Artem Pochepetsky

The 10 Best Caribbean Liveaboards | Caribbean Dive Guide

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The sub-oceanic basin of the West Atlantic Ocean is a refuge for 16 small nations. Up in the air, these nations looks like a chain of white pearls. Similarly, the underwater habitats of the Caribbean is a pearly attraction for divers. Like the unique properties of each pearl, the dive sites of these island nations also has its own unique feature. You can either go wreck diving, pinnacle diving, shark diving or just have a smooth and tranquil reef dive.

But wait, get onboard first on our Caribbean liveaboard selection. These luxury vessels will maximize your Caribbean diving vacation and explore the most number of dive sites while being pampered onboard.

The Best Caribbean Liveaboards: Quick Picks

  1. Avalon II
  2. Belize Aggressor IV
  3. La Reina
  4. Cayman Aggressor IV
  5. Aqua Cat
  6. Tortuga
  7. Halcon
  8. Blackbeard Morning Star
  9. Blackbeard Sea Explorer
  10. Caribbean Explorer II

The Best Caribbean Liveaboards: At a Glance

LIVEABOARDROOMSNITROXWIFIRENTAL GEARLENGTHCOSTPADI TRAVELLIVEABOARD
AVALON II10YesNoYes40m$$$NACheck
BELIZE AGGRESSOR IV10YesNoYes42m$$$CheckCheck
LA REINA4YesNoYes26m$$N/ACheck
CAYMAN AGGRESSOR IV9YesNoYes34m$$NACheck
AQUA CAT11YesNoYes31m$$CheckCheck
TORTUGA8YesYesYes34m$$$NACheck
HALCON6YesYesYes21m$$N/ACheck
BLACKBEARD - MORNING STAR9NoNoYes20m$CheckCheck
BLACKBEARD - SEA EXPLORER9NoNoYes20m$CheckCheck
CARIBBEAN EXPLORER II9NoNoNo35m$$CheckCheck

The Best Caribbean Liveaboards: In depth

AVALON II – Our Top Pick

Photo Credit: Avalon II

Overview: A luxury liveaboard that offers dive safari in Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2014
  • Cabins: 10
  • Length: 40m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


BELIZE AGGRESSOR IV

Photo Credit: Belize Aggressor IV WayneWorks Marine

Overview: A world-class liveaboard offering dive itineraries to Belize and other Caribbean sites.

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 cave system that spans 124 meters deep.

It’s 10 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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2002/2012
  • Cabins: 10
  • Length/Width: 42m/8m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


LA REINA

Photo Credit: La Reina

Overview: A fully refurbished liveaboard offering dive trips to Cuba and other Caribbean destinations.

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 laundry service is also available.

Meals are served on the open-air dining area. Guests will love their lobster feast, as well as other seafood dishes. Their onboard chef also prepares traditional Cuban and Italian dishes. All meals and snacks are included with your stay with other beverages added extra.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2001
  • Cabins: 4
  • Length: 26m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


CAYMAN AGGRESSOR IV

Photo Credit: Cayman Aggressor WayneWorks Marine

Overview: A luxury liveaboard offering dive safari in the Cayman Islands.

Dive four to five times a day without feeling tired with onboard the Cayman Aggressor, a boat built in 1984 and 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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1984/2012
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length: 34m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


AQUA CAT

Photo Credit: Aqua Cat

Overview: A luxurious catamaran offering dive trips to the Bahamas.

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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2001/2017
  • Cabins: 11
  • Length/Width: 31m/11m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


TORTUGA 

Photo Credit: Tortuga

Overview: A non-traditional stationary liveaboard that is described more of a floating hotel.

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 8 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, rum cake and other Cuban fare. All meals, snacks, and limited drinks (including alcohol) are included in your stay.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 2004/2015
  • Cabins: 8
  • Length: 34m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: Free
  • Nitrox: Yes ($)

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


HALCON

Photo Credit: Halcon

Overview: A luxury liveaboard offering small group dive safari tours in Cuba and other Caribbean destinations.

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 6 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 (including alcoholic beverages) are included in your trip.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1964/2007
  • Cabins: 6
  • Length: 21m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: Yes
  • Nitrox: Free

Check prices and trip dates: Liveaboard


BLACKBEARD MORNING STAR

Photo Credit: Blackbeard – Morning Star

Overview: A popular Bahamian liveaboard that is ideal for the single and adventurous.

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. It has 9 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. After the dive, 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 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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1984/2016
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length/Width: 20m/6m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: No

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


BLACKBEARD SEA EXPLORER

Photo Credit: Blackbeard – Sea Explorer

Overview: A budget-friendly Bahamian liveaboard.

The Blackbeard Sea Explorer takes divers throughout the Bahamas to sites like Exuma Cays, Eleutherea, and the swimming pig beach. This 1984 built vessel is a great option for budget divers who want to experience Bahamian life at sea.

There are 9 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.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1984/2016
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length/Width: 20m/6m
  • Rental Gear: Yes ($)
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: No

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard


Caribbean Explorer II

Overview: A luxury liveaboard offering dive trips to St Kitts, Saba and St Maarten.

If you’re planning for an inter-island (or should we say inter-nation) dive vacation, then have a booking with the Caribbean Explorer II. This 35-meter long liveaboard vessel specializes in offering dive trips to St Kitts, Saba and St Maarten.

It has 9 cabins that accommodate up to 18 guests. All their cabins are airconditioned with private bathrooms and storage space. When not diving, you can relax in their sun deck that has an amazing 360 view or dine in in sumptuous gourmet meals.

  • Year Built/Renovated: 1978/1999
  • Cabins: 9
  • Length/Width: 35m/6m
  • Rental Gear: No
  • Internet: No
  • Nitrox: No

Check prices and trip dates: PADI Travel | Liveaboard

Why go scuba diving in the Caribbean?

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.

The best time to go scuba diving in the Caribbean

December to April are the best months to go diving in the Caribbean. Waters are calm and clear. However, outside these months, you have to check the weather first before travelling as this is usually the hurricane season.

Nevertheless, expect waters to play around 23°C to 30°C and wearing thick exposure suits are recommended. While it looks pristine from above, do be aware that visibility sometimes drop to murky conditions. However, in general, visibility varies on where the dive site is located.

Marine life you can expect to see in the Caribbean

Diving in the Caribbean is guaranteed that you will see lots of 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.

More liveaboard trips around the world

The Best Places in the World to Scuba Dive with Sharks

The Best Liveaboard Trips to Dive with Manta Rays

The Best Galapagos Scuba Liveaboard Trips

The Best Budget Liveaboard Trips Around the World

The Best Luxury Liveaboard Trips Around the World

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The ultimate dive and liveaboard guide to the Caribbean