Wander Women Maldives:
A Dive + Spa Liveaboard
September 14-21, 2024
It’s time for that dream honeymoon… with yourself and a boat full of besties! Step aboard our privately chartered floating eco-yacht and join us for a week of unparalleled diving or snorkeling and indulgent spa treatments. Set against the backdrop of the Maldives — with a crew of built-in Wander Women — this trip is the epitome of luxury meets adventure, with a bit of something for everyone.
Picture yourself on the top deck with a fresh cocktail in hand, a stunning archipelago of islands as far as the eye can see, and a fresh stamp for the Maldives in your passport. Get ready to be wowed because we are bringing back our most luxurious and popular retreat ever, with even more Wander Women upgrades, programming and onboard events!
In 2022, we sailed ScubaSpa’s Central Route. (Missed the boat? Read about it here, here and here!) Wander Women made such a splash, we managed to secure the peak week of the year for spotting manta rays in the famed Hanifaru Bay along the Northern Route in 2024! ScubaSpa has exploded in popularity in recent years, and having experienced their hospitality first hand, we understand why. If you joined us in 2022 and are coming back for more, expect to experience a more wild, untouched Maldives, lagoons and sandbanks totally to ourselves, and premier access to the world’s top destination for manta ray encounters.
No matter your mermaid mode — scuba or snorkel — this experience blends the best of Maldives in one unforgettable journey. On Wander Women Maldives, your days will blissfully blur together underwater adventures, peaceful spa treatments, unique yoga classes, and one-of-a-kind experiences — think a Nautical Paint + Sip with resident artist Lauren of Green Blanky, and Underwater Photography and Underwater Posing workshops with your hosts Alex of Alex in Wanderland and Rayna of Ocean Rays Photography!
Beyond diving and spa indulgence, we’ll visit deserted sandbars, experience stand-up paddle boarding in crystal-clear waters, be spoiled with private sandbar BBQs and onboard movie nights, and stargaze from the top deck jacuzzi.
Spending an afternoon on an uninhabited white sand beach wouldn’t be complete without a professional photographer to capture it — so we’ll have Rayna onboard along the way to snap photos of you all week long. Need a new profile photo diving with turtles, or fingers crossed, a manta ray? We got you! We’ll be nabbing underwater shots too.
This retreat is designed for divers and non-divers alike, so grab your water-baby besties and lush life lady-loves because together, you’ll create memories to last a lifetime as you fully immerse yourselves in the natural beauty of the Maldives.
This floating retreat will be held from September 14-21, 2024. The cost, which includes nearly everything for the week — and builds in taxes and fees most liveaboard prices leave out — starts at $5,800 for a shared cabin.
Each guest will choose their preferred package type, with options listed below.
• Seven nights of accommodation on a luxurious yacht
• All meals — seven breakfasts, six lunches, and seven dinners, prepared by internationally qualified chefs
• Daily yoga classes and access to an onboard gym
• Up to eight spa treatments (depending on package chosen)
• Up to seventeen or so dives (depending on package chosen, and condition-based itinerary changes)
• Visits to secluded islands and sandbars
• Snorkeling, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding
• Excursions to search for whale sharks and manta rays (although sightings are not guaranteed, it is the largest seasonal migration on Earth!)
• Exclusive onboard Wander Women Workshops like PADI Project Aware Specialist with Alex and more
• Onboard wifi for multiple devices, up to 5GB of usage (per cabin, additional coverage available for purchase)
• Liveaboard taxes and service fees, typically charged separately, but covered by us
• A custom welcome bag
• Professional photos of the trip (including underwater shots!)
• Roundtrip airport transfers
• Donation to a Maldives charity, Save the Beach, that supports marine conservation efforts
What’s Not Included
• Flights to Malé
• Alcohol not included in the itinerary
• Nitrox or dive gear (available for rental) — please note that dive computers are required in the Maldives
• Coffee and tea after breakfast (free of charge during breakfast)
• Wifi over 5GB of usage (per cabin)
• Mandatory dive and travel insurance
• Tips for staff on board
• Scuba Enthusiast: This scuba package is for the diehard bubble blowers. You’ll skip the spa treatments for up to seventeen dives over the course of the week. (Spa treatments are available for purchase!)
• Scuba and Spa: Love both underwater adventures and indulgent topside experiences? Us too! Book this package for six dives and four spa treatments.
• Spa Seeker: This one is for those looking for a wellness week of total relaxation. You’ll get to enjoy eight spa treatments as well as guided snorkeling trips (gear included).
The below itinerary is a sample planned route — but as we want our trip to be unforgettable, we’ll constantly be in search of unique experiences. The exact itinerary will be confirmed one week prior to arrival and is subject to changes due to season, weather conditions and circumstances. And of course, expect a few Wander Women surprises thrown in!
Day 1: Welcome to the Maldives! You’re on island time now. If you’re coming from the Cultural Extension, you’ll be the first ones onboard! If not, you’ll be picked up at Malé airport and board the yacht where you can drop your bags and meet for a yin yoga massage class to work out your travel kinks. Later on, we’ll gather for a safety briefing as we set sail to Baa Atoll where we’ll spend our first two days anchored. To close out the day we’ll dine al fresco on the deck courtesy of our expert chefs. Nightlife in the Maldives? Oh yeah — attend a custom Maldives presentation by our Dive Director. The fun has just begun!
Day 2: Rise and shine on Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that facilitates sustainably led tourism and habitat protection for manta rays and whale sharks! Early bird divers might catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures on scuba before joining for breakfast and morning salutations. We’re bringing up the heat this morning with a vinyasa class before we cool off again in the sea! Guided by local rangers and drone assisted monitoring, we’ll cruise up to any nearby sightings and jump in for a snorkel expedition. We aren’t the only ones getting spoiled by spa treatments — the cleaning stations in this bay are the manta ray equivalent of our own onboard spa! When we’re done silently screaming into our snorkels, glide into the afternoon on a stand up paddleboard or spa bed. After sunset drinks, opt to stargaze or, now that you’ve slipped back into mermaid mode, attend an Underwater Posing Workshop with Alex. Later why not check out that rooftop jacuzzi — cheers to us!
Day 3: Get an early start with a sunrise dive, or take it easy and sleep in until brekkie (we won’t judge!). Today we have another chance to swim with our gentle giant friends or explore other sites unique to this bay, like underwater mountains covered in soft corals! Depending on your package, enjoy another dive in the afternoon or a day of pampering in the spa. Cheers to a great third day — we’ll toast to it with happy hour and a sip n’ stretch yoga class served on a sandbar, followed by a special creative evening with artist-in-residence Lauren of Green Blanky!
Day 4: Another day, another spectacular dive or stretching it out with a morning flow. This morning we’re on to Raa Atoll, renowned for its unique topographical and geographical features, multitude of tiny pinnacles and occasional visits from turtles and eagle rays! While the boat repositions, enjoy an Onboard Editing Workshop with Rayna, a wealth of information on how to level up your underwater snaps. After the morning dip and lunch, we’ll visit a deserted beach for some sun and frivolities into the afternoon, before visiting several more reefs for diving and snorkeling. Dinner this evening is one for the books — a moonlit BBQ with our toes in the sand. It’s the full moon, babe — and we’re doing a manifesting meditation back onboard under the stars!
Day 5: After a morning meditation and sunrise slow flow salutations on a secluded beach, we we’re splashing around at Noonu Atoll, famous for giant fishbowls, a huge spinner dolphin population and brilliant soft coral life. While the boat repositions, take advantage of time to lounge on the spa deck with a cup of tea, giggle in the hot tub with a glass of champagne, or join in on optional group activities… did someone say origami manta rays?! Next up, living out our deserted island dreams at yet another sandbar all to ourselves — yes, your Instagram feed awaits the footage — for frolicking. Tonight after dinner, we’ll meet up on the spa deck for a movie night under the stars.
Day 6: Today is for the adventurous with the chance to take part in some deep pinnacle diving at Orimas Thila, or get your adrenaline fix with some watersports — they have to drag Alex off the speedboat-pulled inflatables — at Dhifuraam island. Yoga today will be a sculpt class with Alex on the shaded deck. Our non-scuba set will have more indulgent spa treatments and time to enjoy the vistas of the Vaavu Atoll. In the afternoon, divers will complete a Project Aware clean up dive while the land-lubbers helm a beach clean up — a Wander Women tradition — on a deserted island (so once we leave, it will be empty of trash, too!) We’ll close out the day with a night dive and snorkeling at Maafaru wreck, where you’ll glide alongside stingrays and maybe even guitar sharks. In the evening, add a fresh new certification to your lineup by completing your PADI Project Aware Specialist with Alex and becoming a torch-bearer for oceans everywhere.
Day 7: This morning, enjoy your last two dives along a channel known as the Kuredu Express, where we hope for some pelagic sightings! Non-divers can enjoy snorkeling, spa treatments, and our daily yoga class — we’ll have a local instructor lead one one day partially in the local language, for fun! Enter or judge our friendly first ever Wander Women Undersea Art Show featuring your watercolor creations, underwater photos, or origami artworks! We’ll then gather for our farewell cocktail and a final dinner at the al fresco restaurant on the yacht and a themed send-off sea feté!
Day 8: Today we’ll say farewell to our beautiful home for the week. After a final breakfast, exchange of photos and contact info with all your new Wander Women besties for future get togethers.
Where We’ll Stay and Where We’ll Eat
This isn’t your average liveaboard dive vessel! We’ll be seeing the best of the Maldives from a luxury yacht, awarded as a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, complete with spacious cabin suites, the world’s largest onboard spa, a top deck jacuzzi, and much more. Rooms are spread along two decks and feature panoramic windows or port lights, and all rooms have air conditioning and en suite bathrooms with hot showers. Single, Superior Single, Superior Shared and Deluxe Single suites are available — read more about room types here!
When you’re not relaxing in your roomy cabin, you’ll be luxuriating and enjoying the yacht’s ample amenities. The nearly thousand square foot spa is the largest of its kind. The spa spans two decks, six treatment rooms, a secluded deck for open-air Thai massage or meditation and a spa lounge for relaxation. And of course, in typical Wander Women style, we’ll get our yoga on! Some days we’ll flow on the shaded deck, while some days we’ll hit a private beach for our asanas. The rest of the day, bathe in the tropical climate on the spacious sun-deck to melt away all your stress. And it wouldn’t be complete without an outdoor jacuzzi, which is the ideal spot from which to sip a glass of fizz while the sun sets on another day across the Indian Ocean.
All of your meals are included and will be prepared by internationally qualified chefs. We’ll dine on varied cuisine at buffet-style meals, complete with live cooking stations served in the spacious al fresco restaurant at the rear of the main deck. Vegetarians and vegans will be easily accommodated. For those looking to indulge further, wine and cocktails are available each meal for purchase (and between meals at the bar — let’s toast to you!). We were blown away by the work of the onboard chefs in the Maldives in 2022!
The Maldives boast world-class dive sites with rich biodiversity and in the north in particular, stunning untouched coral and bucket list underwater wildlife sightings.
While manta rays are found in Hanifaru Bay all year round, September is when their congregations are largest (up to 250!), which also draws in numerous whale sharks. Hanifaru Bay is a snorkel only experience, however the surrounding underwater playground offers multiple shallow manta cleaning stations that can be accessed by both diving and snorkeling. This time of year is also peak bioluminescence season, especially in Raa Atoll. Turtles, hammerheads, spinner dolphins, eagle rays and other reef sharks are all a possibility during this time as well, so keep your eyes peeled.
Prepare for temperatures around the pleasant low 80s (28°C), and the water will be balmy and inviting, ranging from high 70s to low 80s F (26-29°C)
Diving takes place off a luxury dive dhoni which carries our equipment, air compressors and nitrox. This dive dhoni is kitted out with everything you need for a seamless and comfortable dive day and has been awarded PADI 5 Star Dive Resort status! We’ll be diving with experienced, multilingual dive masters, instructors and boat crew throughout the week.
Diving from a liveaboard offers the opportunity to visit many different reefs and dive sites throughout the Maldives, so we’ll drop anchor at secluded dive spots off the beaten path. While the itinerary will be informed by weather conditions, our route through the North will take us to explore tropical locations off of the typical tourist grid in addition to the magnificent squadrons of manta rays in Hanifaru Bay!
Expect swim throughs, caves, overhangs, healthy coral reefs, a wreck dive, a night dive, and famous dive sites like Dhonfanu Thila and Dharavandhoo Thila — Maldivian underwater mountains covered in vibrant soft corals and rich macro life. Whether you’re a long time instructor or recently nabbed your certification, there will be plenty for you to see. Groups will be divided based on experience level.
For those interested in continuing education, this trip is a great opportunity to take their dive knowledge to the next level! ScubaSpa offers Discover Scuba Dive (for those non-certified and looking to try it out!), Open Water referral courses, Advanced Open Water, as well as the PADI Nitrox course. Contact us for more details on each!
The Environment + Our Impact
Given that the Maldives is one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems, our vessel and their operators have sustainability as a top priority. All of the waste is treated with a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant, and the boat has reduced plastic use by installing mineralized water plants, eliminating single-use plastic water bottles, and replacing plastic straws with reusable glass and aluminum ones.
We partner with several organizations for this retreat! The ScubaSpa team cooperates closely with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program to promote its community-focused conservation initiatives, and we partner with locally run and operated Save The Beach on our Pre-Retreat Extension to highlight their community initiatives — they are also the recipient of our charitable donation for this retreat.
Additionally, Alex will lead a PADI Aware program onboard, the organization’s signature conservation-focused speciality course.
Getting There and Away
Our floating home departs from Malé, where you will fly in and out of Velana International Airport (MLE), the main airport in the Maldives. This means you can skip the expensive inter-island flights normally required to explore these atolls! Airport transfers to the boat each way are included.
Contact us for additional questions about booking your travel!
Travel With Us
On this trip, you’ll be traveling with Alex Baackes as your host, yoga teacher, and ocean hype girl Rayna O’Nan as your photographer. Stay tuned; more hosts may be added!
Alexandra Baackes is the founder of Wander Women Retreats and Alex in Wanderland as well as a PADI Divemaster, an AmbassaDiver, and a Women Divers’ Hall of Fame Associate Member. She has worked in the dive industry as an underwater videographer, a writer for publications like Sport Diver and Scuba Diver magazines, and as the creator of Wander Women Retreats. She is also a RYT 200 Registered Yoga Teacher, an RYT 50 Aerial Yoga Teacher, a Buti Bands and Sculpt instructor, and a regular yoga practitioner for more than a decade — she can’t wait to practice with you.
Rayna is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, owner of Ocean Rays Photography and self-professed shark whisperer who has been working with sharks for nearly 10 years. Rayna has joined us in the Maldives, in Raja Ampat, in Bali, in Key Largo, in Fort Lauderdale, and in her home of West Palm Beach! After becoming a scuba instructor in the Florida Keys, she picked up an underwater camera and fell in love, allowing her to travel the world taking photos of underwater life to inspire marine conservation. Rayna spends her days guiding others through their own shark experiences, along with using her marine biology background to educate her guests on the importance of sharks in our marine ecosystems. She can’t wait to once again capture your best angle amongst the beauty of the Maldives, above and below the surface.
Extend Your Adventure — Coming Soon!
Malé Cultural Extension
This year, we’re offering not one but two opportunities to extend your trip to the Maldives! We’re bringing back our popular and unique pre-retreat Cultural Extension — with a new twist — for those who want to spend two days soaking up everything the nation’s capital Malé has to offer. Immerse yourself in the history, culture, and daily pulse of this fascinating island nation, and board the boat relaxed, with no fear of flight delays!
Over Water Bungalow Extension
We’re also adding on a post-retreat Over Water Bungalow Extension, for those who want to experience the Maldives in a different luxury form before their departure from this dreamy destination. Don’t like to sip cocktails in an infinity pool alone? Wander Women’s got ya! We’ll luxuriate together for two final days of bliss!
This retreat has limited availability of some specific accommodation styles, so we recommend booking soon to avoid missing out on your first choice! Please note, the price is the same for each activity package, so once you book your preferred room style we’ll reach out for your choice in package. Your deposit will be the first of six total payments for this trip, spread into convenient monthly installments.
Please note that there is a minimum booking requirement, so please refrain from booking air travel until the guaranteed departure quota has been met. You will be notified when this is a guaranteed departure.
Remember, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all questions or concerns over whether this luxury Maldives experience is right for you. We’d love to chat.
So does non-refundable really mean non-refundable?
Yes, all payments are non-refundable and all remaining invoices are due 120 days before departure. If the trip must be postponed or canceled due to events beyond our control, you will be offered the choice between a full refund and applying your payments to a future trip.
The reason payments are non-refundable is that we start incurring costs from the moment someone presses “book” — from credit card fees to high hourly wages for our team who correspond with guests, manage trip inventory and our e-commerce platform, analyze forms to create room assignments, coordinate with our local vendors, and beyond.
There’s nothing we want more than for our guests to take and enjoy the travel they have worked hard and paid for. Thank you so much for your understanding and respect of our need to enforce this policy strictly. We want to be here to travel with you for years to come!
Will I need travel and dive insurance?
Yes, it is mandatory for all Wander Women Retreat guests to have personal travel insurance for the duration of the trip. Our affiliate, World Nomads offers coverage at affordable rates. Those of you choosing the Scuba Package or Scuba + Spa Package must also have scuba diving insurance, either through a travel insurance provider such as World Nomads, or an industry specific membership insurance such as Divers Alert Network (DAN). We recommend you book your travel insurance as soon as you make your trip deposit to protect your investment.
What dive certification do I need?
Advanced Open Water certification is recommended, but those with Open Water certification will also be able enjoy most of the dives. Open Water divers will have to skip the night dive and deep dives (and on some dive sites they will stay shallower). If you’re interested in continuing education, this is a great time to do it! All courses, including Open Water certification for beginners, will be available during the trip. Contact us for more info.
What will this trip be like for non-divers?
We chose this boat specifically for its incredible amenities that appeal to both divers and non-divers! Each guest will choose between three packages, with one being geared towards non-divers. The spa package includes eight spa treatments as well as guided snorkeling trips. The spa menu consists of more than 20 treatment options including Balinese, Thai, Filipino ‘Hilot’, Ayurvedic, Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi, Warm Bamboo, Lava Shell and Hot Stone therapies. Additionally, we have some activities planned for everyone, diver and non-diver alike, including beach and sandbar visits as well as other water sports. And of course, you’ll have full range of the yacht’s amenities, where you can take in all the views of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean! We couldn’t have dreamed up a more relaxing trip if we tried.
Is there a price difference for non-divers or divers?
No. Non-divers will choose the spa package, where they’ll be spoiled with eight spa treatments, guided snorkeling, and all the other non-dive activities listed. Our diehard mermaids can choose the scuba package, where they can enjoy every dive offered in the itinerary. And, for those of us who like a little of everything, you can choose the scuba + spa package, with six dives and four spa treatments. Divers can purchase spa treatments separately and spa-goers can add on dives, too! Once you book your room type, we’ll reach out with a welcome email to lock in your choice of package.
How safe is this boat?
The safety of our guests is of utmost importance! This yacht has high safety standards, including regular fire drills, multiple exit points, fire hoses and fire extinguishers, EFR trained staff, a defibrillator, and an emergency evacuation boat. Contact us if you have more questions.
Do I need to be good at yoga?
Absolutely not. (And frankly, we don’t believe in the idea of being “good” at yoga!) We have a range of yogis from brand-new beginners to talented instructors join us on our trips. You’ll get the opportunity to sample a wide range of yoga styles, and you can opt in or out of as many classes as you wish. Some guests attend none at all!
How much money will I need to bring?
There are a range of fabulous cherry-on-top services available on board for that extra vacay vibe. Everything including additional spa treatments, dive courses, dive rental equipment, upgraded WiFi packages, laundry service and an extensive bar and smoothie menu! A full menu of services and pricing will be provided upon booking, however if you are considering booking a dive course, or unsure which package to choose — please reach out to us now for more information! For other onboard services, here’s the general idea.
For alcohol not included in the itinerary, expect to pay around $6-15 per drink, depending on your preference for beer, wine, or cocktails. For non-alcoholic drinks, (like coffee and tea, fresh coconut juice, zero proof cocktails, or sodas) prices range from $5-10 per drink.
While you’ll be fed three delicious meals per day by internationally qualified chefs, everyone has a snack hankering here and there! Snacks available outside of mealtime — including delicious fresh fruit smoothies ($10).
Laundry service starts from $10 per kg, and top-up WiFi packages start from $10 per 1G.
For tips to the local boat crew, we recommend between 5-15% of your room rate, or whatever you feel comfortable with.
Please note, all prices are subject to a 10% service charge and 16% GST tax. The boat accepts cash payments in USD as well as Visa and MasterCard credit cards (however card payments will incur a 4% surcharge).
What’s the wifi situation like?
We all love some time to unplug, but we understand checking in with family or work is important, too. Each cabin will have 5GB of data included in their package, and additional data can be purchased, ranging from $10 for 1 GB, $40 for 5 GB, or $100 for unlimited data. All prices are subject to a 10% service charge and 16% GST tax.
While it might not be exactly as speedy as home, 4G speed data (up to 15MB/S) isn’t bad for floating in the Indian Ocean. The yacht is covered with hot spots, meaning you can log in on up to four appliances at once. The range depends on proximity of broadcasting transmitters located on local islands. Good reception is available most of the time.
Is this trip women only?
This one’s for the girls! (Okay, all our trips are but…) While we considered making this a mixed-gendered liveaboard, we polled our customers who told us they love taking time to dive with just women in this male-dominated industry. We are so proud of the supportive, empowering vibe of our dive retreats and know that you’ll love them, too!
I have a unique rooming request, how can you help me?
Email us! If you want to share a bed in a double room, want a triple with two of your besties, want to be on the waitlist for a sold out room type, whatever — we’ll do our best to make it happen via email@example.com.
Is there an age requirement?
You must be 18 years old or older.
Is there a waiting list?
There will be a waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis in case spaces open up. If the retreat is full and you’re still interested, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list.
I still have questions, or cute photos of my dog. Can I contact you?
Um, yes please! Our email is email@example.com.