The Caribbean is the birthplace of recreational liveaboard scuba diving and dive safaris are easily the most convenient and cost-effective way of thoroughly exploring this diverse region.

Whether you're looking to take it easy, or are in search of something a little more exciting, the Caribbean is the perfect place for a dive safari experience. In this article, we're breaking down the various routes offered by liveaboard vessels in the Caribbean, helping you find the perfect itinerary and start planning your trip.

New to the concept of liveaboard safaris? Learn all there is to know with our detailed guide to liveaboard diving.

What makes liveaboard diving in the Caribbean so incredible?

At a glance…

  • The birthplace of liveaboard diving, guaranteeing streamlined service
  • Hundreds of islands, making navigation easier by sea
  • See more of these diverse destinations in a single trip

The Caribbean is a perfect playground for scuba divers, with thousands of picturesque tropical islands, hundreds of kilometres of pristine coral reef, and conditions fit for explorers of all skill and comfort levels. These islands are also the birthplace of recreational liveaboard diving, with a local history of dive safaris dating back to the 1950s – so visitors can expect well-organised itineraries and streamlined service.

While it's impossible to visit more than a small fraction of the region's incredible underwater highlights in a single trip, a liveaboard safari undoubtedly helps you cover more ground. These voyages allow you to make the most of your time, visiting different destinations in one action-packed itinerary. And, many venture off the beaten path, exploring untouched and uncrowded dive sites that would otherwise be off-limits.

That said, geography isn't the only reason to book a liveaboard in the Caribbean. These sea safaris are also a great way to save money, with attractive all-inclusive packages covering your room, meals, and multiple dives each day. They can also maximise your time in the water, offering more dives than land-based operations, less time spent in transit, and focused itineraries with exciting themes like sharks and shipwrecks. 

Best liveaboard routes in the Caribbean

Liveaboards are often considered the best way to explore the Caribbean’s unique underwater world. These are among the very best routes, guaranteed to impress even the most distinguished scuba aficionados.

Liveaboard trips in Belize

The Belize Aggressor III liveaboard vessel above the iconic Great Blue Hole
The Belize Aggressor III liveaboard vessel above the iconic Great Blue Hole

At a glance…

This tiny Caribbean country is a diver's paradise, but many of the finest dive sites are found far offshore – making a liveaboard the very best way to see it all, without wasting precious time in a bumpy speedboat every day. Belize's dive safaris typically last eight-days and both begin and end in the capital, Belize City. Then, it's off to Turneffe Atoll, home to mangrove forests, sheltered lagoons, and nutrient-rich waters packed with marine life. The western sites offer plenty of shallow coral gardens for novice divers, but the eastern and southern reaches quickly transform into drop-offs patrolled by reef sharks, nurse sharks and eagle rays.

Up next, it's off to Lighthouse Reef, home to fascinating limestone formations, including the world-famous Great Blue Hole. This submerged sinkhole is known for its cave-like features, including massive stalactites – and you might also spot sharks in the shallows. Once you're better acquainted with Belize's unique subterranean side, you'll head south to Half Moon Cay for some of the Caribbean's very best wall diving. Keep an eye out for spawning reef fish, which may attract whale sharks and manta rays!

What’s so good about liveaboard trips in Belize?

The favourable conditions found within Belize’s barrier reef and atolls lend themselves to beginners, with many itineraries accepting newly-certified open water divers. And, thanks to the professional expertise of operators such as the Aggressor Fleet, both experienced and inexperienced divers are sure to feel safe and satisfied.

Liveaboard diving trips in the Bahamas

Shark cruising beneath the All Star Aqua Cat liveaboard in the Bahamas
Shark cruising beneath the All Star Aqua Cat liveaboard in the Bahamas

At a glance…

The Bahamas cover a massive geographic region, with unlimited opportunities for exploration. Some liveaboard trips in the Bahamas last up to 14-days at sea, exploring the best diving areas in the islands, plus a few hard to reach above-water attractions like the Thunderball Grotto. These trips focus on vibrant Caribbean reefs, plunging walls, shipwrecks, and fun, fast-paced currents. But, the real treat here is an opportunity to dive with the Bahamas' notorious ‘Big Five’ – tiger sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, great hammerheads, silkies, and oceanic whitetips. 

Most Bahamas liveaboard itineraries include both baited and natural shark dives, with carefully managed encounters, as well as seasonal aggregations and chance sightings. Friendly pods of dolphins can also be seen here, adding a special highlight. Of course, no trip to the Bahamas is complete without exploring the region's well-known caverns, blue holes, and shipwrecks.

What’s so good about liveaboard trips in the Bahamas

The Bahamas is easily the best shark diving destination in the Bahamas, offering regular encounters with numerous species. Liveaboard trips in the archipelago often capitalise on this, visiting multiple well-known shark spots to encounter as many species as possible.

Liveaboard trips in Turks and Caicos

The crystal-clear waters in the Turks and Caicos are ideal for liveaboard diving
The crystal-clear waters in the Turks and Caicos are ideal for liveaboard diving

At a glance…

With over 40 islands in the archipelago, liveaboard diving is the best way to explore all that Turks and Caicos has to offer. Most trips start and end in Providenciales and last around eight days. Liveaboard itineraries in Turks and Caicos vary significantly by season, with boats focused on spotting migratory humpback whales between December and March and spending most of their time in protected leeward areas during the storm season from June to November. Between July and September, nurse sharks also gather here, offering once in a lifetime opportunities to dive and snorkel with dozens of these docile bottom dwellers. 

No matter when you plan to visit, you'll spend the majority of your time exploring stunning coral gardens and plummeting walls, joined by vast schools of colourful reef fish. This is also one of the Caribbean's sharkiest destinations, with nurse and reef sharks popping up frequently and occasional sightings of larger species like hammerheads and even tiger sharks! Most itineraries also include a wreck or two, the most impressive of which are found around Salt Cay.

What’s so good about liveaboard trips in Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos are well known for their dramatic underwater walls which plunge to impressive depths. As you’d expect, these thrilling geological formations feature prominently on liveaboard itineraries, with different dive sites offering varying degrees of adventure. 

Liveaboard trips in the Cayman Islands

Stingrays above the sand at the Stingray City dive site, a popular stop for liveaboards
Stingrays above the sand at the Stingray City dive site, a popular stop for liveaboards

At a glance…

  • Areas of exploration: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac
  • Highlights: Historical wrecks, near-vertical walls, shallow coral gardens
  • Top sites: USS Kittiwake, Doc Polson wreck, Russian Destroyer, Bloody Bay Wall, Stingray City 

These trips last a week at sea, beginning and ending in George Town, Grand Cayman. Liveaboard itineraries in the Cayman Islands include stops at the country’s iconic diving areas, showcasing the best of all three islands whenever possible. The Caymans are renowned for numerous well-preserved shipwrecks, plummeting walls, and colourful light-filled coral gardens. Plus, close encounters with friendly Southern stingrays at the world-famous Stingray City. 

While liveaboard diving in Grand Cayman, you'll likely encounter sea turtles, eagle rays, and potentially nurse sharks cruising the region's stunning reefs and drop-offs, while the shallows offer vast schools of tropical reef fish, lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. But, wreck diving is one of the biggest treats here, with historical Soviet and American vessels blanketed in coral.

What’s so good about liveaboard trips in the Cayman Islands

These islands play host to some of the Caribbean’s very best shipwrecks, including the famous Kittiwake and Captain Keith Tibbetts vessels, as well as numerous more. Liveaboard trips provide a seamless way to visit all of the archipelago’s best wrecks without losing time to domestic travel.  

Ready to start planning your ultimate Caribbean liveaboard experience?

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Article written by
Marc Rowbottom
Dive travel expert

Marc spent several years exploring Australia, the Caribbean and SE Asia, before finding his personal paradise in Palau, where he lived and dived for more than 4 years. He is our in-house expert at crafting personalised diving holidays, guiding guests from plans and dreams, to the perfect scuba diving holiday. And he loves to talk about diving!