Diving Squad Rating:
My first time exploring the Maldives was with the Iruvai liveaboard and I’m so happy that I chose them!
Iruvai, meaning “sunny season”, is a beautiful wooden boat constructed by local craftsmen in 2008. The wooden interior gives it an extremely vintage and classic feel.
Despite this, guests have all the modern comforts they’ll need – including 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 memorable and 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, which means “sunny season” in Dhivehi, is a beautiful wooden liveaboard that was built in 2008 by Maldivian craftsmen.
It 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!
Measuring 30 meters /100 ft long, it’s divided into three 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 an ac system.
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 i’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 here.
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 featuring a classic design, the large dining room has a flat screen television ideal for illustrating 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 the Maldivian dive guides from Iruvai: 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 photographs 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 (fishing or mode for transportation of people and goods). 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.
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.
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!