The M/V Yemayá is an 115 foot (35 meter) marine vessel that transports divers to some of the top diving destinations in the Pacific. This diving liveaboard is owned by the company Coiba Dive Expeditions and is used to run its diving trips to Malpelo, Cocos Islands and Coiba National Park.
All of these UNESCO World Heritage sites are renowned for their bio-diversity and immense natural beauty.
Malpelo and Cocos islands lie hundreds of miles off shore and are only accessible to divers by liveaboard operations. They are completely pelagic/ oceanic environments and are some of the top diving destinations in the world to observe sharks and other big ocean creatures.
We had the opportunity to go on two scuba diving expeditions to Malpelo and one to Coiba National Park with Coiba Dive Expeditions. We were at sea aboard the Yemayá for 28 days and would like to share our experience with you.
Life aboard the Yemaya is centered around three activities, diving, eating and sleeping. Here’s what a normal days schedule looks like.
6:30 AM – 7:30 AM Light breakfast is served
7:45 AM Dive Briefing – 8:00 AM First dive of the day
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Full breakfast is served
10:45 AM Dive Briefing – 11:00 AM Second dive of the day
12:30 PM Lunch is served
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Relax – Nap time
2:45 PM Dive Briefing 3:00 PM Last dive of the day
3:30 – 6:30 PM Snacks and drinks
7:00 PM Dinner is served
As you can see the day is relaxed and allows for a long surface interval in the afternoon. On trips to Coiba there are two scheduled night dives, other than these 3 dives a day is the norm.
The dive deck is located at the stern of boat. It is large and well organized so all the divers have a space for their equipment. It has 16 tank stations and a metal bin for storing accessories. Underwater photographers will appreciate the large camera station with lots of plugs for recharging batteries and compressed air to dry housings. After your dive you can take a shower and wash your gear with one of the 4 hoses at the back of the boat, then dry off and warm up with the fresh towels and hot chocolate that are waiting for you on the dive deck.
FOOD & DRINK
The food served on the Yemayá is a variety of local Panamanian and European cuisines. Meals are served buffet style and there is always plenty more if you have room for seconds. From lobster, to fine cuts of steak to paella, the food on the Yemayá will keep you fueled for diving. Desserts were also very good, the banana milk shake and tiramisu were some of our favorites.
The bartender prepares healthy fresh squeezed juices from local fruits such as pineapple, passionfruit, and watermelon. There is always a cooler stocked with soft drinks.
There are at least 8 crew members onboard every trip. The crew on the Yemayá are very friendly and always look for ways to make you feel comfortable.
The Yemayá has 2 master cabins, 2 private bath cabins and 4 shared bath cabins. The master cabins are located on the upper deck and have two full sized beds. They are spacious and provide you with privacy. The cabins on the lower deck have two single beds.
All the cabins have a hot and cold water showers, drawers and small closet with hangers, 110V sockets, reading lights and large mirror. The windows in the cabins are large and wide not just port holes.
The cabins and bathrooms are cleaned every morning while we are out diving and linens are changed half way through the trip.
The size of the upper deck of the boat is truly unique compared to other liveaboard boats, it is 28 meters which gives it a great outdoor living area. At the aft there is a large sun deck with lounge chairs, great for warming up after dives and enjoying some sun.
The mid section is covered dining area with two long tables and big cushion tops running along both sides. Here is where all meals are served and is place people tend to spend most of their time while not in the water.
The front of the upper deck has a bar area where you can help yourself to soft drinks, water, freshly squeezed juices and tea all day long. You can also order beer, wine and spirits at an extra charge.
At the bow of the boat you will find a large cushion and chairs, it’s a great place to enjoy the view and have some quiet time.
The Yemayá tows two custom made 25 foot skiffs powered by twin 115HP Suzuki four-stroke outboards. All the diving is done from these boats. They are comfortable and easy to get into. Each has a canopy that helps to protect you from the sun or rain in between dives. Each skiff is equipped with emergency oxygen, marine radio and a first aid kit.
Your equipment remains on the skiffs for the whole trip so there is no shuffling around or last minute surprises.
WHAT WE LIKED THE MOST
+ Access to incredible diving locations such as Malpelo Island.
+ Friendly & helpful crew
+ Outdoor living: The top deck of the boat is large and all of the meals were served there, unlike some other liveaboards where you eat inside the boat. It is nice to enjoy the warm tropical weather and breeze.
+ Delicious food, the chef insures you won’t go hungry.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE THAT MUCH
– The cabins don’t have an independent air conditioning system so some people were freezing while others were too hot. We recommend to bring socks in case you get a chilly cabin.
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I am signed up with Coiba Dive Expeditions for a 10 day. Last thing to do is pay the operator. Seems odd though that they ONLY accept a wire transfer to a German account. No credit cards, 100% in advance, etc.
After hearing of all the web fraud and sophisticated scam operations I was a bit hesitant to wire such a sum to a complete stranger and foreign account.
Anyone could put up a beautiful website and peripherals and phony testimonials, etc and generate a ton of money then disappear.
But looking on Facebook, and reading blogs and travel agent sites as well as discovering the boat owner is a German restored confidence in the validity.
Leap of faith and trust …..
Strange times we live in to have to be so doubtful and precautions.
Good point, Ed.
I can tell you that you will be fine. They are the most professional liveaboard operating in Malpelo.
By the way, did you know you could save up to 250 USD if booking through us? Here is the link with the info: https://www.theadventurejunkies.com/malpelo-liveaboard-trips-scuba-diving-with-hammerheads-in-colombia/