different itinerary, we highly recommend checking out the Scubaspa Ying. 

As you can probably tell by the name, the Scubaspa Ying is the sister ship of Scubaspa Yang. Similar to its sister, this elegant yacht also boasts incredible onboard facilities so you can fully refresh yourself ahead of your next underwater adventure.

The beautiful interiors of this boat combined with the variety of entertainment and relaxation options make it the perfect choice for divers looking for a little luxury.

Pros
  • Beautifully-designed cabins
  • Free WiFi
  • Fishing & kayaking available.
  • Spa & yoga onboard
  • Suitable for non-divers
Cons
  • Nitrox not included
  • Little expensive
  • Max capacity of 40 divers
AC
Yes
# Divers
40
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
High

Visit Website

azalea liveaboard

Our final luxury liveaboard is the beautifully-designed Azalea. Smaller than the Scubaspa vessels, the Azalea offers a more intimate, yet equally elegant, cruising experience.  

Accommodating a maximum of 16 guests, the Azalea offers 6 luxury cabins and 3 superior suites. All cabins are artfully crafted and incredibly spacious, featuring private hot-water bathrooms, air conditioning, and entertainment systems. 

All meals are freshly prepared by world-class chefs and served with endless ocean views in the al-fresco dining area. And if you’re feeling peckish in-between, they’re always happy to whip you up a snack at any time during the day or night.  

Every inch of this yacht oozes decadence with several carefully crafted areas for ultimate relaxation. Chill out in the spacious air-conditioned saloon, unwind in the shaded outdoor lounge or soak up the sun on the upper deck. Finish your day in the top deck jacuzzi watching the sun slowly set over the iconic Maldivian scenery. 

The highly experienced dive team and dedicated crew provide a service like no other. On the Azalea every single little detail is taken care of to the highest standard so all you have to worry about is soaking up the magic of the Maldives. 

If you’re looking to indulge yourself in the best that Maldives liveaboards have to offer, both below and above the water, then the Azalea is the boat for you. 

Pros
  • Decadent cabins
  • Jacuzzi deck
  • Onboard spa
  • Fine dining
  • Wifi included
  • Small group
Cons
  • Somewhat pricey
  • Nitrox not included
AC
Yes
# Divers
16
Wifi
Yes
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
High

Visit Website

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time for a liveaboard in the Maldives?

scuba spa yangDive liveaboards operate throughout the year in the Maldives. Although the majority of liveaboard trips run between December and May. This is also known as the dry season.

With clear skies, calm seas, and little rain it’s considered the peak season for diving. Trips during this time will often be fully booked in advance so it’s best to secure your spot early.

Between June and December, the southwest monsoons bring strong winds and high seas to most areas. During this time many liveaboards go into dry dock for their annual refurbishments, but not all.

Several operators still run liveaboard trips with modified itineraries to visit atolls which are better protected during the wet season. The diving conditions are still good but the weather is unpredictable so be prepared for some waves. You’ll also find some great deals on liveaboards trips during this time.

For more information on the diving seasons check out our full guide to scuba diving in the Maldives.

 

What certification level do I need for a Liveaboard in the Maldives?

Most liveaboards in the Maldives welcome divers from all abilities. But they will require an advanced certification for dives deeper than 18m / 60ft. 

We highly recommend getting your advanced open water certification for liveaboard diving in the Maldives. 

Not only will you be able to explore the deeper part of each dive site, but you’ll also gain additional knowledge, experience, and, most importantly, the confidence to really make the most of your liveaboard experience.

Not advanced certified yet? 

Don’t worry. The majority of liveaboards offer you the opportunity to complete your advanced certification whilst onboard. 

 

How many dives do I need to have for a Maldives liveaboard?

The majority of liveaboards in the Maldives don’t require a certain number of logged dives. The team on board will let you know if there is a more advanced site

However, there are some liveaboards that focus on taking divers to more advanced sites, think strong currents and deep pinnacles, that will require a minimum number of dives. 

Maldives from above

Is it worth getting nitrox certified for a liveaboard in the Maldives?

When you’re on a liveaboard in the Maldives you’ll be making 3, sometimes 4, dives per day. And you want to be able to make the most of it. 

Diving with enriched air nitrox significantly increases your bottom time, especially when making repetitive dives. Plus it reduces your risk of decompression sickness. 

Using nitrox during a liveaboard trip is a no brainer. Who doesn’t want the maximum bottom time and safer diving?

What’s more, is that some liveaboards offer free nitrox to certified divers. Make sure you can take advantage of this! 

Don’t have the time or opportunity to get the nitrox certification before your trip? 

No problem. The majority of liveaboards provide the opportunity for you to complete the nitrox certification onboard. And it’ll only take you a few hours. 

Learn more about nitrox in our complete guide to diving with enriched air. 

 

What is A dhoni?

You’ve probably read about Maldivian liveaboards having a dhoni. But maybe you have no idea what a dhoni is or what it means for you.  

In the context of a liveaboard, a Dhoni is a specifically outfitted dive tender (think small boat which tags along with the main yacht), that houses the compressors and all the dive gear. 

Using a dhoni means that they can maximize the space onboard the main yacht for your comfort. As well as keeping the noisy compressor as far away as possible so you can enjoy the peace of the ocean uninterrupted. 

You’ll often be diving from the dhoni as the main vessel won’t always be able to anchor at the dive sites. Most liveaboards will also use a zodiac, basically a small speedboat, that will drop you at the perfect spot and quickly pick you up after drift dives. 

All our recommended liveaboards make use of a dhoni and one or more zodiacs. 

 

 

What is included in a Maldives Liveaboard? What extra costs are there?


Generally, a liveaboard in the Maldives includes your accommodation on board, all your dives, food, drinking water, tea, and coffee.

Some liveaboards may include some or all of these extras without additional charge but it’s important to keep these extra costs in mind when planning your liveaboard trip.

Nitrox
Most liveaboards in the Maldives will offer you the opportunity to dive with Enriched Air Nitrox. Some will offer this for free, others will charge per tank. 

When you’re making multiple dives per day during a liveaboard, diving with Nitrox can be extremely beneficial. Check out our guide to Enriched Air Nitrox to find out why 

Soft drinks & alcohol
You’ll be able to purchase additional soft drinks and alcoholic beverages from the bar on board. If you love a drink or two at the end of a day’s diving bear in mind that alcohol is expensive in the Maldives due to high import taxes.

Dive gear
All liveaboards will offer you the opportunity to rent a full diving kit or individual items at a daily rate. On average, a full diving kit, excluding a dive computer or torch, will cost you $40 per day. 

That quickly adds up across a week or two of liveaboard diving! 

So, if you want to be smart and save some money for future dive trips it makes sense to invest in your own dive gear. 

Check out our extensive dive gear reviews to help you choose the right diving equipment for you.

Tips
The crew put a lot of effort into keeping a liveaboard running. Although rarely mandatory, it is customary to tip a liveaboard crew about 10% of the total cost of your trip.

Remember if you take good care of the dive crew, they’ll take good care of you!

Green Tax & Marine Park Fees
In the Maldives, a Green Tax of $6 US per person, per night applies for every tourist in the country. Some islands and marine parks also have national park fees that are not included in most liveaboard packages. 

WiFi
Some high-end boats will offer free WiFi but for most, you will need to buy an internet package if you wish to stay connected. Bear in mind that WiFi may not be available during remote crossings. 

 

Do I need dive insurance for a Maldives Liveaboard?

Dive insurance is mandatory for the majority of liveaboard operators in the Maldives. If you are not able to show proof of your diving insurance then you will be asked to purchase insurance locally before you can begin diving. 

Not sure what diving insurance is or the best option for you? Check out our complete guide to the best dive insurance. 

How long are liveaboard trips in the Maldives?

The majority of liveaboard trips run for 7 or 10 days. You can also find extended itineraries available for 14 days exploring more remote atolls.

 

Where can I join a Maldives liveaboard?

The majority of liveaboards begin in the Male atoll and will often pick you up directly from the international airport.

Some of the more remote itineraries will arrange a short seaplane flight to bring you to the departure point.

What else do Liveaboards in the Maldives offer?

Of course, we’re here for the diving. But many itineraries will incorporate other activities to help you make the most of your surface intervals and preflight day. 

Additional activities include the opportunity to visit a local island, enjoy a fresh BBQ on an uninhabited island or some epic snorkelling spots. Or there’s always the onboard spa to enjoy on more luxurious boats.

Are Liveaboards in the Maldives suitable for non-divers?

As mentioned above, many liveaboards will offer additional non-diving activities and are happy for non-divers to join the trip at a reduced rate.

As well as snorkelling, non-divers can enjoy a variety of watersports including stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and even jet skis!

If you’re looking for the best liveaboard experience for non-divers, we recommend Blue Force One or Scubaspa Yang as these offer an impressive variety of activities to keep those who aren’t diving satisfied.

If you have a non-diver accompanying you, it is best to check directly with the operator if your chosen boat and itinerary are suitable. There are also a few liveaboards that offer dedicated non-diving charters. 

 

Conclusion

Now you’ve got all the information you need, it’s time to cross a Maldives liveaboard off your scuba diving bucket list.

And trust us. 

You’ll be so seduced by the beauty of the Maldives and its underwater paradise that you’ll be planning your next liveaboard trip as soon as your first one finishes. 

Luckily for you, the Maldives has 26 different atolls and enough dive sites to keep you occupied for a lifetime. 

And if you go with one of our recommendations you’re sure to have an epic adventure! 

Which trip did you pick?

Let us know in the comments!