The pros and cons of liveaboard dive trips versus resort dive trips
It’s not always easy to decide on whether to be land-based and to dive each day from your resort or to go full-on scuba diving on a Liveaboard dive trip.
Whether you choose liveaboard diving or resort diving depends on a number of factors. You may choose to dive from a resort so you can go away with your non-diving family. Whereas you may choose a liveaboard because it's the only way to dive the location you choose. Or it may be your experience is lacking to go on a particular liveaboard trip. Whatever the reason, this article looks at liveaboard diving vs resort diving to help you make that decision.
Liveaboard diving versus resort diving
Liveaboard diving versus resort diving is not always an easy decision to make. But there are occasions when this decision is done for you.
The dive destination is a liveaboard only destination
When a dive location is liveaboard diving only, this is usually due to its remote location. For example; Socorro Island, the far reaches of The Great Barrier Reef, The Cocos Islands, Mergui Archipelago and Rowley Shoals Australia are all liveaboard only diving destinations.
You may be part of a family of non-divers
You may be a family person and always take family holidays. If you are and not all your family members scuba dive, then there's no point in all of you going on a liveaboard.
Instead you will need to book into a dive resort centre and the ‘diver of the family’ can dive from there. The rest of your family can also enjoy the holiday too.
You may not have the qualifications or experience
This is because some of the destinations where Liveaboards visit are not suitable for beginner scuba divers. Whereas other liveaboard dive destinations are suitable for beginners.
However, there are many dive destinations around the world whereby the only way to decide which is best for you, is to look at the pros and cons of liveaboard diving versus resort diving.
Liveaboard diving or resort diving - the pros vs the cons of both
To help you decide on whether resort diving or Liveaboard diving is best for you, here's a list of the pros and cons for both.
Liveaboard diving - pros and cons
What is liveaboard diving?
Before looking at the pros and cons of liveaboard diving, I first need to explain what a liveaboard is. For those that don't know of course.
In the recreational scuba diving industry, a liveaboard charter offers its guests the opportunity to stay aboard for several nights to make diving easy.
When I say ‘easy’ I don’t necessarily mean the dive sites themselves are easy, as some are not. But instead I mean the whole scuba diving process is made easy.
A liveaboard allows for more time on-board than a day boat. This makes it easier to travel to distant or remote dive sites, and to do more dives per day, starting at 7 or 8 in the morning, if you’re an early bird. The day usually finishes with a night dive.
Liveaboards tend to be all-inclusive, and provide all meals and drinks on board.
Normally, liveaboard charters cater for between ten and thirty divers at a time. Most liveaboard boats are usually made from fiberglass or they are steel hull boats. However, Indonesian liveaboards often have wooden hulls.
These are either traditional Phinisi Schooner boats or Buginese schooners, which are made from teak wood.
Now let's take a look at the pros and cons of liveaboard diving trips.
The pros of liveaboard diving
A liveaboard charter is the best option if you’re a diehard scuba diver. But it’s also a great option for beginner scuba divers too.
Liveaboards allow beginners to do loads of dives in a short space of time. They therefore gain plenty of diving experience.
If you are that diehard scuba diver, with a liveaboard you get to spend a large amount of time underwater. On some trips you can dive as often as four times a day.
Although BSAC don’t recommend this many dives per day.
A liveaboard dive boat is like a floating hotel. Which means you’re literally sleeping above the dive sites.
You save time travelling to the dive sites each morning, where most liveaboards do their travelling at night, so that you’re ready to dive first thing in the morning, before breakfast is served.
But also it means you can get to dive sites that are out of reach of the day boats that run from the resort dive centres.
And you don’t have to return to your resort in the evenings either, which leads to the next advantage of liveaboard diving.
One of the other pros of liveaboard diving is night diving.
I personally love night diving and this is not always possible from resort centres. Night dives are possible on most evenings from a liveaboard, depending on the location and dive site concerned.
Remote dive sites
As already mentioned, when you choose a liveaboard, this opens the door to a whole set of new dive sites. Dive sites which are too remote for land-based resorts to get to.
The remote dive sites I’m talking about are typically in an offshore location, which is simply too far to get to and return back to the resort centre in a day.
Less divers on the dive sites
The more remote dive sites, by their very nature, have less scuba divers visit them. The dive sites therefore tend to be less spoilt, which means you get to enjoy the diving, but without too many other scuba divers around.
There is of course that added sense of adventure that comes with diving off the beaten track. And the thing I love about these types of location is there tends to be more shark action!
In essence these far-flung diving locations offer uncrowded dive sites, with potentially more pristine reefs, but with the opportunity to witness more underwater sea life too.
Liveaboards are a photographers dream
The liveaboard diving option is usually the best option for underwater photographer enthusiasts.
The fact that you have more dives per day, allows for more photography time. Also, some of the liveaboards have itineraries geared especially towards underwater photographers.
Most liveaboards also have onboard equipment and ‘photo stations’ to help facilitate the review your day of underwater photography.
Most, if not all liveaboards are set up as all inclusive. Whilst this can in itself make a liveaboard trip more expensive that a land based trip, it means once you’re on board everything is taken care of for you.
This means that you don’t have to worry about booking into restaurants. It also means you do t have to worry too much about taking loads of cash with you on your trip, as it’s already included.
Alcohol tends to be an added extra, except for on many liveaboards where a drink is included free with the evening meal.
Mixing with like-minded people
By the very nature of a liveaboard trip, you are mixing with fellow scuba divers. Whilst liveaboards often have non-diver rates, it’s unusual to see non-divers onboard.
This means that you’ll spend a whole week or two with a group of fellow scuba divers. You get to eat, sleep and drink scuba diving!
You’ll have a boat full of ready made dive buddies (which is great for those single travellers amongst you) and you may also make some life-long friends out of your liveaboard trip.
Cons of liveaboard dive trips
Whilst you may love scuba diving, you may not fancy scuba diving every single day of your holiday.
Liveaboards tends to have a fixed schedule, which means you don’t have the freedom to choose what you do each day. You either dive or you dive. Not such a bad choice by the way, but this does depend on how much you love to dive.
Many liveaboard charters tend to have set menus and the food tends to be buffet style. If you’re not keen on this type of eating, then it may become a bit monotonous for you. Of course this does depend on the level of luxury of your liveaboard.
Liveaboard diving can be expensive
Liveaboard dive trips can be on the expensive side. Especially those trips that travel to the far flung remote places in our oceans. This can put the price of such trips out of reach for many scuba divers.
Additionally, many of the liveaboard dive boats offer non-diver packages too, but these tend to be a small discount off the full price of the diver’s package. This means that if you want you partner or family to accompany you on a liveaboard, whilst this is possible, it won’t be cheap.
But if your partner or family love to snorkel, then there will be the opportunity to snorkel some great spots from liveaboards in many cases and subject to the destination of the trip.
However, there are some more affordable liveaboard dive trips too.
The weather can of course be unpredictable at sea. If you’re on a liveaboard, out in the middle of the ocean, and a storm brews up, you can’t hide anywhere. Well you can, by going into the cabin, but the boat can’t.
This means that no matter what the weather, you are stuck on that boat.
If you are a seasickness sufferer, then a liveaboard dive trip may not be the best option for you.
You can take seasickness medication with you, but this may not be enough if it gets particularly rough at sea. At least with a land-based resort dive, you can simply choose not to go on the days that it’s too rough.
Finally, whilst talking about seasickness, it maybe that you don’t suffer from seasickness yourself, but your partner does. This might count out a trip together on a liveaboard charter.
Limited amenities on a liveaboard
The amenities on a liveaboard dive boat often will never match those of the resort based dive trip counterpart. This is even where the boat is of the highest luxury too.
These usually limited space in the cabins. The toilet facilities and washrooms are not as nice as land-based resorts.
Whilst there are larger liveaboards you can join, there is no way they could ever compare to a resort.
And although it’s great to mix with likeminded people, if you’re the sort of person who likes their own space, this may not be quite so easy on a liveaboard. Yes you’ll have your personal cabin, but you may not want to spend all your time in your cabin.
Book your liveaboard dive trip today!
If you want to find more about liveaboard diving, click this link to find out liveaboard places and prices.
Resort diving pros and cons
What is a dive resort?
Before looking at the pros and cons of resort diving, lets explain what a dive resort is. For those that are unsure.
A dive resort or center is a base location where recreational divers usually either learn scuba diving or make guided dive trips.
Each of these guided dives is done from a day-boat and will usually be one or two dives per day. Most day-boats will go out on what's termed a two tank dive trip. Which means they will take two dive tanks per diver, so that each diver can dive twice.
The dive boat will always return to the dive resort after the second dive is complete.
Now let's take a look at the pros and cons of resort diving trips.
Pros of resort diving
Whilst there are many liveaboard charters to choose from, there are always many more resort diving options available.
You can either stay on a resort which has a dive centre onsite or stay at a resort and arrange the diving with an off-site dive company.
Whilst Sandals and Beaches resort holidays are not the cheapest around, when you consider what is included in their package (like two dives per day), all meals and many other sport activities, the deal on the table isn’t so bad afterall.
However, having said that there are many more options available and this makes it possible to find more affordable resors for scuba diving.
Eating out whilst on holiday
If you don’t like the all-inclusive option of a resort like Sandals, you can go for the complete opposite and choose to eat out each evening.
This allows you to budget carefully how much you spend and where you eat. So if you looking for a budget package, you can save money this way. You can take this a step further too and go for self-catering too.
On the other side of this coin is the option to eat out in luxury too. If you don’t fancy the mostly buffet style eating you receive on a liveaboard charter, then doing the resort diving option will allow you to eat in restaurants instead.
Liveaboard diving tends to be fixed to a set number of dayss, be it 7 days or 10 days etc. But when you’re land-based, you have much more flexibility over how long your trip can be.
Comfort and stability of land-based dive resorts
For those of you who aren’t so good on a boat and seasickness is a problem, being land-based helps to overcome this problem. You can pick and choose the days you go out on a dive boat, i.e. the calm days.
But also if your partner gets seasick, then you’re not subjecting them to 24 hours a day on a floating hotel. But instead they can enjoy the resort and the stability of the land, whilst you go off and enjoy your diving.
Additionally, the amenities on land-based resorts tend to be better than those on a liveaboard. This is the advantage of space. Whereas on a boat it tends to be limited in space and can be a bit cramped, resort diving does usually have this disadvantage.
So where relaxation is a top priority for you, including a good nights sleep in a comfortable bed that doesn’t move with the waves in the night, then resort diving would be more advantageous.
Privacy and interaction with others
On a dive resort there’s more opportunity to be apart from the others staying on the resort. If you’re the type of person who enjoys your privacy, then the advantage of resort based diving is you can hide yourself away in between dives.
But even if you’re not someone who likes total privacy, resort diving lends itself for the opportunity to keep yourself to yourself as and when you choose.
There are however plenty of options to meet likeminded people and to make great friends in a similar way to going on liveaboard charters.
Taking your partner or the family
Resort diving provides a good compromise for those divers whose partners or their families don’t dive.
Whilst liveaboards do offer non-diver rates, it would mean that your partner or family would be stuck on a boat for a week. This may not be the best holiday for your partner or family to enjoy if they don’t dive.
But the advantage of resort diving is your partner or family can do what they enjoy, like using the resort facilities including the swimming pool, whilst you’re off scuba diving.
For those of you who are traveling with kids, resort diving is often the best way to keep everyone in the family happy. This may include the beach at the resort, which of course is not usually an option on a liveaboard.
Excursions and enjoying the country
If you want to enjoy the country you’re visiting by going on excursions or by hiring a car, this is one of the advantages of resort based diving.
For example, my last trip to Egypt and the Red Sea was land based, as not all my family dive. This meant that I could dive as much as I wanted, but it also meant we could go to see the Valley of Kings and the likes too.
Cons of resort diving
Whilst there are many great resort diving locations around the world, as already mentioned above, there are many fantastic dive locations where the only option is to dive from a liveaboard.
Dive site distance
Resort diving is about visiting dive sites that are accessible in a day. Some sites, like the outer reaches of The Great Barrier Reef are just not feasible from a land based diving holiday.
You will therefore be limited to this dive sites that are reachable in a day, but that also means the same dive sites can be reached by all the other resorts in the area too.
More crowded dive sites
By the very nature of the dive sites reachable by day-trippers, this means the dive sites will more likely be more crowded.
This in turn may meant he dive sites will not be as pristine as they should be. But it may also mean there may not be the number of sea life too. Also, if you like to scuba dive with sharks like I do, you are less likely to see sharks on these dive sites.
Whilst a day trip boat may be able to access some more distant dive sites, due to the time it takes to be there you are eating into your diving time. Whereas liveaboards motor through the night so you are at the dive site in the morning and ready to dive.
The disadvantage therefore of land based resort diving is the limited number of dives you’ll be able to do on these distance dive sites. This includes the opportunity to do night diving, which is less of an option when you’re diving from a resort.
Less dives per day
Due to the time taken up by getting to the dive sites when you’re resort based, resort divers get to do fewer dives per day.
Whereas with liveaboards this can be up to four dives per day (but consider the added decompression risk associated with this many dives), but for resort diving you will probably only be able to do two dives per ear day instead.
Final thoughts on liveaboard diving vs resort diving
This article looks at the advantages and disadvantages of liveaboard diving versus resort diving. But of course you can do Botha there’s nothing to prevent you from having some liveaboard holidays and also to do resort diving holidays too. Subject to affordability and resources.
Always remember though that both options offer the opportunity to do some wonderful diving. There are always exceptions to most rules and I always recommend you do your research first.
Book your resort dive trip today!
If you want to find more about resort diving, click this link to find out about dive resort places and prices.
I hope you enjoyed this article about liveaboard diving or resort diving
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about liveaboard diving or resort diving), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!