CARIBBEAN DIVE GUIDE
In this guide to scuba diving in the Caribbean we’ll cover:
- Why dive in the Caribbean: what you can expect to see, and when to visit
- The 10 best Caribbean liveaboards: at a glance
- The 10 best Caribbean liveaboards: in depth
The Caribbean is what most people imagine when they hear the words, “tropical paradise.” The Caribbean Sea is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world because of its variety of dive sites and abundance of sea life. Everything, including the liveaboards that venture around the region, has a laid-back, relaxed feeling. You can dive with sharks one day and hunt for hidden macro life the next. Best of all? You can finish each day with some locally made rum punch and rum cake.
Average water temperature: The Caribbean Sea ranges from 23°C to 30°C. We recommend diving in an exposure suit up to 5 mm neoprene wetsuit for cold-blooded divers. Dives will be find snorkeling in a swimming suit.
Visibility: Depends on dive site.
Dive ability: Beginner to advanced — many Caribbean liveaboard trips offer certification during the trip.
What you can expect to see in the Caribbean: Tropical reef fish, corals, sharks, whale sharks, wreck sites, and large pelagic creatures. Top dive sites include the Gardens of the Queen near Cuba, the Blue Hole in Belize, and Cara a Cara in Honduras.
|LIVEABOARD||ROOMS||NITROX||WIFI||RENTAL GEAR||LENGTH||COST||PADI TRAVEL||LIVEABOARD|
|BELIZE AGGRESSOR IV||10||Yes||No||Yes||42m||$$$||Check||Check|
|CAYMAN AGGRESSOR IV||9||Yes||No||Yes||34m||$$||Check||Check|
|JULIET SAILING AND DIVING||6||Yes||No||Yes||32m||$||Check||N/A|
|BLACKBEARD - MORNING STAR||3||No||No||Yes||20m||$||Check||Check|
|BLACKBEARD - SEA EXPLORER||3||No||No||Yes||20m||$||Check||Check|
Built in 2014 and spanning 40 meters long, the Avalon II is a stunning and spacious liveaboard that can accommodate up to 20 divers with its 10 cabins. The Avalon II primarily services the Caribbean — mostly Gardens of the Queen and the stunning mangrove forests of Cuba.
Each cabin comes with air-conditioning, an ensuite bathroom, showers, and a window. Cabins come with one twin bed and one full. Avalon II has four decks, with the main one being a combination of dining area, bar, and lounge. The top deck has a jacuzzi and sun area with lounge chairs.
The chefs on Avalon II prepare fresh seafood, Italian, and Cuban food for guests. All meals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages are included on the trip. Alcohol, extra drinks, and juice is available for extra.
Check prices and trip dates for Avalon II: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
BELIZE AGGRESSOR IV
The Belize Aggressor IV is a steel-hulled boat built in 2002 and renovated in 2012. It ventures throughout the tropical waters of Belize including sites like Blue Hole, a freshwater cave system that spans 124 meters deep.
It’s ten cabins are a mix of twin, queen, and king beds. All rooms have a window, a monitor and media player, wardrobe, fresh towels, hair dryer, and air conditioning. On deck, you can hang out in the jacuzzi, order something from the wet bar and grill, or organize your pictures at the photo station.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, dinners are served at your seat and include salad, a main course, and dessert. All meals, snacks, and limited drinks are included in your trip.
Check prices and trip dates for Belize Aggressor IV: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
If you’re looking for a private liveaboard, La Reina is a top contender. At 26 meters long and built in 2001, La Reina can accommodate up to eight divers in four cabins.
Each room comes with two single beds, storage space, air-conditioning, and an ensuite bathroom with hot showers. Housekeeping happens daily and there is laundry service also available.
Meals are served on the open-air dining area. Guests love the lobster, other seafood, and traditional Cuban and Italian dishes. All meals and snacks are included with your stay with other beverages added extra.
Check prices and trip dates for La Reina: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
CAYMAN AGGRESSOR IV
Dive four to five times a day without feeling tired with onboard the Cayman Aggressor, a boat built in 1984 but renovated in 2012. It spans 34 meters long and hosts 18 passengers in 9 cabins. The Cayman Aggressor IV primarily services the Cayman Islands with sites like Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac.
There are multiple types of rooms onboard. The deluxe rooms come with double or single beds and ensuite bathroom while the standard rooms share a bathroom between two rooms. There is also a master stateroom with a queen-sized bed. All rooms come with air conditioning and storage space.
You’ll love the lounge area with deck chairs, bar and grill, jacuzzi, and more. There is also a photo center with a communal computer to edit images. The crew also hosts games, events, movie nights, and more.
All meals and limited alcoholic beverages are included with your stay – and divers may bring their own drinks onboard. Lunch is served buffet-style and a three-course dinner is served every evening.
Check prices and trip dates for Cayman Aggressor IV: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
Aqua Cat was built in 2001 but recently renovated in 2017, making it one of the most modern liveaboards in the Caribbean. Aqua Cat mainly ventures around the Bahamas to sites like the Exumas and Eleuthera. Aqua Cat was also rated the top liveaboard in the world for its crew by Scuba Diving Magazine.
Its 11 rooms can accommodate up to 30 passengers, as many rooms can suit three or four guests. All rooms have a private bathroom with shower, 120-volt outlets, hair dryer, and air conditioning.
There are hammocks and a barbecue on the alfresco deck, a video and photo editing area, an entertainment system, and more.
You won’t go hungry on the Aqua Cat by any means. Meals start with a hefty and hearty breakfast, lunch, and three-course dinner in the dining room. Limited soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are included with your stay.
Check prices and trip dates for Aqua Cat: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
Tortuga is not your average liveaboard. This spacious set-up is more like a stationary hotel on water rather than traditional liveaboard – since it never moves from its spot in a calm bay, it’s the ideal liveaboard for divers prone to seasickness, or divers hesitant about being at sea. It is two-to-three hours from Cuba mainland by speedboat.
This 34-meter long, two-deck houseboat is the perfect access point to Gardens of the Queen (Jardines del Reina). Tortuga accommodates 18 guests in eight cabins, was built in 2004 but recently renovated in 2015. Some cabins are bunk-bed style, though there is a cabin with a double-bed available. Every room comes with air conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, storage space, and more.
Tortuga also has two outdoor lounge areas and caters to divers by providing dive gear storage space, rinse tanks, DIN to yoke adaptors, and more.
The chefs serve fresh seafood, lobster, and rum cake – as well as other Cuban fare. All meals, snacks, and limited drinks (including alcohol) are included in your stay.
Check prices and trip dates for Tortuga: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
JULIET SAILING AND DIVING
If you love to step back in time, you’ll love spending a week on Juliet – a three-masted schooner liveaboard that hosts 12 passengers in 6 cabins. It was originally built in 1974 and renovated into a dive charter in 2003. Juliet primarily services the Bahamas, Florida Keys, and Saint Croix.
The main entertainment lounge has an entertainment center with flat screen TV, DVDs, and Sirius Radio. On deck, you can lounge under the sun and eat your meals. You can also take turns watching the horizon from the crow’s nest. Built for divers, there are 12 tank stations where you can store your gear for safekeeping and refill your tank.
Food is served buffet-style with snacks in between. Those with food preferences or allergies can also be accommodated. Limited alcoholic beverages like beer and wine are included.
Check prices and trip dates for Juliet Sailing and Diving: PADI Travel
Built in 1964 and renovated in 2007, the Halcon is a yacht with a 1970s flare that mainly explores the Jardins del Reina and departs from the Cuban port of Jucaro. This liveaboard prioritizes small groups by hosting 12 guests in six cabins.
All rooms have air conditioning, and guests share three bathrooms onboard with hot water showers.
Between dives, you can enjoy the common areas perfect for relaxing. The lounge is air-conditioned with a TV and DVD library. The TV connects to many devices – so it’s possible to share pictures and videos on the trip with all!
Chefs typically serve seafood, Cuban, and Italian fare. All meals, snacks, and drinks – included alcoholic beverages – are included in your trip.
Check prices and trip dates for Halcon: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
BLACKBEARD MORNING STAR
The Blackbeard Morning Star is a liveaboard ideal for divers on a budget who love to socialize. It was built in 1984, renovated in 2016, and is 20 meters long.
The Blackbeard Morning Star has three rooms that accommodate up to 22 guests with single and double beds that are bunk-bed style with private curtains. Each room is air-conditioned, and the bathrooms are shared.
You can lounge and watch movies in the entertainment room, lounge on deck, and enjoy the shade.
Blackbeard Morning Star is great for inexperienced or beginner divers – they also offer scuba courses on board!
Three meals are served buffet-style (typically American fare) with snacks in between. You can also have a piece of fresh fruit whenever you like in between dives.
Check prices and trip dates for Blackbeard Morning Star: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
BLACKBEARD SEA EXPLORER
The Blackbeard Sea Explorer takes divers throughout the Bahamas to sites like Exuma Cays, Eleutherea, and the swimming pig beach. This is a great option for budget divers who want to experience life aboard a 20-meter long sailing vessel built in 1984 and renovated in 2016.
There are three rooms onboard to accommodate up to 22 people. Beds are bunk-bed, dormitory style with each having its own privacy curtain in single and double size. All rooms are air conditioned.
In the common areas, you can watch movies, lounge under the shade, and enjoy the view.
Food tends to be served as typical American Fare with dishes like baked chicken, lasagna and meatballs, and grilled barbecue. Snacks and water are also included with your trip.
Check prices and trip dates for Blackbeard Sea Explorer: PADI Travel | Liveaboard
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