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12 Best Liveaboards in the World

11 Nov 2022, by India

For those looking to fill their boots with as much diving as possible, a luxury liveaboard holiday is about as good as it gets. Being based on a liveaboard allows divers access to some of the most remote diving areas on Earth, and each day you wake up to a new set of sites to explore. With up to four dives per day, all under the expert guiding of the onboard dive team, it is easy to see why people get so hooked on liveaboard diving holidays. With a huge array to choose from though, not every liveaboard experience is a good one, so we’ve rounded up 12 of our favourite liveaboards from all over the world, taking into account the quality of accommodation, guiding and safety practices as well as the range of itineraries available in top diving destinations. 

Coralia Liveaboard Islet Raja Ampat
Coralia Liveaboard in Raja Ampat

Coralia, Indonesia

Although relatively new on the liveaboard scene, phinisi Coralia’s team have been trained at Papua Explorers resort and know the reefs of Raja Ampat like the back of their hand, led by an outstanding pair of cruise directors. Since her launch in 2019 she has twice won Dive Magazine’s coveted ‘best liveaboard’ award. The cabins are all beautifully decorated and the four masters are particularly impressive with huge beds and beautiful views. Food and service is excellent, and the communal areas are incredibly comfortable. Cruise itineraries allow divers to come back time and time again exploring different areas, from Komodo to Raja Ampat and lesser-visited areas such as Alor and the Banda Sea.  

Galapagos Sky, Galapagos Islands

For a bucket list diving trip like the Galapagos, divers have to head out by liveaboard to get to the best dive sites, with the famous walls of schooling hammerheads and some of the largest whale sharks ever recorded. Galapagos Sky operates like a well-oiled machine and has long been our favourite liveaboard in the region. Safety is paramount on board Sky with touches like compulsory nitrox and a minimum of 50 logged dives to ensure divers are ready to handle the strong currents and cooler waters synonymous with this area.  

Galapagos Sky Exterior
Galapagos Sky

The Arenui, Indonesia

This traditional phinisi-style liveaboard has beautiful, well-appointed cabins from spacious master cabins to twin cabins perfect for dive buddies travelling together. What makes this boat stand out above the rest is the amazing crew. Every detail is attended to and the guiding is among the best you could hope to find anywhere in the world. It books up very early though so get your name on a waiting list, particularly if you want a master cabin!  

Dinner Setup Arenui Indonesia
Arenui Liveaboard, Indonesia

Bilikiki, Solomon Islands

Whilst she may not be an outstanding beauty of a boat, the Bilikiki packs a punch when it comes to liveaboard service levels and guiding. Given the limited nature of land-based resorts, and the distances covered to reach the best dive sites in the Solomon Islands, diving from Bilikiki is undoubtedly the best way to experience this astonishingly biodiverse region. Not only is she purpose-built for diving voyages in the South Pacific, but with just 10 cabins on board, the diver to guide ratio is always excellent.  

Bilikiki Liveaboard Solomon Islands
Bilikiki, Solomon Islands

Four Seasons Explorer, Maldives (for now)

When it comes to luxury liveaboards, the Four Seasons Explorer steals the show in the Maldives. In true Four Seasons style, the luxury staterooms are elegantly decorated and the crowning jewel is the Explorer Suite which is incredibly spacious and comfortable with beautiful panoramic ocean views. The itineraries are perfect for those trying their first liveaboard, with three, four and seven-night itineraries offered, taking divers from the central atolls to the northern Baa atoll. Service levels are outstanding and the food is among the best we have ever had on any liveaboard. Excitingly, the Four Seasons Explorer will be heading to Palau in 2023 so watch this space.  

The Argo, Costa Rica

Cocos Island, off the west coast of Costa Rica, is a 36-hour boat journey at full steam, so we always recommend picking the very best boat in which to reach this marine megafauna Meccah. The Argo has been built with long crossings in mind and its stability is one of the most appealing aspects. The sites around Cocos draw in a plethora of shark species, including schooling scalloped hammerheads, Galapagos, silkies and tiger sharks, as well as whale sharks and manta rays. The Argo offers an incredibly unique opportunity to experience the underwater world on a 200m dive in their on board DeepSee submersible. She has excellent camera facilities, including a special drone launchpad making this a popular option for underwater photographers.  

Argo Submersible Cocos Costa Rica
The Argo, Costa Rica

Spirit of Freedom, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is on most divers’ bucket lists, being one of the natural wonders of the world. The Spirit of Freedom is the perfect vessel from which to access the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef. With varied itineraries from shorter three or four-night itineraries to seven-night expeditions and special exploratory itineraries, divers can experience Ribbon Reefs, the Coral Sea and at the right time of year, swim with dwarf minke whales. The boat is well set up for more budget-friendly trips too, with a quad share cabin available or for those looking for a more luxurious cabin, the spacious Ocean View deluxe cabin is ideal.  

Nautilus Belle Amie, Mexico

The Nautilus Fleet is held in high esteem in the diving community, and its luxury offering, the Belle Amie is no exception to this. She has a modern finish, and was built in 2015 with heavy steel for stabilising ocean crossings, and being a larger boat with 17 cabins there is also ample space on board for divers to relax during crossings and surface intervals. Touches like a hot tub and bright, modern interiors give the Belle Amie a luxurious feel, whilst the crew are among the most experienced diving the Revillagigedo Archipelago and Guadalupe.  

Belle Amie Suite
Nautilus Belle Amie Suite

Palau Siren, Palau

The Palau Siren is the only phinisi-style liveaboard operating in Palau and she is as beautiful as she is well-run. The highlight for the Siren has to be her thrilling spawning event cruises, around the full and new moon, where spawning snappers and bumphead parrotfish create a feeding frenzy in the water. With only eight cabins, service is highly personal with a maximum 16 diving guests on board.   

Palau Siren luxury liveaboard
Palau Siren

Truk Odyssey, Micronesia

The Truk Odyssey was originally built as a small cruise ship in Fiji in 1972, and in 1999 was bought and repurposed to be a 132ft dive liveaboard with just nine staterooms. Since then, she has undergone refurbishments and hosted hundreds of divers who seek the ultimate wreck-diving experience on Earth; Truk Lagoon. The array of wrecks in Truk is unlike anywhere else in the world, and the crew can transform even the least interested of divers into wreck-heads through their passion for the history of this region. A trip on board the Truk Odyssey is not only a magical diving experience but also an unforgettable historical voyage.  

MV Febrina, Papua New Guinea

The Febrina has been hosting divers in Papua New Guinea since 1972 and has a stellar track record. Purpose built for diving these waters, and having undergone many refurbishments, this old lady is a firm favourite for divers wishing to experience the excellent visibility and pristine coral reefs of Papua New Guinea. There are just seven cabins on board, with two cabins being specifically solo occupancy. The guides on board are extremely knowledgeable about the diving in this area, and the itineraries taking in the best of the diving in PNG from pelagic encounters to muck diving and jaw-dropping coral scapes.  

Barrel sponges and whip coral in Kimbe Bay
Walindi Reefscape, Papua New Guinea

Don Questo, Sudan

The Sudanese Red Sea is still remarkably undiscovered and many divers may not have heard of the sensational diving that is the Red Sea’s best kept secret, but the crew of Don Questo has been operating in Sudan since 1998 so know these waters like no other. Built for brutal North Sea conditions, this is a hardy vessel that is able to moor in locations that most recreational diving vessels would shy away from. This means she is the best liveaboard in the area for the deep south cruises in particular, where pelagics abound. Don Questo’s environmentally friendly practices are in place to preserve this treasured marine environment and make this a favourite for visiting scientists, researchers, and for Reefscape Travel clients too!  

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