Updated: Feb 25
We all have a particular style of diving that we enjoy. For some it's the excitement of exploring the darkest corners of a wreck, for others, it's discovering the smallest macro species after many hours of searching. Some divers thrill in drift diving, swept along in brisk currents past huge walls covered in life, while others love the warm, tropical water and white sands of an inshore lagoon. But whatever your preference, and however you like to dive, you can guarantee there will be a liveaboard that fits your needs.
Liveaboard diving is unique in itself, a full immersion experience that allows divers to access remote locations and explore the very best sites a large area has to offer. A liveaboard trip can transport you to your dream destination - and this will be somewhere different for each of us.
So here is a roundup of some of the world's most iconic liveaboard destinations to help you choose one that suits you.
1. Cocos Island - For those seeking a big animal adventure.
Cocos is known for its open-ocean diving, big walls, and sweeping currents that attract huge numbers of pelagics and sharks close to the island. Nutrient-rich waters are a magnet for hammerhead sharks, as well as Galapagos, silky, and silvertips. The diving here is advanced, and the transit out from Costa Rica can take up to 40 hours, so a Cocos liveaboard is not for the faint-hearted.
2. The Bahamas - Kick back and relax in a tropical paradise.
Boasting excellent visibility, comfortable conditions, and some great coral reefs, the Bahamas is an ideal choice for a relaxed and stress-free liveaboard experience. The country's 700-plus islands offer a wide variety of dive sites, including some excellent shark diving should you feel the need for some extra excitement. Easy to get to, and with year-round diving, the Bahamas is a great choice for novice divers.
3. Komodo - Drift amongst giants of the deep.
Komodo may be best known for its giant land lizards, however, the south of the island also features some impressive marine species. Encouraged by nutrient-rich waters swept through on strong currents, filter-feeding corals and sponges grow to a huge size, in turn supporting a fascinating variety of giant fish specimens. The drift diving here is unique and exciting, and a liveaboard is the best way to explore the best of the island.
4. Raja Ampat - Remote, exclusive, and with mind-blowing biodiversity.
If getting away from it all is your main aim, the Raja Ampat archipelago might just fit the bill. With so few visitors, dive sites are generally empty of divers and teeming with a wide array of vibrant life. Raja boasts the most bio-diverse waters on the planet, and this huge range of species in such abundance makes for a biologist's paradise. The price tag may seem a little steep, but this phenomenal destination makes for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
5. Great Barrier Reef - Something for everyone.
While the Great Barrier Reef may be synonymous with scuba diving, very few divers venture beyond the inshore reefs to the outer reaches of this massive system where it meets the Coral Sea. A liveaboard trip here will transport you away from the tourist crowds and busy day boats to a vast world of unspoiled reefs smothered in corals and tropical fish. As one of the most famous dive destinations in the world, a wide range of operators offer many different itineraries, trip lengths, and packages to suit all tastes and budgets.
6. Similan Island - Protected marine park teeming with life.
Best explored by liveaboard, the Similan Islands are protected within a marine reserve that limits visitor numbers to preserve the valuable ecosystem. Spectacular rock features are interspersed with fascinating coral formations and gently sloping reefs, an exciting backdrop to the lively schools of small and medium fish. The nine Similan Islands are perfect to explore on a week-long trip of varied but relaxing diving.
7. Chuuk Lagoon - Wreck-lovers' paradise.
An iconic destination for every wreck diver, Chuuk Lagoon (sometimes know as Truk) is home to the sunken fleet of over 60 Japanese WWII warships. The lagoon and surrounding reef have protected the wrecks from the worst onslaughts of the Pacific ocean, and nearly 80 years on many are still in excellent condition. With a huge variety of wrecks at varying depths, Chuuk is suitable for recreational and technical divers alike.
8. The Red Sea - Wide variety and great deals for all levels.
Most commonly dived from Egypt, the Red Sea's isolated geographical position and unique climate have resulted in the evolution of a good number of endemic marine species. Divers can discover everything from shallow reefs and dolphin playgrounds to sunken wrecks, deep walls, and visiting pelagics. There are several itineraries to suit different tastes and abilities, and prices tend to be far more reasonable than other popular liveaboard destinations.
9. Galapagos - Discover something new on every dive.
While many flock to the Galapagos for its world-famous topside wildlife, there are some equally exciting discoveries to be had underwater. Encountering marine iguanas, diving with penguins, spotting sharks, and even the strange mola mola all make for a unique trip. There is also some phenomenal shark diving at Wolf and Darwin Islands. Large swells, surge, and strong currents can lead to challenging conditions even for experienced divers, but most will agree the diving is more than worth it.
10. The Maldives - Ideal for new divers and first-time liveaboarders
Despite offering some of the most luxurious liveaboards afloat, the Maldives is a very affordable option if you're not convinced a liveaboard is for you. Good visibility makes exploring this island nation's myriad of atolls a true pleasure, while a good range of marine species of all shapes and sizes can be spotted. Most sites are suitable for beginners or less-experienced divers.
Do any of these destinations take you fancy? Where will you go on your next liveaboard trip?