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In the last couple of decades, scuba diving has gained tremendous popularity; today, this underwater recreational and technical sport continues to do so.
As curiosity and a deep sense of adventure can easily take hold of divers, it leads them to seek more remote dive sites and more dive time rather than traveling and commuting to and from dive sites and dive centers. Ideally, they want to share these adventures with like-minded divers.
Liveaboard diving can easily achieve this greater and refined sense of adventure, which gained a big spike in popularity over the past years.
Before looking at different types of liveaboards, what exactly is a liveaboard?
It’s all in the name; you live aboard!
A liveaboard is a diving boat exclusively designed for scuba diving, or it can be an existing vessel adapted for scuba divers looking to join a dive expedition. Being designed and adapted with scuba divers in mind means that these vessels offer rinsing stations and comfortable diving platforms to prepare equipment, and most of them have tenders to take divers to and from dive sites.
Depending on the dive package and destination, these expeditions are ultimately longer than seven nights and can last up to two weeks!
Liveaboard expeditions are all-inclusive, which means that the trip includes catering, accommodation, and dives.
Let’s take a closer look at different liveaboards and what you can expect of them.
Steel-hull and Wood-hull Motorboats
Steel hull motorboats are mainly associated with liveaboard diving. Apart from being designed for divers, they are designed with strength and stability; they are notoriously found in dive destinations worldwide.
With a modern design, steel-hull motorboats include optimal dive facilities, anything a diver might need onboard and luxurious cabins. Their strength and stability contribute greatly to making safe crossings to more remote dive sites in choppier weather conditions, so much so that passengers may not feel any bumps on board.
Most importantly, these vessels can bring you to more remote dive sites where you can dive with big pelagics, sharks, and marine megafauna.
Popular examples of steel and wood hull liveaboards and their destinations
- Tiburon Explorer Liveaboard, Ecuador
- Black Pearl Liveaboard, Palau
- Emperor Voyager Liveaboard, Maldives
Traditional Wooden-Style Liveaboards (Phinisis)
These handcrafted wooden sailing boats are a part of Indonesia’s ancient shipbuilding tradition.
These ancient sailing boats used to carry spices and textiles across the old spice route. Today they have been repurposed for diving and cruising. It’s a remarkable craft to weave history into today’s modern technology, so much so that UNESCO has listed South Sulawesi’s hand-crafted sailing boats as an ‘Intangible Cultural heritage.’
Joining a Phinisis liveaboard, you can expect traditional designs, rich wood interiors, and cozy rooms. While sailing some of Indonesia’s best waters, you can be assured of smooth sailing thanks to an artisanal-shaped hull.
While these boats are known for their strong sailing capabilities, they are also equipped with powerful engines to minimize travel time to dive sites and safari destinations.
This liveaboard type may be ancient, but it still has divers facilities, such as a dive deck, a dive platform, and a tank and set-up area.
Popular examples of Traditional wooden-style liveaboards (Phinisis) and their destinations
- The Phinisi Liveaboard, Thailand & Myanmar
- Indo Aggressor Liveaboard, Indonesia
- Amira Liveaboard, Indonesia
Sailing Catamarans and Yachts
Sailing Catamarans are great for divers looking for a more intimate and tailored dive safari, as sailing catamarans mainly host smaller groups of guests.
Catamarans have two parallel hulls, which makes for a stable design and is ideal for divers prone to seasickness. It can also ensure guests are comfortable on anchor, adding to a good night’s sleep.
Sailing Catamarans have a shallow draft which allows them to cruise and anchor in shallow areas where not many other boats can reach. They are quiet and can cruise the seas at speed. This allows divers to reach a larger scale of dive sites while also enjoying the experience of being on a sailing boat.
Popular examples of Sailing Catamarans and Yachts and their destinations
- Scubaspa Zen Liveaboard, Indonesia
- Emperor Raja Laut Liveaboard, Indonesia
- Galatea Liveaboard, Seychelles
Expedition or Research-Focused Liveaboards
Expedition or research-focused liveaboards are customs built for the place or purpose they need to operate in. They offer adventurous divers the opportunity to reach some of the most immaculate environments on earth!
These ships are generally bigger and combine diving and wildlife observation, among other activities like kayaking, hiking, and getting closer to wildlife.
They are built and designed to endure all sorts of sea conditions, and they can visit some of the toughest dive destinations on earth.
Designed with weather conditions of all kinds in mind, expedition ships can easily manage challenging swells, long crossings, and icy seas without causing any discomfort to guests.
These ships can host many passengers and provide enough social areas, walking space on deck, and an array of onboard facilities.
Popular examples of expedition or research-focused liveaboards and their destinations
In conclusion, liveaboard diving has the benefit of catering to all types of divers and their needs. Be it smaller vessels with shorter itineraries, longer and more extreme crossings to witness wildlife from deck, exploring the ocean while connecting to an ancient culture, or stepping into pure luxury, there is a liveaboard for every diver, every expedition, and every destination.
If you are ready to find your next Liveaboard holiday, check out our partner Divebooker.com which has all you need to find & book your liveaboard holiday at your fingertips. Book your next liveaboard holiday today.