The best January dive destinations for liveaboard dive boats

With Christmas out of the way and a new year to look forward to, where are the best liveaboard destinations in January? If you’re looking for warm, it’s summertime in the southern hemisphere. There are many dive sites that lie on or below the Equator that are suitable for diving in January.

Where are the best liveaboard destinations in January
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Where are the best liveaboard destinations in January?

Where are the best liveaboard destinations in January? The answer to this question depends on whether you’re looking for a warm destination or somewhere very special. The curve-ball-place on the list is Antarctica, if you’re happy to dive in extreme cold temperatures.

  1. Caribbean liveaboards.
  2. Galapagos liveaboards.
  3. Egypt liveaboards.
  4. Costa Rica and the Cocos Islands.
  5. The Maldives.
  6. Thailand liveaboards.
  7. Antarctica liveaboards.

1. Caribbean liveaboards in January

Caribbean liveaboards in January

Whilst the Caribbean is in the Northern Hemisphere, it is close to the equator to make it warm year round. Generally speaking, you can expect January temperatures in the Caribbean to average a low of about 22°C (72°F) and a high of about 27°C (82°F). However, this does depend whereabouts in the Caribbean you go.

This makes the Caribbean an ideal winter holiday destination for those in the colder parts of the northern hemisphere. Escape the cold and snow and the post-holiday winter blues!

Visiting the Caribbean in January

  • Best time to go: The Caribbean is a year-round destination and is a great January destination to escape the cold of the north of the northern hemisphere.
  • Experience: For most places in the Caribbean you need to have an Open Water Diver certification or similar. To really enjoy the diving and to take part in all dives, I recommend you have completed between 20-30 dives.
  • Scuba gear: Most Caribbean liveaboards offer scuba equipment rentals, but you can of course take your own scuba gear.
  • The diving: Most diving in the Caribbean is within recreational diving limits of 40 metres (131 feet) and without decompression stops. However, some of the diving will be to over 20 metres. This means you are better to advance your certification level to allow you to dive to at least 30 metre dive depths.
  • Air and sea temperature: See table below for air and water temperatures across the Caribbean.
  • How to get there: There are generally flights to most Caribbean destinations from major airports in the UK and Europe, plus the USA or from the rest of the world.

For more details on liveaboards in specific locations in the Caribbean, please read on to the next section.

Booking a Caribbean liveaboard in January – Places to consider:

Booking a Caribbean liveaboard in January - Places to consider

2. Galapagos liveaboards in January

Galapagos liveaboards in January

The Galapagos Islands offer scuba divers some of the best diving in the world. The Galapagos Islands were made famous by Charles Darwin with his theory of evolution.

Most divers who visit the Galápagos Islands want to visit the spectacular Darwin and Wolf islands, which are only accessible by liveaboard. It is on these remote and isolated islands in the Pacific that divers can find huge schools of scalloped hammerheads, silky sharks, manta rays and of course whale sharks.

Booking a Galapagos liveaboard in January

Booking a Galapagos liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: The Galapagos Islands can be dived year round, but the warm season is from December to May. Therefore January is the perfect time to dive the Galápagos seas.
  • Experience: Advanced open water certification or equivalent, plus at least 100 logged dives.
  • Scuba gear: You can bring your own, but scuba gear rental is available on all Galapagos liveaboard dive boats. If you bring your own wetsuit, 7mm wetsuits and hoods are recommended for your comfort and warmth.
  • The diving: In January the conditions are calmer and currents are less, plus it’s a great time to see huge numbers of hammerheads, silky sharks and Galapagos sharks. The visibility is also better at this time of year.
  • How to get there: Getting to the Galapagos you either fly to Seymore Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island or San Cristobal Airport (SCY) on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos. But neither of these are international airports, so all flights to the Galapagos come from mainland Ecuador. You need to fly to either Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito (UIO) or Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil (GYE).
  • How to book a liveaboard: Galapagos liveaboards prices and availability.

3. Egypt liveaboards in January

Egypt liveaboards in January

Egypt is a great go-to place for Europeans for a dive liveaboard trip to get away from the cold in January. But that’s not to say those living outside of Europe can’t also dive in the Red Sea.

The advantages of Egypt and the Red Sea for Europeans is it’s not a long haul flight (even from the UK with a non-stop flight of 5 hours 25 minutes). Plus it’s warm throughout the year and the diving is good for most of the year too. But what about Egypt liveaboard diving in January?

More Reading: Best budget liveaboards Egypt & The Red Sea (Affordable Red Sea diving)

Booking an Egypt Red Sea liveaboard in January

Booking an Egypt Red Sea liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: An all-year round dive destination. Whilst January is the coldest month for the Red Sea in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, it’s still a warm destination to visit during the winter months in Europe (see table below). It can get extremely hot in the summer months, where temperatures soar to as hot as 37°C (99°F) in July and August! So to be able to dive in 25°C (77°F) when it’s cold outside, is actually pleasant.
  • Experience: Certification and experience needed does depend on the liveaboard and the type of diving you intend to do. Certification requirements range from Open Water Diver or equivalent with no logged dives to Advanced Open Water and 50 minimum dives. There’s also tech diving in the Red Sea too, so this requires a whole different level of certification and experience. Please check the individual liveaboard dive boat requirements before booking.
  • Scuba gear: Liveaboards offer scuba gear rental, but you can bring your own scuba equipment too.
  • The diving: The range of diving in the Red Sea is very wide. From shallow dives appropriate for novice or beginner divers, through to deep 70 metre (230 feet) Red Sea dives for technical divers. Diving includes reef dives through to great historic wreck dives, all of which you’ll encounter plenty of sea life, including turtles and coral fish to sharks of all species.
  • Air and sea temperature: See table below.
  • How to get there: The principle airports for liveaboard departures in Egypt include Marsa Alam airport, Sharm El Sheikh airport and Hurghada airport. All of which are international airports.
  • How to book a liveaboard: Egypt liveaboard prices and availability.

More Reading: Rebreather friendly liveaboard Red Sea (27 liveaboards to choose from)

4. Costa Rica and the Cocos Island liveaboards in January

Costa Rica and the Cocos Island liveaboards in January

The best place for scuba diving in Costa Rica is off the west coast in the Pacific around Cocos Island.

Cocos Island has become known as a hotspot for large schools of sharks, but in particular hammerhead sharks. The best dive site for seeing hammerheads is Bajo Alcyone.

Booking a Costa Rica, Cocos Island liveaboard in January

Booking a Costa Rica, Cocos Island liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: An all-year round dive destination, but the dry season is from December to May, thus offering calmer seas and the best visibility. Making January the perfect time to book your Cocos Island liveaboard.
  • Experience: Depends on the liveaboard – from Open Water Certification and no logged dives to Advanced Open Water and 50 minimum dives. Please check the individual liveaboard dive boat requirements before booking. To really enjoy the diving and to take part in all dives, I recommend you have completed between 20-30 dives.
  • Scuba gear: Liveaboards offer scuba gear rental, but you can bring your own scuba equipment too.
  • The diving: Cocos Island is perhaps Costa Rica’s best dive area, which is located over 500 kilometres (300+ miles) from the west coast. Being a marine reserve and remote makes it a pristine place to dive. Hammerhead sharks plus many other shark species, including whale sharks and white-tip sharks. Plus sightings of tuna, manta rays, turtles and giant frogfish.
  • Air and sea temperature: See table below.
  • How to get there: Some liveaboards depart from San Jose itself, whereas some depart from Puntarenas, which is around a 90 minute drive from San Jose. You can therefore fly to Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO).
  • How to book a liveaboard: Costa Rica (Cocos Island) liveaboard prices and availability

More Reading: Scuba Diving Liveaboard Cocos Island Costa Rica (Diving with Hammerheads)

5. The Maldives liveaboards in January

The Maldives liveaboards in January

January is one of the best times to scuba dive in the Maldives. Whilst you can dive all year round, the wet monsoon season hits the islands in April and brings rain through to October.

January is one of the best times for scuba diving as you’ll enjoy good visibility and excellent sea conditions.

Booking a Maldives liveaboard in January

Booking a Maldives liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: An all-year round dive destination, but the dry season is from November/December to March, thus offering calmer seas and the best visibility. Making January the perfect time to book your Maldives liveaboard.
  • Experience: Depends on the liveaboard and the location of the diving – from Open Water Certification with no logged dives (e.g. on the Scubaspa Ying and Scubaspa Yang) to Advanced Open Water and 30-100 minimum logged dives. Please check the requirements of the individual liveaboard dive boat and trip itinerary requirements before booking.
  • Scuba gear: Liveaboards offer scuba gear rental, but you can bring your own scuba equipment too.
  • The diving: Dive in crystal clear waters which are home to mantas, whale sharks, and reef sharks. Plus dive among its wrecks, coral gardens, channels, and pinnacles.
  • Air and sea temperature: See table below.
  • How to get there: Male is the main liveaboard departure location in the Maldives, which has an international airport.
  • How to book a liveaboard: Maldives liveaboard prices and availability.

6. Thailand liveaboards in January

Thailand liveaboards in January

Thailand offers two main destinations for liveaboards. Whilst Thailand is an all-year round diving destination, the best liveaboard diving in January is in the Andaman Sea region and not the Gulf of Thailand.

Thailand is tempting for most divers where you’ll find healthy reefs, schools of fish, barracuda, whale sharks, and manta rays.

Book a Thailand (Similans and Richelieu Islands) liveaboard in January

Book a Thailand - Similans and Richelieu Islands -  liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: An all-year round dive destination, but the best time for this region is from October through May for best visibility and surface conditions. This makes it perfect to scuba dive in January.
  • Experience: Experience and certification levels depends on the liveaboard dive boat and the dive itinerary. This can range from Open Water Diver or equivalent to Advanced Open Water diver. Minimum logged dives ranges from no minimum to 30 minimum logged dives. To really enjoy the diving and to take part in all dives, I recommend you have completed between 20-30 dives.
  • Scuba gear: Liveaboards offer scuba gear rental, but you can bring your own scuba equipment too.
  • The diving: Scuba diving Thailand offers a variety of dive sites from fringe reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, caverns, tunnels and pinnacles to open ocean adventures. Places like Koh Bon is a great for seeing manta rays and reef sharks, plus plenty of macro sea life too.
  • Air and sea temperature: See table below.
  • How to get there: The north Andaman liveaboard trips usually depart from Khao Lak or Phuket. To get to Phuket is easy and is a 1 hour flight from Bangkok or direct/connecting international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • How to book a liveaboard: Thailand liveaboard prices and availability.

7. Antarctica liveaboards in January

Antarctica liveaboards in January

Scuba diving Antarctica is a bit of a curve ball for diving in January, especially if you’re looking for warmth! However, if you’re experienced at diving in cold waters or in ice and with a drysuit, why not consider Antarctica in January?

Booking an Antarctic liveaboard in January

Booking an Antarctic liveaboard in January
  • Best time to go: November – March with December and January seeing the warmest temperatures (all be it very cold still) and the most sunlight. At this time the surface temperature of the water is typically about zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Experience – Divers have to be experienced and must be expert with cold water and dry suit diving. It’s recommended to have completed at least 30 dives, including dives in cold conditions.
  • Scuba gear – You need to bring all your own scuba gear, except for tanks and weight belts that are on-board. Note that you need to have a drysuit and hood, dry or wet gloves, 2 separate freeze protected regulators, plus a quick release style buoyancy control device (BCD).
  • The diving: Mostly shallow dives to a maximum of 20 metres (60 feet).The aim is for 1-2 dives per day and led by an experienced dive team leader. Dive trips to the Antarctic Peninsular offer the chance to see penguins, sea lions and possibly even leopard seals underwater.
  • How to get there: Argentina’s Ushuaia is the most common departure point for dive holidays to Antarctica. The airport is called Malvinas Argentinas Ushuaia International Airport (USH).
  • How to book a liveaboard: Antarctica liveaboards prices and availability.

More Reading: What is the difference between a wetsuit and a dry suit?

What is the difference between a drysuit and a semi dry suit?

Table of air and water temperatures of dive destinations in January

The following table gives you an indication of the air and sea temperatures of all the above liveaboard dive destinations.

Water temperature of dive destinations in January

Weather and temperatures table key of terms:

HAT = Air temperature High
LAT = Air temperature Low
WT = Water temperature

The information in this table has been researched mostly using January holiday weather.
January
Destination
HATLATWT
The Bahamas25°C/77°F17°C/63°F25°C/77°F
Belize27°C/81°F22°C/71°F27°C/80°F
The Cayman
Islands
29°C/84°F21°C/70°F27°C/80°F
Cuba26°C/79°F16°C/61°F26°C/79°F
Dominican
Republic
29°C/84°F21°C/70°F27°C/81°F
Saba St. Kitts29°C/84°F23°C/73°F26°C/79°F
Virgin Islands27°C/80°F25°C/78°F26°C/79°F
Honduras29°C/85°F27°C/80°F29°C/84°F
Galapagos29°C/84°F22°C/72°F23°C/74°F
Egypt Red Sea25°C/77°F17°C/63°F26°C/79°F
Costa Rica
(Cocos Island)
30°C/86°F25°C/78°F28°C/82°F
Maldives29°C/84°F25°C/77°F28°C/82°F
Thailand32°C/90°F22°C/72°F28°C/82°F
Antarctica
(McMurdo
Station)
-1°C/30°F-6°C/22°F-1°C/30°F

I hope you enjoyed this article about the best liveaboard destinations in January

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 the best liveaboard destinations in January), 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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