When we first started Snorkel Venture, we didn’t have any liveaboard snorkeling safaris. All of our snorkel tours were land-based at resorts. As interest in snorkel travel grew, and our many repeat guests were looking for different snorkeling itineraries and destinations, we ventured into the realm of liveaboards. Personally, I was excited about this as I spent five years living and working on a liveaboard in Indonesia prior to joining Snorkel Venture. But more than just having a background with liveaboards, I genuinely believe the snorkeling options and overall travel logistics can be more favorable in many ways, here’s why.
- Liveaboards typically depart from larger port towns that have quick and easy access to airports and supplies. In order to arrive to the boat, you just have to meet the team waiting for you at the airport and let them shuttle you to the harbor where you’ll board the vessel.
- With a liveaboard, you can explore much further than you can at a resort as you have the ability to sail through the night and also during surface intervals.
- With liveaboards, there is also the option to snorkel in several different destinations without having to do the whole pack, transfer, and unpack routine as you would if you were land-based and moving from resort to resort. For example, our Raja Ampat-Halmahera-North Sulawesi liveaboard snorkel safari takes us from Raja Ampat through Halmahera and into Lembeh in North Sulawesi, or vice versa, all without having to step foot in an airport or transfer boat.
- Sea and weather conditions are always changing. With a liveaboard, in most locations, we have the ability to move the boat so we’re in the most accommodating conditions for that area. For example, in Belize, if the weather is unfavorable around the Turneffe Atoll, we can quite easily re-route to Glover’s Reef or Lighthouse Reef and snorkel around these locations until the weather moves on. The same goes for Raja Ampat. If we hear that the visibility isn’t great in Misool (southern Raja Ampat), we can spend the beginning of the trip in the northern parts of Raja where it will most likely have better snorkeling conditions before moving onto the south as the conditions improve.
- You never know what surprises you’ll get on a liveaboard. As you are surrounded by the magnificent ocean 24-7, it’s entirely possible to spot anything from mantas, dolphins, whales, dugongs, and even whale sharks as you relax on board!
To give you a better idea of what the onboard lifestyle, accommodation, and general amenities are really like onboard the liveaboards we work with, here are some answers to common questions we get about our liveaboard snorkel safaris.
Frequently Asked Questions
How big is the boat?
Each liveaboard will vary in size by several meters, but here’s what you can generally expect in terms of layout. At least 3 floors where you’ll have private cabins & toilets, dining areas, spacious in-door and out-door lounging areas, camera rooms or tables, plenty of storage space for wet snorkel gear, and designated gear-up areas. Several of the liveaboards we use have rooftop Jacuzzies and bars on the top deck!
Mermaid II: 33 meters / 108 feet
Belize Aggressor IV: 42 meters /138 feet
Cuba Jardines Aggressor II: 41 meters / 135 feet
Coralia: 48 meters / 157 feet
Amira: 52 meters / 170 feet
Palau Aggressor II: 32 meters / 104 feet
Red Sea Aggressor IV: 43 meters / 143 feet
Aqua Tiki II: 18 meters / 60 feet
Will there be divers onboard?
NO! Any time we offer a liveaboard snorkel safari it means we’ve chartered the entire boat just for us snorkelers.
What are the cabins like?
Cabins will vary from boat to boat, obviously, the bigger the boat the bigger the cabins. A little also depends on which type of cabin you go for. Some liveaboards will have different types of cabins, such as master cabins or budget cabins. Regardless, all the cabins will have comfortable beds with different configurations – bunked, two twins, single queen or king bed, etc. All cabins will have AC and storage areas, some have TV’s and desks, and all have private toilets with hot water showers. Currently, the only cabins that have an adjoining toilet with a room next to them are the two budget cabins on Mermaid II.
Is the boat noisy?
Boats by nature will generally have more ambient noise than a resort. Even when the boat isn’t moving you can hear the gentle lapping of the waves against the hull and a constant hum from the generator. Some wood boats will have a light creaking sound if there are any waves, but steel ships won’t. At times there can be louder noises like the engine or the anchor being pulled up. If you are particularly sensitive to noise, get in touch with us and we can help you find the quietest room possible.
What is the food like?
The food is quite excellent on all the boats. You will not go hungry with the multi-course meals and ever-present snacks. Nearly all dietary requirements can be met by most boats with advanced notice. In more remote locations like French Polynesia food options can be a bit more limited, but quantity and quality will not be!
How do we get into the water from the boat?
We will almost always board a smaller tender boat to move from the big boat to the reefs we will be snorkeling on. These tenders will all have ladders going into the water so we can easily climb out after the snorkel. In certain places there may be times when we will enter the water from the boat’s rear dive platform and exit via the boat’s large ladders.
How many guests on board?
Mermaid II: Max 20
Belize Aggressor IV: Max 18
Cuba Jardines Aggressor: Max 22
Coralia: Max 16
Amira: Max 20
Palau Aggressor II: Max 16
Red Sea Aggressor IV: Max 24
Aqua Tiki II: Max 6
Is there WiFi?
Some boats will have a WiFi hotspot that you can connect to when the boat is within range of a signal, but the best thing to do is to expect there not to be WiFi.
What is the route?
We always have a general route in mind, and for the most part, hold to that route, but at times we need to adjust for the weather and sea conditions. The beauty of liveaboards are that we can easily go to where the snorkeling conditions are at their best. We will, of course, start and finish the trip as per the original itinerary.
Can we go to land at all?
Yes, on just about all of our snorkeling safaris there will be an option to visit an island, village, or beach for a little bit.
What else is there to do onboard?
Aside from the incredible meals, and comfortable common areas, there’s plenty to do onboard. Most of the boats will have large living rooms with televisions and a big collection of movies, there are games, fish ID books, sun loungers, and areas to edit photos and videos. You can also get a massage on many of the liveaboards from their onboard masseuse, enjoy a sunset or afternoon cocktail (if it’s after your last snorkel of the day), or jump on a paddleboard or a kayak as most of the boats will have them available for you to use!
Will the Liveaboard Move Much?
It depends on what you mean by “move.” If you mean, from place to place, it depends on your itinerary and destination. For example, on our Cuba snorkeling safari the boat moves from the harbor to the Jardines de la Reina several hours away and this will remain on a mooring for the duration of the snorkeling safari. Other trips, like our Raja Ampat Liveaboard Snorkeling Safari, Belize Liveaboard Snorkeling Safari, Egypt Snorkeling Safari, Palau Snorkeling Safari, or our Raja Ampat-Halmahera-Lembeh Snorkeling Safari the boats may be cruising anywhere from a couple of hours during a surface interval to all night as we move to the next destination.
If by “move” you mean rocking from the waves, it’s best to assume that there will be some rocking and rolling especially if the itinerary includes a lot of travel through the open ocean. Obviously, we plan our trips for the calmest times of the year, but the ocean is a tricky thing and tends to have some swell and chop even in its calmest conditions. If you are prone to sea-sickness, there are a number of ways you can still enjoy a liveaboard snorkeling safari without spending it in the fetal position or with your head in a toilet.