Landbased Raja vs Liveaboard Raja... which is the best for me?
Many people have asked me if they should do the landbased Raja Experience or the Liveaboard Raja Experience? I have put together the following information from myself and others who have been there etc. We hope it helps.
I'll start off by saying the best question is "which is the best for me vs which is the best" as everything is relative. Because land based ops vary DRAMATICALLY in this region and liveaboards ALSO vary DRAMATICALLY in this region I will essentially compare the land based operation of Meridian Adventure Dives (MAD) to the liveaboard operation of Dive Damai as these are the operators we have been using brilliantly for our liveaboard excursions to Raja and now our first foray to a land based operator. You truly can't go wrong with either but knowing which is the better option for you when you've never been, can be daunting so here goes!
General Advantages of Landbased vs Liveaboard:
- Less likelihood of seasickness if prone to it
- Larger rooms/access to amenities vs being on a liveaboard aks floating hotel
- Option for a more relaxing schedule of fewer dives a day (1-3) vs the standard 4 a day in Indo (5 a day in the Caribbean)
- Option for more non-diving activities such as paddleboarding, snorkeling, etc
- Option for more cultural exposure
- Easier to seek and create a bit of 'me' time by having more places to roam where others are not
- Easier to create purpose driven educational ops due to greater number of staff and local resources which are more limited on a boat
- Easier to take a day off and relax if the urge moves you
- Easier to get to/from since if you are late you only miss a day and not the entire trip
- Usually more food/beverage choices being landbased vs liveaboard
General Advantages of Liveabaord vs Landbased:
- It is easier to cover long distances with a liveaboard and see a little of a lot area vs a lot of a little area.
- The price per dive usually works out better if all you want to do is dive!
- You set your gear up once and the crew fills the tank in the same spot after each dive - no need to carry gear around once you arrive and get set up the first time.
- It is easy to find the Nitrox analyzer (they typically live on the camera table) so it’s usually not necessary to take your own analyzer
- You can’t forget your gear since it’s all on the boat and within reach as you gear up to dive.
- The deck showers allow easy access to rinse-off right after each dive
- There are almost always MORE dives available when on a liveaboard. No problem if anyone wants to skip a dive to relax/read/sleep, but those who want to dive every dive get a better deal on a liveaboard
- Since you are 'contained in a finite area it is often easier to get to know everyone
- If you love easy then liveaboards are for you... easy to get to meals, easy to get to the dive deck, easy to get to the sun deck, easy to get to the rooms - everything is within easy and quick access
- There is lots of space on the boat to hang wet gear to dry in the sun
- It is easy to check on other divers if they are not feeling well or if they've had a diving issue since you are all in a floating hotel
- It is easy to schedule additional land-based tourist activities before or after the liveaboard to maximize your vacation
- Usually for photographers it is easier on a liveaboard to charge batteries on the dive deck which means that we don’t need to remove your wet dive gear just to go to your room to get charged batteries.
Negatives of Landbased vs Liveaboard:
- Less dives typically 2 vs 4 in Indo (only 3 if a mixed group charter. To get 4 a day you must charter the entire boat. To get 5 a day you need to do a Caribbean charter.)
- Usually more gear handling to remove things to/from the boat
- Usually your room is a bit further away from the boat than a liveaboard or may involve a 'hotel to boat transfer' first
- Sometimes harder to find someone to eat meals with since people can more easily scatter
- Sometimes harder to meet people because people can more easily scatter and people tend to break into small groups once they connect making it harder for shy people or later arriving people to join in
- Less time to charge batteries as surface interval is spent traveling to the next destination without going to the resort OR back to resort to eat and then go out diving again. (So you need a 2nd set of fully charged batteries if you can't do 2 dives on one set of batteries/charges)
- Need to chg camera batteries and/or lights on the fly as there is usually no camera table on a day boat from the resort like there is on a liveaboard
- Can't reach the same area as a liveaboard aka fewer dive site options
Negatives of Liveaboards vs LandBased ops:
- COST. Liveaboards are always more costly as the economies of scale are limited to 16-20 people total on a boat.
- You must arrive a day to two sooner prior to departure if across the pond because if you 'miss the boat...you've missed the trip'. Usually in the Caribbean you can arrive on the day of departure but even that can be tricky.
- Close quarters. A boat is limited in size and you will be very cozy to your fellow divers whether at meal times or trying to find someplace where others are not. However this can also be an advantage so it depends on the diver.
- The rest.... Coming soon....
Why Meridian Adventure Dives may be better for you vs any other Raja landbased and/or a liveaboard?
- Less likelihood of seasickness if prone to it - MAD has specially designed boats that get you to over 288 dive destinations. Most people do not get seasick on day boats.
- Larger rooms/access to amenities vs being on a liveaboard aks floating hotel - MAD has room sizes that exceed most liveaboards and most land operators in the region. And while they are the MOST Western styled hotel around...they are a world class eco friendly and sustainable resort so room sizes are smaller than typical Caribbean sized landbased rooms. The room sizes are ____ x ____. However MAD thru smart design has maximized the space and amenities including a luxurious spa like shower & bathroom, creative desk and storage space thru the use of smart shelving, the use of bed runners to allow you to safely place your bags on the bed without damaging the beautiful white sheets, having MAD staff manage your dive gear including wetsuits to prevent the need to return to the room with them, the creation of a camera room with private camera cubicles to free up room space for charging cameras and lights along with storage space under the beds to accommodate bags and free dive gear rental to free up the need for bringing extra dive gear.
- Option for a more relaxing schedule of fewer dives a day (1-3) vs the standard 4 a day in Indo (5 a day in the Caribbean) - MAD can offer 2-4 boat dives a day with 2 in the am and 2 in the afternoon/evening. Our pkg offers 1-3 dives per day including a FREE Night Dive, FREE Day of arrival boat dive along with NUMEROUS activities and cultural experiences you won't find anywhere else. Our DISCOVER RAJA package will appeal to all age ranges and those who want to dive dive dive and those who want to just relax and be on vacation. (We accomplish this by enabling you to add extra dives as well as extra activities, extra amenities and/or cultural experiences)
- Option for more non-diving activities. Mad offers additional activities such as paddleboarding, snorkeling, eco activities such as beach clean ups, making 'trash bricks', learning how the resort is pushing the bar for eco friendly and sustainable green practices that will impact all of Raja, hiking tours, exploring tours, even local restaurant "crawls" etc.
- Option for more cultural exposure. MAD offers more cultural experiences than just about any other operator bar none. Our pkg has a number of these special experiences via the itinerary such as our unique "Homestay Program where you stay with a local Indonesian family as a house guest" to learning about sustainable pearl farming or you just make your own cultural excursions by going to town and exploring local food venues, shops, walking the island etc.
- Easier to seek and create a bit of 'me' time by having more places to roam where others are not. MAD offers a number of places you can sneak away and find quite and solace by yourself if you need a bit of 'me time'. The MAD resort is extremely well laid out so its easy to get to everything yet big enough to sneak away and enjoy the ocean to yourself or the pool etc.
- Easier to create purpose driven educational ops due to greater number of staff and local resources which are more limited on a boat MAD prides itself in building the first Western Style Eco Resort that offers a/c and electricity 24/7 but also practices state-of-art eco practices that rival many pure "eco resorts". What do we mean? They do NOT use anti fouling chemicals on the props to prevent the build up of barnicles on the props which breaks off as it ages into the water and poisons the fish and hurts the corals. Instead they pull the boats out of the water daily to prevent the need for harsh and poisonous antifouling chemicals. They have helped to rebuild and regrow the mangrows by the resort enabling more fish hatcheries and eliminating the dead smell of rotting ocean matter when an area does not get enough oxygenation due to the loss of mangroves. By composting fruit and vegetable matter from the resort MAD has created a unqiue way to minimize waste while creating small gardens which feed the employees and the resort. And so much more!
- Easier to take a day off and relax if the urge moves you MAD has lots of fun and relaxing things to do that all spell "vacation" if you desire to take a break from diving! And you won't feel as if you wasted 4 dives a day by being lazy or just wanting to relax!
- Easier to get to/from since if you are late you only miss a day and not the entire trip. MAD is very close to the ferry terminal with 2x daily ferries from Sarong to Waisai where MAD is located. If you do miss the group ferry you can easily take the afternoon one or the one the next day and will miss up to 1 day of activities vs the entire trip.
- Usually more food/beverage choices being landbased vs liveaboard. MAD does allow for more food and beverage choices than a typical liveaboard but perhaps not quite as many as the brilliant chefs on Dive Damai. I have NEVER seen any chefs anywhere in the world create more food masterpieces than those chefs with so little to work with.
Why Meridian may NOT be the best resort for you vs a liveaboard or vs other landbased operators:
- Less dives typically 2 vs 4 in Indo (only 3 if a mixed group charter. To get 4 a day you must charter the entire boat. To get 5 a day you need to do a Caribbean charter.) Our pkg with MAD will average 1-3 dives a day for a total of 19 dives during our 10 day trip. You can add extra dives but the boat will have minimums needed to go and of course this adds cost to the pkg as well. We will have full add on pricing available shortly for extras and the minimums needed to run an extra dive boat. (Typically an add on dive requires 10 divers/snorkelers to run)
- Landbased ops often have larger rooms than liveabaords but this particular resort is so eco oriented that the rooms are designed for optimum efficiency and purposefulness. They are smaller than many traditional Caribbean landbased rooms but larger than most Maldives or Raja landbased rooms. They fit two comfortbly
- Usually more gear handling to remove things to/from the boat. Let's face it, you will handle your gear more than on a liveaboard BUT MAD works hard to minimize that for you. At the end of diving they will remove and clean your dive gear and put it back on the boat the next day for you. This includes afternoon dives if you are diving 1-2 dives in the afternoon. They will rinse your wetsuits and leave them on the boat to dry. Since I like a 'dry' wetsuit the next day I will either bring a second one with me or I will hang to dry in AMPLE SPACE allocated in the gear drying racks in the sun MAD offers. And of course you'll want to take care of your own computers, cameras and personal items.
- Usually your room is a bit further away from the boat than a liveaboard or may involve a 'hotel to boat transfer' first - The rooms are surprisingly close to the boats but they are not a few steps away or 1 floor down like a liveaboard. As far as resorts go MAD Is average walking distance to the boats. You will cross over the newly replanted mangroves adding lovely scenery to the short walk.
- Sometimes harder to find someone to eat meals with since people can more easily scatter - In general this is true but SingleDivers.com has created a number of social events for people to get to know one another quickly so this should not be an issue at this resort nor at this event.
- Sometimes harder to meet people because people can more easily scatter and people tend to break into small groups once they connect making it harder for shy people or later arriving people to join in. - The compact nature of MAD's resort helps to facilitate people getting to know one another and with only one dining area its hard to not meet everyone eventually. The SingleDivers.com event will facilitate this quickly with many "Meets & Greets" and you'll enjoy not only meeting new friends but participating in all the fun activities planned.
- Less time to charge batteries as surface interval is spent traveling to the next destination without going to the resort OR back to resort to eat and then go out diving again. (So you need a 2nd set of fully charged batteries if you can't do 2 dives on one set of batteries/charges) - This is a definitive issue regardless of which land based resort HOWEVER MAD has recently built a camera room with private camera cubicles to allow you to easily and safely charge camera batteries there vs trying to do so in the room.
- Need to chg camera batteries and/or lights on the fly as there is usually no camera table on a day boat from the resort like there is on a liveaboard. - Also the case for MAD....there is no camera table on the boat however the resort does have a new camera room for photographers. BRING A SECOND SET OF BATTERIES FOR WHEN WE ARE NOT RETURNING TO THE RESORT. And YES the itinerary will let you know in advance which days those are.
Obviously only you can decide which trips) is right for you. SingleDivers.com is offering its first landbased trip to Raja in April of 2020 and offering another fab liveaboard option in Jan/Feb of 2021. So we hope to see you on one or both of the truly amazing TOP OF THE BUCKET LIST DESTINATIONS!!
We hope this overview helps you decide if a landbased experience is better for you and if Meridian Adventure DIves MAD is where you want to DISCOVER RAJA! SingleDivers.com has dove at MAD last year after our last Damai liveaboard and loved it. We are available to answer any questions you have about the resort and if its right for you! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for specific questions or feel free to reply to this topic so that others can benefit from your questions.