For those divers who are looking to break the mould of diving the more conventional sites, consider liveaboard diving. With spacious and comfortable cabins, top-class meals and facilities, and exemplary service – not to mention the opportunity to reach some of the world’s most remote locations – it’s no wonder that liveaboards are fast becoming the favoured option when planning a dive holiday. To get you into the groove of diving with liveaboards, we bring you five of Asia’s best destinations where you can do exactly that:
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
A group of islands synonymous with “world-class diving” and “unspoiled seas”, and arguably the heart of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat is known to have the richest coral reef ecosystem in the world. The archipelago comprises of over 1,500 small isles, cays and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo – also known as the Four Kings. The unique topography of the region means only divers taking liveaboards can fully utilise and explore its vibrant waters.
We recommend taking: Raja Ampat Aggressor
Tubbataha Reef, Philippines
Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea and many nautical miles away from the nearest port, Tubbataha Reef is only accessible by liveaboard. Discovered in the late 1970s, it has become recognised as one of the most remarkable coral reefs on our planet, and is frequently ranked among the top dive sites in the world. Due to its isolated location, divers can experience a dramatic – almost untouched – underwater terrain and encounter large marine animals such as sharks, turtles and manta rays.
We recommend taking: S/Y Philippine Siren
Similan Islands, Thailand
Divers and underwater photographers consider the Similans among the best dive destinations in Thailand, if not among the best in the world. Taking a liveaboard allows you to experience more than just an afternoon dive – staying the night on the boat within the region, you’ll get exclusive access to the site and first dibs on any large marine creatures that come visiting. A variety of coral reef structures, impressive visibility (20-30 metres) and an abundance of marine life make the Similan Islands a top choice.
We recommend taking: Thailand Aggressor
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The planet’s largest coral reef system (so large it can be seen from outer space), the Great Barrier Reef deserves to have you spending the maximum amount of time in the water – which is exactly what a liveaboard trip offers. There are dive spots for both novice and experienced divers, as well as an astonishing diversity of marine life that will have you coming back for more. Discover everything from dwarf minke whales, sea turtles and sharks, to moray eels, sea snakes and tiny macro life. Great visibility and outstanding underwater topography make this one of the best liveaboard destinations in Asia Pacific.
We recommend taking: Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
The third largest marine national park in Indonesia, Wakatobi hosts a range of multicoloured and tropical species that live both around and within the coral structures. It is widely recognised as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world; as well as boasting an abundance of dolphins, turtles, and sharks. Around 143 large and small islands make up the region, and only seven are inhabited. Your liveaboard adventure will allow you to have the more-remote and untouched corners of this stunning marine park all to yourself.
We recommend taking: Indo Aggressor