Learning to dive is an exciting time and almost every diver remembers their first breath underwater and the first dive site they explored. There are many great destinations for new divers to experience once qualified, including liveaboard safaris perfect for gaining confidence and skills amongst world-class dive sites.
Here are our top 10 liveaboard destinations for new divers:
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef, stretching for 2300 kilometres along the coast of Queensland, is perfect for new divers. There are a number of Great Barrier Reef liveaboards to choose from and many don’t require a minimum number of dives to participate. Diving is possible all year, with the summer months (December/January) offering the best visibility and a water temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. With water visibility averaging over 40 metres in the Coral Sea and diverse marine life at numerous sites, this area is an ideal introduction to Australia liveaboard diving.
The Bahamas is known for easy and consistent dive conditions, making it perfect for new divers. It is a shark hotspot where diving with inquisitive Tiger sharks in crystal clear water is the norm. Divers can join a Tiger Beach Liveaboard off Grand Bahama and enjoy dive sites ranging from 6m to 30m depth, with little or no current. Some companies will request an Open Water certification with a minimum of 30 dives. There are also dive companies that offer tiger shark diving with less dive experience required. October to January are the best months to visit for peak tiger shark season.
The Red Sea is known for colourful dive sites with soft and hard corals, great visibility, and an abundance of fish life and shipwrecks. There are numerous day boats from Sharm el Sheikh that visit well-known Ras Mohammed Marine Reserve and the Straits of Tiran, plus accessible shore dives. The best way to explore offshore sites and avoid the crowds is by Egypt liveaboard diving from Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada. Diving is possible all year and there is an abundance of dive sites and liveaboard itineraries to choose from. Check dives are common on Egypt liveaboards, helping staff to ensure they plan the right dives for all experience levels.
Thailand is a favourite for new divers and the combination of diverse dive sites, affordable liveaboard diving, and stunning landscapes, attracts divers each year. Dive sites include reef diving, walls, wrecks, pinnacles, caverns and more. There is abundant marine life to enjoy including manta rays and whale sharks, plus diving is possible year-round. Both short and long diving Thailand liveaboard itineraries are available, making it a great destination for gaining an Open Water certification and hopping aboard.
The Seychelles is a great destination for divers to experience sailing aboard a modern yacht or traditional schooner, whilst enjoying reef diving amongst this archipelago of 115 islands. Dive site depths of the Inner Islands are 8 to 30 meters, with easy conditions, making it ideal for new divers. The marine life is diverse, with octopus, moray eels, nudibranchs and sharks commonly seen. Diving is possible year-round and a Mahé liveaboard in October or November offers the chance to swim with visiting whale sharks. The M/V Galatea offers year-round dive cruises in the Seychelles, with dive sites for experienced and novice divers.
Sri Lanka, a small island off the coast of India, has liveaboard dive safaris in the Northwest Kalpitaya that offer diving for both new and experienced divers. The coral reef at Northwest Kalpitaya has blacktip reef sharks and the chance to see blue whales, humpback whales, sperm whales, and diverse reef fish species. Sri Lanka liveaboards are luxurious, check dives are conducted to ensure new divers are placed within groups of similar abilities, and the water visibility is up to 40 meters. Liveaboards set sail during November to February.
The Solomon Islands is made up of an archipelago of 922 islands and has pristine reefs with over 500 species of coral, plus numerous wrecks from World War II to explore. There are over 600 aircraft and 200 varieties of other wreck to explore in the waters off the Florida Islands and some of the wrecks can be enjoyed by snorkelers and recreational divers alike. Both short and long Solomon Islands liveaboard safaris are available, from 2 to 15 days’ length, and there is no minimum logged dives requirement on many of the liveaboards.
The Cuban government only permits a certain number of people to dive there each year, resulting in healthy and unspoilt marine reserves such as the Jardines de la Reina or ‘Gardens of the Queen’ and Canarreos Archipelago. Cuba liveaboard diving is suitable for new divers, has easy dive conditions, and is known for excellent night diving. The diversity of life is staggering; with over 700 species of fish, including 100 shark species, and mangroves with resident manatees. The best season to visit is December to April.
Divers visiting Belize can enjoy the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest in the Northern hemisphere, and the famous Blue Hole. Belize diving includes shallow coral reefs, wall dives, drift dives, and deep dives in the Blue Hole. There are plenty of sites suitable for new divers and marine life including groupers, jacks, eagle rays and turtles. Whale sharks can be seen at Placencia from April to June.
Turks and Caicos
This archipelago of 40 coral islands is rich in marine life, with Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, Hawksbill turtles, bottlenose dolphins and eagle rays being commonly seen. It is also possible to see Humpback whales during January to March. Liveaboard diving is available all year and the Turks and Caicos have calm seas and consistent water temperatures year-round. Turks and Caicos scuba diving is suitable for new divers and non-divers are also welcome aboard.
This article was originally featured on Scubaverse.com.