Laura's Favourite Maldives Liveaboard: Iruvai

In January 2023, Diving Squad Ranger & Senior Writer Laura Dellauri embarked on a diving trip around the Central Maldives with the Iruvai. Here’s her report:

“Iruvai, meaning “sunny season”, is a beautiful wooden boat constructed by local craftsmen in 2008. The wooden interior gives it a vintage, classic sort of feel.

Despite this, guests have all the modern comforts they’ll need – aircon, delicious food, spacious cabins with comfortable beds, a huge solarium with a hot tub and an indoor saloon with a massive flat-screen TV!

The crew are extremely friendly and helpful; they have a huge smile every day and the dive guides really excelled at keeping dives fun and safe. 

I explored the Central Region of the Maldives with Iruvai in January 2023 – we saw manta rays, eagle rays, stingrays, grey reef sharks, nurse sharks, a tiger shark (!) as well as turtles and all manner of fish life from big pelagics like tuna and jacks to countless colourful reef fish. 

It was an incredibly exciting trip – so much so that I’ve already booked to go back to the Maldives later this year and I’ve chosen to do it with Iruvai again”!

Iruvai liveaboard
Two grey reef sharks against a coral backdrop in the Maldives during a liveaboard trip with Iruvai.

“Iruvai was designed to provide an awesome Maldives diving experience and that’s exactly what it delivered when I toured round the central Maldives with them in early 2023!

My aim of diving the Maldives had been to dive with Mantas, my dream since I first started diving in 2011! Well guess what – we saw loads of mantas! It was a mesmerising experience, they are such graceful and charismatic creatures.

In addition to this we also saw many grey reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, nurse sharks…a tiger shark (!), turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, napoleon wrasse, tuna, jackfish and heaps of reef life. 

I saw a greater variety of marine life in just one weeks diving the central region of the Maldives than I have in collective months of diving elsewhere. 

Measuring 30 meters /100 ft long, Iruvai is divided into 3 decks with indoor and outdoor dining areas, a lounge, bar, and solarium with sun loungers, hammocks and a hot tub. 

Housing a total of 10 double cabins, Iruvai accommodate up to 20 guests. 

There’s 4 cabins on the lower deck, 3 on the upper deck and a master suite with double bed, bathtub and two sinks in the bathroom. All cabins have ensuite bathrooms with hot and cold water as well as air conditioning.

I stayed in one of the lower deck cabins. It was incredibly spacious with a wardrobe and a store cupboard. There were two beds – double and single. I tried them both and each was super comfortable!

Due to the fact it’s made from wood, when you enter Iruvai you’re greeted by a warm and special environment. It looks extremely vintage and reminds me of the kind of marine adventures Jacques Cousteau used to embark on.

The indoor saloon is equipped with ac units, cosy sofas and tables as well a library. There’s a bar to order cocktails, liqueur, beer or wine… a perfect way to round off a long day’s diving! Mineral water is available 24 hours a day as well as tea bags, coffee, milk, salt crackers and cookies.

The cuisine on Iruvai is Occidental and Asiatic. Every day you can taste ‘Mas Huni’, the typical Maldivian breakfast composed of tuna, onion, coconut, and chili with ‘Roshi’, an unleavened flatbread. It was so delicious! 

Every day, the chef prepares different dishes including vegetables, meat or fish and rice or potatoes. Despite the fact that Maldivian cuisine usually has a mild spiciness, chef adapts cuisine for European guests who are not used to such spicy food. However, if you do like spicy food, just ask them to add more chilli and they happily oblige! 

Rest areas are located throughout the three decks. On the lower deck, there’s tables and chairs to kick back in and enjoy a coffee with sea views. 

On the middle deck, two tables with sofas are in prow and poop, ideal for playing card games between dives or taking a nap. On the upper deck, you’ll find the solarium with sun loungers, hammocks and hot tub! Kickass views await… 

Moreover, the upper deck was not only used during the day for sunbathing; it was also used on the last night when disco lights were placed and dance music was blasted; this was awesome fun! 

Despite Iruvai’s classic design, the large dining room has a flat screen TV ideal for pre-dive briefings.

Indeed, a cool fact is that all diving maps used for. briefings to explain dive sites have been designed by hand by one of Iruvai’s Maldivian dive guides: Ahmed (@ahme.alaa.mohmed). He is a true artist!

The indoor saloon is also a perfect place to chat between dives as well as for taking a look at videos or photos from dives. 

Like most Maldivies liveaboards, Iruvai does not have a dive deck. Instead there’s a Dhoni boat to transport guests to dive sites. 

Dhonis are traditional sailing vessels with a wide range of functions. In diving safaris, they’re really useful to get to dive sites. 

The Dhoni of the Iruvai was easily large enough for divers to prepare diving equipment and wander about and also featured two freshwater showers. Nitrox is available onboard for certified divers!

Iruvai’s crew were an extremely nice and helpful bunch, every day they always had a big smile. I’d like to thank them and also the dive guides for making this liveaboard an unforgettable experience. 

It was an incredible experience and I’m so glad I chose Iruvai. So much so that I’ve already booked another trip with them for later this year”.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable yet high quality liveaboard that offers excellent scuba diving itineraries around the Central Maldives, consider Laura’s all time favourite option: Iruvai!

Laura diving the Maldives with manta ray behind her.
Laura and other guests in the hot tub of the Iruvai Maldives liveaboard.
Indoor saloon of Iruvai liveaboard.
Side view of Iruvai liveaboard in the Maldives.
Bow of Iruvai Liveaboard with ocean in front of it.
Turtle underwater in the Maldives during liveaboard trip.
Clownfish against coral and red sea anemone in the Maldives.

Written by:

Laura

Laura

Diving Squad Ranger & Senior Writer. Marine Biologist. Scuba Diving Instructor. All-Round Badass.