7 Liveaboard Dive Trips For Experienced Divers

When it comes to liveaboard diving, experienced scuba divers can have it all. As well as diving at the most sought-after destinations in the world, experienced divers can enjoy hidden gems that few other people reach. There are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites that only skilled divers can explore and a range of luxurious liveaboards to choose from. All of which makes being an experienced diver the best thing ever. Read on for our pick of the 7 best liveaboard dive trips for experienced divers.

Like a challenge? Try these 7 liveaboard dive destinations.

  1. Komodo, Indonesia

Why go there: Komodo’s nutrient-rich waters and ripping currents have created some of the most biodiverse reefs in Indonesia and offer a staggering array of underwater landscapes. Days spent among coral-covered walls, pinnacles, seamounts, and swim-throughs are the norm at this popular liveaboard dive destination. Known for its manta rays and whale sharks, Komodo also hosts dolphins, sunfish, prized critters galore, a diverse array of corals, and numerous reef fish. The list of marine life you can see when diving in Komodo is frankly astonishing. Where to dive:
  • Batu Balong pinnacle for racing currents, schooling fish and sharks.
  • Visit Rinca Island for Komodo dragons and fantastic coral dives.
  • Manta Point for drift diving and manta cleaning stations.
  • Go reef diving and walk along Komodo’s famous Pink Beach.
When to go:
  • You can dive Komodo all year.
  • April to November is the dry season and offers calm seas.
  • December to February has numerous manta rays.
  • You can spot sunfish during August.
Komodo liveaboards: There are numerous liveaboards to choose from in Komodo, including traditional phinisi sailing boats and modern yachts. READ MORE: SEARCHING FOR SUNFISH? 3 TOP PLACES TO DIVE WITH THEM.  
  1. Socorro Islands, Mexico

Why go there: The remote Socorro Islands are renowned as Mexico’s premier marine megafauna destination and rarely disappoints. Washed by strong currents and nutrient-rich waters, a liveaboard dive trip to these exposed islands is a thrilling bucket-list experience. There are friendly giant pacific manta rays in abundance at the wild Socorro Islands, plus humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, and numerous sharks. This is not a destination for coral diving. But for swimming with numerous ocean giants from a range of luxury liveaboards, there is nowhere like it. Where to dive:
  • Roca Partida for sharks, dolphins, humpback whales, and schooling pelagics.
  • Dive famous San Benedicto Canyon for mantas, hammerheads, Galapagos, and silky sharks.
When to go: November to May offers the calmest seas, but the best time to go diving in Socorro depends on what marine life you want to see.
  • Whale sharks: November and December.
  • Humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins: January to March.
  • Mantas and sharks: all year.
  • Bait ball season: May to July.
Socorro liveaboards: There is a good selection of liveaboards to choose from, including luxurious boats designed to minimize motion sickness. MORE FEATURED PLACES TO GO IN MEXICO.  
  1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Why go there: Exceptional wildlife experiences above and below water keep divers and naturalists returning to the Galapagos Islands every year. The waters around this isolated UNESCO World Heritage Site are absolutely brimming with life. Diving the Galapagos in the warm season is all about large schools of hammerheads, plus silky and Galapagos sharks. Numerous rays are also seen at this time of year, including mantas, mobulas, eagle rays, and marble rays. In the cooler months, strong currents and swells attract whale sharks and there are still plenty of hammerheads to dive with. Dolphins are regularly seen at the islands as well, and you can also dive with ancient-looking marine iguanas, penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles there. Where to dive:
  • Meet playful Galapagos sea lions at Punta Carion.
  • Cabo Douglas for marine iguanas, seahorses, and penguins.
  • Dive Cousins Rock for manta rays and rare black corals.
When to go:
  • December to May for the warm season.
  • June to November for the cooler season.
Galapagos liveaboards: There are numerous Galapagos liveaboards to choose from. Some offer liveaboard dive safaris whilst others focus on snorkeling and wildlife watching only. DISCOVER MORE OF THE WORLD’S BEST MARINE LIFE.
  1. Apo Reef, the Philippines.

Why go there: Sitting in the warm blue waters of the Mindoro Strait, Apo Reef is the world’s second-largest contiguous coral reef system and a must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apo Reef is eye-catching and exciting, with large deep seamounts and sheer drop-offs washed by strong currents. There is plenty of big marine life, including diverse sharks, manta rays, and huge schools of pelagic fish. This is much more than a megafauna destination though. It is the Philippines’ largest reef system, where extensive corals and biodiverse reef life abound. With more than 400 coral species and over 380 species of fish, Apo Reef is an undisputed and diverse highlight of diving in the Philippines. Where to dive:
  • Enjoy jaw-dropping pelagic action at Barracuda Hill (Apo 29).
  • Apo Menor for mantas, marble rays, and reef sharks.
  • Dive Hunter’s Rock seamounts for banded sea snakes, abundant tuna, and trevally.
When to go:
  • You can dive there all year, though January to April is the dry season.
Apo Reef liveaboards: There is a handful of Apo Reef liveaboards to choose from, offering a variety of short and longer liveaboard dive safaris for different budgets. READ MORE: DIVING FIJI - THE WORLD’S MOST COLORFUL REEFS.  
  1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica.

Why go there: This would not be an article for experienced divers if we did not include Cocos Island. This incredible National Park sits 500 km off Costa Rica and is one of the top liveaboard dive destinations in the world. Currents, surge, and deep dives, make this UNESCO World Heritage Site a challenging yet action-packed destination. The submerged volcanic islands are surrounded by countless scalloped hammerheads, plus mantas and whale sharks. There are huge populations of tuna, sailfish, and marlin among the underwater pinnacles. You can also see humpbacks, pilot whales, and dolphins there. Above water lies a land of lush rainforests and waterfalls, hosting wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. When it comes to diving in North America, this is one of the best places to go. Where to dive:
  • Love corals and reef fish? Do not miss Manuelita Coral Gardens.
  • Dive with hundreds of hammerheads at Bajo Alcyone.
  • Dos Amigos Grande for striking landscapes and fast-paced pelagic action.
When to go:
  • December to April for good visibility and fewer currents.
Seasonal marine life highlights:
  • May to November for hammerhead sharks.
  • May to August for whale sharks.
  • November to May for manta rays.
  • January for humpbacks and pilot whales.
Cocos Island liveaboards: There is a handful of Cocos Island liveaboards that offer different lengths of safaris. LOVE ISLAND DIVING? GO DIVING IN THE AZORES.
  1. Palau, Micronesia.

Why go there: Palau, with its endless stunning islands and warm turquoise waters, is tempting for just about any diver. But to make the most out of this slice of paradise, it is best to visit as an experienced diver and join a liveaboard dive safari. Diving in Palau is truly diverse, with current dives along incredible walls, coral-encrusted WWII wrecks, and manta dives. There are reefs teeming with fish, plus big pelagics and drop-offs that plunge to the seabed. If that is not enough, you can go cave diving and swim in a lake with millions of harmless jellyfish. Where to dive:
  • Blue Corner for wall diving with patrolling sharks and numerous fish.
  • German Channel for mantas and ripping currents.
  • Peleliu for Palau’s most famous dive sites.
When to go:
  • You can dive Palau all year, though November to May is the best time to visit.
Palau liveaboards: There is a small selection of Palau liveaboards to choose from. Most of which have been purpose-built for liveaboard dive trips and have all the amenities you could need. READ MORE: 8 MICRONESIA WRECK DIVES FOR EVERY DIVER.
  1. Southern Atolls, the Maldives.

Why go there: Peaceful and with few other boats around, the Maldives’ Southern Atolls are perfect for adventurous divers who like to leave the beaten path behind. These rich waters have numerous undiscovered dive sites to explore. Diving at atolls few others have visited is an incredible experience. Go diving in the Southern Atolls and you can drift through deep channels busy with pelagics, enjoy fast-paced wall dives, and relax in shallow light-filled reefs. There are not many whale sharks in the Southern Atolls, but there are numerous reef sharks, mantas, eagle rays and mobulas. The reefs host an array of classic Indian Ocean fish life, and the currents attract diverse pelagics. If you like Maldives diving but want something new, this is the place to go before the rest of the world finds out. Where to dive:
  • Laamu Atoll for exploratory diving at unknown dive sites.
  • Meemu Atoll for fast currents and deep channels, plus numerous mantas.
  • Nilandhe Atoll for stunning coral formations and reef sharks.
When to go:
  • December to March for calm seas and sunshine.
  • May to November for mantas at Meemu Atoll.
  • All year for mantas at Faafu in Nilandhe Atoll.
Maldives liveaboards: There are numerous Maldives liveaboard dive safaris to choose from, including a handful that visit the Southern Atolls and also offer unique marine conservation expeditions.