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- Best Liveaboards In
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- Diving In The Philippines
The Philippines is one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations. And with 7,107 islands, a dive liveaboard is easily the best way to explore this underwater paradise.
We get it. You’re dreaming of a dive liveaboard in The Philippines, but you don’t know which liveaboard to choose.
With so many options out there, finding the right liveaboard for you isn’t easy.
And that’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you.
We’ll take you through the 6 best liveaboards in The Philippines. Plus we’ll be sharing everything you need to know for planning the perfect liveaboard trip.
From our research, these are our top choices:
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diving liveaboards in the Philippines.
So keep reading to check out some other popular options.
Why Go On A Dive Liveaboard in The Philippines?
Located in the coral triangle, The Philippines is home to many of the world’s best diving spots. But with over 7,000 islands stretched out across 115,000 square miles, it’s really not easy to travel around.
Lengthy and incredibly uncomfortable journeys on public transportation are necessary to reach most of the best diving areas. Plus Apo Island and Tubbataha Reef, 2 of the top scuba diving spots on the planet, can only be reached by liveaboard.
So not only is a dive liveaboard the most comfortable and convenient way to dive in the Philippines, but it’s also the only way to experience the very best diving this country has to offer.
And even if the area you want to dive can be accessed from an island base, a dive liveaboard enables you to dive more and access a wider variety of sites. Plus there’s nothing better than rolling straight out of bed and into some of the world’s best dive sites.
Now that you know why a liveaboard is the best way to dive in The Philippines, let’s jump into some of the most popular options.
If you're looking for a top-tier liveaboard experience then look no further than the Atlantis Azores. Offering extensive itineraries across all the best diving spots in the Philippines this luxurious liveaboard is our top choice.
Best Liveaboards In The Philippines
Here’s a quick rundown of our favourites:
- Atlantis Azores (Best overall)
- Solitude One (Luxury)
- Seadoors (Midrange)
- Dolphin (Budget)
- Siren (Traditional vessel)
- Infiniti (Great for all levels)
With nitrox and rebreather facilities the Seadoors liveaboard is designed specifically for diving enthusiasts who want to make the most of their trip to The Philippines.
Offering a more intimate experience, this sleek liveaboard only accommodates a maximum of 16 guests across 8 beautifully designed cabins. Each cabin features air-conditioning, ensuite bathroom, and a double or queen bed plus an upper bunk.
When you’re not diving there’s plenty of space to relax in one of the beautifully decorated interior or exterior lounges. The air-conditioned lounge features super plush chairs, a marine library, and an entertainment system.
Or simply watch the spectacular Filippino scenery pass you by from the open-air front deck or spacious upper sundeck. A new anti UV cover on the sundeck means you can fully enjoy this area even during the day.
Besides the unbeatable dive facilities, the best thing about the Seadoors liveaboard has to be the fabulous food. All meals are served buffet-style making the most of the fresh local delicacies with added touches of French cuisine. Perfectly complemented by the variety of wine available from the boat’s cellar.
Seadoors offers itineraries to the very best diving spots in The Philippines including Tubbataha, Malapascua, and Apo Island. A trip on this liveaboard is guaranteed to provide an unbeatable diving experience.
- Rebreathers supported
- Delicious food
- Spacious sundeck & lounge areas
- Dedicated camera stations
- No Wi-Fi available
Incorporating smart design and functionality, the Solitude One Liveaboard takes the first place on our list. This 52m yacht is an ex-merchant vessel that was fully renovated in 2013 into a luxurious dive liveaboard.
Every aspect of this liveaboard is carefully designed with your experience and comfort in mind. The menu, leisure activities, accommodation, and service easily compare to a high-end hotel on land.
The huge dimensions of Solitude One mean that you will never feel cramped. All areas of this liveaboard feel bright and spacious. The air-conditioned saloon, outdoor shaded areas, and upper sun deck provide an impressive amount of space to relax.
Solitude One offers a variety of elegantly designed cabins depending on your budget and taste. Choose from comfortable bunk beds, deluxe doubles, or decadent staterooms. Each cabin features airconditioning, an entertainment system, and private freshwater bathrooms. Taller guests will appreciate the added headroom throughout and the extra-long mattresses.
The dedicated onboard chef creates a fantastic array of dishes served in the beautiful outdoor dining area. Special dietary requirements can easily be catered for if given sufficient notice.
Solitude One offers a highly personalized diving experience. Groups are always kept small and itineraries are arranged so the dive sites can be visited at the perfect time. Whether you’re a diving newbie or an expert, the team are always on hand to assist with any issues.
Photographers will love the rinse tanks, air gun, and special towels available for underwater cameras. Plus, of course, the digital studio complete with computers for editting and power surge protected charging stations.
With excellent facilities, a world-class dive team, and unrivaled hospitality, the Solitude One is worth every penny.
- Highly experienced crew
- Very spacious & comfortable
- Top-quality dive facilities
- Onboard Jacuzzi
- Small diving groups
- Beautiful cabins
- Extra charge for Wi-Fi
- Snorkel gear not included
In our humble opinion, the Atlantis Azores is the best liveaboard in The Philippines.
Focusing on providing a more intimate experience and extended itineraries, the Atlantis Azores is guaranteed to deliver the best diving that the Philippines has to offer.
Not only does this roomy and luxurious liveaboard offer mind-blowing diving, but it also pampers her divers along the way. Soak up the spectacular scenery from the onboard jacuzzi or chill out in the air-conditioned lounge enjoying one of the lastest movies on the big screen.
The Atlantis Azores can accommodate up to 16 guests across 8 air-conditioned deluxe staterooms. There are 7 roomy cabins on the lower deck offer double and single bunk-style berths plus an extra special stateroom on the top deck with large windows, a desk, and extensive storage space. All cabins with private hot-water bathrooms and individual entertainment systems.
But what about the food? Let’s face it, other than the diving the food is the best thing about a liveaboard! Well, you certainly won’t be disappointed on board the Atlantis Azores.
Their exquisite menu comes complete with jaw-dropping ocean views. A dedicated chef freshly prepares 3 meals (breakfast and lunch are both buffet style with the evening meal a la carte). Plus there is plenty of pre and post-dive snacks. All drinks onboard including beer, wine, and local rum are complimentary. You can even bring your own with no corkage fee!
And if that’s not enough, the Atlantis Azores also includes well-planned shore excursions to some of the Philippines’ top sites including Bohol’s Chocolate Hills and Tarsier Sanctuary.
With unrivaled itineraries, luxury facilities, and delicious food, the Atlantis Azores is our top choice for a liveaboard in the Philippines.
- Small, intimate groups
- Complimentary local beer, wine, rum & soft drinks
- Great non-diving activities
- Camera station
- Onboard Jacuzzi
- Very comfortable cabins
- Extra charge for Nitrox
- Snorkel gear not included
- No WiFi available
- A little pricey (but very much worth it!)
The Infiniti is a spacious and modern liveaboard offering top of the line facilities and service at a surprisingly affordable price. With absolutely everything you could ever need or want, this liveaboard is a great choice for both beginners and more seasoned divers.
The 11 spacious cabins all benefit from large windows that let in plenty of natural light. Each cabin features extra-wide twin or double beds, airconditioning, plenty of storage, and a private hot water bathroom.
On the main deck, you’ll find a huge indoor dining area and lounge. And on the top deck, you’ll find hammocks, cushioned loungers & a shaded outdoor lounge. Perfect for sunbathing, snoozing, or star gazing.
And if that’s not enough the Infiniti liveaboard features a brand new camera station. Underwater photographers will be truly spoilt with an editing computer and big screen TV in the large indoor lounge. There are also dedicated rinse tanks and charging stations for camera equipment.
Delicious & nutritious meals are freshly prepared in the onboard kitchen and served in the large dining area. You can enjoy complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, fresh fruit, and snacks all day. Alcoholic beverages are available for an extra charge.
The Infiniti is well equipped for non-divers. This liveaboard offers many opportunities for snorkeling and island excursions, as well as a variety of books, movies, and games.
What’s more, is that as one of the largest liveaboards (39m) the Infiniti is extremely stable even in rougher sea conditions. Ideal for those worried about seasickness!
From the comfy cabins to the spacious sundeck and well-equipped dive set up, the Infiniti is decked out with everything you need for an epic liveaboard experience.
- Dedicated camera room
- Large & bright cabins
- Snorkel gear & watersports included
- Very spacious
- Soft drinks included
- Suitable for non-divers
- No WiFi
The Dolphin liveaboard is an excellent budget-friendly liveaboard for enthusiastic divers looking to experience the very best sites The Philippines has to offer.
The Dolphin liveaboard spends March through to June exploring the very best dive sites of the famous Tubbataha Reef. And then heads north to Puerto Galera where she offers fantastic itineraries to Apo Reef and Coron from June until February.
This liveaboard features 9 newly renovated cabins, all with private bathrooms and air conditioning. We love that all of the cabins have big windows that let lots of natural light in. You can also opt for a more spacious VIP cabin on the upper deck featuring a sofa and flatscreen TV. There is also plenty of space to relax in the main lounge or up on the top deck.
A delicious selection of Asian fusion and comforting western classics are served in the air-conditioned dining area. Followed by an epic sunset from the open-air lounge on the top deck.
The best thing about the Dolphin liveaboard is that they always create an itinerary that ensures you have the most incredible diving experience possible. Not only does this liveaboard take you to the top dive spots in The Philippines, but the dedicated dive team also makes sure you’re diving these sites at the most optimal times.
If you’re after a comfortable liveaboard with incredible itineraries at an affordable price, then you can’t go wrong with a trip on the Dolphin Liveaboard.
- Amazing itineraries
- Bright & spacious cabins
- Great value for money
- Small groups
- Wi-Fi not available
- Not suitable for non-divers
This eye-catching 40m wooden vessel is just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. Built by divers for divers, the SY Philippine Siren is definitely the most comfortable and well-designed liveaboard on our list.
The 8 air-conditioned cabins are arguably the most lavish of any Philippine liveaboard on our list. You can choose between either a double or twin air-conditioned cabin all situated on the lower deck with private hot-water bathrooms. Each cabin features a porthole and high-end entertainment system.
There’s even a complimentary fluffy bathrobe provided for each guest, which is very much appreciated after a night dive!, And with no bunk beds on this boat, there’s no need to argue over the bottom bunk.
Offering trips in The Visayas and Tubbataha Reef, divers can expect full days packed full of incredible diving from the massive dive deck and dedicated tenders. While non-diving companions can enjoy spectacular snorkeling, kayaking, island visits, and beach hopping.
When you’re not enjoying the natural wonders of The Philippines, there’s plenty to enjoy onboard this liveaboard. On the main deck, you’ll find an airconditioned lounge equipped with a dedicated camera room and large screen entertainment center. Upstairs there’s a beautiful sundeck with a shaded lounge area. Take a drink from the bar, enjoy the warm breeze, and soak up those jaw-dropping seascapes this sun-kissed archipelago.
The food aboard the Philippine Sired liveaboard is sure to satisfy every divers appetite. Talented chefs freshly prepare a varied selection of local and international cuisine 3 times a day. Meals are served buffet-style either in the air-conditioned lounge or on the shaded upper deck, both offering panoramic island views.
And if that’s not enough, this liveaboard also offers free nitrox for certified divers!
With every aspect of this Philippine liveaboard’s design, itineraries, and menu, carefully designed for divers by divers, the SY Philippine Siren offers an unforgettable experience.
- Lavish cabins
- Free WiFi & Nitrox
- Complimentary beer & wine
- Huge sun deck
- Great non-diving activities
- Massages available
- Massive dive deck
- No Wi-Fi available
- A little expensive
When is the best time for a Dive liveaboard In the Philippines?
Overall, the best time for a dive liveaboard in The Philippines is between November and April. This is due to the lack of typhoons. These massive storms predominantly hit the country between May and October.
However, the seasons in the tropics are not always so simple. Especially when it comes to diving in a vast archipelago nation, like The Philippines.
So let’s look at the 3 distinct seasons in a little more detail…
December to March is the peak season in The Philippines. The weather is dry and visibility is good. The northeast monsoon does bring strong winds during these months so crossing can be a little bumpy. But the great diving conditions more than make up for it! This is the perfect time for a dive liveaboard in Palawan or The Visayas.
Dive liveaboards in Tubbataha Reef only run between April and June. During these months the winds drop, the seas are calmest and the weather dry. The sea is too rough throughout the rest of the year to make the 150km trip from Puerto Princesa out to Tubbataha Reef.
From July to November is considered the worst time for a dive liveaboard in The Philippines due to rough seas and reduced visibility. This is the typhoon season when the southwest monsoons bring heavy rain and warm water.
Your best time to see whale sharks on a dive liveaboard in the Philippines is between March and May.
What are the different destinations for dive liveaboards in The Philippines?
The majority of dive liveaboards in The Philippines operate across 3 main diving areas:
- Tubbataha Reef
- The Visayas
Dive Liveaboards to Tubbataha Reef
Consistently listed as one of the top scuba diving spots in the world, Tubbataha Reef is the most famous destination for diving liveaboards in The Philippines. This remote marine protected area located over 150 km off the coast of Palawan can only be accessed on a dive liveaboard.
The marine biodiversity that can be found here is truly mind-blowing. Situated at the heart of the coral triangle, Tubbataha Reef is home to around 90% of all of the coral species in the Philippines.
What’s more, is that Tubbataha Reef also boasts a high density of pelagics. With 11 different shark species, tuna, jack and even the majestic manta rays you’re sure to tick a ton of creatures of your diving bucket list. And let’s not forget about the almost daily whale shark sightings!
Dive Liveaboards around Palawan
A dive liveaboard in Palawan allows you to explore 2 of the best scuba diving destinations in The Philippines: Apo Reef and Coron. Combining exhilarating drift dives, WW2 shipwrecks, and up-close encounters with rare marine species, a liveaboard here provides an impressive diversity of underwater adventures.
After the Great Barrier Reef, Apo Reef is the second largest connecting coral reef in the entire world. The crystal clear waters of Apo Reef are teeming with a breathtaking amount of marine life. And if you’re lucky you might find the elusive dugong grazing in the shallows here.
And if you’re a wreck diving enthusiast then Coron is not to be missed. Second, only to Chuuk lagoon, this stunning island to the north of Palawan is home to some of the best shipwrecks in the world.
Dive Liveaboards in The Visayas
Located in the far north of the coral triangle, this chain of islands in the central Philippines boasts an unbeatable variety of diving delights. And it’s impossible to explore them all in one trip. However, a dive liveaboard makes it much easier to soak up as much of this breathtaking region as possible.
With thousands of tropical islands surrounded by vibrant coral reefs, The Visayas is a scuba divers dream. And it’s not only about the colorful coral. Diving here you’ll find breathtaking topography, fascinating shipwrecks, mysterious macro, and mesmerizing megafauna.
Because it’s such a huge area, liveaboard itineraries here tend to focus on one specific diving area such as Bohol, Malapascua Island, or the popular Apo Island. You’ll also find themed trips here concentrating on distinct attractions like shipwrecks or sharks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What certification level do I need for a dive liveaboard in The Philippines?
Although many of the boats in The Philippines will welcome newly certified divers on their trips, you’ll get much more out of your liveaboard experience if you come prepared. The majority of the best dive spots here really aren’t suitable for beginners.
It is generally recommended that you have your advanced open water certification and a minimum of 50 logged dives for a liveaboard in The Philippines. Currents can be challenging and many of the best underwater attractions are below 18m.
You may also want to consider taking your enriched air nitrox and wreck diving certifications so you can really make the most of your liveaboard experience.
Some liveaboards in The Philippines will offer you the opportunity to complete your certifications during your trip. Check directly with the operator to confirm availability.
How long are dive liveaboard trips in The Philippines?
Generally, the dive liveaboards in The Philippines will offer trips between 4 and 10 days. And with 3, often 4, dives on offer each day you can make have up to 40 dives per trip!
You can also find extended trips lasting up to 14 days. These itineraries will allow you to combine diving areas and access some of the most remote, and often most impressive, dive sites in The Philippines.
How to get to The Philippines for a dive liveaboard
Most international flights arrive in Manila, the capital of The Philippines. From here, you’ll need to find your own way to the specific port that your liveaboard will depart from.
Dive liveaboards in the Visayas will usually depart from Cebu. There are several daily flights to Cebu from Manila. Or if you’re flying from another area of South East Asia you usually can fly directly to Cebu, cutting out Manila entirely.
Liveaboards to Tubbataha Reef or Apo Reef will usually depart from Puerto Princessa, which can be accessed via a short flight from Manila or Cebu. And for liveaboards to Coron and Apo Reef, you’ll usually start from Batangas, a 5-hour bus ride from Manila.
The majority of liveaboards will offer an airport transfer either as part of the package or as an additional add-on. And this tends to be much easier, and often more reliable, then getting to the port yourself.
What should I bring on a dive liveaboard in The Philippines?
In addition to your usual travel essentials, there are a few other items we highly recommend packing for a dive liveaboard in The Philippines.
With so many bucket list diving experiences in The Philippines, you’ll definitely regret not bringing an underwater camera. Let’s face it if you don’t have photographic evidence no one is going to believe you got that close to a whale shark!
Dive liveaboards in the Philippines will offer you the option to rent a full set of dive equipment. However, sizes and styles will often be limited so you may want to consider bringing at least your own scuba diving mask and dive computer.
A dive computer is arguably the most important piece of scuba diving equipment when it comes to safety. And there’s nothing that will ruin your liveaboard experience than a badly fitting mask.
Not sure what diving insurance is or the best option for you? Check out our complete guide to the best dive insurance.
What can I see on a dive liveaboard in The Philippines?
The Philippines boasts over 1200 different species of marine life. From weird and wonderful macro critters to the rare and majestic megafauna, you can find almost everything in the Phillippines. And a diving liveaboard gives you the best opportunity to see as much as possible.
Home to 400 of the world’s 500 coral species, The Philippines provides some of the world’s most vibrant reefs. When you drop into a dive site you’ll be hit with an explosion of colors and textures that’ll impress even the most seasoned scuba diver. Expect huge schools of reef fish, barracuda, moray eels, octopus, turtles, dolphins, nudibranch, frogfish, pygmy seahorses, and scorpionfish.
And if that’s not enough there’s also plenty of pelagics in the Philippines. Highlights include thresher sharks in Malapascua, hammerheads and whale sharks in Tubbataha, and the high density of reef sharks around Apo islands. And don’t forget about the frequent sightings of manta rays, eagle rays, and devil rays throughout the archipelago.
Your logbooks will fill up fast on a dive liveaboard in the Philippines!
A dive liveaboard in the Philippines enables you to dive some of the world’s best dive sites in comfort and style. There really is no better way to experience the magic of scuba diving in The Philippines!
You’ve now got all the information you need to plan your perfect dive liveaboard in The Philippines. And if you choose one of the best liveaboards we’ve mentioned above you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip!
And just in case you’re still not convinced, check out how incredible a dive liveaboard in The Philippines can be…