Resort Vs. Liveaboard Snorkeling Trip

If you are wondering about how your experience will be different on a resort vs. liveaboard snorkeling trip, we have experienced both, and share the pros and cons below. While we don’t personally think one is better than another, there are certainly some big differences that could be important for you to know ahead of time.

Resort vs. liveaboard snorkeling trip tips.

Just so we are clear, resort based snorkeling trips are where you have your own room or cabin at a resort, often located at a remote island. The best snorkeling resorts have house reefs that are great to snorkel, and the resort will also take you out on small boats to other reefs that are close by, sometimes two or three times a day.

Liveaboard snorkeling trips are based from large yachts, typically 100-150 feet long, and everything is on board, your room, the restaurant, crew, and everything else needed. The boat will generally travel to different snorkeling spots several times a day, and will likely have smaller boats that take you to close reefs as well.

Our snorkeling trips partner offers many different adventures from both resorts and liveaboards, and even combination trips with both. You can check out all those trips here. Hopefully this page helps you decide which is best for you.

Resort Vs. Liveaboard Snorkeling Trips – Pros and Cons

Pros of Choosing a Resort

Large Rooms – Most resorts will have very spacious rooms with fairly private open-air patios. Bathrooms are also much larger, and are often open-air. You will also have plenty of room for large luggage. Sometimes you will have a room right on a beach, your cottage will be out over the water, or your villa will be nestled in a beautiful garden.

Rooms on a sandy beach with palm trees at Misool.
Rooms over the water at a resort in the Maldives.

Large Restaurants – Many of the restaurants at snorkeling resorts are open-air, and very spacious, with good views.

Walking and Hiking Options – Besides walking to your cottage or room, many resorts also have walking or even hiking trails to stretch your legs.

Hikers on a grassy island in Komodo.

Large Snorkel Boats – The boats that the resorts use, to take you to close by snorkel spots, are often larger fiberglass models that are comfortable, sometimes with shade covers, and may have very good ladders for getting back on board.

House Reef – A house reef is nice, so you can snorkel at your own leisure, instead of always with a group.

Peaceful Quiet – You can expect to experience many moments of quiet peace in your room and around the resort.

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Cons of Choosing a Resort

Local Weather – If the local weather turns windy and rainy, it may not be the best snorkeling experience, and you can’t relocate like a liveaboard can.

Reef Variety – Sometimes, not always, the variety of reef types reachable from a resort may not be super diverse.

More Walking – There is a lot more walking at a resort, from your room to the snorkel boats, the restaurant, and other activities. If the resort is hilly this could translate into a real workout at times. All concerns if you have mobility issues.

More Bugs – Generally there is more chance for bugs when island based.

Open-air Restaurants and Bathrooms – Very often resorts have open air restaurants. They are normally covered, but can be warm without A/C. The bathrooms in the rooms are also often open-air without A/C.

Snorkeling Sunburns Suck!

Check out the snorkeling rash guards, wetsuits, and reef safe sunscreen we use to protect ourselves and to protect fish and coral from sunscreen chemicals.

Pros of Choosing a Liveaboard

More Snorkeling Intensive – On liveaboards, the schedule is more focused on the snorkeling, with less time walking to rooms and restaurants. It can translate into more time in the water.

Changing Scenery Every Day – You are always on the water, and the boat moves most days, so you get a new view of islands each day. You may also have a higher chance of seeing whales and dolphins because you are always out on the water.

Wood liveaboard yacht in Indonesia at anchor with islands.

More Reef Variety – A liveaboard that tours a wide range of areas will likely mean you snorkel a broader variety of reef types, and see different creatures.

More Adaptable in Bad Weather – Sometimes a liveaboard can move to a location with better local weather, which can mean a better time snorkeling.

Less Bugs – Unless the liveaboard anchors very close to an island, generally speaking there are many less bugs on a liveaboard.

Air-conditioned Restaurant – Many liveaboards have an air-conditioned restaurant, as well as common spaces that are air-conditioned.

More Social – More of your time can be spent with your group on a liveaboard.

Large liveaboard yacht in the Maldives.

Cons of Choosing a Liveaboard

Smaller Rooms – Liveaboard cabins can be small, as can the bathrooms. They also offer less storage space for large luggage and gear.

Sea or Motion Sickness – You are on a boat. It will roll, and move up and down, most of the time. And if your tour crosses open areas of the ocean, you could experience a lot of movement. Sea or motion sickness pills or other remedies may be required.

Noise – Liveaboards are a bit noisy. They always have either a motor or a generator running, and anchoring can be loud. Very often the boat travels at night, so sleeping may not be super peaceful.

Smaller Snorkel Boats – Some, not all, liveaboards may use smaller boats to take you out to the close snorkeling spots. Generally this is not an issue, but the ladders for getting back in the boat on some inflatables may be challenging to navigate.

Less Privacy – You can tuck away in your room, but otherwise you will generally be around your group and the crew the entire time.

Less Physical Activity – Your tour may include a few stops where you can walk around an island, or up to a viewpoint, but generally you will not get much exercise when not snorkeling.

Resort Vs. Liveaboard Snorkeling Trip – Which Is Better in Your Opinion?

You may have a good reason why you prefer a resort vs. liveaboard snorkeling trip, and we would love to hear your comments below. So long as the snorkeling is great, we personally don’t care if we are at a resort or on a liveaboard. Each offers its own benefits and drawbacks. If we have missed some pros and cons that you find important, please leave a comment below.

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1 Comment

  1. Aloha Galen & Nicole,

    The other important pluses for liveaboards that I’d add:

    -Your equipment is stored in your personal cubby on the deck, so no schlepping everything to/from your rooms, it’s all right there.
    -And tender rides to snorkel sites are 1-2mins instead of 10-40 mins, so more time in the water!
    -And (with permission) early morning swims are possible for more exercise.

    Can’t wait to go back!


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