The pros and cons of liveaboard dive trips versus resort dive trips
Which is better liveaboard or resort diving? How do scuba divers choose between liveaboard diving vs resort diving? It’s not always easy to decide between a land-based resort with limited diving opportunities vs diving several times every day on a Liveaboard dive trip.
A liveaboard holiday is a scuba diving focused trip whereas a resort holiday involves other activities which can include scuba diving. Scuba divers who want to dive at least three times a day with night dives should choose a liveaboard holiday, but if you prefer to be land-based book a resort holiday.
You may choose a resort holiday for your non-diving family. But if your family also scuba dive, you could book a family friendly liveaboard instead. But the other factor to consider is the location where a liveaboard is the only way to dive the location.
Whatever your reason for asking liveaboard or resort diving, this article looks at liveaboard diving vs resort diving to help you make that decision.
The best way to do more diving is to book yourself on a scuba diving liveaboard. You can check the latest and best deals on liveaboards using the following window:
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.
- You may be part of a family of non-divers.
- You may not have the qualifications or experience.
1. The dive destination is a liveaboard only destination
When a dive location is liveaboard diving only, this is usually due to its remote location.
Diving destinations that a liveaboard only holidays:
- Socorro Island.
- The far reaches of The Outer Great Barrier Reef.
- The Cocos Islands.
- Mergui Archipelago.
- Rowley Shoals.
2. 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.
3. You may not have the qualifications or experience
This is because some liveaboard destinations 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 where the only way to decide between liveaboard or resort diving is to look at the pros and cons of liveaboard diving versus resort diving.
Table of dive liveaboards
This list of liveaboards is in descending customer rating order, followed by Scuba Diving Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating, see below), so the liveaboards with the highest customer rating and the best SDE lux rating will be at the top of the list. If you want to change the list order, use the “Sort by” dropdown below.
|Discover Liveaboard||Customer Rating||SDE Lux Rating %||Flexible Booking||Dive Courses||Dietary Requirements||Nitrox||Country|
|Review: MV Seaisee; Book: MV Seaisee||10||90%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: Scubaspa Zen; Book: Scubaspa Zen||10||88%||YES||YES||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: Jardines Avalon Fleet - Charter Only; Book: Jardines Avalon Fleet - Charter Only||10||83%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Cuba|
|Review: Jardines Avalon Fleet; Book: Jardines Avalon Fleet||10||83%||YES||NO||YES||YES||Cuba|
|Review: Jakaré; Book: Jakaré||10||81%||YES||YES||YES||YES||Indonesia|
|Review: All Star Cuan Law; Book: All Star Cuan Law||10||79%||YES||YES||YES||NO||Virgin Islands|
|Review: Leyla; Book: Leyla||10||73%||YES||YES||YES||NO||Indonesia|
The Scuba Diving Earth Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating) is explained on each liveaboard review when you click the “Discover Liveaboard” link, and is my own Liveaboard Luxury Rating I’ve assigned to all liveaboards. Choosing between liveaboards is helped by customer scores, and if you get stuck choosing between two or three liveaboards, where each one has a high customer score out of 10, you can use the SDE Luxury Rating to help narrow down your choice.
Think about it like using Booking.com when searching for the best hotel. Booking.com also use a customer score where each customer rates hotels out of 10. This is similar to the liveaboard customer rating, which is also rated out of 10. But let’s say you only like to stay in hotels rated 8 and above on Booking.com, but you also want the hotel to have WIFI or parking, or to have a swimming pool etc. The features each hotel has is usually secondary to the score out of 10.
Liveaboard diving or resort diving – the pros vs the cons of both
To help you decide between resort diving or Liveaboard diving, this is a list of pros and cons for both.
Liveaboard diving – pros and cons
What is liveaboard diving?
In the recreational scuba diving industry liveaboard charters offer scuba divers the best opportunity to do loads of diving. A liveaboard makes diving easy, as follows:
- You spend your entire trip on the liveaboard boat vs a few hours for the days you dive on a resort day boat.
- Liveaboards make it easier to travel to distant or remote dive sites.
- You can do more dives per day, which usually start at 7 or 8 in the morning, if you’re an early bird.
- Diving from a liveaboard usually finishes with a night dive, but night dives are not always possible on resort dive boats.
- 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. But many 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
- More diving.
- Night diving.
- Remote dive sites.
- Visit less crowded dive sites.
- A photographers dream.
- All inclusive meals and diving.
- Mix with like-minder people.
1. Liveaboards offer an opportunity for diving more
Liveaboards allow beginners to do loads of dives in a short space of time and gain plenty of diving experience.
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 travel during the night so you’re ready to dive first thing in the morning, before breakfast is served.
2. Liveaboards offer the chance for night diving
Night diving is great as you get to see another perspective at night. Night diving is not always possible from resort centres. But night dives are possible most evenings from a liveaboard, depending on the location and dive site concerned.
3. Liveaboards offer the chance to dive remote dive sites
Liveaboards are also able to reach dive sites that are out of reach from resort day boats. Liveaboard boats don’t have to return to your resort in the evenings either, which means they can travel further to reach the remote dive locations.
These remote dive sites are typically in an offshore location, which is simply too far to get to and return to the resort centre in a day.
4. Liveaboards can reach less crowed dive sites
There’s also the added sense of adventure that comes with diving off the beaten track. And if you love to dive with sharks, you have more chance of seeing them in these remote locations.
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.
5. 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.
6. Liveaboards are all inclusive or food and scuba diving
Most liveaboards are all inclusive of diving and meals. This can in itself make a liveaboard trip more expensive that a resort-based holiday. But it does mean that once you’re on board everything is taken care of.
This means that you don’t have to worry about booking into restaurants. It also means you don’t need to worry about taking cash with you on your trip.
Alcohol tends to be an added extra. But on some liveaboards an alcoholic drink is included free with the evening meal.
7. Mixing with like-minded people
By the very nature of a liveaboard trip you are mixing with fellow scuba divers. This means 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 from your liveaboard trip.
Cons of liveaboard dive trips
- It’s all about scuba diving.
- Set menus and buffet style food.
- Liveaboard diving can be expensive.
- Limited amenities on a liveaboard.
- Cramped spaces.
1. Liveaboards are all about scuba diving
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.
3. Liveaboard diving can be expensive
Liveaboard dive trips can be expensive. Especially trips to the far flung remote places. 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 the discount for non-divers is normally small. This means that if you want your partner or family to accompany you on a liveaboard this won’t be cheap.
If your partner or family love to snorkel there is usually the opportunity to snorkel too. But this will depend on each dive site and its suitability for snorkelling.
There are also affordable liveaboard dive trips too.
4. Seasickness can be a disadvantage on a liveaboard
The weather can be unpredictable at sea. If you’re on a liveaboard in the middle of the ocean and a storm brews up you can’t hide. This means that no matter what the weather you are stuck on the boat.
If you suffer from seasickness a liveaboard dive trip may not be the best option for you.
You can take seasickness medication with you. But sea sickness medication doesn’t always work when it gets particularly rough at sea. At least with a land-based resort dive you can simply choose not to go on the days when it’s too rough.
You maybe okay and not suffer from sea sickness, but your partner might. This may mean you can’t go on a liveaboard together.
5. 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 when the liveaboard boat is of the highest luxury.
These usually limited space in the cabins. The toilet facilities and washrooms are not as nice as land-based resorts.
6. Cramped space on a liveaboard
Whilst there are larger liveaboards there’s no way these ever compare to a resort holiday.
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. 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. If you already know, please jump to the next section.
A dive resort or center is a base location where recreational divers either learn scuba diving or take guided dive trips.
Each of these guided dives is done from a day-boat and will usually be one or two tank dives per day. Most day-boats trips include two tank dive trips. Which means they will take two dive tanks per diver so 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
- Eating out whilst on holiday.
- Time flexibility.
- Comfort and stability of land-based dive resorts.
- Privacy and interaction with others.
- Taking your partner or the family.
- Excursions and enjoying the country.
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.
Sandals and Beaches resort holidays are not the cheapest. But when you consider what’s 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 after all.
However, having said that there are many more options available and this makes it possible to find more affordable resorts for scuba diving.
1. 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’re looking for a budget package, you can save money this way. You can take this a step further and go for self-catering too.
On the other side of this coin is the option to eat out in luxury. If you don’t fancy buffet style eating you receive on a liveaboard charter, choosing the resort diving option allows you to eat in restaurants instead.
2. Time flexibility
When you’re land-based, you have much more flexibility over how long your trip can be. Most people fix their holidays to a week or two weeks, but it’s far easier to choose how long you stay on a resort.
Whereas liveaboard diving tends to be fixed to a set number of days. This can 7 days, 10 days or 14 days.
3. Comfort and stability of land-based dive resorts
If you suffer from seasickness, liveaboard diving may be a problem. Whereas being land-based helps to overcome this problem. You can pick and choose the days you dive, i.e. the calm days.
But also if your partner suffers from seasickness you’re not subjecting them to 24 hours a day on a floating hotel. 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.
4. Privacy and interaction with others
Dive resorts offer the opportunity to be apart from others staying on the resort. If you’re the type of person who enjoys your privacy 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.
5. Taking your partner or the family
Resort diving provides a good compromise for those divers with a partner or family who don’t dive.
Whilst liveaboards 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.
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 isno’ usually an option on a liveaboard.
6. Excursions and enjoying the country
If you want to enjoy more of the country you’re visiting and go on excursions or to rent a car, this an advantage of resort based diving.
Cons of resort diving
- Dive site distance.
- Crowded dive sites.
- Less dives per day.
- Lack of night diving.
1. Dive site distance limits the diving from resorts
Resort diving only allows you to visit dive sites that are accessible in a day. Some dive sites, for example the outer reaches of The Great Barrier Reef, are just not feasible from a land based diving holiday.
2. Dive sites tend to be more crowded from resort-based holidays
By the very nature of the dive sites reachable by day-trippers. means the dive sites will be more crowded.
This can mean the dive sites are not as pristine as they should be. But it may also mean there’s not as much sea life as there is on the remote dive sites. Also, if you like to scuba dive with sharks you are less likely to see sharks on these dive sites.
Whilst a day trip boat may be able to access some 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.
3. Resort diving means less dives per day
Due to the time taken by getting to the dive sites, resort divers get to do fewer dives per day. This is compared to the 3-4 dives per day on a liveaboard.
4. Lack of night diving from resorts
Resort diving doesn’t usually offer the opportunity for night diving. Which means if you love to night vie you are better to choose a liveaboard holiday instead.
Final thoughts on liveaboard diving vs resort diving
There’s nothing to stop you from booking liveaboard diving holidays as well as resort diving holidays. Subject to affordability of course.
Always remember that both options offer the opportunity to do great diving.
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!