The top 10 best liveaboard destinations for beginner divers

The Best Liveaboard Diving For Beginners - 10 Top Liveaboard Destinations

One of the best ways to get loads of dives under your belt is to go on a few liveaboard trips. There are plenty of liveaboards for beginners to enjoy with some fantastic scuba diving destinations to choose from.


The top 10 liveaboard diving for beginners includes: The Great Barrier Reef, The Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, The Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt and the Red Sea, Fiji and Mexico. All the dive destinations have shallow clear blue warm waters, which are ideal for beginner scuba divers.


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Liveaboard diving for beginners - The key requirements for a liveaboard for beginners

Before I run through the top 10 liveaboard destinations for beginners, let's take a look at the key requirements that need to be satisfied to suit a beginner scuba diver.

  1. Shallow dives - The depth of the dives must be below 18-20 metres (60-66 feet), depending on your scuba diving organisation. As a beginner scuba diver you’ve probably only just passed your PADI Open Water Diver Course or your BSAC Ocean Diver Course. If this is the case your depth will be limited by each organisation’s first-level certification limit.
  2. No drift or low current diving - As a beginner scuba diver, you will probably not have experienced a drift dive yet. Until you've done the theory lessons for a drift dive and been taken on a dive that involves currents with an appropriately certified instructor, it's best you don't dive a drift dive until you have.
  3. Avoid deep drop-off or 'bottomless' dives - Until you've got to grips with your buoyancy control and mastered how to use your buoyancy control device, it's a good idea to avoid wall dives. As a beginner scuba diver it's much better for you to enjoy bottom diving. For example, diving on a pinnacle which rises up from hundreds of metres or feet from the sea bed requires good buoyancy control. Whereas a dive on a shallow reef doesn’t necessarily. However, whilst you need to be able to control your depth to avoid damaging the reef, if you're not able to get it absolutely correct, you don’t have the danger of dropping down hundreds of metres or feet.
  4. Interesting diving - You don’t want to be scuba diving in place that satisfies the first three key requirements above, only to discover the diving is boring and lifeless. You want to be improving your skills and diving experience in places where the diving is the best in the world.

Liveaboard diving for beginners - The 10 best destinations ideally suited for beginner scuba divers

Now that I've set the ground rules for liveaboard diving for beginners, lets take a look at the 10 best liveaboard destinations around the world suitable for beginners.

All of these top 10 diving destinations tick the above four boxes.

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #1 - The Great Barrier Reef

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #1 - The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is on most scuba divers bucket list.


The Great Barrier Reef; it was the setting for Finding Nemo, it’s the biggest aquarium in the world and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Described in this way, it’s no wonder it’s top of my list of the perfect place for liveaboards for beginner scuba divers.

The setting for Disney's 'Finding Nemo,' The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest aquarium in the world and has the biggest variety of fish of any diving destination.

The planet's largest living structure and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. With over 4,000 coral reefs, cays and islands that stretches over 2,300 kilometres (1,438 miles).

Enjoy scuba diving the many coral reefs. Plus have the opportunity to spot Dwarf Minke Whales and Humpback Whales between June and September.

Swim with manta rays, plus have the chance to see any one of the 180 or so shark species found on the Great Barrier Reef system. This includes the pinnacle of all sharks, the whale shark.

The Great Barrier Reef is also home to six of the seven sea turtle species.

Reasons why the Great Barrier Reef is in the top 10 for beginners

Why the Great Barrier Reef is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving. The opportunity to see whales and an abundance of sea life.

Best time to visit: July through August for whales, December to February for the warm weather (but beware the humid wet season of January through March). Click here for more on the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Water temperature: 22°C (72°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Visibility: 10 - 40 metres (33-130 feet)

Depths: 5->40 metres (16-130 feet).

Currents: Gentle to moderate.

Surface conditions: Usually calm but can be choppy.

Click this link to find the latest prices from 'Liveaboard.com' and best Australia liveaboard boats.

Click this link to find the latest prices from 'Dive The World' and best Australia liveaboard boats.

Video of scuba diving The Great Barrier Reef

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #2 - The Bahamas

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #2 - The Bahamas

If you want to experience clear blue warm waters, the Caribbean is one of the best place to go.


The Bahamas is one of the top destinations for scuba divers to experience sharks. It has great visibility in warm Caribbean seas. With the opportunity to scuba dive on wrecks too. These are just some of the reasons why the Bahamas features in my top list of liveaboard destinations for beginners.

Situated about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the coast of Florida, The Bahamas is made up of over 2,500 cays and 700 islands.

There are liveaboard dive trips to explore the Grand Bahamas, Nassau and The Exumas.

The Bahamas is a great destination for beginner scuba divers, as the waters are warm, there are plenty of shallow dives for beginners to enjoy. Plus there are some fantastic dive sites, which includes the usual coral reef fish and plenty of shark action, if you are looking for this.

One reef which is renowned for Caribbean reef sharks is Amberjacks Reef. This reef is at just 15 metres (50 feet) of depth. It was previously a shark feeding site, but no longer. But there are still plenty of sharks in the area. Within a very short space of time, you'll be surronded by up to ten reef sharks at a time.

The Amberjacks Reef is also home to 10-15 large yellowmouth and yellowfin grouper too.

There also plenty of wrecks to dive in the Bahamas if you're looking to add this type of dive to your experience.

Reasons why the Bahamas is in the top 10 for beginners

Why the Bahamas is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility in warm blue-water seas, shallow dives, outstanding diving.

Best time to visit: November through to May to avoid the hurricane season. Click this link for more about Bahamas liveaboard dive boats. Also, the liveaboards visit Bahamas Tiger Beach to see tiger sharks around May to July.

Water temperature: 25°C (77°F) to 29°C (84°F).

Visibility: 15 - 30 metres (50-98 feet)

Depths: 6 - >40 metres (19-130 feet).

Currents: Mild to moderate.

Surface conditions: Generally calm with some swell or chop during storms.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Bahamas liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Bahamas liveaboard boats from 'Dive The World'.

Video of scuba diving from a liveaboard in The Bahamas

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #3 - The best of Belize

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #3 - Belize

Belize liveaboard scuba diving provides the opportunity to dive some of the most beautiful underwater world there is.

Belize is a stunning paradise both on land and in the Caribbean seas around its coast. What better way to see the beautiful underwater world than on a Belize liveaboard dive boat.


Belize has one of the world’s largest reef systems off its coast, it has the Great Blue Hole and is in the warm blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. These are just some of the reasons why the Belize features in the top liveaboard destinations for beginners.

In the Caribbean, Belize is classified as one of the regions best scuba diving destinations. Belize is home to the third largest barrier reef (the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the New Caledonian barrier reef, which is in the Pacific.

The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is also commonly known as the Great Mayan Reef or Great Maya Reef, is a marine region that stretches over 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from one end to the other.

The Mesoamerican Reef system stretches along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

A liveaboard scuba diving trip is the best way to dive this region, as shore diving is almost unheard of due to the barrier reef that fringes Belize’s coastline.

You’ll have the opportunity to experience The Great Blue Hole (No. 1 of the 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth according to the Discovery Channel). See sharks, which include whale sharks, hammerheads, reef sharks, lemon sharks and bull sharks.

This is a beginner scuba diver's paradise.

Reasons why Belize is in the top 10 for beginners

Why Belize is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving. It has one of the largest reef systems in the world off its coastline.

Best time to visit: November through to May to avoid the hurricane season. Click this link for more about Belize liveaboard dive boats.

Water temperature: 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (87°F).

Visibility: 10 - 40 metres (33-131 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: None to gentle.

Surface conditions: Mostly calm but can be choppy further from shore.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Belize liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Belize liveaboard boats from' Dive The World.

Video of scuba diving from a liveaboard in Belize

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #4 - The best of Cuba

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #4 - Cuba

Cuba is one of the only places in the world where you are able to encounter sharks and crocodiles in the same place.


You may not wish to swim with crocodiles. But if you do and you also like the idea of scuba diving with plenty of sharks too, then add Cuba to your liveaboard bucket list. With easy diving conditions too, these are a few of the reasons why Cuba is in my top list of liveaboards for beginner scuba divers.

Jardines De La Reina by liveaboard includes some of the best scuba diving in Cuba

One of the top destinations from Cuba is Jardines de la Reina National Park, which is Cuba's second largest archipelago. Situated along the southern coast of mainland Cuba, it's a protected marine park.

The only way to scuba dive this top dive destination is by liveaboard.

This area of Cuba is one of the world's largest reefs. There are near guaranteed shark sightings. It’s a pristine coral garden, which has been a protected marine park since 1996.

Its almost guaranteed to see reef and silky sharks and the area has many giant and Goliath groupers to enjoy.

Reasons why Cuba is in the top 10 for beginners

Why Cuba is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and not over dived yet.

Best time to visit: November through to May to avoid the hurricane season. Click this link for more about Jardines De La Reina liveaboard dive boats.

Water temperature: 23°C (73°F) to 29°C (84°F).

Visibility: 15 - 40 metres (50-131 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Gentle to moderate.

Surface conditions: Often calm, dive sites are not far from the liveaboards that are anchored close to lagoons.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Cuba liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Cuba liveaboard boats from 'Dive The World'.

Video of scuba diving from a liveaboard in Cuba - Jardines De La Reina

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #5 - The best of the Maldives

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #5 - The Maldives

The Maldives is one of the top dive destinations loved by scuba divers of all certification levels.


The Maldives is known for its manta rays. In fact, the Maldives is one of the only dive destinations in the world where you're 'almost guaranteed' the chance to see these majestic creatures during your dive trip. Add to this the chance to spot whale sharks and loads of turtles too, it’s the perfect place for liveaboard trips for beginner scuba divers.

But it's a great place for beginners, as it fits the key requirements listed above. Most of the resorts and islands in the Maldives feature 'house reefs,' but to truly get the most out of The Maldives, why not treat yourself to a liveaboard trip.

You'll get more dives done from a liveaboard that you would from a resort, and you'll reach the places that some of the resort dive boats can't reach.

Once of the reasons why many scuba divers visit the Maldives is for the manta rays. With almost guaranteed sightings of these majestic creatures, the Maldives is the ideal place to scuba dive to see them.

The Maldives is also home to plenty of sharks, which includes the oceanic whitecap, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and the largest of them all, the whale shark. On top of this there's and abundance of beautiful corals and coral fish to enjoy, plus turtles which are always great to see.

With great visibility of up to 30 metres (100 feet), year-round warm waters of 27-29°C (81-84°F), it's a perfect place to either learn to scuba dive or for beginner scuba divers to enjoy.

The Maldives is located within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, which makes it an undeniable first class dive destination.

Reasons why the Maldives is in the top 10 for beginners

Why the Maldives is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and sea life including an almost guarantee of seeing mantas. Plus it’s the Maldives after all.

Best time to visit: November through April.

Water temperature: 26°C (79°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Visibility: 15 - 40 metres (50-131 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Can be very strong, so beginners will need to choose their dive sites carefully or get training on drift diving.

Surface conditions: Generally calm but can be choppy in southwest monsoon.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Maldives liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Maldives liveaboard boats from 'Dive The World'.

Video of scuba diving from a liveaboard in the Maldives

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #6 - The best of Thailand

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #6 - Thailand

Thailand is a popular destination for beginner scuba divers.

With it's seas full of marine life, with the chance to see whale sharks, manta rays and turtles. But of course, if you love spicy food, then Thailand is a must-go place for a liveaboard trip.

Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles. This means you will enjoy beautifully warm weather, with great Thai hospitality from the locals.

Then dive down to the underwater world of the warm Andaman Sea and experience an abundance of marine diversity.

Most of the best scuba diving is on the west coast, which runs down from Myanmar to Malaysia. Well known dive sites like the Similand Islands, Richelieu Rock, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.

Most of these dive sites are in the national marine park of Thailand, which means the sea creatures are protected.

Reasons why Thailand is in the top 10 for beginner scuba divers

Why the Thailand is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and sea life.

Best time to visit: Thailand scuba diving season runs all year round. November through to April is the best time for optimum dive site conditions. Liveaboards tend to run to the Similan Islands late October to mid-May. The best time to see whale sharks and manta rays is between February and May when there is a higher concentration of plankton in the water.

Water temperature: 26°C (79°F) to 31°C (88°F).

Visibility: 5 - 30 metres (16-99 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Can be very strong, so beginners will need to choose their dive sites carefully or get training on drift diving.

Surface conditions: Can be rough.

Click this link to find the latest prices and Thailand liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and Thailand liveaboard boats from 'Dive The World'.

Video of scuba Diving Thailand - Similan

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #7 - The best of Malaysia

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #7 - Malaysia

There are some world-class diving opportunities to be enjoyed in Malaysia. Places like Sipadan Island, Sabah and Borneo offer some of the best places to dive on the planet.


Sipadan has dive sites from South Point, which is best known for a big wall covered in healthy corals; To the Hanging Gardens, which is a large wall covered in brightly coloured corals, sponges, and sea fans and is home to turtles, reef sharks and clown fish; to Barracuda Point, which is home to a massive shoal of barracuda. An ideal place for you if you're just starting out as a scuba diver and want to go somewhere with a great biodiversity of sea life.

Sipidan for example, is a small island off the eastern coast of Malaysian Borneo. Offering some of the best scuba diving in Malaysia and the world. With limited permits given out each day, this restricts the number of scuba divers into the area. This not only protects the reef system, but it means your scuba dives will be less crowded.

There's an abundance of large schools of fish, spectacular coral reefs and an amazing macro-life.

Malaysia is noted for encounters with hammerhead sharks and for seeing dozens of turtles. You are also likely to see the friendly bumphead parrotfish.

Reasons why Malaysia is in the top 10 for beginners

Why Malaysia is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and sea life.

Best time to visit: Sipadan is a year-round scuba diving destination. Optimum conditions are from April to December. July and August are often described as the best months with visibility sometimes exceeding 40 metres (131 feet) around the Sipadan island. Note that in January and February you may see unsettled weather.

Water temperature: 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Visibility: 5 - 40 metres (16-131 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Gentle.

Surface conditions: Calm.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Malaysia liveaboard boats.

Video of scuba Diving Malaysia - Sipadan Island and Sabah

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #8 - The best of Egypt and the Red Sea

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #8 - The Red Sea Egypt

The Red Sea of Egypt is one of the best dive sites in the world. The beauty under the water is simply amazing. With crystal clear waters and an abundance of sea life, this makes the ideal destination for beginner scuba divers.


Liveaboard dive trips to The Red Sea are probably amongst the cheapest there are. But the low pricing of the liveaboard trips there are no reflection of how good these trips are. In fact, The Red Sea is the perfect place for beginner scuba divers, as the corals and sea life is amazing.

One of the best ways to explore The Red sea is by way of liveaboard. This way you can reach some of the far off remote destinations where there are less scuba divers to crowd the reefs.

The Red Sea has some of the best wrecks to scuba dive, fabulous vibrant coral reefs and plenty of sharks, if you like scuba diving with sharks.

The Red Sea has everything a beginner scuba diver could wish for. There are plenty of dives that are shallow enough where there are no currents.

Whilst there are some fantastic dives where there are steep drop-offs, like the Elphinstone Reef and The Brothers, there are many dives that are suitable to beginners too. These dive sites are worth you getting to grips with your buoyancy control.

You could use the trip to enhance your scuba diving skills. With a steep drop-off dive you need to be able to master your buoyancy. As with any liveaboard dive trip you get to do plenty of diving. Use the dives at the start of your trip to master your buoyancy, ready for the more challenging dives later on in the trip.

In addition to the Red Sea satisfying the main criteria for beginners, it’s a place of abundance sea life too. From a vast range of coral fish, to turtles, to sharks and rays and giant moray eels. The Red Sea has it all.

Reasons why The Red Sea is in the top 10 for beginners

Why The Red Sea is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and sea life.

Best time to visit: Egypt is good for scuba diving any time of year. Although water temperatures vary significantly. From June to August the water can reach 30°C (86°F), but it falls to a chilly 22°C (72°F) in February.

Water temperature: 22°C (72°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Visibility: 20 - 40 metres (66-131 feet).

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Gentle - strong, so dives sites will need to be selected carefully of get drift diving training.

Surface conditions: Calm, can be choppy in some places.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Egypt and the Red Sea liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Egypt and the Red Sea liveaboard boats from Dive The World.

Video of scuba Diving the Red Sea, Egypt

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #9 - The best of Fiji

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #9 - Fiji

Fiji has to be one of the most idyllic places to visit for a scuba diving vacation. The name Fiji is one that conjures up pictures of white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters.

Scuba dive Fiji to experience the ‘soft coral capital of the world.’ Fiji has some of the best diving in the world with pristine corals and abundant sea life.

Some of the best scuba diving locations in Fiji include the area known as the Bligh Waters. This is better explored by way of a liveaboard dive trip. This allows for the exploration and enjoyment of the more remote dive sites in the region where less scuba divers go.

There are currents in this region, which is for more experienced scuba divers, but there are some incredible dives where you'll experience the soft corals and an abundance of sea life which is almost hard to beat.

If you like the idea of scuba diving with sharks, then Fiji should be on your bucket list of places to dive.

Reasons why Fiji is in the top 10 for beginners

Why Fiji is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and sea life and is soft coral capital of the world.

Best time to visit: The diving season in Fiji is year-round. From April to October is the winter months and is the main scuba diving season when visitor numbers are at their highest. Visibility (can be more that 50 metres (164 feet)) is best between July and December when the water can drop to 22°C (72°F), although a more realistic temperature is 25°C (77°F) at this time.

Water temperature: 25°C (77°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Visibility: 15 - 40 metres (49-131 feet)

Depths: 5 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: None to very strong.

Surface conditions: Mostly calm but can be choppy further from shore particularly during July to September.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Fiji liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Fiji liveaboard boats from Dive The World.

Video of scuba Diving Fiji by liveaboard

Beginner liveaboard diving destination #10 - The best of Mexico

Beginner Liveaboard Diving Destination #10 - Mexico - Sea of Cortez

Mexico is a dive destination blessed with warm waters of the Caribbean with some amazing underwater encounters suitable for beginner scuba divers. Mexico has the reputation for encounters with big creatures in large numbers.

The best place for liveaboard diving is the Pacific coast of Mexico. Off this coast are places like Socorro Island (although this is for more advanced divers due to the currents and definitely not for those beginners still struggling with their buoyancy). But Guadalupe and the Sea of Cortez are better for beginners.

What you'll encounter here includes sharks, whales, huge manta rays and an abundance of other sea life.

If you visit Guadalupe, this is considered to be one of the best locations in the world for cage diving with great white sharks.

The Sea of Cortez is one of the best places for beginners. The Sea of Cortez is a thin stretch of water lying between the Baja California peninsula to the west and Mexico to the east.

This area is simply bursting with life. There are large schools of hammerhead sharks to enjoy. You experience colonies of sea lions, gray whales and humpback whales are seen here too. You may even see whale sharks, as seen in the video below.

The Sea of Cortez is compared to an aquarium and one to put on your list of places to try out your first liveaboard dive trip.

Reasons why Mexico is in the top 10 for beginners

Why Mexico is good for beginners: Great year-round conditions, great visibility, shallow dives, outstanding diving and big sea life. But the Sea Of Cortez is best for beginners, whereas the Pacific is intermediate to advanced scuba divers only.

Best time to visit: Mexico is a year round scuba diving vacation destination, although conditions vary depending on the location and season. The Sea of Cortez liveaboard season runs from August through November, when it's at its warmest. Conditions vary throughout the year, but during liveaboard season the water temperatures are around the 27°C (81°F). September and October are the best times for sighting hammerhead sharks in the Sea of Cortez.

Water temperature: 19°C (66°F) to 29°C (84°F).

Visibility: 25 - 60 metres (82-197 feet)

Depths: 16 - >40 metres (16-131 feet).

Currents: Usually mild in the Caribbean. Can be strong in the Pacific, which is why it's not suitable for beginners.

Surface conditions: Mostly calm but can be choppy further from shore.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Mexico liveaboard boats from 'Liveaboard.com'.

Click this link to find the latest prices and best Mexico liveaboard boats from 'Dive The World'.

Video of scuba Diving Mexico the Sea of Cortez and Guadalupe by liveaboard

I hope you enjoyed this article about liveaboard diving for beginners

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about liveaboard diving for beginners), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!


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