Dhonkamana’s Palace – Inexpensive liveaboard in the Maldives

Discover the Maldives inexpensively by liveaboard: dive with whale sharks, meet manta rays and sleep in traditional four-poster beds.
Travel period
All year round
Starting at
9 days from €1525,- p.p

Diving in the Maldives

Dreaming of a wonderful liveaboard diving vacation in the Maldives? Then board the Princess Dhonkamana for a diving trip exploring the popular central route. Instead of being confined to one island, you get the chance to discover new dive sites daily.

During the “classic” itinerary, with a little luck you will dive with friendly whale sharks, dozens of manta ra ys and colorful reef fish. The Maldives are also known for the many sharks that swim around, such as nurse sharks and reef sharks.

The liveaboard you’ll be staying on, the Princess Dhonkamana, is a 31-meter Maldivian wooden yacht built in 2008. It offers nine comfortable cabins with four-poster beds, several relaxation areas, as well as three sun decks. Guests are spoiled culinary with a mix of Italian cuisine and local dishes.

Best travel time: Whale sharks are spotted here throughout the year. As well as the mantas. Still, we recommend going to the Maldives between October and May. You then have the best chance of nice weather and little wind.

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Average Temperatures

Wetsuit advice for the Maldives

All year round you can dive here with a 3mm.

What will you experience on this trip?

View itinerary here

Day 1 & 2 | Flight to the Maldives

Today you will depart from Amsterdam, Düsseldorf or another major European city for the Maldives. Your trip starts with an overnight flight to Malé, the capital of the Maldives.

Often, flying from Düsseldorf is the most economical option. Together with you, we will see which airports are most convenient for you to fly from.

On day 2, you arrive in Malé. At 11 a.m. there will be a group transfer from the airport to the Liveaboard. If you arrive after that time then a private transfer will be arranged, however, you will miss the check-dive. After checking in, safety procedures will be explained on the boat and in the afternoon you will do a dive. Afterwards, it is relaxing and enjoying the delicious food and drinks on board.

Day 3 - Diving around South Male & Kandooma Thila

Over the next few days, you will make 3 dives a day. In between, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served. In addition, you will also stop at one or more (uninhabited) islands as an excursion.

Today you will sail from Malé to the South Male Atoll & Kandooma. The South Male Atoll is known for its current-fed channels. South Malé’s underwater landscape, famous for its steep walls, ledges and small caves, is rich in reef fish, as well as plenty of macro life and various manta ray cleaning stations.

Kandooma Thila, often known as Cocoa Thila, is one of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives. It is in a wide passage guarded by gray reef sharks, and chances are you will also encounter scholls of eagle rays, sea turtles and colorful reef fish that cover the entire reef here. Guraidhoo Corner is another wonderful location. This large marine protected area is home to a huge concentration of reef life, including sharks, schools of trevallies, rays and sea turtles.

Day 4 - Miyara Kandu & Felidu

We sail on to the Felidu Atoll where, among other things, we will dive at the Miyaru Kandu Channel, which translates to “Shark Channel,” and it certainly lives up to its name. A huge variety of marine life can be seen here, including tuna, large schools of gray reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, tuna and Napoleon wrasse, as well as many colorful reef fish.

Devana Kandu is one of the other channels where people like to dive. The channel is divided in the middle by a reef 250m long. With an incoming current, divers can do some fantastic drift diving here. On the outer reef, there are caves and overhangs that drop vertically from 30m to the depths. Gray reef sharks, eagle rays and pelagic species are seen around the entrance to both passages. Many reef fish have colonized these rocks, and it is not uncommon to see blue-face angelfish, valentine pufferfish and reef lizardfish. As divers drift dive the mile-long channel, the northern and southern passages merge along the way.

Day 5 & 6 - Diving at South & North Ari Atoll

South Ari is known for its stunning underwater topography and spectacular marine life. Reefs affected by climate change are recovering and the visibility of iconic species remains reliable. At the South Ari Marine Protected Area, if you’re lucky, you’ll encounter a whale shark. Manta rays are also spotted at Madivaru, better known as Manta Point, especially during the northeast monsoon. In central Ari are classic thilas like Kudarah Thila, a natural wonder filled with marine life and colorful corals. Fish Head, a top diving spot worldwide, is known for its rich diversity of fish species and is home to sharks. The most common species in this area are scorpion fishs, barracudas, moray eels, and blue-striped snappers. Also on display are numerous black corals, sea fans and anemones.

Day 7 - Diving at the Rasdoo Atoll

From shallow lagoons and gentle reefs for beginners to challenging, channels and dramatic landscapes for the advanced. With an unusually large selection of extraordinary marine life, Rasdhoo Atoll offers the complete diving experience. Rasdhoo Madivaru, a horseshoe-shaped edge, is patrolled by gray reef sharks, whitetip sharks and schools of eagle rays. Looking over the edge into the depths, you can see large sea fans and black coral hanging from the wall, while thousands of anthias flutter around you. Back in the shallows, you are greeted by schools of reef fish such as oriental wrasse, fusiliers, sea barbs, snappers and many others. Add to that the occasional spotted eagle ray or a school of large barracuda and you have all the ingredients for a near-perfect Maldivian diving experience.

Day 8 - Diving on the North Malé Atoll

Today is the last day of diving, you will make one more dive The time at the North Malé Atoll. Chances are you’re going to Fish Tank. Fish Tank is known as one of the most fun and chaotic dive sites in the world! With more than 100 local rays as welcoming and friendly as a welcoming committee from a small village, this Roggenstad offers divers the one-of-a-kind experience of getting very close to rays. Swim, explore, enjoy and take some selfies with the local rays!

Day 9 & 10 - Return home

The beautiful diving trip in the Maldives is over. Don’t you want to go home yet? Then be sure to check out the options for extending your stay at a resort. Or maybe you’ll still go south to the tiger sharks

Are you flying early in the morning? Then you probably land in Europe on day 9 as well. Are you flying late afternoon/evening today? Then you may be home a day later. In that case, we can also definitely look at a day hotel, so you won’t be waiting too long at the airport. 

The liveaboard

The boat & cabins

M/Y Princess Dhonkamana

The Princess Dhonkamana, features advanced technology such as a desalination system and quiet generators. The yacht has nine comfortable cabins, all equipped with four-poster beds, air conditioning and private bathrooms.

Relaxation on board is guaranteed with facilities including a lounge, bar, covered dining area and three sun decks. Fishing enthusiasts will find fishing gear to try out local techniques.

The culinary highlight on board is the cuisine. Daily, two chefs prepare a mix of Italian and local dishes ranging from seafood to risotto and Asian rice specialties, complemented by fresh vegetables, fruits and desserts. A tasty meal awaits after each dive.

Travel costs

What is included

This travel package is €1525 per person based on two people in one cabin. The trip can be extended as desired. A number of things are included by default in this travel package.

Prices are subject to price changes, increases or changing exchange rates. Flights are always based on the cheapest possible booking class.

Want to know more about the possibilities? Get in touch with us!

Included in this trip, from € 1525 p.p.

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Frequently asked questions about this diving vacation

Diving general

Boat dives on the reef. Often with sharks, manta rays and other big stuff. You will also make frequent dives on a wreck and many drift dives.

At your doorstep, as the liveaboard goes to all the dive sites. Then you will go to the dive site in the smaller Dhoni. This is often less than a 5-minute boat ride away.

Day 3 to 7 you will make 3 dives per day. Day 2 & 8 you will make 1 dive.

Yes for sure, including Manta rays! This is usually organized at South Ari Atoll.

Yes, among others a Nitrox course for €200. p.p.

Dive insurance is mandatory for anyone wishing to dive in the Maldives.

Diving equipment

Both possible, through adapters.

Yes, but these must be requested in advance. There is even one 18L tank!

Diving equipment cost, excl. computer, €200 per week. Please indicate this directly when booking.

Other activities & excursions

On some dive sites you can also snorkel very nicely, other dive sites are too deep. If you want to rent snorkelequipment, it is best to indicate this in advance.

Non-divers are welcome aboard the Princess. Besides snorkeling, they can visit (uninhabited) islands or just relax on board.


Yes, cost approx. €15,-

Yes, or for an additional cost you can reserve the entire cabin. Ask us about the possibilities.

The dives are from a dhoni. This is a fairly spacious boat, on which you are more comfortable than, say, a zodiac. This dhoni drops you on top of the dive sites.

Related Maldives Liveaboards

Read all about our full range of liveaboards to the Maldives on our Complete Travel Guide: Maldives Liveaboards

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