There comes a time in every young diver’s heart, and those still young at heart, when it is time to answer the age-old question dive resort or liveaboard?
The majority of scuba divers who consider themselves serious about their hobby will plan vacations where diving is not only the primary activity planned; it is the focus of the trip!
If you are looking at a vacation that is totally about diving, you have two main options: A resort that is dedicated to scuba diving or a liveaboard dive vessel.
Many divers looking for a diving focused holiday will consider a dedicated dive resort.
In any aspects these resorts are very similar to other resorts, they offer a wide range of accommodations, recreational activities and dining options. These resorts, however, are managed with the diver in mind and offer a carefree opportunity to maximize the diving experience.
Many resorts have their house reef available for 24/7 unlimited shore dives. It is common to have a separate dive boat for open water divers and those who just want a shallow dive from groups of advanced divers.
These resorts generally offer package deals that include the accommodations and a set number of dives a day. Depending on the size of the resort, the divers may have a choice of different diving locations to choose from.
Depending on the location, the resorts offers a range of activities beyond the diving. For the diver who is traveling with a non-diver, the resorts make a comfortable compromise.
As the diver is off diving, other resort features keep their non-diving companion occupied. This arrangement also makes it easy for the diver to take an off gas day and do other tourist activities.
When you are looking for an epic dive resort in a remote destination with amazing dive sites at hand you should have a look at the dive package that include the Janji Laut Dive Resort.
The luxurious Janji Laut Dive Resort.
Other top dive destinations include:
Best overall diving: Caribbean and South Pacific
Best overall diving: Pacific and Indian Oceans
Liveaboards have a reputation among divers, who have never experienced one, that you have to be an expert diver to go on one. That is far from the truth, many liveaboards offer open water training courses onboard.
Also, a growing number of liveaboards, depending on location, welcome snorkelers on board. Yes, there are some liveaboard itineraries that require advance training. However, these are in a minority.
While a liveaboard may be intimidating to a new diver before they get onboard, the comradeship found aboard will rapidly make them comfortable. You are with just a small group of people whom all experience the same passions as you do.
Liveaboards are all inclusive except for things of a personal nature like beverages. Your meals will have a limited number of choices and are either done as a buffet or family style.
Liveaboards will take you to places to dive that might not be reachable otherwise. Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea is considered one of the best places in the world to dive, crystal clear water and marine life unaffected by mankind.
Scientist travel here to study the sharks and nautilus on the reef for research that cannot be done elsewhere. If you wish to experience it, then a liveaboard is the only way to get there. You can be assured the only crowds on the dive sites will be the marine life.
The Maldives is another location that is well known to be discovered by Liveaboards.
Liveaboard vessel operated by The True Maldives
Click here to find dive packages from dive operators in The Maldives.
Around the world, there are a number of locations that most belief are best dived by liveaboards. The Galapagos Islands has limited land-based diving, it is the liveaboards that will show you what the diving is about here. The Red Sea and Maldives are locations with great dive resorts, but they pale when compared to the variety that the liveaboards can give.
The larger boats may have extensive public areas, still activities are limited. Most evenings on a liveaboard will are filled with talking about the day dives and reviewing each other photographs and videos. Alcohol policies vary by boat, some have a bar on board and prohibit you from bringing your own while others are “bring your own alcohol”.
Which ever the policy, you will find little drinking, as everyone will want to get up for the early morning dive. The sun deck at night is a perfect place for star gazing. Being far from land there is no light pollution to interfere with your view.
Four or five dives a day are common on a liveaboard with night dives offered.
You will find that many liveaboard trips will offer a sunrise dive. Watching the sunrise across a reef and seeing the reef becoming active while diving it, is a wonderful experience. Many divers feel this is the best time of the day to dive. The marine life that is active during the night are ending their activity and the day shift is coming out of hiding. The low angle of light adds depth to what you see.
One aspect of diving that you will not have and will not miss on a liveaboard is the hurry up and wait. We have all been on a dive boat that you think is about to leave, and another diver shows up. You are now delayed as that diver gets their gear together and set up.
When you get to the dive site, everyone kits up and enters the water as soon as possible. Generally on a liveaboard, you will have a set time for a site and dive brief. However, divers enter the water at their leisure. The gate will be open for a prescribed period, and a crew member will log you off and on the boat. The number of dives included each day meets most divers needs.
Many divers find that NDL is the limiting factor and not the number of dives available. There are many factors to consider when you are considering whether to take a liveaboard or resort based dive vacation.
A Liveaboard vacation often comes with a sticker shock
Being an all inclusive vacation, the quoted price may seem higher than a land resort when you first see it. In many cases, you will be able to have a much lower price at a land resort even after making an adjustment for what is included.
One of the big factors is the range in quality. There is not that much difference in the quality of the accommodations between liveaboards within the same market. Prices ranges seldom vary by more than 25%.
Resorts, however, vary greatly, and there are different ways to reduce your spending. The accommodations at a resort with 5-star rating may be ten times more than one that more like a hostel.
At a resort, you will also find yourself spending extra for things that you cannot get out at sea. Those on a tight budget may find that a liveaboard is out of their range.
In some locations, you can find liveaboards that are for shorter periods of time, it might be a good move to split the vacation with 3 or 4 nights between a liveaboard and the rest at a land resort.
Liveaboard vessel from Colona Liveaboards (Thailand)
Click here to find liveaboard dive packages from Colona Liveaboards.
It is a sad reflection of our lives, but connectivity can be a major issue for many people. If you are a person, who goes into withdraw if they don’t update their facebook every hour or send a tweet saying they are going to a store, forget to go on a liveaboard. While some liveaboards advertise free WiFi, there is always the small print, when in range. They are seldom in range, and that will be the same for you cell phone.
If you are 100% focused on your diving, then a liveaboard is a viable option.
If going out and partying until the early morning hours is part of your vacation expectations than a liveaboard is not for you. A liveaboard has a subdued night life as mention above. People will want to relax and prepare themselves for the next day dives.
While the food on a liveaboard is excellent in most cases and some of them even have professional chefs creating gourmet meals, there are few choices. You will find that some liveaboards do post their menus on their websites.
Meal times are also set with a single seating. In a resort you have greater freedom of what and where to eat as well as when.
You also need to consider your traveling companions, if they are not divers or as focused as you, it may be a poor choice to select a liveaboard.
Liveaboard diving is something that every serious diver should do at least once. However, it needs to be done when you are ready for it. The diving skills is not a great issue in selecting a liveaboard, it is the focus on the diving and the limitation of other activities.
What kind of dive trip to do prefer and why? Landbased or liveaboard? Let us know in the comments below
Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners that offer dive packages + accommodation and scuba lessons.
Article written by Rutger who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. This article is published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT: the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip and accommodation.