Find cheap liveaboard dive trips to the Maldives
The Maldives has to be on most scuba diver’s bucket list. But not everyone can afford the luxury liveaboards. So to find the best budget diving liveaboards in the Maldives is worth exploring in this article.
9 of the best budget dive liveaboards in the Maldives:
- MV Ari Queen: 8.5/10 + 4 stars.
- MY Emperor Serenity: 9.4/10 + 4.5 stars.
- M/V Emperor Virgo: 8.9/10 +4.5 stars.
- MV Emperor Voyager: 9/10 + 4.5 stars.
- Amba: 8.6/10 + 4.5 stars.
- Soleil 2: 9.2/10 + 4.5 stars.
- Sachika: 9.1/10 + 4.5 stars.
- MV Blue Voyager: 9/10 + 4.5 stars.
- MV Carpe Diem: 9/10 + 4.5 stars.
Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.
1. MV Ari Queen Liveaboard – 8.5 out of 10 Fabulous and 4 out of 5 stars
The words “cheap liveaboard dive trips” and the “Maldives” don’t necessarily belong in the same sentence. But the MV Ari Queen Liveaboard is one of the cheapest dive liveaboards in the Maldives.
The MV Ari Queen Liveaboard is a 33 metre (108 feet) offering dive liveaboards for up to 24 guests at a time. The cabins include air conditioning, private en-suite bathrooms and TV’s. The Deluxe and Suites benefit from sea views, small fridge and flat screen TV, of which the retwo of each type.
The Ari Queen explores the North & South Male Atolls and the Ari Atolls to see Manta Rays. There’s also the chance to scuba dive with hammerhead sharks on this budget Maldives liveaboard at Rasdhoo Atoll, plus the Felidhoo and Meemu Atolls.
The MV Ari Queen is crewed with 15 experienced and professional who are are on hand to help you enjoy your scuba diving trip on this cheapest liveaboard in the Maldives.
On the upper deck of the Ari Queen guests can relax in the seating area in front of the bridge, relax on loungers on the sun deck in-between dives.
Reviews of the Ari Queen Budget Maldives liveaboard
First Liveaboard: Well worth it! “Of course the diving was the main highlight: lots of sharks, including up close and personal chances with nurse sharks on a night dive, manta rays, and lots of barracuda, tuna, Big eye trevally, moray and honeycomb eels, porcupine and puffer fish, bat fish, blue stripe snappers, Hawksbill turtles, etc. I really enjoyed the night dives. One night, there were several mantas feeding on plankton attracted to the surface by lights on the back of the boat and it was possible to get in the water to watch them and take pictures.
The boat itself was very comfortable; even the “budget” type rooms on the lower deck were fairly spacious with their own bathroom/showers, air con and closet storage space. The boat staff, especially the kitchen/dining staff were very kind and professional. The dive guests were quite diverse and interesting to talk with: from Finland, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Australia, the USA, Japan, and Russia. We did a total of 17 dives, with one optional dive. One couple from Italy was making their 5th trip on this dive boat! Overall, this was a great value for the money and well worth it! It was my first liveaboard, but it won’t be my last! I’m hooked (excuse the pun)!” Recommended for The diving was very good, the food onboard was delicious, and the convenience of the “dhoni” dive boat was great! – Paul C – 8.8 Fabulous, 4.5 stars out of 5 – United States of America.
2. MY Emperor Serenity Liveaboard – 9.4 Superb, 4.5 out of 5 stars
The MY Emperor Serenity liveaboard is a 40 metre (131 feet) boat offering scuba diving in the Maldives for up to 26 guests.
This budget Maldives liveaboard has 13 well appointed en-suite, air-conditioned cabins for your comfort. This liveaboard has a sundeck to enjoy the sun in-between dives and an air conditioned saloon with a TV to relax.
The scuba diving is handled and organised by four professional dive guides from a fully equipped 19.8 metre (65 feet) diving Dhoni. Plus the liveaboard is crewed with 13 experienced and friendly boat crew. Nitrox is available and is free, so you can enjoy those extended dive times for less and get more dive time.
Also, DIN adapters and scuba gear rental is available on board too.
Review of the MY Emperor Serenity Liveaboard
Once in a lifetime. “Everything about this trip was spectacular to me. One of the little things that stood out to me the most took place during our dive briefings. You could see the passion for preserving our beautiful underwater world in the way the crew educated the guests on what they would see, how to conduct themselves and ways we can all help to preserve this majestic world. I highly recommend this company and this particular crew. Gabriel and Maria are a dynamic duo and everything was executed beautifully.” Recommended for the crew, the diving and the comfort of the boat. Lacy R – 10 out of 10 Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – United States.
3. M/V Emperor Virgo Liveaboard – 8.9 out of 10, Fabulous, 4.5 stars out of 5
The M/V Emperor Virgo is a 32 metre (105 feet) luxury liveaboard but at a budget price for the Maldives. This cheap Maldives liveaboard is designed for up to 16 guests across 8 cabins.
These 16 cabins offer air conditioning and private en-suite bathrooms. The upper deck is equipped with chairs for guests to relax in-between dives and enjoy a drink or two at the bar. There is also a lavish dining room with bar and television for meals and relaxation too.
The scuba diving from the MV Emperor Virgo liveaboard is done from a large tender dhoni.
There’s free Nitrox, DIN adapters and scuba gear rentals available on board too.
Review of the MV Emperor Virgo liveaboard
Amazing diving, amazing boat & crew. “Everything was top notch. I love the Maldives. We saw 6 species of sharks in one week and countless Mantas. Whale shark and hammerheads were to of my favorite along with the night dives with Mantas and Nurse Sharks. The diving guides are outstanding, thank you Andrea Reeko and Megan. Crew is great and the boat as well with great food the whole week.” Recommended for Diving, Boat, Staff. Paul B, 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – France.
4. MV Emperor Voyager Liveaboard – 9 out of 10, Superb, 4.5 stars out of 5
The MV Emperor Voyager Liveaboard is designed for up to 20 guests. The MV Emperor Voyager has 10 cabins which are en-suite and air conditioned. This Maldives liveaboard has a sun deck, which offers the perfect place to relax in-between dives.
This budget Maldives liveaboard also has free Nitrox available for certified Enriched Air divers. This means you can enjoy the maximum dives times in this amazing underwater world.
Diving is done from a large fully equipped diving dhoni tender.
Review of the MV Emperor Voyager
Excellent Liveaboard!… great diving and friendly, knowlegeable and professional Dive Guides. “Well aside from some simply awesome diving, the Dive Guides were helpful and friendly and enhanced the experience by sharing their considerable knowledge and experience through excellent briefings! The crew were very friendly and made the trip very comfortable…always willing to help. The variety and quality of the food exceeded expectations! The perfect diver’s liveaboard!!” Recommended for Friendly and Professional Dive Guides and Crew, the Food, Great Itenary – Adam C, 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – Australia
5. Amba Liveaboard – 8.6 Fabulous,4.5 out of 5
The Amba yacht is one of the only Maldives liveaboards to be stationed in the northern atolls, which is away from crowds. This cheap Maldives Liveaboard is designed for 22 guests and is a 33 metre (110 feet) dive boat.
Maldives liveaboard Amba has a total of 11 air conditioned cabins which all have private en-suite bathrooms.
There are two luxury cabins on board, which are a bit bigger than the standard cabins. These luxury cabins have fantastic views of the Indian Ocean from its private sun/shade terrace.
This budget Maldives liveaboard had a main salon/dining room and a multimedia area with TV, DVD, Hifi, board games and a library. There’s also a shadow deck and a generous sundeck too for relaxation in-between dives.
The diving is in the far northern area of the Maldives. This includes the Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaalu Atolls. But also there are regular special tours to Baa & Raa atoll too
Nitrox is available on board for those certified to use it, plus rebreather divers are welcome too. There is also sofnolime and oxygen available for this, but needs prior notice.
There are also DIN adapters on board and scuba gear rental too.
Review of the Amba liveaboard
Great diving in great company. “The blue and yellow soft coral and the guitar sharks” Recommended for The company, the diving and the crew. 8.4 out of 10, very good, 4 stars out of 5 – United Kingdom.
The week on the Amba was the best diving I have done yet!!! “The crew was really good, especially the kitchen staff. They kept us well fed and didn’t just serve the “normal” dive boat fare. We did 18 dives and each one was different from the next, ensuring that we experienced all that the North Maldives has to offer in one short week. Some advice – as the currents can be quite strong, remember to bring a reef hook along, although the boat and also provide.” Recommended for Crew and guides / underwater life diversity / Food. Johan B 9.2 out of 10, Superb, 4.5 stars out of 5 – South Africa
6. Soleil 2 Liveaboard – 9.2 out of 10, Superb, 4.5 stars out of 5
Each cabin has air-conditioning and private en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold showers.
The Soleil 2 liveaboard has a large air-conditioned saloon, which is ideal for guests to relax with TV and entertainment in-between dives and in the evening. This dive liveaboard has two spacious dining areas and a large sun deck for relaxing in between dives in the sunshine.
As with most of the otherbudget liveaboards in this article, the scuba diving is done from a dedicated diving Dhoni tender.
The Soleil 2 liveaboard offers some of the best sites in the Maldives. This includes the classic central atolls with manta rays and beautiful reefs, to the less explored northern and southern atolls.
All these dive sites are filled with sea creatures both big and small. Plus there’s a chance to spot large pelagic fish too.
There are DIN adapters and nitrox available on board, plus scuba gear rental.
Review of the Soleil 2 Liveboard
An unforgettable, awesome trip!!! “I just spend a wonderful week on Soleil 2. Everyone on board did their best to make this trip a memorable one. The dive guides took their time to explain the various dive sides and showed us everything they saw under water – except for the hammerhead sharks who hadn’t appeared in the blue! The food was delicious , the cabin very spacious and clean. Thank you very much for this experience! Dagmar.” Recommended for Everything was just perfect: the comfort, the diving , the food! Dagmar E – 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – Germany.
7. Sachika Liveaboard – 9.1 out of 10, Superb, 4.5 stars out of 5
This cheap Maldives liveaboard is 33 metes (110 feet) in length. Catering to 22 guests across 10 cabins. Some of these cabins have a sea view too.
The Sachika Maldives Liveaboard has a spacious air-conditioned salon with entertainment system and 40 inch TV. There’s also a large sun-deck with Jacuzzi and shower for relaxing in-between dives.
Each of the cabins has individually controlled air-conditioning and private en-suite bathrooms, plus a mini-bar.
The diving in done from the 19 metre (62 feet) diving Dhoni tender.
There’s also Nitrox on board to extend those dive times and DIN adapters plus scuba equipment rentals.
Review of the Sachika Liveaboard
Perfect way to experience the Maldives. “This was the southern atoll trip, which is more challenging with very strong currents. We were able to be in deep open blue water with many large pelagic…non-stop! Oceanic sharks, mantas, whale sharks. The crew was excellent and a big help in the challenging conditions but the dives were totally awesome. Sachika is an amazing boat, with plenty of space, and the rooms were excellent. There is a dongi that follows the boat, so all dive gear is kept on that boat, which makes more room on the main boat. Food was always well prepared, varied, and great tasting. I was eating gluten free and had no problem with all of the choices for every meal. I would highly recommend this boat and would return to the Maldives for the northern atolls next time to be able to see those as well.” Recommended for crew, diving, food – Jeanne J, 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – United States.
8. MV Blue Voyager Liveaboard – 9 out of 10 Superb, 4.5 stars out of 5
The MV blue Voyager liveaboard is a 37 metre single hulled boat. She is equipped with 13 large cabins for up to 24 guest.
This dive boat previously sailed the Red Sea, but moved to the Maldives and the Indian Ocean instead. The cabins are set up as 3 doubles and 10 twins. Each one has individual air conditioning and private en-suite bathrooms.
The M/V Blue Voyager has a spacious indoor salon and dining area, together with a Sky Lounge & bar. Not only that, there’s a separate outdoor dining area and Jacuzzi to relax in-between dives
Diving is done using from a fully equipped Dhoni tender. There’s nitrox available on board, as well as DIN adapters and scuba gear rentals. Plus there’s free internet.
Review of the MV Blue Voyager Maldives liveaboard
A great trip all round. “Cabins very comfortable, with A/c and a TV in each one. We changed our diving itinerary on day 1 on advice of the cruise directors given conditions and we were very much rewarded, with great diving as well as a whale shark and mantas. Would very much recommend this trip and the trip directors Albert and Sophie were fantastic. Food was varied, plentiful and delicious all trip.” Recommended for Food was far in excess of what was expected, trip crew were great and the diving was excellent. Jonathan S – 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – United Kingdom.
9. MV Carpe Diem Liveaboard – 9 out of 10, Superb 4.5 stars out of 5
The MY Carpe Diem luxury liveaboard is one of the lower budget dive boats available. She is a 35 metre (115 feet) suitable for up to 20 guests.
There are 10 spacious cabins,which all have air conditioning and private en-suite bathrooms.
The MY Carpe Diem has a salon and lounge area which are equipped with a flat screen TV and entertainment system. Thisbudget Maldives liveaboard has three decks where you can relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Indian Ocean.
All seating areas provide stylish, comfortable seating and loungers.
Scuba diving from the MY Carpe Diem is done from a large Dhoni tender.
There is internet on board together with free nitrox and DIN adapters. Plus the usual scuba gear rentals.
Review of the MY Carpe Diem liveaboard
Awesome Dive trip! “The Crew of Carpe Diem were outstanding in every aspect. The were so capable and took such care of all the divers. They found us every marine animal we hoped to see and were professional but so friendly. They couldn’t do enough to make our vacation the best dive experience I’ve ever had. The boat Is beautiful, well equipped and so luxurious, havlnd the tender to dive from is such a pleasure and the Whale sharks and Mantas were everything I had hoped for. If you looking for an unsurpassed dive experience, go with Carpe Diem and her phenomenal crew!” Recommended for The crew, the boat amenities and the Mantas. Christian G – 10 out of 10, Exceptional, 5 stars out of 5 – United States.
When is the best time to dive the Maldives
It is possible to dive the Maldives all year round, but like all dive destinations there are some times that are better than others.
The wet season in the Maldives runs from May to August each year. During this time the water visibility reduces due to land run-off, but the diving is still good. During this time you usually get heavy short outbursts of rain followed by sunshine.
The best visibility and for the dry weather is from December to March.
Whale shark season in the Maldives
If you’re a fan of whale sharks, but I guess all divers are, these are year-round residents of the Maldives.
The whale sharks tend to congregate more on the western side of the Indian Ocean archipelago between May to December. But then they move eastward until April.
What animals live in the seas around the Maldives?
Here’s a short list of the animals to expect when you scuba dive the Maldives:
- Sea turtles, including the green turtle, leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles.
- Whale sharks.
- Hammerhead sharks – particularly in the Rasdhoo Atoll.
- Reef sharks, including grey reef, whitetips and blacktips.
- Nurse sharks.
- Spotted leopard sharks.
- Manta rays.
- Sting rays.
- Eagle rays.
- Plentiful coral fish and marine life.
- Dolphins, including Bottlenose, Risso’s, Fraser’s and Spinner dolphins.
- Whales, including Dwarf sperm whales, False Killer whale, Deraniyagalas whale, pilot whale and blue whales.
- Moral eels.
- Tiger sharks – particularly around Fuvahmulah Atoll.
- Humphead parrotfish.
- Humphead wrasse.
- Trigger fish.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the best budget liveaboards Maldives
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 the best budget liveaboards Maldives), 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!