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.

aerial view of misool resort

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.

cabin on coralia liveaboard


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.

Aerial view of Raja Ampat Islands

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.

snorkeler with whale shark feeding

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.

Amira Liveaboard sailing

Final Thoughts

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.

Happy couple snorkeling a reef in Komodo

We get a lot of questions about the level of fitness required to join one of our snorkel safaris, and the truth of the matter is we can’t really answer that question with a simple statement of “Guests need to be at this level of fitness to join the Komodo safari,” for example. Reason being is that there are certain fitness factors which will vary from person to person. Some people might have difficulty with walking or climbing steps but feel perfectly comfortable in the water while others might be a bit of the opposite. Prior to booking or selling a tour we do our absolute best to paint as clear of a picture as possible of the physical requirements so as to give you an idea of what the trip will look like so you can make an assessment for yourself. Something else we’d like to mention is that since we started running our snorkel safaris in 2018 we’ve had people of all fitness levels on our tours, including people with limited mobility on land, and we’ve always been able to make sure every guest was as comfortable as possible on land and in the water, for the duration of the trip. We’ll do whatever we can to make sure every guest is there to witness those magical moments. That being said, if you do have specific physical limitations it’s always a good idea to let us know in advance so we can make the necessary arrangements for the tour. 

Aerial view of papua paradise resort and house reef

Common Questions and Concerns

Will we be snorkeling in current?

In just about all of our tours, particularly in Indonesia, there is a good chance we will see current, BUT we rarely encounter it unless we have a gentle drift snorkel planned. We are constantly monitoring the tides and currents and will always select the snorkeling sites where there is very little to no current.

How many stairs are at the resort?

This depends a lot on the individual resort, and this is one of the criteria we actually look at when selecting a particular resort to run our safaris through. Most of the resorts we work with will have the very least amount of steps possible, with just two to three steps leading up to the bungalows or restaurant. However, on some of the tours do have more than a few steps in which case we will try to identify this on the tour description. If you are physically limited by large amount of steps it’s a good idea to let us know so we can make the necessary arrangements. 

What if I get tired in the water?

Unless we’re on the house reef where you can easily get in and out of the water through the resort’s pier or at the beach, there is always a support boat shadowing us just in case a guest does become exhausted. Also, there are multiple guides in the water with at least two of them carrying large floats for guests to rest on if they get exhausted.

How much walking is involved with the land tours?

Some of the land tours will quite a bit of walking, but we can always make arrangements for a shorter or alternative land tour to suite your needs. On our Komodo tour for example the full trek to see the Komodo Dragons is probably just bit more than a mile in total with some hills, but if you didn’t want to do the full trek and still see the dragons the walk can be about ¼ mile round trip on flat land. Whatever the occasion, we will come up with something unique so you can still have a special la

nd excursion.

happy snorkel venture guests

That one hour period or so where the sun seems to hover just a few inches above the horizon is an incredible time to go snorkeling. Not only does the sharp angle of the sun on the water’s surface create a memorizing display of dappled light over the reef, but the marine life and it’s behavior is in a transition period which is pretty amazing to witness!

The Light

While the available day light in the is significantly less than our morning and afternoon snorkel sessions, there is still enough natural light in the water—at least for the first half of the snorkel—for you to still see clearly without the use of an underwater flashlight/torch. This stunning and more dramatic lighting is my personal favorite thing about sunset snorkels. The sun’s beams cut through the still water and just bathe the reef in this outstanding light which makes for some postcard perfect photos. As the light begins to fade toward the second half of the snorkel session it’s a good time to turn on that underwater torch we’ve provided you with and start investigating the reef’s inhabitants because you’ll quickly see that a lot has changed.

The Night Shift

Just as the sun is starting to set, fish species like damsel fish and butterfly fish which were casually swimming about in the day time now have suddenly disappeared. Well, they haven’t disappeared they’ve just gone into hiding as the larger predatory creatures like the lion fish, moray eels, sting rays, and especially cephalopods like cuttle fish, octopus, and squid all come out to hunt the smaller reef fish. The creatures which were more active in the day are now tucked into every hole and crevice while the creatures like octopus and moray eels are now out in full view as they try to pry the colorful reef fish from their hiding places.

Predatory behavior is not the only thing to change during the night, mating behavior is also more likely to take place around dusk, with mandarine fish being the most active performers. If you are lucky enough to have a colony of mandarine fish right up in the shallows like we do in Alor Indonesia, then you are in for a real treat. These small but lavishly colored fish mate on just about every single evening just before the sun dips below the horizon. You have to be pay careful attention though as the actual mating can be over in a matter of seconds, but if you’re able to find and follow the larger male as he tries to woo one of the females in his harem then you can watch the entire sequence of events, from the awkward courtship behavior to the sudden flash of color that is the physical act of mandarine fish mating.

mandarin fish

Even though we’re snorkeling and can just stick our head out of the water when we need to communicate with each other, for most things it’s just quicker and easier to use simple hand signals. We use these hand signals to not only communicate things like “hey are you ok?” or the “current is going this way,” but also to identify what fish we are looking at. This quick fun video covers everything from the lion fish hand signal to emergency hand signals on the surface.

Indonesia is a massive country with over seventeen thousand islands so it’s understandable when people get confused about what location is where. To help with that this short video will break down all of Indonesia’s top snorkeling destinations including what you can see and how we arrive. Don’t hesitate to ask any further questions, we are always happy to help!