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Choosing to join a snorkel safari that is hosted by a liveaboard as opposed to a land-based resort, or vise versa can be a tough choice, particularly if your only snorkeling safaris have been with one of the two options, or neither! Resorts can be great as they don’t rock with the waves and the amount of space you get is so much more. However, on a boat you wake up in a new location each day and get to explore so much further in the area. Not to mention the novelty of being on a luxury vessel in the middle of paradise. To help you get the clearest picture possible of what each style of snorkel safari is like we’ve broken it down into a few key points.
Space is one of the biggest differences between resorts and liveaboards. At a resort you have a spacious bungalow with its own veranda and large bathroom. Then there are the resort grounds which offer beautiful landscaping, pools, bars, a restaurant, spa, and quite often a private beach with a house reef.
The liveaboard option does offer significantly less space than a resort, but you will by no means feel cramped, especially with the elite group of liveaboards we operate with. The boats we use range in size from just over one-hundred feet in length to one-hundred and seventy feet and offer 3-4 different decks to spread out on. The boats all feature large galleys for dining, saloons with big wrap-around sofas, sun decks, camera rooms, and large gearing up stations. Some of the larger boats even have a Jacuzzi and rooftop bar. The cabins will all be furnished with comfortable beds, some may be bunked, but all will be equipped with a private ensuite bathroom with hot water and of course air conditioning.
Snorkeling via liveaboard and resort in the very same location can be a completely different experience depending on which one you choose. One is not necessarily better than the other, just different. Raja Ampat is the perfect example for this as Raja is a massive area and no matter how centrally located the resort you’d never be able to see all of Raja, no matter how long you spent there. However, with a liveaboard in Raja you do have the option of being able to experience a bit of everything. Not everything, but a bit of everything, as Raja is HUUGE and even with a liveaboard you’d have to spend a few years exploring it to see it all.
With a liveaboard in Raja you can spend a few days in the north, a few days in the center, and a few days in the south, whereas with a resort you will be snorkeling in either the north or the south. Now, that’s not a bad thing at all as both the resorts in the north and south of Raja have more than enough sites to keep us snorkelers entertained for months. Not to mention the resort’s extensive knowledge of their “neighborhood” will surely yield some exceptional surprises you wouldn’t otherwise have on a liveaboard.
One last point I’d like to make here is that when you are snorkeling from a liveaboard, you naturally end up spending nearly all your time on the water, this constant exposure does often lead to nice surprises like a whale shark or manta appearing next to the boat which then turns into thrilling impromptu snorkel session. That being said, most resorts have a house reef and end up being the guests favorite places to snorkel-no matter which house reef-as they can really get to know that reef after a few days and find all the cool things they might otherwise miss in a single snorkel session.
Rocking in Rolling
Yes, boats do rock a bit, and if the weather suddenly kicks up it can be a bit bumpy for an hour or so until the captain can get us into a protected bay, but in general you really don’t notice the gentle motion of the ocean after the first-night onboard. In fact, most people find the gentle undulating motion soothing. For those that are very prone to seasickness, there are some excellent patches, pressure point wrist bands, and seasickness pills you can take which will quite literally cure you of it for the duration of the trip.
Prior to joining Snorkel Venture I spend five years living and working as an underwater photographer on a liveaboard, and since 2018 when I joined Snorkel Venture I’ve spent the majority of that time traveling around the world and snorkeling from resorts. At the end of the day I would never say snorkeling from one is better than the other, not at all. Liveaboards offer that romantic feeling of exploring a tropical paradise by way of a luxury vessel complete with Jacuzzi and masseuse, whereas a resort offers that quintessential island oasis vibe with a happy hour and infinity pool. Each presents a completely different experience out of the water, but both absolutely offer incredible snorkeling.