Best Liveaboard Destinations for Beginner Scuba Divers

Best Liveaboard Destinations for Beginner Scuba Divers

Are you a new diver who’s caught the scuba diving bug and is itching to plan your very first proper dive holiday? Then liveaboards are a great option for getting the most out of a destination and exploring sites that are hard to reach by day trip from a dive resort. It is also a great opportunity to get more dives in and improve your overall diving skills. Yet a liveaboard holiday with multiple dives a day might seem intimidating when you first get your fins wet. Luckily, there are plenty of liveaboards that are suitable for beginner divers and will give you an incredible experience.

 

Best Liveaboard Destinations for beginner scuba divers

Pick a destination or scroll down to see the entire list of the top 10 best liveaboard destinations to scuba dive for beginners:

1. Red Sea - Big pelagics and great wreck diving

2. Thailand - Diving with whale sharks and manta rays

3. Cayman Islands - Unique encounters with stingrays

4. Belize - The second largest reef system

5. Bahamas - Best shark diving

6. Turks & Caicos - Best wall diving

7. Utila - Whale sharks and dolphins

8. Cuba - Rich marine life and unique encounters with crocodiles

9. Maldives - Countless of big pelagics

10. Great Barrier Reef - The largest reef system in the world

Want to know what diving on a liveaboard looks like? Read all about it from our guide to liveaboard diving.


  

1. Red Sea

Big pelagics and great wreck diving

The Red Sea’s incredible biodiversity, spectacular reefs, warm waters, and exciting wrecks have put this destination on the map as one of the best places in the world for scuba diving. Easy and comfortable conditions make it one of the top choices of liveaboard for beginner divers. Choosing to explore the Red Sea by liveaboard rather than staying at a dive resort is also a great way to discover the less crowded and lesser-visited dive sites.

Red Sea diving feels like being dropped into a life-sized aquarium. Its warm and sunny weather has created nutrient-rich conditions suitable for coral growth that are home to more than a thousand different species of fish. The destination is known for big species like dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, and different types of shark species including the oceanic whitetip shark, silvertip shark, and sometimes hammerhead sharks. Even the biggest fish in the sea, the whale shark, passes by during the early summer months. 

red sea diving

The Red Sea liveaboard choices are endless and very affordable. The best way to start planning your dive holiday is to choose the area you would like to visit first. The north of the Red Sea has a great number of different dive sites for beginner-level divers. Moreover, it is a great area for wreck diving. One of the most famous wrecks, the SS Thistlegorm, is among one of the best wrecks to dive in the world. It is full of wartime supplies and even sunken motorcycles and trucks. Open Water Divers are able to explore the shallower parts of the wreck. With gentle currents, the Deep South is another good choice for beginners that offers some less explored and isolated dive sites. The southern part is better for seeing big marine life.

Read more about the Red Sea & See Red Sea liveaboards & availability.


 

2. Thailand

Diving with whale sharks and manta rays

Thailand has earned a good reputation as a place to get scuba certified. It is not only one of the best places to learn how to dive, the easy conditions and great diving also make it a perfect liveaboard destination for beginner divers. What is great about liveaboard diving in Thailand is that many of them can be done just for a few nights. This is an ideal choice for newcomers, as doing multiple dives a day for a week or two straight can be quite tiring if you are not used to doing much diving. 

Scuba diving in Thailand can leave you with unforgettable memories. Its mix of bright-colored hard and soft coral and big pelagics surrounding the reef systems creates lasting impressions. Whale sharks and manta rays attract divers to visit this destination again and again. Not only these famous two, but many sharks like the leopard shark, rays, turtles, and smaller creatures like seahorses will grab your attention. 

Thailand has many dive areas but most of the liveaboards explore the Andaman Sea and the Similan Islands. The Similan Islands feature some of the best dive sites in Thailand and truly show the best Thailand has to offer. The islands have also been considered as one of the best destinations to dive with whale sharks and manta rays

Thailand is also one of the Best Diving Destinations in Southeast Asia. Read more here...

manta ray


Read more about Thailand and find a liveaboard from our Thailand Dive Guide, or see the Similan Islands liveaboards and the destination info from our Similan Islands Dive Guide. 


 

3. Cayman Islands

Unique encounters with stingrays

A dive liveaboard will give you the opportunity to get to know the waters of all three major Cayman Islands -The Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. These islands offer some amazing wrecks and not all require advanced skill levels. Besides, they have amazing wall dives and display some of the best marine life in the Caribbean. If you have just earned your open water certification, the shallow warm waters of the Cayman Islands with no current are perfect to start with. 

The islands are surrounded by plenty of big marine animals like turtles, barracudas, groupers, morays, a variety of rays, and much more. Sharp-eyed divers will also notice multiple small marine life like adorable nudibranchs. 

sting ray

New divers are often taken to the famous Stingray City dive site,  a very shallow lagoon literally crawling with friendly stingrays. Being closely surrounded with many curious rays is truly an unforgettable experience. 

Curious to know more about the Cayman Islands liveaboards and diving there? Read more from here

You may also want to read about our trip to Grand Cayman last 2019.


 

4. Belize

The second-largest reef system in the world

Most divers associate Belize with the famous Blue Hole, a dive site recommended mostly for experienced divers. That does not mean that you should skip this dive destination. On the contrary, Belize offers much more than the Blue Hole and some other dive spots can be even better! Almost all the other dive sites besides the Blue Hole in Belize, boast easy conditions and warm waters, making it a great place for scuba divers who are just starting their dive journey. 

The world’s second-largest barrier reef system lies just off Belize where all its small islands are located. That’s why exploring Belize by a liveaboard would be the best choice to fully take advantage of the amazing reefs. The healthy reefs bring fantastic Caribbean marine life to the dive sites. You will be likely to spot moray eels, shrimps, angelfish, eagle rays, turtles, barracudas, and when the time is right, you will be able to dive with whale sharks!

caribbean diving  

See more information on Belize diving and view the live availability of Belize liveaboards.


 

5. Bahamas

Best shark diving

Passing from the second largest to the third-largest reef system in the world, the Bahamas is another great choice for a liveaboard holiday. Home to more than 700 islands, the destination has dive sites for all levels of divers. Due to the calm, shallow, and warm waters with no currents, barely any prior scuba diving experience is needed to enjoy the waters of the Bahamas.

The destination is great for adventurous souls as it is one of the best locations in the world for shark diving. It is almost guaranteed to see one of these magnificent creatures on every dive. Encounters with tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, whitetip sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and lemon sharks all fill your dive trip with excitement and thrill. 

Besides an amazing variety of shark species, the Bahamas has some picturesque reefs and excellent wall and wreck dives. Many species of dolphins and whales like the humpback, minke, and sperm whales visit the islands. The reefs also attract smaller animals like snappers, lobsters, porcupine fish, and much more. Because of its great conditions, the destination is perfect for taking underwater photos and videos. Don’t forget to record your amazing dive trip!

You may also want to check out destinations for Shark Cage Diving. Read more about it here...

bahamas diving

Find out more about scuba diving in Bahamas and Bahamas liveaboards.


 

6. Turks and Caicos

Best wall diving

Diving along the edges of reef walls that drop down to the infinite deep blue is an alluring sight. Turks and Caicos offers some of the best wall diving in the Caribbean that can give you this experience. This destination is also less visited in the Caribbean compared to many others, which makes scuba diving very enjoyable. Many dive sites are out of the reach of dive resorts and dive boats, and are left only to be enjoyed by the liveaboard divers. Some of the liveaboards also offer a good opportunity to improve your dive skills with advanced or specialty courses. 

The diving conditions have little to no current and superb visibility which makes diving in Turks and Caicos effortless. Comparable to the Bahamas, you can have close encounters with big pelagics including different shark species, sea turtles, eagle rays, mantas, and during the winter months, humpback whales can be spotted. 

turks and caicos diving


See more about Turks and Caicos diving & liveaboards.


 

7. Utila

Whale sharks and dolphins 

Similar to Thailand, Utila is another favorite destination for people to learn scuba diving. This means the conditions are perfect for new divers and the destination has some great choices of liveaboards to introduce you to its underwater world. 

dolphins

The warm turquoise waters off the coast of Honduras provide great conditions for new divers with generally good visibility and year-round diving. The underwater topography is very scenic, with canyons, swim-throughs, and some underwater mountains. Utila too, is a great destination to dive with whale sharks. Moreover, dolphins are often spotted above the water, playfully jumping next to your boat and also below the surface. 

You can find out more about Utila scuba diving &  liveaboards from here.


 

8. Cuba

Rich marine life and unique encounters with crocodiles 

Scuba diving in Cuba can really please the thrill-seekers with great reef shark diving and even options to snorkel with saltwater crocodiles! For those who seek more relaxed options, abundant marine life and shallow healthy coral reefs are present in plenty of dive sites. Besides that, you can experience some long drop-offs and even cavern diving.

cuba diving

Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina Marine Park is under protection and just a limited number of people per year are allowed there. Thus, the diving is unruined and truly beautiful. The park has a variety of sharks, turtles, and rays. Great visibility and no current makes it easy to spot the different marine life and take some great underwater photos. The underwater scenery is very photogenic, having mixed colorful sponges, black coral, gorgonians, canyons, and caverns.

Read more about diving in Cuba from our Cuba Dive Travel Guide.


 

9. Maldives

Countless of big pelagics

The Maldives, with its gorgeous white sand beaches and an underwater world filled with big pelagics and colorful reefs, is a dream dive destination to choose for your scuba diving holiday. Some parts of the Maldives do have strong currents, but there are plenty of dive sites that beginners can enjoy with ease. Many liveaboards accommodate beginner scuba divers and happily show their marine life to novices. 

Scuba diving in the Maldives is truly breathtaking and could easily become one of the best dive trips of your life. The visibility is incredible and the reef system is very diverse that makes the whole underwater scenery magnificent. The quantity of pelagics you can encounter is mind-blowing. It is a great destination for scuba diving with manta rays and whale sharks which is already amazing enough but it does not stop there. Many reef sharks, dolphins, turtles, eagle rays, and stingrays can all pass you by during your dives!

maldives manta ray

 

To know more about diving in the Maldives, read our Maldives Dive Guide and see the live availability of Maldives liveaboards


  

10. Great Barrier Reef

The largest reef system in the world

Last but not least, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is famously known for its incredible reef system with countless types of coral and marine life species. Although a freshly certified diver, you don’t want to miss out on the best. The reef system is long and thus there are sites for all levels across it. Australia is even great for getting your dive certification in the first place. Liveaboards are tailored for all levels too, with various trip length options.

Though the Great Barrier Reef is very popular, the outer part of the reef is only accessed by liveaboards and has fewer divers. With over 1,600 fish species and over 600 species of coral, what you can see there is innumerable. There are also many species that cannot be found elsewhere. It is mostly known for big stuff but also some macro can be found at the dive sites. Dwarf minke whales and bottlenose dolphins, turtles, eagle rays, and mantas are just a few examples of what you can see when scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef

dwarf minke whale

 

Interested in diving the Great Barrier Reef?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in the Great Barrier Reef 


Further reading

Want to get started with underwater photography? See the Best Underwater Cameras for Beginners.

Still unsure if a liveaboard or a dive resort would be best for your next holiday? Read this great article: Liveaboard Diving vs. Resort Diving.

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