It's 6am, the hues of the morning sun are dancing across the glassy sea. Right below you a black tip reef shark is gently circling the boat. You grab your mask and slip into the water alongside him. For a few precious moments it's just you and him in the water. This is the magic of a liveaboard. Or picture yourself somewhere like Mexico, where you spend your mornings diving and your afternoons trekking through jungles, visiting ancient Mayan ruins and feasting on local cuisine. This is the cultural richness of a land-based diving holiday. Everyone is looking for different things when they go on a diving holiday and so it's worth considering which type of accommodation will be suitable for your trip. If you're a diving junkie with time to spare, then a liveaboard may be for you. Or, if you'd rather enjoy a blend of diving and cultural experiences, then land-based accommodation may be up your street. Each has their perks. Let's dive a little deeper....

Sun deck of a luxury liveaboard boat at sunset Lounge of a luxury liveaboard boat with the sun coming in
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The perks of a liveaboard diving holiday

Dive, sleep, repeat

An obvious advantage of a liveaboard holiday is the efficiency. There's no faffing around getting to a dive shop and then to a site; you're already there. You wake up, leap out of bed (you're on holiday after all), get into your kit and then just roll overboard into the water (after you've done your buddy checks and dive brief, of course, but you get the idea). And if you forget to pick up your camera in your dazed and dreamy state, don't worry; someone on the boat can pass it to you in the water.

Another benefit is that when your surface interval is also your accommodation, you can rest in between dives, charge your camera, have a refreshing drink or take shelter from the sun. For instance, on a liveaboard in Raja Ampat, you can operate on a dive, eat, nap, repeat cycle for an entire week while boating around this idyllic Indonesian archipelago. Bliss.

Make the most of your underwater time

Liveaboards typically start from a week and can last a few weeks at a time. These consecutive days of diving devotion allow you to experience a range of sites, underwater environments and marine life, with many liveaboards offering unlimited diving (which can mean up to five dives a day, including night dives).

A key advantage of a liveaboard is that they can access remote dive locations. In these areas, you'll be able to enjoy a quieter dive site, with less divers and boat traffic, meaning you're more likely to encounter pristine reefs and see animals playing, hunting and courting. And let's be honest, it's exciting to feel like the only people in the water with these animals. The sense of adventure that this quietness brings is hard to top.

If you're a diving geek like us, then there are some bucket-list sightings that can only be experienced while staying on a liveaboard. If you're a shark lover, the best way to witness the migration of the scalloped hammerhead sharks is via a liveaboard in the Galapagos Islands between December to April. Or if you or your diving buddy is a history buff, then Chuuk Lagoon in Micronesia - which boasts some of the best wreck diving on Earth and can only be accessed by liveaboard - is a bucket list must. Enjoy the abundance of corals and diverse range of animals playing around old sake bottles found within this WWII wreck.

Geek out 24/7 on the marine life

Generally speaking, those who opt for a liveaboard are diving geeks who just want to dive, dive, dive, and this can introduce you to a wonderful community of like-minded divers. Nothing beats a trip spent sharing stories and knowledge over meals and laughing over inside jokes with new friends. If you're a solo traveller, then this may be the perfect way for you to grow your diving community. You may be able to learn some new photography skills or meet someone who is an expert at macro diving to complement your knowledge of corals.

Aerial drone view of luxury resort in Maldives

The perks of a land-based diving holiday

Explore above as well as below

Now, if you're someone who likes to jam-pack their holiday with extra cultural experiences alongside diving wonders, then a land-based accommodation may be more suitable for you. There is much more flexibility on land than on sea when it comes to activities and extra things to do. Even if you're a diving fanatic, you may be time poor and want to cram in as much of a new country as possible. Staying on land provides an opportunity to sample local restaurants, visit museums and tour towns with local guides. This is especially appealing to families who may have a range of diving enthusiasts travelling together.

More space to stretch your legs

A holiday means different things to different people, but for those who seek rest and relaxation, a land-based holiday is the way to go. Liveaboards are wonderful places to share space with like-minded people, but at the end of the day, you're sharing a smaller space 24/7 and this isn't suited to everyone. And, of course, if you're someone who gets seasick easily, then the idea of constant rocking probably doesn't float your, well, boat, and the steady ground of a land-based accommodation is more desirable.

All in all, liveaboards and land-based holidays both offer a range of exciting opportunities. Key things to consider when booking your holiday and accommodation are your diving goals, who you're travelling with, and your time and financial budget. If you have all the time and money in the world, then go for a liveaboard and tag on an extra week afterwards to explore the nearby cities and towns. That's what we'd do anyway.