Alia is a true pioneer of the sea and roams the north east African coastline, providing luxury liveaboard diving safaris in Djibouti, as well as in the Red Sea of Egypt. Many divers have enjoyed the reefs and wrecks of Egypt, and a few adventure seekers have explored the less well-known shark-rich waters of Sudan, but very few would be even able to locate Djibouti on a map, let alone have dived there! However, the remote Seven Brothers Archipelago has some pristine coral reefs with big schools of fish, and the gulfs of Gubet and Tadjoura are among the best places in the world for diving with whale sharks.
Launched in 2021, Alia is Dune's flagship liveaboard and is a huge and modern 44 x 9.5m steel hulled high class motor yacht that can comfortably accommodate up to 26 divers. The quality of accommodation onboard is exceptional, with all guest cabins being located on the main and upper decks, and all having large seaview windows, as well as private bathrooms. Each bathroom uses biodegradable hygiene products and toiletries, in-line with the yacht's sustainability strategy. Some of the cabins have adjoining doors, making them family-friendly.
Unusually the lower deck is where you will find the restaurant. There is a head chef, as well as a pastry chef who will treat you to homemade delicacies at every meal. Lunches are buffet spreads, and dinners have table service. Vegetables and proteins are fresh and supplied locally every week. There are also 2 bars onboard, one of which is on the upper deck in the open-air area with sofas where you can enjoy your favourite drinks at sunset.
Guests can relax in the upper deck lounge that features a flat screen (where guests are welcome to connect a USB to show photos or watch a movie), a sound system, and wide and comfortable sofas. Alternatively they can use the sun deck - the perfect spot to relax on wide sofas to lay in the sun or enjoy the sea breeze in the sunlight or shade. Overall there are 14 crew members to attend to guest needs.
There are 2 motorised 8-diver dinghies for onboard Alia that are used to shuttle divers to the sites. The dive deck is especially wide and spacious, with plenty of space to gear up, shelves for personal gear, and bathrobes for chilly dive endings, and the dive platform has 2 ladders for easy egress. Enriched air nitrox is provided free of charge by a membrane system. Dune is a very experienced international company that operates liveaboards in 4 countries. They have both European and local guides who are passionate about diving, well trained, and know the different regions very well. They can choose the most appropriate sites for diver experience level and wishes, while creating a fun and friendly atmosphere onboard.
On the final day of the trip, guests have the option to make a full day 4WD excursion to see some of Djibouti's natural highlights before they fly during the evening. You can enjoy the incredible landscapes of the salt lake of Assal, visit natural hot springs, and the Ardoukoba volcano.
Notes: Age limit: junior divers are welcome onboard all expeditions provided they have the required dive experience. Childcare services are not provided and parents must be responsible for their minors, so these safaris are not recommend for non-diving young children.
Dive experience: A minimum of 50 dives and CMAS 2* or Advanced Open Water diver.are required.
Cruise price per person includes: Cabin accommodation with air-conditioning, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, water, soft drinks, hot drinks, return transfers from local airport, dives (as detailed in the trips above), nitrox fills for certified enriched air divers, 2 experienced English-speaking divemasters, tanks, belt and weights, all taxes.
Cruise price per person excludes (mandatory, unless customer provides own): Scuba equipment (US$ 129 per week), SMB, dive computer (US$ 54 per week), diving insurance. Apart from insurance, all the listed items need to be paid in advance (cash - DJF/USD, or credit/debit card).
Optional extras: Alcoholic drinks (wine, beer, liquor), espresso, 14 litre tank (US$ 43 per week), torch (US$ 32 per week). Apart from drinks, all the listed items need to be paid in advance.
How to get there: Alia's Djibouti liveaboard trips normally use the fishing port in the city of Djibouti. All tourist visas must be obtained online before the cruise. The yacht will provide a letter of invitation. Once you arrive at Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport (code JIB), a boat representative holding a 'Dune' signboard will greet you outside the arrivals hall. Major airlines that fly to Djibouti include Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air Djibouti, Air France, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Fly Dubai and Kenya Airways.
Transfers are provided from the airport and take 20 minutes. Boarding starts at 5 pm, so if you arrive at or after 4 pm, you will be taken directly to Alia. If you arrive before, you will first be transferred to the nearby Beach House (a restaurant/hotel) to wait for the boat's preparation and then on to the yacht at 5 pm. The boat leaves port on the following morning.
The last dive of the trip will be about 10 am on the penultimate day before the boat returns to port after lunch. Please wait at least 18 hours before flying after diving. Guests disembark at 8 am on the final day.
Diving Environment: Djibouti is located close to the Horn of Africa, in the Gulf of Aden and at the entrance to the Red Sea. The best known region is the Seven Brothers archipelago and there are relatively untouched soft and hard coral reefs, amazing drop offs and ship wrecks. You will have the opportunity to see large schools of fish, dolphins and manta rays. But the region is best known for its abundant whale sharks. Although they can be seen throughout the year, whale shark encounters are especially common from mid-October to February.
Over 200 species of coral are found in Djibouti, at the mouth of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, making it an extremely diverse ecosystem. Currents coming in from the Indian Ocean attract large marine animals such as the whale sharks, pilot whales, beaked whales, grey and nurse sharks, manta rays and dolphins. It’s also very common to see large schools of stingrays, barracudas and groupers.
All dives are done from the 2 motorised tenders. The visibility in Djibouti is variable from 15-100 ft (5-30m). The water temperature varies from 78-80°F, 25-26°C from December to March. A 3 or 5 mm wetsuit is recommended.
Non-diver rate: US$ 54 discount.
Single supplement (if you do not want to share accommodation): This is optional - single travellers may choose to share a cabin, or pay a supplement of 75% of the published price for their own cabin.
Dive clubs and group discounts: Pay for 10 guests and 1 extra person can join the cruise free of charge (total 11+ guests).
Whole boat charter rate (per night): Pay for 23 guests and 3 additional persons can join free of charge (total 26 guests).
There are 14 cabins onboard Alia (13 of which are used by guests on each trip), each with its own private bathroom: Every cabin has 2 large single beds of 1.4 x 2m, so each can be used as a twin bed or double bed occupancy. On the main deck there are 10 standard cabins (15 sqm), several of which can be used as adjoining family suites. On the upper deck there are 4 cabins - 2 x 18 sqm panoramic seaview cabins, and 2 x 14 sqm Superior cabins. The upper deck cabins have more privacy and, of course, you can open your cabin door and enjoy the sea breeze any time of day.
All the cabins have:
Individual control air-conditioning
Private bathroom with hot water shower and hand basin