Indonesia is home to over 17,500 islands and some of the most famous dive sites on the planet. This vast archipelago makes for some of the best liveaboard opportunities in the world. The toughest decision you’ll need to make, however, is which part of this impressive region to visit.

Best Liveaboard Destinations in Indonesia

Below are some of the main regions that are best explored by liveaboard diving in Indonesia.

The Banda Sea

Most of the diving around the Banda Sea involves excellent wall dives and great macro sites, but the biggest draws are the resident sea snakes at Manuk and Gunung Api islands as well as the chance to see schooling hammerheads.

In addition to incredible marine life, diving in the Banda Sea delivers excellent visibility and dramatic topography. The region is remote and only accessible by water; it’s an ideal liveaboard destination, and you’ll enjoy lush vibrant reefs and having dive sites to yourself.

It’s possible to combine parts of the Banda Sea with Raja Ampat for those who prefer a longer liveaboard experience.

Trips around the Banda Sea can leave from multiple departure points, so it’s best to check with your operator regarding the itinerary you’re most interested in.

Alor and the Savu Sea

When researching liveaboards in Indonesia, little is written about Alor in comparison to Bali, Komodo, Banda, and Raja Ampat, but it’s a spectacular region. The currents here are caused by water being forced between the main landmasses of Alor, Ternate, and Pantar. This constant flow of nutrient-rich water results in vibrant coral reefs that are teeming with life and bursting with color.

This off-the-beaten-path destination offers a mix of both world-class reefs and fascinating macro sites that are packed with critters. The Savu Sea offers pristine coral reefs, steep walls, sub-marine sea mounts, and sandy sloping muck sites – the diving here is incredibly diverse. Cetaceans are known to migrate through these waters, and it’s an area of interest for non-profit organizations such as Planet Deep.

There’s no doubt that this region will excite even the most discerning divers and underwater photographers. 

Although most liveaboards don’t actually depart from Alor, the local airport is easily accessible from other major Indonesian cities and is called Mali Airport. Check with your liveaboard operator of choice to determine where the trip is departing from before booking. As previously mentioned, Alor and the Savu Sea are often dived on transition cruises between Raja Ampat and Komodo.

beginners diving in komodo

Komodo Marine Park

The Komodo National Park is not only a marine protected area, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Best known for its population of over 5,500 Komodo dragons, Komodo is a world class destination that features on many divers’ bucket lists when it comes to liveaboards in Indonesia.

The islands that are in the park are rugged and wild – much like the diving. Think of thrilling drift dives with a kaleidoscopic of corals and an absolute mass of fish. That’s what awaits you in Komodo. Marine life comes in all shapes and sizes, from exquisite nudibranch to cruising reef sharks, manta rays, and seasonal mola. For those who enjoy drift diving and currents, diving in Komodo is an exhilarating adventure that is rich in sea life from start to finish.

Liveaboard trips in Komodo generally depart from Labuan Bajo, which is a short flight from Denpasar in Bali. And, trips typically last about 7 nights, although shorter and longer options are available.

Raja Ampat & Misool

North Raja Ampat (around the Dampier Strait) and the Misool region, including the Misool no-take zone, are considered to be among the jewels of scuba diving in Indonesia. This is the chance to explore the ocean like nowhere else on earth. Marine biomass is beyond belief with fish densely packed into schools, manta rays performing underwater ballets, and corals that are competing for space on reefs that are awash with color.

Raja Ampat was created for sea exploration. The vast region has so much to offer that it simply makes sense to discover the region by liveaboard to maximize your diving opportunities.

The stunning seascapes of Raja Ampat are breathtaking, and the region is well known for its migrating whale sightings, pods of dolphins, dugongs, and numerous species of shark (wobbegong, white tip, black tip, grey nurse, bamboo, epaulette, and the list goes on). On the smaller end of the scale, you’ll see tiny pygmy seahorses, nudibranch, cowries, tiger shrimps, flying gurnards, Pegasus sea moths and so much more!

Dive safaris that explore this region of Indonesia usually depart from Sorong in West Papua. The typical length of liveaboard trips is 7 to 10 nights, although some operators offer shorter, 5-night itineraries.

When to Dive in Indonesia

The majority of Indonesia can be dived all year round. Choosing when to take a liveaboard may depend on what you are hoping to see as some species are seasonal.

Liveaboards in Indonesia that offer both Komodo and Raja Ampat itineraries operate in these two locations in accordance with the Indonesian monsoon seasons. The main liveaboard season for Komodo is from the end of April through to early September. During early to mid-September the liveaboards will head over to Raja Ampat (offering Banda Sea and Alor/Savu Sea charters along the way). Liveaboards generally return to Komodo around mid-April, offering Banda Sea and Alor again on the way through.

Alila Purnama : Luxury liveaboards in Indonesia

Best Luxury Liveaboard: Alila Purnama

Prices start at IDR 15.9 million (USD $1,075) per person / per day

This 46 meter/150 foot-long Indonesian phinisi was built in 2011 and offers 5 luxurious and spacious cabins. Classing itself as a six-star hotel on water, a superb choice of expeditions is available in Komodo and Raja Ampat.

The Alila Purnama provides full services for divers, including free Nitrox, free dive equipment rental, and all water sports activities included. The exquisite dining options include three delicious meals a day, afternoon snacks, beach barbecues and non-alcoholic beverages.

The crew onboard the Alila Purnama are passionate about exploration and combining diving with relaxing as well as land excursions to Indonesia’s top hotspots. To ensure the ultimate rejuvenation experience, there is also an onboard spa therapist.

Divers aboard the Alila Purnama can expect to see a superb variety of marine life and diving sites on offer, including submerged and errupting volcanoes, vertical walls and deep water trenches.

At the end of a day of diving, watch the sunset from the top deck, or enjoy quiet time in your luxury cabin – unparalleled for spaciousness.  

The best liveaboards in Indonesia - Mermaid I

Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: Mermaid I

Prices start at IDR 5.8 million (USD $395) per person / per day

This 28 meter/92-foot long, steel-hulled, luxury vessel was renovated in 2016 and offers 8 air-conditioned cabins for up to 16 divers, Nitrox and exemplary services for underwater photographers.

The Mermaid I operates between Bali and Komodo, taking into account Indonesia’s seasonal monsoon changes. Diving opportunities are extremely diverse: vertical walls, deep water trenches, submerged volcanoes and more, alongside manta rays, reef sharks and thousands of fish species.

For divers, there is a large, purpose-built dive deck and a wide dive platform that offers two exit ladders and freshwater showers, along with six camera rinse tanks. In between dives, divers can choose from two outside decks, one offering shade and outside seating; the other is a spacious sun deck with cushioned sun beds.

Inside the Mermaid I, there is a comfortable saloon that offers an extensive library of books, including marine life manuals as well as a music center. Most of the cabins have been built with large windows for ocean views, bringing the beauty of one of the world’s most diverse marine life environments into your living quarters.

Three meals a day and refreshments are included, and the scrumptious Sawasdee Restaurant cooks up varied and delicious Thai, Indonesian, and Western dishes. 

Sokaraja - liveaboards in Indonesia

Best Budget Liveaboard: Sokaraja

Prices start from IDR 2.5 million (USD $170) per person / per day

This intimate 25 meter/82-foot long liveaboard was built in 2013 and renovated in 2023. The Sokaraja offers divers exceptional experiences around Komodo – without breaking the bank. This vessel caters to groups of up to 10 divers in 3 cabins and prides itself on visiting Komodo’s most remote and uncrowded dive sites. Between dives, kick back on the sun deck and watch the islands of Komodo National Park glide by.

Sokaraja’s diving speedboat ensures that you will comfortably be transported, and have easy entries and exits, to Komodo’s most iconic dive sites. The Sokaraja team describe the diving around Komodo as being characterized by its mind blowing diversity – dive or snorkel with manta rays, bamboo sharks, black and white tip reef sharks, turtles and thousands of fish.

Between dives, choose to relax on deck, or explore! The crew will happily escort you to visit the legendary Komodo dragons or join a sunset trek with stunning views from the peak of Gili Lawa Darat.

Overall, Sokaraja offers divers an intimate and superb value trip, from which you’ll return with vibrant memories and a whole set of new dive buddies.

The Duyung Baru liveaboard, one of the best liveaboards in Indonesia, as pictured from above

Most Eco-Friendly Liveaboard: EcoPro Duyung Baru

Prices start at IDR 5.3 million (USD $330) per person / per day

The Ecopro Duyung Baru is a luxurious yet eco-friendly liveaboard that offers divers an unparalleled experience exploring the breathtaking waters of Indonesia. This intimate vessel accommodates up to six guests, ensuring a personalized and exclusive adventure. Divers can expect to encounter vibrant coral reefs, an abundance of marine life, and dramatic underwater landscapes.

The Ecopro Duyung Baru is renowned for its commitment to sustainable practices, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious divers. With top-notch facilities, including spacious cabins, delectable cuisine, and a knowledgeable crew, this liveaboard promises a comfortable and unforgettable journey through some of the world’s most spectacular dive sites. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or new to the underwater world, the Ecopro Duyung Baru provides an exceptional diving experience in the heart of Indonesia.

Liveaboards in Indonesia

The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked for this article; however, there are plenty more in Indonesia. To see the full list of liveaboards on PADI Travel, with options to suit all tastes, schedules, and price ranges, click the button below.

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