Liveaboard holidays offer an unmatched advantage for scuba divers. Such scuba diving boats allow travelers to reach remote and undeveloped areas not accessible by day trips. In these destinations, marine life thrives and dive sites are far from crowded. Liveaboards can also offer divers the ability to see more sites over the course of one week. Whatever the reason a liveaboard trip is undertaken, it’s guaranteed to provide a unique and thrilling vacation.

If an “eat, sleep, dive” vacation sounds like a great idea to you, consider these diving destinations for your next vacation. From Cuba to Australia, these are the best liveaboard trips in the world.

1. Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

One of the best places to dive in the Caribbean, Jardines de la Reina is situated 50 miles (80 kilometres) west of Jucaro in central Cuba. The uncontaminated reef has been protected for decades and is certainly a lively shark diving destination. During any given dive in the Gardens of the Queen, you might be surrounded by Caribbean reef sharks, and if you’re brave enough, you can even snorkel with crocodiles in this incredible place. Because it takes about three hours to reach Jardines de la Reina by speedboat, it’s only possible to dive here with a liveaboard.

Jardines de la Reina is situated 50 miles west of Jucaro in Central Cuba
  • When to Go: December to May
  • Recommended Liveaboard: Avalon II

2. The Exumas, Bahamas

With 700 islands, the Bahamas was seemingly built for liveaboard diving. Sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Caribbean, this stretch of Earth attracts sharks aplenty along with other exciting marine life. And when it comes to liveaboard diving, there’s no better place in the Bahamas than the Exumas. Sheltered from the Atlantic, this row of cays are known for shallow coral reefs and colourful walls. This is a great destination for beginners as currents are minimal and shallow sunken ships offer an introduction to wreck diving. Book a liveaboard to visit the most remote dive sites in the Exumas.

The Bahamas has 700 islands with exciting marine life for you to explore

3. Cocos Island, Costa Rica

342 miles (550 kilometres) off the west coast of Costa Rica lies one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. Cocos Island is a magnet for pelagic species and is famous for schooling hammerhead sharks. In fact, it’s part of the hammerhead triangle. In addition to hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, manta rays and mobula rays are often found around dive sites such as Dirty Rock and Bajo Alcyone. The lonely seamount that is Cocos Island is a 36-hour steam from Puntarenas, so diving here is only possible by liveaboard.

Cocos Island is one of the best places to see pelagic species and hammerhead sharks

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

If you’re like most divers, the Galapagos Islands are high on your bucket list. With fascinating marine life like Galapagos sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, marine iguanas, sunfish and more, it’s easy to see why this is a sought after destination. And while the diving is good from most places, the best dive sites in this remote archipelago are located around Wolf and Darwin Islands, which can only be reached by liveaboard. Charles Darwin loved these islands, and you will too. Untouched nature awaits you at this Pacific archipelago.

Wolf and Darwin Islands within the Galapagos Islands can only be reached by Liveaboard

5. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Indonesia is full of great liveaboard destinations. From Komodo to the Banda Sea, every island offers a unique diving experience. But Raja Ampat has become a favorite among divers lately, and it’s easy to see why. With impressive fish diversity and pelagic giants, there’s something for everyone in West Papua. Furthermore, this chain of islands remains wonderfully undeveloped, allowing divers a wild experience full of manta rays, wobbegong sharks and healthy coral reefs. To get the most out of your vacation to Raja Ampat, sign up for one of the many liveaboard trips available.

Raja Ampat has great fish diversity and pelagic giants in its waters
  • When to Go: October to April
  • Recommended Liveaboard: Ambai

6. Deep South, Maldives

The Maldives, with 26 natural atolls and a gorgeous variety of marine life, are a wonderful liveaboard diving destination. Any liveaboard trip will likely result in sightings of whale sharks, manta rays and a host of colourful, underwater inhabitants, but diving in the deep south of the country is an ultra-special experience. Almost every trip to these remote atolls results in new dive sites as the area simply isn’t visited by scuba divers that often. On most trips, the dive crew is just as excited by the potential for discovery as the guests are. In addition, larger marine life like sharks are more commonly seen in the south of the country. Because resorts are few and far between, liveaboard diving in this distant half of the Maldives is a must.

The Maldives has 26 natural atolls blessed with whale sharks, manta rays and other colourful marine creatures

7. Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico

Out of all the great liveaboard diving destinations in Mexico (like Guadalupe and the Sea of Cortez), the Revillagigedo Archipelago is one of the best. Also called the Socorro Islands, these four volcanic islands were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the biodiversity of species found around them. Humpback whales, manta rays and hammerhead sharks are all commonly seen here. At 240 miles (390 kilometres) west of Baja California Sur, you’ll need to travel by liveaboard to reach this fantastic scuba diving destination.

The Revillagigedo Archipelago is one of the great liveaboard diving destinations in Mexico
  • When to Go: November to May
  • Recommended Liveaboard: Vortex

8. Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia

Regarded as one of the best wreck diving destinations in the world, Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia is a graveyard for more than 200 aircraft and 60 ships. These machines were sunk during an Allied attack on the local Japanese naval base during World War II. Today, 50 of these wrecks have become dive sites ripe for exploration. Although there are dive resorts scattered around the area, traveling by liveaboard is highly recommended for divers wishing to visit all the best wrecks in a single week.

Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon is a favourite among wreck divers interested in World War II wrecks
  • When to Go: October to April
  • Recommended Liveaboard: Truk Master

9. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Philippines

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is one of the most protected underwater environments in the world. This is due to the fact that it’s home to an impressive array of marine life. Within the 97,000 hectares, you might find mantas, whale sharks, grey reef sharks, tuna and eagle rays. Visitors also sometimes spot hammerheads, tiger sharks or a number of whale species that regularly migrate through the area. This is of course accompanied by a huge abundance of coral. Keep in mind that Tubbataha can only be reached by liveaboard and is only open to tourists a few months of the year.

Tubbataha is home to an impressive array of marine life

10. St. John’s Island, Egypt

Far to the south of Egypt’s Red Sea lies St. John’s Island and its spectacular reef system. The island, which is 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Elba National Park, is famous for its abundant soft and black corals. In addition, lucky divers have reported schooling hammerhead sharks in the area. The diving here is great year-round, but you’ll need to travel by liveaboard as this part of Egypt is fairly remote. Liveaboard trips to St. John’s Island are often combined with Roky Island and Zabargad for a whole week of fantastic diving.

St John's Island has a spectacular reef system
  • When to Go: April to June and September to November
  • Recommended Liveaboard: MS Royal Evolution

11. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Another popular bucket list destination, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of the richest marine environments in the world. It boasts more than 1500 fish species and 360 species of hard coral. In addition, six species of sea turtles, manta rays and several shark species, like grey reef sharks and silky sharks, call this reef home. Coral gardens, pinnacles, bommies, channels and caverns make up the majority of dive sites. Furthermore, while you may be able to sample the inner reefs on a day trip, the outer reefs offer greater biodiversity, healthier corals and fewer divers. These sections of the Great Barrier Reef are only accessible by liveaboard.

Are you ready to dive into the best liveaboard destinations in the world? Get in touch with PADI Travel to book the scuba diving vacation of your dreams!

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