Should I dive land based or live aboard?
THIS is the age old diving question isn’t it and why it is one of our top 25 most asked questions. I think I would answer this question with more questions…
Do you have a non diving partner/spouse?
If so and they want to do ANYTHING besides read a book and listen to you talk about diving, stick to land based adventure (with the exception of a few new live aboard “yachts” coming on line). More on that in a minute.
Do you want more varied diving and the opportunity to get to more remote locations?
This is what live aboards were designed to do. They were built to get divers to remote locations far away from land and have the ability to remain there for days on end as your floating hotel and dive platform. However, these days, some live aboards don’t venture far from home due to fuel costs so check the itineraries. But when you can get to these remote destinations, you’re probably in for a treat!
Do you want to put your toes in the sand at the end of the day?
Let me give you an example. Palau. The live aboard dive boats go out to the dive areas and sit and rarely move. Yes, you get in the water at 7:00am and can get in five dives and go back to the ship. If that’s what you want to do, fantastic! I like to do that too. But in Palau, I also love the one hour morning boat ride zooming through the rock islands, leaving at 8:00am. Then we have two fabulous dives with lunch and are back to the magnificent Palau Pacific Resort by 1:30 in the afternoon. Now I can enjoy the spa, go to town, have an island tour, snorkel or relax with a mai tai with my toes in the sand. I can experience some culture along with the diving. It’s just a personal choice.
Do you get Seasick?
If you don’t do well on boats, don’t punish yourself! On live aboards you can have night passages in rough weather or rocking all day long if there is no cover from the weather. Also, there is no night time engine noise or any “boat noises” if you stay on land.
The only privacy you have on a live aboard is in your cabin and depending on the boat you choose that could be a beautiful stateroom or a bunk with a curtain pulled across it. I usually don’t recommend a live aboard for your honeymoon if you get my drift!
Are there places with/without both options?
Yes, there are dive destinations where a live aboard is the only way to go and vice versa. For example:
Caribbean: Most Caribbean destinations you don’t need to do by live aboard. If you want to cruise the Exuma islands or see multiple atolls in Belize or go to the Silver Banks there are boat options but no need in places like Cozumel, Bonaire, Saba, St. Lucia etc.
Live Aboard Only. Places you can only get to by live aboard include Cocos Island, Galapagos (Wolf and Darwin), Malpelo, Guadalupe Island, Soccoro, Coral Sea, Rowlie Shoals, Antarctica, to name a few. And these destinations are some of the most kick ass diving on the planet!
Either/Or. Destinations like Papua New Guinea, Indonesia (various islands), Palau and the Maldives are places where you can enjoy great diving either way.
Can I do both?
Of course!!!!! I love this option. How about booking a week on a live aboard to get to the remote areas and log some serious bottom time, then come ashore to a fabulous 5 star resort and pamper yourself at the spa for a few days. Sounds like a PERFECT vacation to me!
What’s new in live aboards?
In the early days of live aboard diving the boats were sparse, mostly bunk beds and the food was more akin to c-rations. Times changed with the advent of operations like Peter Hughes who began to put more luxury into the live aboard arena. Just recently, the next level in live aboard diving has emerged. The YACHT. There are now boats that hold just a small compliment of divers such as eight, have high crew to guest ratios, serve outstanding cuisine (not just food!) have spa services (some included in the price!) and if you charter the whole boat you can arrange your charter to take your non divers. What I mean by this is that you can choose to do two or three dives a day, take the ship to a village for a visit, find a secluded beach for the afternoon, or whatever, it’s up to you. No longer is live aboard diving just for the hard core. There are fantastic new options like The Damai in Indonesia and the Ark Royal and the Orion in the Maldives. It’s a whole new ball game!
Whether you choose to go by sea or by sand, great options and fantastic diving await!
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