Top 10 liveaboards in the world
by Jorge Mezcua on Jan 28, 2023
The prestigious British diving magazine Dive Magazine has released the results of the pole of its more than 200,000 readers from 165 countries on the best liveaboards in which they have dived and enjoyed the most.
Its diving readers have selected 10 liveaboards in the most extraordinary diving destinations: Maldives, Red Sea, Cocos, Papua New Guinea or Galapagos among others attending to criteria like space per diver, value for money, equipment, overall comfort, experience of the team of divemasters and crew or food.
1. SEA HUNTER, COCOS ISLAND (COSTA RICA)
Cocos Island, located about 300 kilometers off the coast of Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world for diving with and home to at least 27 endemic species, and its main attraction is its big schools of hammerhead sharks, giant oceanic manta rays, dolphins and occasionally whale sharks.
The liveaboard selected by Dive Magazine’s readers, the Cocos Sea Hunter, one of the 5 liveaboards operating in Cocos, was originally a commercial diving support vessel, built for the long haul and re-equipped as a liveaboard in 1994. It has 10 cabins for a maximum of 20 divers and in its trips of up to 11 nights it is common to find special trips in which marine biologists participate giving an extraordinary bonus to the cruise.
The trips of the Sea Hunter have a duration of between 10 and 11 nights with a price from USD 3,795 including full board, transfers, NITROX, guides and travel insurance. To the price of the cruise you must add park fee (USD 490). No, it’s not a cheap trip, but it’ll be worth it. it’s definitely one of those trips that you’ll make once in a lifetime.
2. PELAGIAN, WAKATOBI, SULAWESI (INDONESIA)
The Pelagian is the liveaboard of the Wakatobi resort in Sualwesi, Indonesia. This cruise, one of the more than 50 liveaboards that you can find in Indonesia, combines the best of all this country’s diving in reefs that are rarely visited, including the remote Tukand Besi archipelago.
With only 10 divers per trip, the Pelagian claims to be the cruise with more space per guest than any other liveaboard in the world. In fact, according to the readers of Dive Magazine, their cabins are similar to a luxury hotel room rather than a liveaboard.
The trips in the Pelagian have a price from 315 USD per night in standard stateroom.
3. BAHAMAS AGGRESSOR (BAHAMAS)
The Aggressor fleet is one of the most complete fleets and with the largest number of liveaboards in the world, covering up to 27 different destinations. One of them, is the Bahamas Aggressor, a 30 meters length boat, built in 2012 and renovated only 3 years ago, which has only 6 cabins to accommodate 12 divers.
This cruise has three different itineraries, exploring Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176-square-mile protected area with more than 350 small islands and cays, and West End Northern Adventure, with some of the richest coral reefs in the Caribbean. The new charter flights to Tiger Beach allow you to explore the far north of the Bahamas, more remote and less traveled, with dives specifically designed to dive with their famous tiger sharks.
The dive trips of the Bahamas Aggressor consist of 7 nights with about 24 dives and include accommodation in full board from USD 2,050.
4. MV FEBRINA (PAPUA NEW GUINEA)
M / V FeBrina has been exploring the waters of Papua New Guinea since 1991, when it went from being a fishing vessel to one of the 3 liveaboards in Papua New Guinea. With only 7 cabins, this steel-hulled ship makes diving trips in the areas of Kimbe Bay and the surrounding waters along the northern coast of New Britain. In its usual itineraries it crosses the practically unexplored reefs of Witu Islands and Fathers, with some seasonal variations according to the climatological conditions. This cruise makes special charters on the south coast of New Britain, with an excellent macro diving mixed with the pelagic Milne Bay.
The FeBrina has itineraries of up to 12 nights for a price from USD 3,400 that includes full board, up to 32 dives depending on the itinerary and nights, transfer and a dinner at the Walindi Resort.
5. NAUTILUS EXPLORER, SOCORRO ISLAND & GUADALUPE (MEXICO)
The Nautilus Explorer is a boat of 35 meters in length, reconstructed only two years ago, designed exclusively for diving in the best diving areas in Mexico. This boat has specialized in hosting avid divers looking for encounters with the largest oceanic predators in both Socorro Island and Guadalupe.
In Socorro she offers itineraries of 8 to 12 nights including trips dedicated to the search and diving with humpback whales during the migration season around these islands in February, where they are also famous for encounters with oceanic manta rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, gray sharks, tiger sharks… As of July, the Nautilus Explorer is heading to Guadalupe, home of at least 228 great white sharks, to have from three to four daily dives in cages during their 5 night trips.
The Nautilus Explorer has a wide range of prices in Socorro, ranging from USD 2,650 of the 8-night trips to € 3,600 for its 12-night itineraries. In Guadalupe they extend the season until November with 5-day trips with a price of USD 2,550.
6. M/V GALAPAGOS MASTER (ECUADOR)
Very few divers are unaware that the Galapagos Islands are recognized as one of the best diving places in the world and the best if we talk about diving with large predators. Home to many different species of sharks (including gigantic pregnant female whale shark) with which you’ll dive in all dives, in its waters we can also find the giant mola-mola, marine iguanas, or have very close encounters with dolphins or playful sea lions.
The Galápagos are only accessible by liveaboards and Dive Magazine readers selected the M/V Galapagos Master, built in 2004 and renovated only 3 years ago as one of the best in the world. The boat, build in steel hull, has eight cabins, being one of the most eco-friendly liveaboards in the area.
The Galápagos Master has itineraries of between 7 and 10 nights and yes, as you could imagine, diving in the Galapagos is expensive… but it is possibly the diving destination that offers the best value for money if we consider the extraordinary nature of the species what you will dive with. Standard stateroom prices range from USD 5,100 to USD 6,750 for 10-night trips with 30 dives.
7. SCUBA SPA YANG, MALDIVAS
The Scuba Spa Yang in a diving boat designed as a luxury floating hotel of 50 meters in length. It has a large deck area, a lounge with an extensive area for outdoor relaxation, mini gym, jacuzzi, daily yoga sessions and 6 professional spa therapists on-board. This liveaboard has been designed for the enjoyment of non-divers as well but do not be fooled, it is a diving boat with extraordinary divemasters that takes you to know one of the best and most requested Maldivian routes, covering routes of the central atolls.
From USD 2,350 per person you can embark on an authentic luxury hotel, enjoy its multiple spa services, staying in a 5-star floating diving hotel.
8. MY BLUE SEAS, RED SEA (EGYPT)
The M / Y Blue Seas is a 38-meter long liveaboard with capacity for 24 divers. She explores the best that the Red Sea has to offer, with a total of 18 itineraries that range from the northern routes of the Red Sea like the Strait of Tiran, to Ras Mohammed, Northern Wrecks route to Southern Routes like Brothers, Elphinstone, Daedelus, Fury Shoal and even until the more distant Egyptian south in St Johns. It is one of the cruisers in the Red Sea with the biggest range of diving spots, excellent equipment and one of the most experienced divemaster teams in the whole area.
Having so many routes also has a great diversity of prices, from USD 950 on the Northern Route to € 1,650 on the St Johns route, with free NITROX in every itinerary.
9. OCEAN SAPPHIRE, MALDIVES
The Ocean Sapphire is a wooden yacht of 35 meters in length and three decks, built in 2012, specialized in luxury diving cruises between the north and south of Male, with a change of seasonal itinerary to the deep south in March of each year. Its spacious cabins allow a maximum of 22 people per trip, with a jacuzzi for six people on the terrace to relax after a long day of diving.
10. CARPE VITA EXPLORER, MALDIVES
The carpe Vita is the most luxurious version of the 4 liveaboards of the the Explorer Ventures fleet. Winner in 2016 of the prize for the best Liveaboard in Maldives awarded by Maldives Tourism Board, this liveaboard has capacity for a maximum of 20 divers and offers four daily dives. It has a huge selection of itineraries covering 21 different atolls, from the deep north to the south, with more than 300 different dive spots around the Maldives.
Being a luxury liveaboard is not hard to imagine that it is not cheap. Their rates range from USD 2,442 per person for 4 Atolls Route, 7 nights itineraries, to USD 3,780 for 10-night trips through the central atolls of Maldives that include up to 32 dives.