Booking yourself on a Maldives snorkeling liveaboard boat is an amazing way to see the diverse sea life of this incredible destination. The problem is, there are well over 100 liveaboard boats, but none are dedicated to snorkeling. And going on a dive boat will not be anywhere near as good an experience as we had with all snorkelers.
We had a travel agent and experienced snorkeler friend who booked our liveaboard boat just for snorkelers. We do not know of a dedicated snorkeling liveaboard boat operating in the Maldives.
They all say snorkelers are welcome after all? Because they will not always go to shallow reefs that are needed for enjoyable snorkeling. Instead you will only get to snorkel where they take divers, which is often too deep for snorkeling. The priority is always on the divers. If it was a good option, we would certainly say do it. But it is a very expensive trip and a difficult place to get to, so we say do it right.
Choosing to snorkel this island nation by liveaboard boat is smart because you get to see a wide range of reefs and islands all while living, eating and traveling on a comfortable boat. Staying on a resort island is also nice, but more limited in the number and variety of reefs you can snorkel.
We spent 10 wonderful days with 18 other snorkelers on our Maldives snorkeling liveaboard. We snorkeled 2 to 4 times a day, and traveled over 200 nautical miles through many different atolls in the Maldives. We started in Huvadhoo Atoll in the south and made our way north through Laamu, Thaa, Mulaku (Meemu), Felidhe (Vaavu), South Male and North Male Atolls, where we ended our journey in Male. The crew was amazing, and the food was excellent. Overall a great experience.
The main liveaboard boat travels with a smaller boat, called a dhoni in the Maldives, that takes you to the snorkeling spots everyday.
Be prepared for a lot of snorkeling! Often when you leave the main boat on the dhoni, you will snorkel 2 spots before returning to the main boat for a meal. Night snorkeling is a possibility too. Before every snorkel the crew gives you a briefing about the reef you will be snorkeling and what you might encounter for currents.
A unique and incredible experience that makes snorkeling the Maldives on a liveaboard a great choice is the opportunity to see and snorkel with Whale Sharks.
We understand that the Whale Shark snorkeling in South Ari Atoll is a bit of a madhouse with so many boats looking for them. And then when they find one, all the snorkelers from many boats get in the water at the same time to swim with the creature. Being in the water with so many other snorkelers trying to get a look at the Whale Shark, you get knocked around, not to mention the poor creature getting harassed.
But one evening, on our Maldives snorkeling liveaboard, the crew put out a bright light on the back deck of the boat to attract plankton that the Whale Sharks like to feed on. And when they showed up the crew woke us up so we could come see them. What an amazing and unique experience it was. We did not swim with them because the night was stormy and the water very choppy, but the previous boat full of snorkelers had the opportunity to snorkel with them. Here is a video we got of the experience:
We definitely recommend snorkeling the Maldives from a liveaboard boat. You get to see a lot of the best the country has to offer. Find yourself a trip focused on snorkeling the shallow reefs and enjoy it!
A Great Snorkeling Camera