Dive Resorts or Liveaboards? That is the Question

White collared butterflyfish with diver at ko tachai pinnacles diving the similans diveplanit banner

Those who regularly dive on Liveaboards will tell you it’s the _only_ way to dive, whilst those who don’t, wonder why you’d want to spend a week’s vacation cooped up on a boat! So we explored the merits of each – for you to see the other side – and maybe try it.

The liveaboards promote a great variety of sites over an area of diverse terrain with different marine species to be encountered at each location. Plus up to 5 dives a day in extreme luxury (or maybe just exceptional comfort, or maybe even cramped comfort?)

Liveaboards diving holidays enable you to dive the best diving sites in a region often in a floating luxury hotel; scuba diving cruises offer much the same

The resort by comparison would promote, in addition to excellent diving right on your doorstep, lush tropical surroundings, a chance to walk on the beach, infinite snorkelling on their amazing house reef, and a chance to meet the local wildlife (which unfortunately includes the local mosquitoes! – rarely an issue on Liveaboards.)

What gives the best scuba diving? Dive resorts or Liveaboards? How do the best scuba diving resorts compare with the best liveaboards?

There’s usually lots of opportunity to interact with the local community too.

But liveaboards are getting switched onto this element now and are offering wildlife tour and village visits. Trips to the Komodo National Park aboard Moana include a land trip to Komodo Island to see the Dragons, and the itinerary of the MV Taka in the Solomons, includes a visit to one of the remote villages in the Russell islands to watch a performance by, and engage with, the local Solomon Islanders.

What gives the best scuba diving? Dive resorts or Liveaboards? How do the best scuba diving resorts compare with the best liveaboards?

In terms of food, some resorts and liveaboards obviously put more emphasis on this than others, but the bottom line is no one would get away with serving substandard food for very long – word would get around pretty damn quickly.

One point to note on this when choosing a Liveaboard or resort is to check how much of the cuisine is local versus ‘Western’, particularly if you have a strong preference for one or the other. (Maybe not uncommonly, like me you enjoy a western breakfast but want all the other meals to come from directly the east).

Curry and poppadoms at Mantaray Island Resort not one of your liveaboards Fiji Islands by Diveplanit

The bottom line is though that liveaboards would argue that they give you a much wider area and therefore many more diverse dive sites and a variety marine life too. And indeed, they can get you to places like Thailand’s Similan Islands that would simply be impractical to dive from the land.

The liveaboards of Fiji cover the whole of the Koro Sea, Vatu-I-Ra and Bligh Water including the famed Wakaya Island and Namena Marine Reserve. The liveaboards of Indonesia cover the whole of Raja Ampat or the whole Flores Sea in one trip. Aussie liveaboards go to all the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. (The best of the best of the best Sir! – with honours)

Orange anthias Vatu-i-ra with Volivoli's Liveaboards or from the resort Fiji Islands by Diveplanit

By contrast though how many times have you left the dive resort knowing you left so many of their sites un-dived? And there was that one site you could have dived every day for a week it was so good. Uepi Point is one of those places, the Rainbow Reef has over two dozen different dive sites on the one reef, and places like Thalassa Resort in North Sulawesi offer excellent diving in the Bunaken Marine National Park, world-class diving on nearby Bangka Island and muck diving to boot in the Lembeh Strait.

Massively colourful reef resort diving Machiko Point Bangka Island Thalassa Dive Resort not one of your liveaboards North Sulawesi Indonesia Diveplanit

But there’s a final angle to selecting a Liveaboard or a resort that we often don’t include, and that’s sustainable angle. And I’m not just referring to solar panels on the roof.

Give a thought to the people who traditionally own the reefs you’re diving on, whether that’s the Solomons, Fiji, Indonesia or the Great Barrier Reef. And again, I’m not thinking of the reef fee – think longer term: is the resort or Liveaboard built locally, using local materials, local tradesmen and supporting local traditions of craftsmanship? And the cooks, cleaners, dive guides and captains, are they locals being paid a fair wage?

Bull shark takes the bait at Beqa Shark Dive not one of your liveaboards Fiji by Diveplanit

Is the operator supporting local outreach or community programs, for example, most reef fees on the Fiji shark dives go straight to the local school.

Where and how does the Operator source power, provisions and freshwater? Is it done in a way that supports local communities? And finally, waste and recycling: does it all make it back to an appropriate facility?

So whether to dive resort or Liveaboard (and we can recommend a few), we’ll leave you to make your own choice, all we can suggest is that you if you’re exclusively one or the other, try the other, just so you can be sure of your convictions!

Is that Eco Dive Resort or Liveaboards a sustainable dive operation Diveplanit explainer

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