Stretching over 850 kms across the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is an idyllic island nation characterised by a string of 26 atolls, each with its own vast crystalline lagoon. With so many exceptional dive sites to explore, why not consider booking a liveaboard rather than a resort? Their ability to cover the distances between far-flung atolls, and flexibility to follow seasonal wildlife and weather, means that liveaboards provide the ultimate Maldivian diving holiday.
But, if you’re going to spend the next week at sea, it goes without saying you want to be confident you’ve booked the right boat. Below, we’ve collected a handful of our favourite vessels. So take a break from trawling through endless boat reviews and read on to discover our best liveaboards in the Maldives.
The ultimate guide to liveaboard diving in 2021
Best liveaboard for families
The salubrious Fascination Maldives offers intimate, private charters for up to six guests, making it perfectly suited to families. And, each bespoke itinerary is 100% customisable, allowing you to design your own Maldivian liveaboard adventure – be it diving, snorkelling, surfing, or all three. Boasting sumptuous solid teak interiors, oversized cabins, and a well-stocked bar, this vessel feels like your own five-star villa above the waves, complete with an onboard chef to keep your family well-fuelled.
This luxurious power yacht was recently refitted specifically for custom dive charters within the Maldives, and now comes equipped with a spacious, shaded dive deck and hot water rinse showers for maximum comfort before and after every dive. And the best part about this fantastic vessel? With just six guests on board and three crew members, you’re guaranteed all the attention you require, both above and below the water.
Best onboard spa
Looking for the ultimate blend of adventure and indulgent relaxation? Well look no further than the award-winning Scubaspa and its twin vessels Ying and Yang.
Setting new standards of luxury in the industry with a unique ‘floating resort’ concept, these vessels deliver a truly sublime service based on excellence, experience and uncompromised relaxation. Scubaspa’s Ying and Yang are the only Maldives liveaboards to receive PADI 5-Star Dive Resort status, making them well-equipped to deliver the dive holiday of a lifetime. An accompanying 20-metre dhoni acts as the floating dive centre, featuring rental equipment, nitrox and multilingual instructors.
Offering countless other first-class facilities including sumptuous suites with panoramic ocean views, a gym, Jacuzzi, open-air cinema, and spacious al fresco dining, Scubaspa truly is a resort above the water. And, the onboard Asian spa – the largest of its kind in the Maldives – is ready to re-energize your body and soul with a menu of tantalizing treatments and calming classes, from open-air massages to guided meditation and yoga. This really is as good as it gets!
Best luxury liveaboard
Blue Force One
Blending chic modern interiors and first-class service with adventurous Maldivian diving, Blue Force One is in a league of its own. Sublime comforts permeate every aspect of this vessel’s impeccable design, with facilities ranging from on-deck Jacuzzis to a disco-themed party room. And, boasting large in-vogue lounge spaces and roomy, perfectly-appointed cabins, Blue Force One delivers unbeatable five-star luxury. In fact, if it weren’t for the stunning ocean vistas, you might forget you were at sea at all.
As you’d expect from such a lavish liveaboard in the Maldives, Blue Force One’s superior standards of service extend throughout its dive facilities, offering concierge-style attention and hands-on assistance above and below water. Dual staircases lead to the spacious swim deck and provide easy access to the dedicated dhoni where Individual storage space is provided for every diver. Plus, with extra perks for experienced ocean explorers, such as nitrox and designated areas for camera equipment, Blue Force One is, without a doubt, one of the most luxurious liveaboards in the Maldives.
Best liveaboard for photography
Maldives Aggressor II
With so many unbelievable diving experiences around every corner, an underwater camera is an essential tool when visiting the Maldives – how else are you going to prove your tales? And if you’re travelling with camera equipment and looking to get the shot of a lifetime, you need a liveaboard that’s up to the task.
The Maldives Aggressor II is the ultimate vessel for underwater photographers, offering hard-to-beat facilities for camera care and preparation. A three-tier camera table, blow-dry station, charging area, and fresh-water rinse bins ensure even the most avid photographers are well catered for, while the 18-metre dhoni delivers spacious stress-free diving. And, with a professional team of expert guides offering the same high standards of service above and below the waves, the Maldives Aggressor II makes capturing each epic image absolutely effortless.
Best value-for-money liveaboard
Luxury may be the name of the game in the Maldives, but budget-savvy travellers can find a handful of affordable liveaboards operating in this once-in-a-lifetime destination. And, while affordable alternatives may lack some of the exceptional perks found onboard luxurious vessels, they often deliver a welcoming, social atmosphere with groups like-minded people coming together over a shared experience.
Carpe Diem is an excellent option for divers looking for high standards of service and comprehensive facilities at great prices. The vessel’s exceptional value for money is demonstrated through its list of facilities – relax in your homely cabin, indulge in expertly-crafted onboard cuisine, or spread out amongst the spacious salons and sprawling sun deck. And with action-packed itineraries, free nitrox during low season, and essential camera facilities for maximum convenience, this superb vessel delivers the whole Maldives liveaboard package, with very little compromise.
Best eco liveaboard
The age of sustainable travel is dawning and with more eco-conscious operators than ever before, diving the world in a responsible manner has never been simpler. While the Maldives is a destination synonymous with opulence and extravagance, it too offers many environmentally-driven options for divers dedicated to sustainable tourism.
Part of the Eco Pro Divers family, Eco Blue is a modern vessel with an unquestionable commitment to marine conservation and responsible diving practices. From the crew's extensive knowledge of the atolls to the complimentary biodegradable toiletries, this vessel utilises every resource at its disposal to reduce its environmental impact. Eco Pro Divers have also been involved in coral breeding research across almost all of the Maldives’ atolls for the past decade. And to top it off, they work with organisations like Manta Trust and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program to protect the region's famous megafauna.
For manta rays
If you’re in the market for manta rays, you’ll almost certainly want to head north. The northern atolls boast some of the Maldives’ best manta hotspots, including Baa Atoll’s Hanifaru Bay and Lhaviyani Atoll’s Fushifaru – among many more. Baa Atoll, in particular, makes this northern route worth its salt, delivering jaw-dropping manta ray congregations with spectacular reliability.
Famed for thrilling current-swept channels and open ocean dive sites, the southern atolls - often referred to as the ‘deep south’ - are the ultimate place to get up-close and personal with sharks. Addu Atoll’s aptly named Shark Hotel and Huvadhu’s impressive Nilandhoo Kandu are great spots for an exhilarating shark dive. But when it comes to sharks, Fuvahmulah deservedly wears the crown, boasting guaranteed tiger shark encounters, year-round threshers, and seasonal schools of silvertips and hammerheads!
For the ‘classic Maldives’ experience
For many people travelling to the Maldives, a taster of the country’s classic experiences is the ultimate way to go. And no region is better suited to offer this than the central atolls. From the infamous pelagic-packed channels of Vaavu and South Ari’s whale shark utopias, to manta encounters in North Male and Rasdhoo’s hammerheads – the central atolls truly have it all. Plus world-class surfing and a handful of sensational wrecks, there’s little else you could possibly ask for.
If you're ready to start planning your next underwater adventure, or you need a little more advice, get in touch with our travel experts today. Our team of experts have decades of industry experience and are ready to help with up-to-date advice for international travel, professional tips and tricks for a seamless experience, and price matching - to help you get the best deal possible.