Adventures,  Diving Trips,  Indonesia

The Top 3 Affordable Indonesia Liveaboard Destinations and Cruises

If you are considering a liveaboard diving trip to Indonesia, you can stop thinking about it – just go! 

I assure you, it’s everything you ever imagined and more, especially if this is your first time diving in the Coral Triangle.   I have dived in Indonesia from Komodo, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi to Bali – and I can tell you that Indonesia diving offers some of the most incredible marine life.   But the ULTIMATE diving experience is the Indonesia liveaboard: it’s every scuba diver’s dream come true.   

If you love exploring the ever-so-fascinating underwater abyss and discovering new marine creatures, scuba diving on a liveaboard is nothing short of heaven. 

Imagine waking up with the sunrise, sipping your first coffee soaking in the day’s first sun rays and looking out into the incredible panoramic view of the magical big blue sea. 

Then what follows are 3 to 4 incredible dives exploring some of the healthiest and vibrant coral reefs, mouthwatering meals and snacks that never stop flowing, then cocktails, chats and laughs with your new friends from across the world while watching the sunset over the horizon.  

I mean, life doesn’t get much better than this!

To top it off, Indonesia is one of only six countries that make up the Coral Triangle, an epicenter of marine biodiversity where 76% of the world’s coral species are known to exist.  

Diving in the Coral Triangle for a scuba diver is like being in a candy store – everything in sight is alluring,  amusing, and delightful!

Divers from around the world flock to Indonesia to explore everything from macro life in Lembeh, schooling fish around Komodo Island, mola-molas in Bali, to hammerhead sharks in the Banda Sea.   Believe me, once you dive in Indonesia, it’s hard to dive anywhere else!

But with over 80+ liveaboard operators in the Indonesian archipelago offering various routes, schedules, and prices, sorting through the boats and making the “right” choice can be daunting.    

To facilitate your research, this post summarizes the top 3 liveaboard diving destinations in Indonesia (you really can’t go wrong with any of them), and the best vessel options to explore that region. 

Note: Most of the Indonesia liveaboards schedule different routes in a given year, covering diverse destinations and distinct itineraries.  Please check individual operators for details. 

Happy cruising!

Indonesia Liveaboard Destination #1:  Alor

indonesia liveaboard: alor

Alor is an archipelago located in southeast Indonesia just north of West Timor, known primarily among the diving community.   This part of Indonesia is still very much under the radar for mass tourism due to the remoteness of its location.   

Diving in Alor is a real treat for scuba diving fans, as it offers a broad spectrum of marine species ranging from big pelagics (whales and mola-mola sightings are not rare), superb macro life, spectacular coral diversity, and impressive schoolings of fish.  

While there are a handful of well-established land-based operators on Alor Island, the best way to explore some of the hidden treasures are with liveaboards, as you can cover more “grounds” with a floating resort.

Some dive sites not to be missed are Kal’s Dream, The Cathedral, Mike’s Delight, Paradise Point, The Fault line, Mirror Image, Schools Out, The Bullet, The Backyard and Coconut Grove.

Water Temperature: 25-30C (77-86F) but Alor is known to have thermoclines that can drop to low 20s (68F).

Season: March – December (monsoon season = January to mid-March)

Diving Conditions:  Drop-offs, walls, seamounts, and pinnacles.  Seas around Alor can be prone to strong and unpredictable currents, thus are recommended for experienced divers.

Alor Liveaboard Vessel #1:  Aurora

indonesia liveaboard: Aurora lounge
indonesia liveaboard: aurora boat
indonesia liveaboard: Aurora cabin

all photos of Aurora courtesy of liveaboard.com

With only 8 cabins and catering to a maximum of 16 guests on a 40m yacht, Aurora offers spacious sun deck, indoor camera room, huge diving deck and comfortable seating areas where you can mingle with your new friends onboard.    Each cabin comes with individually controlled air conditioning as well as en-suite bathrooms, and you can choose between a twin or double beds.

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: Kawula, Pantar Strait, Alor Strait, Kalabahi Bay, Komba, East Flores

Duration: 10D/9N (~27 dives)

Price: Starting $323/day

Aurora runs limited cruises to Alor every year –and these trips sell fast.  So plan and book early.   Throughout the rest of the year, Aurora dives in other hot spots of Indonesia including Raja, Komodo, and the Banda Sea.   

Click below to see additional routes!

Alor Liveaboard Vessel #2:  Tiare

Indonesia liveaboard: tiare boat
indonesia liveaboard: tiare lounge
indonesia liveaboard: tiare cabin
indonesia liveaboard: tiare sundeck

all photos of Tiare courtesy of liveaboard.com

In addition to the standard amenities, one would expect from a top-notch liveaboard such as air-conditioned en-suite cabins, dedicated camera rooms, and sundeck with lounge chairs and sofa beds, what makes Tiare unique is in the details.  

From a full set of toiletries and hair dryers provided in each cabin to Enos rescue system offered to each diver onboard, there is nothing Tiare did not think of.

Check out this beautiful “floating” luxury hotel for your next Indonesia liveaboard trip!

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: East Flores (Lembata Island, Adonara Island, Kawula Island, Alor Strait, Pantar Strait, Kalabihi Bay

Duration: 8D/7N (~22dives)

Price: Starting $404/day

Tiare runs limited cruises to Alor every year.  Check the schedule well in advance so that you can plan accordingly!  You may also book Tiare for other popular diving destinations in Indonesia including Raja, Komodo, Forgotten Islands, and the Banda Sea.

Indonesia Liveaboard Destination #2:  Raja Ampat

blacktip shark

Raja Ampat, also known as the Four Kings, is made up of four main islands Misool, Waigeo, Batanta, and Salawati located in West Papua.   

As it is appropriately named, Raja is indeed, THE king of scuba diving destinations in Indonesia.   From the stunning coral gardens to countless fish species you will encounter in its seas, Raja’s archipelago is well deserving of landing on your bucket list! 

Mantas, wobbegong sharks, reef sharks, dugongs, dogtooth tuna, Napoleon wrasse, and giant trevallies are just a handful of usual suspects.  On the macro side, you can expect to see frogfishes, pipefish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs and a ton of intriguing crustaceans.

Jaw-dropping dive sites are plenty in Raja Ampat, but you’d want to be sure to check out these sites: Cape Kri, Arborek, Sardines, Blue Magic, The Passage, Manta Sandy, Chicken Reef, Fam Islands.

Water Temperature: 27-29C (80-84F) throughout the year

Season: Open to dive year round, but the best time to dive is Oct-April

Diving Conditions:  various, depending on the dive area.  Can range from slopes, walls, seamounts, pinnacles, bommies, bays, etc.   Most of the diving in Raja is prone to some current, and operators may require advanced certification.

Raja Ampat Liveaboard Vessel #1: Mutiara Laut

indonesia liveaboard: mutiara laut boat
indonesia liveaboard: mutiara laut dining
indonesia liveaboard: mutiara laut cabin
indonesia liveaboard: mutiara laut lounge salon

all photos of Mutiara Laut courtesy of liveaboard.com

Mutiara Laut, a 46m phinisi designed with modern and elegant European flair, hosts up to 14 guests in 7 cabins.   This luxury boat oozes class, from the detailed boat design to interior décors and furnishings.  

You will find entertainment systems in each deluxe cabin, as well as a beautifully arranged indoor dining room and lounge designed for comfort and relaxation.   Mutiara Laut offers one master suite cabin located at the stern on the main deck.

This 5-star luxury liveaboard also welcomes non-diver guests, so grab your snorkeling buddy and explore one of the best diving destinations in the world!

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: Misool, Fam Islands, Dampier Strait, Batanta Island, Halmahera, Ambon, Triton Bay, Banda Islands, Cenderawasih

Duration: 12D/11N (total ~32 dives including night dives)

Price: Starting $376/day

Raja Ampat Liveaboard Vessel #2: Pearl of Papua

indonesia liveaboard: pearl of papua boat
indonesia liveaboard: pearl of papua lounge deck
indonesia liveaboard: pearl of papua cabin
indonesia liveaboard: pearl of papua dive deck

all photos of Pearl of Papua courtesy of liveaboard.com

The Pearl of Papua is a premier liveaboard that specializes in Raja Ampat, offering 8-day to 11-day cruises for your breathtaking adventure.   

The vessel features 7 cabins that range in style from twin-beds to a master suite, all with air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.  

While the cabins are spacious enough, this 30m phinisi offers ample indoor and outdoor space for dining and relaxing between dives.

With an added luxury service of massages and spa treatments offered onboard, the Pearl of Papua sells out fast – make sure you grab your spot on this queen of Raja early.

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: Dampier Straight, Wayag, Sel Pele Bay, Fam Islands, Penemu Island, Arborek

Duration: Starting at 8D/7N (total ~18 dives including night dives)

 Price: Starting $275/day

Indonesia Liveaboard Destination #3: Komodo

small reef fishes swimming above colorful reef

My very first liveaboard experience was in Komodo National Park, and all I remember thinking is, “oh wow, oh wow, oh wow!”  From the dive at Castle Rock where we were surrounded in a tornado of trevallies, to Tatawa Kecil where I counted over 20 blacktip and whitetip sharks in a single dive, diving in Komodo blew my mind.   I felt like I was in a National Geographic photo shoot.

What makes Komodo National Park so unique?   This Land of the Dragons is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 3 main islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Padar as well as 26 additional smaller islands. 

This region is a gold mine for scuba divers due to the nutrient-rich water provided by merging of the Pacific Ocean from the north to the Indian Ocean in the south.  This rare phenomenon provides for an incredibly healthy and dense marine biodiversity that leaves divers coming back for more.

Expect to see pelagics such as manta rays, reef sharks, and eagle rays; schools of jacks, trevallies, surgeon fish, and barracudas; macro critters including frogfish, nudis, pygmy seahorses and much, much more!

Some highlights of Komodo’s dive sites are: Castle Rock, Crystal Rock, Manta Alley, Lighthouse, Batu Bulong, GPS Point, Cannibal Rock, Tatawa Island

Water Temperature: 27-29C (80-84F)

Season: March – October

Diving Conditions:  seamounts, walls, slopes, swim-throughs, and pinnacles.  Strong currents are prevalent around Komodo.  Most dive operators require intermediate to advanced diving experience to dive the Komodo National Park.  

Komodo Liveaboard Vessel #1: Duyung Baru

indonesia liveaboard: duyung baru boat
indonesia liveaboard: duyung baru dining
indonesia liveaboard: duyung baru cabin

all photos of Duyung Baru courtesy of liveaboard.com

Bigger is not always better.  This chic liveaboard provides an intimate setting for a maximum of 6 guests with only 3 cabins.  With 27m of beautiful boat space, there is plenty of room for privacy, as well as mingling with your dive buddies.  

If you have enough friends to share the boat with, Duyung Baru is an excellent choice for private charter.  Why not share an incredible diving adventure with your friends!

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: Sebayur Island, Tatawa Island, Manta Point, Gili Lawa Laut, Gili Lawa Darat, Komodo National Park and Rinca Nord

Duration: starting at 4D/3N (about ~ 8dives)

Price: Starting $331/day

Komodo Liveaboard Vessel #2: Adelaar

indonesia liveaboard: adelaar boat
indonesia liveaboard: adelaar cabin
indonesia liveaboard: adelaar indoor salon
indonesia liveaboard: adelaar outdoor lounge

all photos of Adelaar courtesy of liveaboard.com

This 39m classic phinisi caters to 8 guests in 4 cabins, offering enormous sized cabins (for a liveaboard) and living spaces throughout the boat.   Each cabin features individual climate-control, en-suite marble bathrooms, and flat screen TV.   With two decks of lounging area, you may never run into your dive buddies on Adelaar. 

I dare say, Adelaar may just be the best Komodo liveaboard.  The ten-member crew will look after your every need.

Non-diving guests are welcome on Adelaar, so come one come all!

√  Nitrox and gear rental available for an additional fee

Route: Adelaar is one of the few Bali liveaboards that you embark and disembark in Bali, making it an ideal cruise for those wishing to combine a diving trip with some additional cultural, beach or surfing vacation on the mainland of Bali.   

Dive route includes North Sumbawa, Komodo National Park (Gili Lawa Laut, Nusa Kode, Pandar, Gili Lawa Darat, Gili Banta) Sangeang, Moyo

Duration: 11D/10N (total ~ 31dives)

Price: $408/day

Beyond Diving in Komodo

If you are interested in spending a bit more time exploring the stunning Komodo National Park without the diving, you can sign up for either a 2-day Komodo adventure package, or a 3 day liveaboard Bali to Komodo that includes trekking, swimming, snorkeling, and beaching along your journey across the sea.

Want to Search for More Indonesia Liveaboard Options?

Indonesia has one of the biggest inventory of liveaboards in the world.   

Aside from the top 3 liveaboard destinations listed in this post, some operators create a unique schedule through the remote archipelagos, creating a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime adventure.   

Shop around for alternative liveaboards, or explore other amazing diving destinations in Indonesia!

Interested in Other Liveaboard Destinations?

Inspired? PIN it!

Are you a scuba diver looking for a diving trip for your next scuba vacation? Look no further! Indonesia, located in the Coral Triangle, offers some of the best scuba diving destinations in the world! Check out this complete travel guide for Indonesia travel inspirations, diving safaris, and scuba diving sites for your ultimate scuba travel! #indonesia #scubadiving #scuba #scubadiver #scubadive #southeastasia #asiatravel
Travel Indonesia | Indonesia Diving | If you are a fan of scuba diving, don't miss a chance to dive in Indonesia - better yet, take a liveaboard cruise around some of the best diving destinations in Indonesia! Check out this post for some of the best diving destinations and liveaboard cruises in Indonesia. #scubadiving #divetrip #indonesiatravel #coraltriangle

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