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5 Beginner Liveaboard Destinations You Need to Know

5 Beginner Liveaboard Destinations You Need to Know

Liveaboard diving is one of the best scuba vacations. There’s no better way to eat, sleep, dive, repeat. But is it right for beginners? We think it might be! One of these beginner liveaboard destinations could be the ideal spot for you.

“Beginner” diver can mean something different to everyone. You could be fresh out of your Open Water course with minimal dives logged after your certification. You might have taken a course a few years ago and still consider yourself a beginner. Or, you might be a more seasoned diver just looking for somewhere with less challenging, but still enjoyable, diving! 

Whichever category you fit into, we’ve got a boat for you here.

Why go on a liveaboard as a beginner?

Liveaboards often offer up to 4, even 5, dives per day. It’s a great way to build up your experience in a concentrated amount of time. Being surrounded by other divers is also a brilliant opportunity to learn from others. 

Two scuba divers in brightly coloured divewear sit on a small boat, they have their masks on and regulators in ready to roll backwards into their dive.

If learning is your aim whilst on a liveaboard, all of the boats we talk about here offer the chance to develop your skills with courses on board.  

What should I look for in beginner liveaboard destinations?

There are some elements to look out for to know whether a liveaboard, and a destination, is suitable for your diving level. Here are some points to think about when it comes to the diving:

  • Easy conditions. You’ll want to look for somewhere without too much current, although a bit of drift might be good for developing your skills. Good visibility will be helpful, and warmer water can mean less cumbersome exposure suits and excessive weight. 
  • Appropriate depths. Picking somewhere with lots of deep wrecks probably isn’t going to work for you just yet. 
  • Interesting marine life. You want there to be stuff to see, BUT, be careful of checking off those bucket list destinations too soon. If you jump straight to those dream dive sites, you run the risk of spoiling your expectations when diving elsewhere. Build up to the Raja Ampats and Socorros of the world and save them for when you’ve got more solid skills. 

Choosing the right boat is just as important as the right destination. Look out for the following:

  • Equipment rental on board. We’re big advocates of everyone having their own gear, but that isn’t always realistic for newer divers. If you’re travelling with just your beginner dive kit, make sure to request your equipment rentals ahead of time. On liveaboards, rental gear is often stored on land due to space constraints.  
  • Instructors on board. Even if you don’t want to take a course on your trip, having instructors as part of the dive crew can really help with developing your skills – they’ll often give you tips and tricks to become a better diver. 

1. Bahamas – Blackbeard’s Cruises

The Bahamas offer fantastic conditions for newer divers. Think bright blue ocean, crystal visibility, predominantly shallow dive sites, and minimal current. Plus, there’s even the chance to see lots of sharks. The highlight for this particular itinerary is hanging out with an abundance of Caribbean reef sharks.

A Caribbean reef shark in deep blue water over sandy bottom. Inset image of Sea Explorer, a dive liveaboard, docked in shallow water.

For beginner divers, we’d recommend looking at Blackbeard’s Cruises, which offer a “low frills, high fun” approach to diving. Spending 6 nights on either their Morning Star or Sea Explorer vessels, you’ll experience a “camping on water” style of trip. The dorm style accommodation gives us floating hostel vibes, which is ideal for solo travellers. 

Blackbeard’s have equipment rental available (must be pre-ordered at an additional cost), as well as certifications on request. There’s no minimum certification required – you could even complete your certifying Open Water dives on board. Or why not bring along a non-diving pal and get them certified to gain a new buddy?

Other liveaboards in the Bahamas may be more suited to divers with higher certification and more logged dives.

2. Turks & Caicos – Turks & Caicos Aggressor

You might be noticing a theme here – lots of Caribbean destinations are ideal for newer divers. Turks & Caicos is no exception, with average water temperatures from 25-29ºC (78-84ºF), and dive site depths as shallow as 11m (35ft). The barrier reef in the area is home to an abundance of colourful reef fish, coral, sponges, turtles, and even some sharks and rays. 

A bright white sandy beach with clear turquoise water in Turks & Caicos. Inset image, a mid-sized white dive liveaboard on deep blue water.

If you’re looking for a slightly more elevated style of boat than Blackbeard’s, the Turks & Caicos Aggressor might be for you. A combination of twin bunks and queen cabins, all en-suite, hosts up to 18 passengers. There’s even a hot tub on board. Running between April and December, you can enjoy up to 27 dives on their 7 night itinerary. 

Aggressor Adventures run dive cruises in many destinations, and they only require Open Water certification with no minimum logged dive number. However, some of their itineraries are much more suited to newer divers than others.

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3. Thailand – The Junk & The Phinisi

Thailand is another destination which is perfect for beginners. You’ll get a glimpse of the incredible diving that Asia has to offer, perhaps even encountering manta rays or whale sharks at the right sites! 

Yet the conditions are mostly nice and easy, with comfortable water temperatures of 28-30ºC (82-86ºF), and plenty to see down to 18m (59ft) for Open Water level. There are deeper sites to explore (35m+, 115ft+) for more advanced divers. Beware that there’s a possibility of currents – we’d suggest brushing up on your knowledge to prepare. 

A green sea turtle descends in deep blue water. Inset image, the Phinisi livebaoard with red sails in Thailand in bright blue water.

Much like our Bahamas suggestion, The Junk offers simple, dorm style accommodation. The boat hosts 18 guests in a mix of double, triple and quad cabins, all in bunks. They offer 7 day 6 night trips with up to 19 dives, or a 5 day 4 night option with up to 14 dives. A shorter trip could be an ideal way to ease into liveaboards, especially if you don’t know whether you get seasick

Rental equipment and courses are available, and you’ll need your Open Water certification but there’s no minimum dive number requirement. Their sister boat, The Phinisi, offers all the same benefits for newer divers but on a slightly more spacious vessel. Some cabins are still triple or quads, but there’s more space overall, and a wider choice of routes. 

There are lots more liveaboards to choose from in the Phuket area of Thailand, a large number of which will be suitable for beginner divers.

4. Australia – Pro Dive & Divers Den

Spend enough time chatting to divers, and you’ll meet plenty of people who got qualified whilst backpacking Australia. There are lots of liveaboards on the Great Barrier Reef which are great options even for yet-to-be-certified divers! 

Water temperatures in the area vary from 24-29ºC (75-84ºF) depending on time of year, making for comfortable conditions. There are some deeper dives to explore, but plenty to see down to 15m (49ft) where you’ll also benefit from the natural light at the surface.  

A reef scene in the Great Barrier Reef, with staghorn corals and lots of small reef fish. Inset images, motor catamaran liveaboards on the GBR.

The boats in the area tend to be large motor catamarans, and have larger guest numbers than liveaboards in other parts of the world. However, they offer a great introduction to liveaboard diving. Pro Dive’s ScubaPro liveaboards and Divers Den’s Ocean Quest vessel come highly recommended by Girls that Scuba members. 

Both operators host between 30-45 guests depending on the boat. Cabins are typically twin or double. Don’t expect anything luxurious, but you’ll have a comfortable stay on a boat like these. Rental equipment is included in the trip cost for both of these operators, and both offer a huge variety of courses on board. There are also multiple options for trip length, so plenty of options to fit lots of travel itineraries. Expect to dive 2-3 times per day, with the potential for night dives. 

Be mindful when booking that dives are often NOT guided for certified divers. The local sites are easy to navigate, so you will receive a dive site briefing with everyone on board the boat but won’t be guided in water by a Divemaster. You will conduct your own dive with your buddy. Ensure that you’re confident in managing your depth, keeping an eye on your no decompression limits, ascending safely, and conducting a safety stop with your buddy. 

5. Roatán – Roatán Aggressor

We’re rounding up the list with another Caribbean destination, and another option from Aggressor Adventures. The Roatán Aggressor is the only liveaboard in the area – and what an area it is to explore! 

Roatán’s waters offer beautiful shallow reefs with relatively easy conditions and little current. You can enjoy warm water temperatures from 24-28ºC (75-84ºF), and with dive sites as shallow as 9m (30ft) there’s something for everyone. 

Red and orange corals in deep blue water. Inset image, the Roatan Aggressor - a mid sized white liveaboard docked in idyllic blue water.

On board the Roatán Aggressor, you can expect comfortable en suite cabins in either double or twin bunk configurations. The boat hosts up to 18 guests on 8 day 7 night trips, and you’ll complete up to 27 dives. 

As previously mentioned, there’s no minimum dive or certification requirement for Aggressor liveaboards. However, like the Australia options, dives on board this boat aren’t guided as standard. You’ll be briefed on board and then dive independently with your buddy. Rental equipment and courses are available on board, so there are opportunities to learn and develop skills alongside an instructor if you’d like. 

Which beginner liveaboard destinations will you be visiting? Head to the Girls that Scuba group and let us know!

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