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January is the start of the year and we usually turn into a couch potato as a result of the hectic schedule most of us do during Christmas and New Year. But what we don’t know is that January is one of the best months to go liveaboard diving since prevalent weather conditions are at its calmest and underwater parameters are optimal. This is particularly true if your dream destination is in the tropics where liveaboard vessels can take you to far flung areas and explore numerous pristine dive sites without getting seasick or struggle and adapt to extreme water conditions.
So what are you waiting for, forget about being lazy, stand up, read along and choose from our list of the best liveaboard trips to go diving in January.
Table of Contents
The Best Liveaboard Trips to go Diving in January: At a Glance
Year of Commission: 1962 (renovated 1998) Capacity: 18 guests Area of Operation: Thailand and Myanmar Dive Destination: Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Phi Phi Island
If you want to experience great diving and live onboard on an authentic sailing vessel, then The Junk should be in your bucket list. This former merchant ship that sailed the trade routes of Burma to Malaysia in the 60s to 80s was completely renovated to become a fully furnished liveaboard sailing vessel. It now has 6 air-conditioned cabins all equipped with en-suite bathrooms. It has a large saloon that is fitted with an entertainment system and a shaded sun deck that offers great panoramic view of the sea. Open for public booking during the diving season from November to May, The Junk sails the waters of the Andaman Sea in Thailand and nearby Myanmar. It will take tourist divers to world renowned dive sites such as the Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Phi Phi Island.
Aside from reviews and commendations, the popularity of The Junk has reached the large screen where it was featured in several box office films like James Bond’s “The Man With The Golden Gun”.
Year of Commission: 1979 (renovated 2013) Capacity: 17 guests Area of Operation: Philippines and Micronesia Dive Destination: Tubbataha reefs and Palau
If you have in your bucket list a desire to explore the best of the Philippines and Palau, then nothing beats Solitude One. This 52 meter (170 feet) long ex-merchant ship that is fully refitted to become a liveaboard, can now accommodate 17 guests onboard and each of her voyage is designed to either explore the Asian archipelago of the Philippines or the Micronesian islands of Palau. Either way, getting onboard this purpose-built liveaboard vessel during January will give you maximum comfort, enjoyment and satisfaction courtesy from the calm seas.
Your onboard selection of accommodation includes the deluxe cabin bunk bed, deluxe twin cabin and the stateroom suites. When you hop onboard during its Philippine league, your primary dive spot is the Tubbataha reef where this 96,828 hectare (239,270 acres) national marine park is popular for wall, night, deep and excellent reef diving. If you choose the Palau league, you will never miss to explore its top diving site which features great wall diving and immense marine life – the Blue Corner.
Year of Commission: 2003 (renovated 2013) Capacity: 22 guests Area of Operation: Red Sea Dive Destination: Egypt, Sudan and Djibouti
After 10 years of catering to dive enthusiasts, this 31 meter (101 feet) marine vessel was refitted to become a modern dive yacht that is designed to meet the demands of scuba fanatics. It has 11 cabins where your choices includes the twin cabins and the lower deck suites. The main deck of this vessel has an air conditioned saloon fitted with large plasma TV, sound system and a bar. The dining area is located just across the saloon where you can indulge in mouth-watering dishes served in buffet style.
While Nemo sails to most dive destinations in the Red Sea, Djibouti is their preferred itinerary during January due to calm weather conditions and excellent diving parameters. You will go diving in their top dive spots that includes Moucha Island, 7 Brothers, Obok, Tadjoura and Ras Korali. Aside from large schooling fish, all these dive sites are known for good visibility and shark interaction.
Year of Commission: 1987 (renovated 2011) Capacity: 18 guests Area of Operation: Belize Dive Destination: Half Moon Caye, Blue Hole and Turneffe
The 34 meter (111 feet) Belize Aggressor III is a luxury liveaboard vessel that sails in the waters of Belize. Fully renovated in 2011, it now has 9 air-conditioned cabins where your choices includes the Deluxe Bunk Bed, Deluxe Stateroom and the Master Stateroom. Its facilities include a saloon fitted with full entertainment system, a library for fish ID sessions, a sun deck with jacuzzi and bar service.
Usually departing on a Sunday morning for a weeklong journey, the Belize Aggressor III takes up to 18 guests for an amazing diving adventure in some of Belize’s best dive spot. But this one-week dive adventure is not enough since your dive spot is set on the second largest barrier reef in the world that covers an area of 960 square kilometers (370 square miles). You can go wall, deep and reef diving in Painted Wall, Half Moon Caye and the Quebradas or narrow channel where its vertical limestone wall are fully encrusted with corals, gorgonians and sponges. But if think you are already satisfied with these sites, make way for more satisfaction since your main dive site involves exploring a collapsed freshwater cave system that has a 300 meter (984 feet) opening at the top and a vertical drop-off tunnel that goes all the way to 120 meters (393 feet) deep – the Blue Hole.
Year of Commission: 2004 (renovated 2015) Capacity: 20 guests Area of Operation: Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea Dive Destination: Iron Bottom Sound
Formerly named as MV Taka, the Solomons PNG Master is the newest liveaboard vessel operating in the waters of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. It has 12 cabins where your selection includes the Standard Single, Standard Twin Share, Classic Double, Classic Twin and the Premium Double Rooms. On the main deck is the spacious main lounge and dining area where you can relax while watching movies on a large TV or indulge in a gastronomic feast of international cuisine prepared fresh onboard. The upper level has a sun deck lounge giving you unobstructed view of the ocean.
While your dive site involves exploring pristine reefs with numerous reef fish, wreck diving is considered a big hit in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where you can explore the remains of warships from the Second World War in Iron Bottom Sound.
Year of Commission: 1978 (renovated 1999) Capacity: 18 guests Area of Operation: Caribbean Dive Destination: Saba Marine Park, St. Maarten and St. Kitts & Nevis
Charting on a weeklong journey to the unbeaten paths of the Northeastern section of the Caribbean, the Caribbean Explorer II is a popular liveaboard vessel that offers great diving and comfortable onboard living. It has 9 cabins where your selection includes Bunk Beds and Staterooms. The main deck of this vessel is highlighted with the airconditioned Main Saloon that is fitted with a large TV, video library and entertainment center. There is a sun deck at the upper level where most guests unwind after the dive.
Your main dive sites are some of the most popular areas in the Caribbean. You can go deep diving in offshore pinnacles or go reef diving while cruising on top of a 5 square mile reef that sits on top of a dormant volcano. Saba Marine Park is also included in your itinerary where this 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) protected area is known for immense marine biodiversity such as the Atlantic blue tang, black durgon, sharks, stingrays and barracudas.
Year of Commission: 1992 (renovated 2008) Capacity: 26 guests Area of Operation: Australia Dive Destination: the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea
This 37 meter (121 feet) long vessel has been voted as Australia’s Best Liveaboard by Australasia Dive Log and has been accredited as an Advanced Ecotourism Operator which is considered as the highest eco-certification given in Australia. With its 6,000 nautical mile operating range, the Spirit of Freedom can take its guest to some of Australia’s remote dive sites without the need to refuel. Onboard, it has 11 cabins that can accommodate up to 26 guests where your accommodation choices includes the Standard Double Cabin, Quad Cabin, Staterooms and Ocean View Deluxe Rooms.
Your main dive spot is the World’s largest coral reef system – the Great Barrier Reef. Daily, you do at least 4 dives while exploring the vast 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) area of this world renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. For its long-distance league, it can travel to the Coral Sea and other popular dive sites in Northern Australia such as the Ribbon Reef.
Year of Commission: 2018 (brand new) Capacity: 20 guests Area of Operation: Cayman Islands Dive Destination: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
This newly built 36 meter (118 feet) long steel-hulled vessel can take up to 20 guests to a weeklong diving adventure in the warm turquoise waters of the Western Caribbean. On board, your choices for accommodation includes the Suite Staterooms that has its own balcony, Deluxe Staterooms and Twin staterooms all equipped with its own bathroom, shower and climate control.
The Cayman Aggressor V will take divers to Cayman Islands top diving spot surrounding Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Performing up to 27 dives during the duration of the trip, you will explore the Trinity Caves, Stingray City that is filled with friendly stingrays, Bloody Wall or go wreck diving and visit the remains of a submarine rescue vessel – the Kittiwake.
Year of Commission: 1976 (renovated 2009) Capacity: 116 guests Area of Operation: Arctic North Circle and Antarctica
It does not mean that diving in January is exclusive only in the tropics. Diving in the Arctic is also great in January since it falls on the Austral summer months where the weather is generally calm. But do not expect warm weather, as compared to its tropical counterparts, as the Arctic is literally freezing cold both on land and underwater. With this, the trip is ideal for divers who have training and experience in ice diving and please do not forget to bring your equipment and dry suit as there are no equipment rental onboard.
While the surrounding environment of the Arctic is considered harsh, the interior deck of the Plancius is warm and comfortable. All of its 53 cabins do not have air-conditioning. Diving in the arctic will usually take you under or near an ice sheet with a general shallow profile of only 10 to 20 meters (30 to 60 feet) deep. Going underwater in frigid conditions allows you to see fur seals, leopard seals and penguins. Plancius will also take you to an Arctic wildlife encounter by standing on the viewing deck and see polar bears in the distance.
Year of Commission: 1989 Capacity: 116 guests Area of Operation: Arctic North Circle and Antarctica
Another great polar destination to go diving in January is Antarctica and Ortelius is one of two liveaboards (the other one is Plancius) that sails this frigid part of the world. It has 53 cabins that accommodate 116 guests where your choices includes Quadrupole porthole cabins, Triple porthole cabins, Double porthole cabins, WIndow Deck and Superior Cabins.
Similar to other polar liveaboards, the diving profile used in the Ortelius is usually under or near an ice sheet where you can see and interact with polar species like penguins, seals and kelp that usually forms a thick vertical wall.