You have vacation time coming up and of course, you want to go scuba diving. How do you choose between liveaboard diving vacations vs scuba resorts?
When planning a dive trip, the choice between a liveaboard experience and a resort is the second biggest decision. The first decision is, of course, the dive destination.
With so many scuba diving sites around the world, you are spoilt for choice. The second decision is arguably even more important because it directly impacts your daily itinerary and overall diving experience.
Let us help you make up your mind. This is what you need to know about the differences between a liveaboard diving trip and a scuba centre.
What Are Scuba Dive Liveaboards?
A diving liveaboard is a scuba diver’s version of a holiday cruise. These are essential dive boats outfitted with everything you need for multi-day trips.
Onboard you find rooms (private or dorms), bathrooms (ensuite or shared), kitchen, dive deck and communal spaces for meals and relaxing. A liveaboard is all-inclusive which makes the planning much easier.
If you want to get in as many dives as possible on your dive vacation, a liveaboard is a way to go. Most itineraries offer 3-4 dives per day including night dives.
Liveaboard destinations are usually more remote. Think of the places of scuba diver dreams list, for example, Raja Ampat, Komodo National Park and islands in the Pacific Ocean. Liveaboard operators accept bookings for individuals, couples and groups. It is also possible to book dive charters if you want a custom itinerary and private dive safari.
What Are Scuba Dive Resorts?
A diving resort is a scuba centre that also offers accommodation and possibly other activities on land. Think of it as a holiday resort but specifically catering to scuba divers.
Since you are on land, you are not confined to a single space. You can grab whatever mode of transport is available and explore the surrounding destinations in-between dives. Some resorts offer all-inclusive packages but many let you create your own itinerary. This provides more flexibility in diving trips.
After booking dives, guests will be taken out on the water by designated staff and usually with a diving guide or instructor. The boat takes you out to the dive site and brings you back to shore afterwards.
You have more control over what you choose but you are more limited by travel time constraints. It does however leave more time for other activities on your trip.
Liveaboard Dive Trips vs Resort Holidays: Pros & Cons
- Visit more remote diving spots with fewer divers in the water
- Multiple dives per day for more chances of spotting manta rays, tiger sharks and more
- Itinerary often includes more advanced dive types such as drift diving or a blue hole
- Many liveaboards offer a couple of rooms
- Overall a very social atmosphere, meet your new dive buddy onboard
- Great for exploring archipelagos such as the Philippines and islands of the Caribbean Sea
- Usually include hotel and airport drop-offs
- Less space for personal time
- You cannot always choose the people you’ll be with during the entire trip
- Less flexibility in price because of the all-inclusive packages
- Limited onboard storage space means you need to be very thoughtful about what you pack
Scuba Diver Resorts
- See more than one place during the trip
- More privacy
- As an underwater photographer, you have more storage space for your camera equipment
- More choice of activities during bad weather
- A greater sense of safety because of the vicinity to hospitals
- More choice in which service you do or don’t want and more spontaneity
- Water temperature tends to be warmer closer to the shore (but not by much)
- Many to choose from near most popular dive sites like the Red Sea (not the Netflix movie: Red Sea Diving Resort)
- Fewer dives possible because of the time it takes to travel between the shore and diving spots
- More remote destinations cannot be reached by regular boats
- Not all resorts have their own boats which mean you may have to pay extra
- Need to bring your own dry bags for your things if taking the boat out
- Less chance of coming close to shy species so bring your marine binoculars
Frequently Asked Questions about Liveaboards
What does liveaboard mean?
A liveaboard is similar to a cruise but on a smaller scale. The boat features rooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and communal spaces. Guests are taken care of by crew members.
What is a liveaboard dive boat?
This type of liveaboard is specifically for scuba divers. The itinerary is an all-inclusive package built around the best scuba destinations in the region.
What do you need for a liveaboard?
For liveaboard diving you will need your scuba gear bag and the basic essentials such as clothing and toiletries. It is recommended not to bring too much luggage on liveaboards because of the limited storage space.