Liveaboard diving is a great way to experience some of the world’s best dive destinations, but it can be tricky choosing where to go. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for all dive experience levels and preferences. From easy shark and reef diving through to remote and challenging dive destinations, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Liveaboards for New Divers
Whilst it can be daunting considering a liveaboard as a new diver, there are many destinations that are ideal for novice divers. Joining a liveaboard as a new diver is a great way to gain confidence, build up your dive skills, and experience world-class dive destinations.
Turks and Caicos
This comparatively unknown Caribbean destination has some of the best diving, with calm and crystal-clear waters, plus a number of flourishing reefs. There are over 40 islands to explore, offering white-sand beaches, peaceful bays, and numerous dive sites. Go diving there and you’re likely to see Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, turtles, dolphins, and eagle rays. If you visit in January to March, you might also get to see humpback whales as they migrate through the area.
Seychelles is great for a laid-back liveaboard diving experience; cruising amongst an archipelago of 115 islands, sailing aboard a modern yacht or traditional schooner. You can combine water sports, reef diving, and sailing. The Inner Islands are ideal for new divers, offering easy dive conditions, shallow dive sites and marine life such as octopi, moray eels, colorful nudibranchs, and sharks. If you visit Mahé in October or November, you can swim with visiting whale sharks. The SY Sea Star offers year-round dive and sail safaris with no minimum logged dives required.
This remote destination may not be somewhere you’d consider as a new diver, but there are plenty of dive sites for new divers to enjoy. With over 900 islands, 500 coral species and accessible wrecks, there is plenty to see. The MV Bilikiki liveaboard has no minimum logged dive requirement and explores a variety of islands. You’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of sharks, plus mantas, dolphins, turtles, pelagic fish and critters at this special destination.
Liveaboards for Intermediate Divers
There are plenty of liveaboard destinations for intermediate divers looking to enjoy relatively easy dive conditions and abundant marine life.
Offering pristine atolls and warm turquoise waters, the Maldives is a classic dive getaway any time of year and is best experienced with some dives under your belt. Rasdhoo Atoll is ideal for diving with almost every type of Maldives marine life, including mantas and hammerhead sharks, whilst Ari Atoll offers exciting channel dives. Baa Atoll offers pinnacle and reef diving and is also home to the famous Hanifaru Bay. Hundreds of mantas congregate at this special bay to feed on plankton each year, using a unique feeding behavior called cyclone feeding. You can snorkel with these mantas from May to November each year.
The Philippines is a diverse dive destination suitable for intermediate divers and has so much to enjoy; from flourishing coral reefs and whale sharks to numerous historic wrecks, abundant critters and more. Malapascua is a pelagic paradise, offering the chance to dive with thresher and hammerhead sharks, whilst the other Visayas offer enormous schools of fish, coral gardens, and Apo Island’s pristine coral reefs. Dauin is perfect for muck-diving and critters and Coron is the stuff dreams are made of for all keen wreck divers. Tubbataha is the jewel in the Philippines’ crown though, being one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and truly spectacular. The MV Dolphin offers trips to Tubbataha Marine Park from March to June each year.
Liveaboards for Advanced Divers
Whilst the Galapagos and Costa Rica are undoubtedly two of the best destinations for experienced divers, there are also other great liveaboard destinations to explore.
Mexico is a megafauna hotspot, with highlights including the Socorro Islands and Sea of Cortez. The uninhabited Socorro Islands are only accessible by liveaboard diving and offer diving with the world’s friendliest giant Pacific manta rays, humpback whales and pods of bottlenose dolphins. The Sea of Cortez is ideal for whale shark encounters plus spotting grey whales, humpback whales and mobula rays. You can also dive with playful sea lions at La Paz. What more could you want if you’re a fan of ocean giants?
If you’re looking for a completely different dive experience, how about liveaboard diving Antarctica? One of the world’s last true wilderness areas, Antarctica offers a surprising array of diving. You can dive from zodiac boats, off beaches, and through ice holes to see large underwater ice formations and bright blue waters. There is plenty of wildlife, including various species of fish and invertebrates, plus numerous whales, penguins, seals and more. The Ortelius cruise ship even offers the chance to dive with penguins, sea lions and leopard seals.
Find out more about these and other great liveaboard destinations in our guide to the best liveaboard destinations for every diver.
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