The Bahamas has it all – deep trenches, underwater caves, and sharks, just to name a few – and of course, optimal conditions for liveaboard diving. This underwater world offers many opportunities for divers of all skill levels. Plus, it isn’t just in the water where the Bahamas shines. It’s also an excellent destination for beach lovers, with its stunningly picturesque shores and swimming pigs.
Made up of nearly 700 beautiful coral islands and over 2000 cays, the best way to explore this Caribbean archipelago is by liveaboard diving in the Bahamas. Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas is a subtropical paradise with rich marine life. From colorful Mahi Mahi to friendly green turtles, there’s plenty to see both above and below the surface.
But with so much to explore, it can be difficult to know which Bahamas liveaboards are the best. From choosing your boat to finding the best itineraries for Bahamas liveaboards – we cover everything you need to know about liveaboards in the Bahamas in this article.
If you’ve been in the diving community for any length of time, you’ve likely heard at least one person praising the Bahamas as a brilliant diving destination. And they weren’t wrong – the Bahamas has some of the best liveaboard diving in the world! With crystal-clear water and a wide range of marine life, you’ll never be bored underwater.
Liveaboard vacations are a firm favorite among divers, and the Bahamas liveaboards offer something for everyone. On board, you will eat, sleep, and dive comfortably, surrounded by stunning Caribbean scenery.
Here are some reasons why the Bahamas is a brilliant place for liveaboard diving:
With so many different islands comes a wide variety of dive sites – and the Bahamas certainly doesn’t disappoint. With something new around every corner, it is impossible to check out all the main dive spots without a liveaboard. When liveaboard diving in the Bahamas, your chosen itinerary will take you to the most spectacular sites depending on your location and interests.
If you’re looking for a thrill, shark diving in the Bahamas is guaranteed to satisfy. Tiger, hammerhead, bull, lemon, and silky sharks can all be found here – with tiger sharks best found at Tiger Beach and silky sharks in the Tongue of the Ocean (an incredible underwater canyon).
The Bahamas are easily accessible from the US and many other countries, making it an ideal destination for a liveaboard break. There are also international airports in Nassau and Grand Bahama Island for those traveling from further afield. You can even reach the Bahamas by boat if located in Florida – with day boat trips running from Fort Lauderdale and Key West.
Dive safaris are one of the best ways to explore the Bahamas and its stunning natural beauty. Depending on the liveaboard dive safari being offered, you can expect to see diverse marine life, coral gardens, and shipwrecks – such as Nassau’s ‘Tears of Allah Shipwreck,’ made famous by the Jame Bond movie ‘Never Say Never Again.’
The Bahamas are home to some stunning national parks, such as the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a protected area of islands and cays. Visitors can spot birds and experience majestic reef dives here. Other must-see national parks include Fowl Cays and North Andros. Some of these national park dive sites can only be visited by liveaboard – so this is yet another reason why people love Bahamas liveaboards!
Both new and experienced divers will love liveaboard diving in the Bahamas. With both beginner-level and more advanced dive sites, you can be sure that there’s something to suit everyone. Plus, many Bahamas liveaboard offer options for solo travelers and also non-divers. This means if your vacation buddy doesn’t dive, they can still come along and enjoy the liveaboard experience.
Water visibility is one of the best aspects of liveaboard diving in the Bahamas. These crystal clear conditions can reach around 24-40 meters, providing a truly magical underwater experience. As for the water temperature, you can expect it to be around 77°F (25°C) between November and May and around 86°F (30°C) between June and October.
When looking for a diving vacation in the Bahamas, you have two main options: a dive resort or a liveaboard. The main difference is that, with the latter, you get to explore more of the area and visit more dive sites – all while having the same home base. Plus, you can expect to find some of the best dive spots in the Bahamas on a liveaboard.
So, if you are looking for an immersive way to see everything this beautiful area offers, liveaboard diving in the Bahamas is the only way to go!
Before you book a liveaboard in the Bahamas, there are a few things you should make note of before traveling.
Always check which sites will be visited and decide if they fit your diving goals. There are 3 main itineraries that most Bahamas liveaboards follow, which are:
- The Exumas, Nassau, and Eleuthera: best for new divers
- Grand Bahama, Bimini, and Tiger Beach: best for shark diving
- Grand Bahama, Exumas, Nassau, Eleuthera, and Cat Island: best for seasoned divers
Each itinerary offers something different, so make sure to choose the one best suited to your diving needs – but don’t worry, we will look into the best itineraries for Bahamas liveaboards later in the article.
It is also important to note that only some liveaboards travel to certain nature reserves. For example, The Bahamas Aggressor is one of the few to visit Tiger Beach. This is important to note before booking, as it may influence your decision.
Some liveaboards are much larger than others and offer additional luxuries. Smaller boats usually have less space and fewer amenities, so you must consider what type of liveaboard you want. There are quite a few types of liveaboards in the Bahamas, such as:
- Cruise ships
Each boat type has its own corresponding rate, which will likely influence your decision. Consider what kind of experience you want, and then decide which boat type is best for you.
Do you want a short trip while liveaboard diving in the Bahamas or an extended vacation? Most Bahamas liveaboards average 7 days and 6 nights, although there are some longer options. It isn’t unusual to see an 11-day long liveaboard vacation in the Bahamas, but the longer 15-day trips are much rarer – although they do exist.
Each liveaboard will offer a different amount of dives a day. Some may do as many as 5, while others offer 2 or 3. Some liveaboards operate an ‘open pool diving,’ allowing you to dive as much as you want during a set time. Checking the number of dives a day is important, as it will determine how much time you can spend underwater exploring.
Most Bahamas liveaboards visit dive sites that are suitable for beginners, meaning they require no logged dive hours. Although some do visit sites that require at least 50 logged dives. These are usually required on the longer 15-day trips, as they visit more advanced areas. It’s best to check the requirements before booking a Bahamas liveaboard.
You must have dive insurance for liveaboard diving in the Bahamas. You can simply purchase this while booking the trip, or you can buy it before starting traveling. Not only is it essential to have dive insurance, but it is also a requirement when booking a liveaboard in the Bahamas.
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Divers can use this mix of oxygen and nitrogen to increase their bottom time, especially on the repeated dives typical to liveaboard diving. Some Bahamas liveaboards do offer nitrox, usually at a cost. If nitrox is something you would like to use, be sure to have evidence of your certification with you. If you are not yet certified but would like to start using nitrox when diving, some liveaboards offer onboard certification – again, for an additional cost.
Many liveaboards in the Bahamas provide the option to rent scuba diving gear. This is ideal if you’re worried about luggage weight allowance or if you simply don’t want to carry your gear around. But with this being said, some smaller liveaboards do not have the storage capabilities to hold large amounts of rental gear.
There are Bahamas liveaboards that specify their gear requirements in their itineraries if, for example, you’re going to partake in shark diving. Always read the conditions for the Bahamas liveaboard you’re interested in.
The Bahamas is an ideal destination for diving, thanks to its year-round subtropical temperatures, crystal clear waters, and wide range of incredible dive sites. This means there is not technically an off-season, although some months can be wetter than others.
Between November and May is the dry season, making it the best season for liveaboards in the Bahamas for many. This is when the Bahamas experiences a boost in tourism, as the risk of hurricanes is low and the weather comfortable, often around 78°F (26°C). Bahamas liveaboards can book up quickly during this time and may be more expensive.
June to October is the wet season, with a higher chance of rain and stronger gusts of wind. Although rain is likely during this period – it is often only for a short time and rarely impacts diving. These months are also warmer and can be very humid, with temperatures averaging 87°F (31°C) during the day.
Just keep in mind hurricanes are more common during this period, so keep an eye on the forecast when traveling. Your chosen Bahamas liveaboard will have an experienced captain who knows the area well and will adjust their schedule accordingly.
The itinerary impacts how long your trip will last and which sites you will visit. Most Bahamas liveaboards likely follow 1 of the 3 following itineraries:
You may see the ‘best of the Bahamas’ as an option when booking liveaboards in the Bahamas. This itinerary will usually start in Nassau and visit sites such as Lost Blue Hole, Jeep Reef, and Hole in the Wall. Shark-feeding dives may also be on the cards, as well as night dives. This is one of the best itineraries for Bahamas liveaboards if you’re a new diver, as they do not usually require any logged dive hours.
Tiger Beach can be found off the west end of Grand Bahama Island. Here, you can find a range of sharks, including tiger, Caribean reef, and lemon sharks. This itinerary has to be one of the best for experiencing both large and small marine life, including dolphins and is often 8 days long.
This long, 15-day itinerary is perfect for exploring various sites. This ultimate liveaboard diving trip takes you to some of the best locations – including Sugar Wreck, Pig Beach, Tiger Beach, and Cat Island. By far the most diverse of the Bahamas liveaboard itineraries, this is an ideal option for experienced divers.
One of the best things about choosing the Bahamas for liveaboards is that there is an option for most budgets. Many Bahamas liveaboards offer home comforts, such as air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms, providing a more luxurious experience. These trips typically cost around $3000 a week for a 7/8 day trip. If you opt for a longer excursion, you can expect to pay around $5000.
There are budget options available, though. So long as you’re happy to bunk with others and share a bathroom, you can go liveaboard diving in the Bahamas for 7 days at around $1000.
With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to decide which boat is the best for your Bahamas liveaboard trip. Here are some of the best liveaboards available in the Bahamas.
Length: 102ft Width: 35ft Nitrox: Yes (paid) Cabins: 11 Maximum capacity: 30 guests Rental Gear: Yes
The Aqua Cat is a luxury catamaran featuring air-con cabins with private bathrooms. Some rooms can accommodate up to 4 people, making it great for families or groups of friends. There are also plenty of delicious food and beverage options available throughout the journey: from casual options such as breakfast buffets and BBQs to formal dinners and snacks available all day.
To top off your home away from home, you can take warm showers in privacy or relax on the leisure deck admiring the ocean view. The Aqua Cat is also non-diver-friendly and has a range of entertainment on board.
Length: 100ft Width: 22ft Nitrox: Yes (paid) Cabins: 6 Maximum capacity: 14 guests Rental Gear: Yes
The Bahamas Aggressor is the ultimate in luxury liveaboard yachting. With up to 5 dives a day and year-round diving opportunities – you can explore some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the Bahamas. Aboard this luxurious yacht, you’ll find all the amenities you need for an unforgettable journey, from a dedicated camera room with its own rinse tank to hot tubs, leisure decks, and TVs in every cabin.
While offering ample space, the is a maximum of 14 guests at a time – creating a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. With options of 8 or 11-day trips, it is the perfect choice for both divers and non-divers looking to explore the Bahamas in style.
Length: 65ft Width: 19ft Nitrox: No Cabins: 18 bunks Maximum capacity: 18 guests Rental Gear: Yes
One of the more affordable options, Blackbeard’s Sea Explorer offers dormitory-style cabins with 18 bunks and 3 shared bathrooms. There are buffet meals and drinks, with alcohol included, and complimentary snacks and soft drinks available all day.
During your 7-day trip, marvel at the incredible sites such as Periwinkle Reef and The Washing Machine for an unforgettable experience like no other. Blackbeard’s Sea Explorer is one of the best budget-friendly choices.
Length: 20 meters Width: 9 meters Nitrox: No Cabins: 6 Maximum capacity: 12 guests Rental Gear: Yes
Explore the clear waters of the Bahamas on board this brilliant catamaran: Cat Ppalu. Not only will you be surrounded by some unforgettable scenery and an abundance of ocean life – but this mid-range priced 7-day experience won’t break the bank. Join up with a dedicated crew and relax in between dives in your comfortable air-conditioned cabin.
Enjoy your meals in the large dining area or participate in many activities, such as kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and paddle boarding throughout the day. With many shore excursions included, there is so much to see and experience aboard Cat Ppalu.
You don’t need to bring a lot when booking a liveaboard in the Bahamas, but there are a few items you will want to pack. Here are some ideas on what to bring for a Bahamas liveaboard trip:
- Travel documents and your passport
- A few changes of clothing suitable for a sub-tropical climate
- Medicine (if required)
- Towels (while most liveaboards will provide you with towels, bringing an extra one can pay off)
- Sun protection (sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Beach clothes/ swimsuit
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
- Dive certification information, nitrox certification, and dive log
- Scuba diving gear and equipment – if not renting
- Dive insurance information
- Credit card or local currency (for tipping/onboard purchases)
- Surface marker buoy (SMB or DSMB) – you may need to provide your own
- Underwater camera
- Entertainment (books etc.)
- Electronics (phone, laptop, charger)
- Water bottle
- Dry bag
Liveaboards in the Bahamas offer one of the best diving experiences money can buy. Whether you go for a budget-friendly liveaboard or all out with one of the more luxurious options, you will surely have an incredible time!
Just be sure to double-check what each liveaboard offers to be certain you’re picking the perfect one for you. Before you know it – you’ll be diving with the sharks, swimming with dolphins, and experiencing some of the most beautiful coral reefs. Liveaboard diving in the Bahamas – it doesn’t get any better than this!