The Best Places for Wreck Diving from a Liveaboard

Wondering where are the best places for wreck diving? Look no further! In this post, I will share all the top places for wreck diving, including the best liveaboard trips that focus on these kinds of diving sites.

Wreck diving is a fascinating aspect of scuba diving. It combines the natural world divers visit when they scuba dive with man-made items such as ships and airplanes.

When planes and ships sink into the ocean, it does not take long for mother nature to move in transforming the ship into an artificial reef.

Over time, it can become hard to recognize the ships for what they once were, instead, they are covered in corals, sponges, and home to a huge variety of wildlife.

Whether you are a dedicated wreck diver or a recreational diver looking to see something exciting and different, there are great shipwreck dives worldwide.

Keep reading to learn about the best places to wreck dive from a liveaboard. 

Aerial view of the islands in Micronesia.
Micronesia

Table of Contents

What is wreck diving?

Wreck diving refers to diving on the wreckage of ships, airplanes, or any other man-made structure.

Wreck dives can be found all over the world in the form of sunk ships. Many of these ships have interesting histories from passenger or cargo ships that sank in storms to countless warships that were sunk.

Today, it is increasingly popular for areas to intentionally sink decommissioned ships in order to create an artificial reef that will promote marine activity and allow divers to explore. 

Both recreational and technical scuba divers can participate in wreck diving.

There are three types of wreck diving.

Nonpenetration wreck diving is suitable for all levels of divers and involves divers swimming and exploring the outside of a wreck.

Around the world, wrecks can be found at all different depths, from shallow dives that even snorkelers can appreciate, to deep dives that require technical diving.

The second kind of wreck diving is limited penetration diving. This type of diving allows divers to swim into parts of the ship that are open and have limited dangers for divers becoming entangled.

With limited penetrations dive, divers must always stay in entry areas where there is plenty of natural light and easy exits.

The last kind of wreck diving is full penetration diving. This requires divers to have skills, experience, and additional training to fully explore all areas of the wreck. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ½ Why go wreck diving? 

There are many reasons why divers enjoy wreck diving.

The first is that the sites of many wrecks have transformed into vibrating artificial reefs.

It is truly amazing to swim around a shipwreck and see how corals and sponges have grown over the wreckage.

Your dive guide will be able to help you see how corals and sponges have covered things like the steering wheel or deck of a boat in a colorful display.

In addition to the coral growth on wrecks, these areas are home to a huge variety of marine life.

Animals of all shapes and sizes from small shrimp to large pelagics often frequent dive sites- making for exciting dives! 

Another great reason to scuba dive on wrecks is because of the rich and interesting history they hold.

Whether you are a history buff or not, it is hard not to be amazed by the story of how a ship or plane ended up on the ocean floor.

Some of the most famous places in the world for diving were sites of famous water battles in wars.

Other ships were used for years before being stripped and intentionally sunk for divers’ enjoyment. 

A diver near a wreck in the Red Sea - one of the best places for wreck diving.
Wreck in the Red Sea

The best places for wreck diving

Liveaboards are a great way to experience some of the best diving, so it is no surprise that they are a great way to see wrecks.

Many wrecks are in remote, hard-to-reach areas, and visiting them on a liveaboard often allows you to make several dives on the wrecks and fully explore them.

Here are the best liveaboards to see wrecks:

βœ”οΈ Micronesia

Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

It consists of over 2,000 islands, where you will find amazing scuba diving with healthy coral reefs, colorful fish, and plenty of pelagics. 

Micronesia is home to one of the most famous sites for wreck diving – Truk Lagoon.

The name Truk is actually a mispronunciation of Chuuk Lagoon, part of the Chuuk state of Micronesia.

This sheltered lagoon is located halfway between the Philipines and Hawaii, about 1,800 kilometers north of New Guinea.

In the waters around the lagoon, you will find beautiful coral reefs and a variety of marine life including turtles and sharks, and manta rays and whale sharks visit from December to April.

Despite this, divers flock to the area to see the wrecks. 

A couple of divers in Truk Lagoon.
Truk Lagoon

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Truk Lagoon 

During World War II the Japanese forces used this lagoon as a base for many ships in its fleet, keeping them there before sending them off to war in the Pacific.

In 1944 American forces spent three days attacking the lagoon in an operation called Hailstorm.

During the attack, they sank 12 warships, 32 merchant ships, and destroyed 275 aircraft.

Today, there are around 50 dive sites made up of these wrecks and divers can see everything from tanks, deck guns, and gas masks to personal items of those who were onboard. 

Wreck enthusiasts love to dive at Truk Lagoon to visit the β€œGhost Fleet of Truk Lagoon.”

Wrecks are at a range of depths, with options to do recreational and technical dives.

Divers to the area should be advanced certified and will want to be Nitrox certified to extend dive times at moderately deep wrecks. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best time of year to dive the wrecks in Micronesia

You can dive Truk Lagoon year round; however, the best diving is during the dry season from December to April.

The water temperature stays between 82 and 84 degrees all year, and there are dive sites that are accessible for all levels of divers. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best liveaboards to dive the wrecks of Micronesia 

There are several liveaboards that travel different itineraries in Micronesia.

Many ships move between Palau, Truk Lagoon, and the Bikini Atoll.

The Bikini Atoll is the site of nuclear tests that the United States government conducted from 1946-1983.

As part of the testing, the United States government brought several retired ships into the atoll- all of which sank due to the power of the detonations.

Today, there are still residual concerns about radiation levels; however, many divers are visiting the Bikini Atoll to explore the ship graveyard.

Liveaboards to the Bikini Atoll are for technical divers only. 

πŸ›₯️ Pacific Master, Micronesia
The Pacific Master Liveaboard.
Photo Β© Pacific Master

See some of the best World War II wrecks from this 98-foot liveaboard that can accommodate 20 guests.

The boat offers an intimate dive experience and personalized service.

The custom-built boat was designed for diver comfort and can accommodate recreational, technical, or rebreather divers.

There is a designated camera station for photographers and the boat offers 7-9 night itineraries. 

πŸ›₯️ Truk Master, Micronesia
A diver in Truk Lagoon near the wreck.
Photo Β© Truk Master

This 37-meter boat can accommodate 16 divers with 8 cabins.

The dive deck provides each diver with a personal setup station and storage space for their dive gear.

There is also a camera station for photographers. Between dives, you can relax in the indoor lounge and bar.

Divers loved the guides pointing out all sorts of artifacts on the wrecks. 

βœ”οΈ Red Sea, Egypt 

The Red Sea in Egypt has long been a favorite site for divers to do liveaboards.

The Red Sea is known for its colorful coral reefs and a huge variety of marine life.

The Red Sea boasts over 2,100 species of fish and 300 species of coral and you can see pelagics such as dolphins, manta rays, and sharks.

This incredible marine life attracts divers, and there are also many wrecks to dive in the northern Red Sea. 

There are a variety of different types of wrecks in the Red Sea.

Some of the most famous wrecks are the S.S. Thistlegorn which was a British transport ship that was sunk in 1942. Divers can still see lots of the cargo the ship was sailing.

The Salem Express was a passenger ferry that sank in 1991, killing many passengers.

Divers can also visit the Greek cargo ship Giannis D that ran aground a coral reef in 1983. The wreck ranges in depth from 13ft to 72 ft. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best time of year to dive wrecks in the Red Sea

You can dive into the Red Sea all year round.

Many divers prefer to dive there from May to September when the water is the warmest.

The water can get to 82 to 83 degrees before it cools off a bit in October and November. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best liveaboards to dive the wrecks in the Red Sea, Egypt

πŸ›₯️ Emperor Superior, Egypt
Aerial view of the Emperor Superior.
Photo Β© Emperor Superior

The Emperor Superior was designed with the comfort of divers in mind.

It has 13 staterooms that can accommodate 26 divers with comfortable cabins and plenty of common areas to relax between dives.

The dive deck offers divers plenty of space to get ready and storage areas, and divers will use two tenders to get to dive sites.

The Emperor Superior offers two different 8-day / 7-night itineraries which allow guests to get up to 21 dives in.

The first itinerary is the β€œReefs and Wrecks” itinerary which combines visits to colorful coral reefs and the opportunity to dive into the most famous wrecks of the area.

The β€œGet Wrecked” itinerary focuses on the most famous wrecks in the northern Red Sea but still allows for time to visit nearby coral reefs. 

πŸ›₯️ Emperor Elite, Egypt
View of the deck with cushioned chairs in the Emperor Elite.
Photo Β© Emperor Elite

The Emperor Elite has room for 26 guests and 10 crew to ensure your comfort during your trip.

The boat has 2 salons and a sundeck to relax between dives.

The β€œReefs and Wrecks” itinerary offers you an 8-day / 7-night trip with a focus on the most famous wrecks including the Giannis D and S.S. Thistilegorn among others.

Between wreck dives you will get a chance to dive into coral reefs with a variety of steep walls, hard corals, and an amazing variety of marine life including dolphins, lionfish, scorpionfish, and turtles!

πŸ›₯️ Sea Serpent Contessa, Egypt

The Sea Serpent Contessa is a 5-star luxury liveaboard that can accommodate 24 guests with its 12 cabins with en-suite bathrooms.

The boat offers plenty of space to relax and you will eat gourmet meals in the dining room with 360-degree views.

The boat has a comfortable dive platform and offers 8-day / 7-night itineraries to the northern wrecks and reefs.

You will get to explore the most famous wrecks and see the colorful marine life. 

βœ”οΈ Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are a group of three islands: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac which are located just south of Cuba and west of Jamaica.

The Cayman Islands are known for their white sandy beaches and are a great destination for scuba divers of all skill levels.

The Caymans are known for great wall dives lined with colorful coral with little to no current.

In addition to the great coral and marine life to be found in the Caymans, it has become a destination known for its great wreck diving.

One of the highlights of snorkeling in the Cayman Islands is seeing how nature lives in harmony with the wrecks.

The wrecks here are filled with marine life, including countless colorful fish, that have made the wrecks their homes.

 Grand Cayman Island is home to several wrecks.

Wreck enthusiasts will want to make sure to visit the Kittiwake, a 251-foot former US Navy ship that sits in 60 feet of water.

Divers can explore the 5 decks and peek in countless different rooms.

The Balboa was a 375-foot freighter that sits in shallow water between 40 and 50 feet and is filled with wildlife.

Many divers even visit this wreck at night to see the different animals that come out in the dark.

In addition to these wrecks divers can explore the Oro Verde which was a steel cargo ship. Although the hull is collapsing, divers can still enjoy the wildlife that lives in the wreck. 

Cayman Brac is home to Captain Keith Tibbetts wreck.

This wreck was a Russian brigadier that was intentionally sunk in 1996 to create an artificial reef.

It is the only Russian shipwreck in the western hemisphere that is accessible to recreational divers.

Off of Little Caymen Island is the Soto Trader, a 120-foot steel freighter that sank in 1975.

Today it is common to see eagle rays and turtles hanging around the wreck. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best time of year to dive the wrecks in the Cayman Islands

The best time to visit the Cayman Islands is all year round, but man divers prefer snorkeling the island during the winter months of November to April.

The summer months of June to October are hurricane season and seas can be rougher. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best liveaboards to dive the wrecks in the Cayman Islands

You can do day excursions to dive into many of the sites around the Cayman Islands.

The advantage of booking a liveaboard is that it will comfortably take you to all three of the Cayman Islands, allowing you to see the best sites in the area. 

πŸ›₯️ Cayman Aggressor IV

The Cayman Agressor shows you the best of the Cayman Islands with an 8-day / 7-night itinerary.

The liveaboard can accommodate up to 18 guests and has spacious common areas including a sun deck, hot tub, and indoor salon and dining room.

There is a comfortable swim platform that has personal dive lockers and a camera station.

In addition to the amazing wrecks, divers can expect to see barracuda, turtles, eagle rays, reef sharks, and groups. 

βœ”οΈ The Bahamas

The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands located to the southeast of Florida.

The Bahamas are a popular destination for scuba divers because they offer a bit of everything: drift diving, cavern diving, dramatic walls, coral reefs, and wrecks.

There are wrecks scattered among the islands of the Bahamas.

The Bahamas are known for their crystal clear water and many of the wrecks in this area sit in shallow water- making them easily accessible for snorkelers and scuba divers of all levels.

There are over 40 wrecks in the Bahamas that sit in less than 100 feet of water! 

Just off of New Providence Island, you will find many different wrecks including two that were intentionally sunk to be used in James Bond movies!

The Tears of Allah tugboat and a Vulcan bomber airplane were both sunk to be used in these films and now have lots of coral growth and animals living in them. 

If you want to see an older shipwreck, make sure to check out the San Jacinto which was a steamer that sank in 1867 and is located near Grand Bahama.

Also near Grand Bahama is the Sugar Wreck which is a shallow wreck that is popular with beginners and the largest wreck in the Bahamas- Theo’s Wreck, which is a 238-foot freighter that sits in 100 feet of water. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best time of the year to dive the wrecks in the Bahamas 

There are a lot of beaches in The Bahamas and you can visit the Bahamas all year round. The water is constantly warm and the weather hardly changes all year, making it possible to enjoy dives there any time of the year. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best liveaboards to dive the wrecks in the Bahamas 

You can dive from land in the Bahamas, but choosing a liveaboard will get you to all the best sites in the Bahamas.

Most liveaboards offer  β€œBest of the Bahamas” itineraries designed to take you to the best sites based on weather and water conditions. 

πŸ›₯️ Blackbeards Morning Star

This budget-friendly liveaboard is the perfect way to explore the Bahamas.

It is a great option for solo travelers and the boat offers dormitory-style cabins with shared bathrooms.

Guests can relax in common areas and enjoy the all-inclusive drinks and food onboard.

This liveaboard is a great value for money and the 7-day / 6-night itinerary allows for up to 19 dives.

There is no set dive site itinerary, the captain will take you to the best spots for the conditions. 

πŸ›₯️ Aqua Cat
Small sharks swimming near the liveaboard.
Photo Β© Aqua Cat

The Aqua Cat is a 103-foot catamaran that offers luxury cruises for up to 30 guests.

Guests will enjoy spacious cabins and relax in shared common areas including an indoor dining room and sun deck.

There is a spacious dive deck at the back of the boat that offers freshwater showers, rinse tanks, and a charging station.

There are daily shore excursions and the liveaboard will take you to dive sites which can only be reached on a liveaboard. 

πŸ›₯️ Bahamas Aggressor
A shark swimming near the wreck.
Photo Β© Bahamas Aggressor

This luxury yacht offers 8-day / 7-night charters for up to 14 guests.

All cabins have en-suite bathrooms and outdoor areas include a sundeck and hot tub.

This boat is ideal for divers with a comfortable dive deck that has personal lockers, a camera table, and freshwater showers.

Divers will enjoy the best of the Bahamas and have the opportunity to dive up to 5 dives a day. 

βœ”οΈ Solomon Islands 

The Solomon Islands are located in Melanesia, Oceania, to the northeast of Australia.

The Solomon Islands are made up of a double chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls.

Of the 992 islands that make up the Solomon Islands only 147 are populated.

This remote destination offers great scuba diving.

Divers who venture here will find pristine coral reefs with over 500 different species of hard and soft coral.

In addition to the amazing topography, you can find a variety of marine life- everything from small nudibranchs to large pelagics.

Lucky divers here can spot 6 of the world’s 7 marine turtle species! 

The Solomon Islands is a great spot to scuba dive, not only for the amazing marine life but also for the wrecks that can be found there.

The Battle of Guadalcanal was fought there from 1942-1943.

The Saro Sound, where many different ships and planes went down, is now known as the Iron Bottom Sound.

There are over 200 ships and 690 aircraft that sank in the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Many of the wrecks lie deep below the surface- many are even too deep for technical divers; however, there are several notable wrecks that recreational and technical divers can explore.

These wrecks include both United States and Japanese military vehicles and you can find destroyers, minesweepers, submarines, and troop carriers as well as airplanes.

Today the wrecks are covered in colorful corals and lucky divers can manta rays, sharks, and other pelagics near the wrecks. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best time of the year to dive the wrecks in the Solomon Islands

You can dive into the Solomon Islands all year round.

The dry season is from April to October and this is when there is more wind and the sea can be rougher.

The wet season is from November to March and the weather then is hotter and more humid. 

πŸ‘‰πŸ» Best liveaboards to dive wrecks in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are a great destination to dive on a liveaboard.

Liveaboards will take you to remote locations where you can see pristine coral reefs, a huge variety of marine life, and wrecks.

These untouched areas are amazing for long-time wreck enthusiasts and first-time wreck divers. 

πŸ›₯️ Bilikiki
A diver in the middle of the huge rocks.
Photo Β© Bilikiki

The Bilikiki is a luxury liveaboard that takes divers to a diverse array of dive sites around 3 main islands in the Solomon Islands.

It was perfectly designed for the South Pacific seas and provided guests comfort and plenty of space.

It offers guests 11, 12, or 15-day itineraries and does not follow a fixed itinerary for dive sites.

You will get the chance to visit White Beach off the coast of the Russell Islands.

This was the site of an American base in World War II and you will find trucks and ammo on the ocean floor.

You can also visit a Japanese Mavis Seaplane in the Marovo Lagoon Area that sits on the bottom at 30 meters. 

πŸ›₯️ Solomons Master
The Solomons Master during a sunny day.
Photo Β© Solomons Master

This 121-foot custom-built boat offers guests a luxurious dive experience.

It has 8 cabins and can accommodate up to 16 guests. There is a spacious dive deck with individual set-up stations, personal storage, and a comfortable entry platform.

The boat offers 11-day / 10-night itineraries to Guadalcanal and the Western Provinces that will take divers to a variety of coral reefs and wrecks in the area including White Beach near Russels Island to see the remnants of an American World War II base. 

When to go wreck diving

As you can see, you can find amazing wreck diving all over the world.

The best time of year to go wreck diving will depend on where you want to go and their location conditions.

Thankfully, many of the best places for wreck diving have great diving all year round, so you can plan a trip whenever it works for you!

What can you see when wreck diving

One of the most fascinating and exciting parts about wreck diving is seeing how nature combines with man-made articles such as boats and airplanes.

Whether a ship was intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef or sank due to war, bad weather, or captain error, the result is a stunning mix of nature and technology.

Corals and sponges begin to grow over the wreck, and as the years go by, it can be difficult to even see the original material the wreck was made from.

With this growth comes a variety of marine life.

On wrecks, you can find tiny critters as well as large pelagics that swim around the outside of a wreck. 

In general, ships and airplanes that are intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef are stripped of most of their belongings.

Some even have large openings cut in them so divers can do limited penetration diving.

Ships and planes that sank without warning have the cargo and personal items of those who were aboard when they sank on them.

Divers can see the remains of warships and cargo that were being transported when they visit these wrecks. 

A couple of fish near a shipwreck.
Red Sea

What skills do wreck divers need? 

The skills and certifications you need to wreck dive depend on what time of diving you would like to do.

There are countless shallow wrecks around the world that recreational divers can do without needing additional certifications.

Many dive certification agencies offer wreck diving specialties. Do not confuse these with technical diving certifications.

Wreck specialties will teach you about diving around the outside of wrecks and limited penetration within the sunlight zone.

Recreational divers who want to do limited penetration dives should make sure to have good buoyancy skills and be comfortable navigating in tight spaces. 

Divers who want the opportunity to dive deeper into wrecks and do more extensive penetration will need to become technical divers.

These wreck diving courses will cover all the information and skills divers need to safely dive to deeper depths and penetrate wrecks.Β 

What are the main dangers of wreck diving? 

For divers who dive within their personal limits and certification levels, wreck diving is very safe.

Recreational divers who want to do wrecks need to be honest and upfront with their dive guide about their skill level and never try to go deeper or further into a wreck than their training allows. 

That said, for trained divers who do full penetration dives of wrecks, there are more risk factors than in a normal dive.

βœ”οΈ Anytime a diver enters an overhead environment there are more risk factors than a normal open water dive because they cannot immediately surface if they have any problems.

βœ”οΈ Penetration wreck divers can become lost or disoriented in dark wrecks and kick up silt and reduce visibility.

βœ”οΈ Lastly, divers penetrating wrecks must be careful to not become entangled in anything that is inside the wreck. 

A diver near a shipwreck in the Red Sea.

Final Thoughts: Best liveaboards to wreck dive

Wreck diving offers divers a chance to see how nature beautifully takes over all parts of the ocean, including man-made articles that end up underwater.

Once a wreck lands on the ocean floor, corals, sponges, and marine life move in and begin to take over.

After years shipwrecks and airplanes are completely covered in colorful marine life.

Wrecks offer divers a chance to learn about the history of an area.

Ships, whether sunk in bad weather, navigation accidents, war, or intentionally share a story with the divers who visit them.

Many wrecks are located in remote areas and liveaboards give you the chance to comfortably dive on them and take in all the amazing wildlife around them! 

Adrienne in the water

Meet the Author – Adrienne Banka

Adrienne Banka is a Michigander and fell in love with diving at 16 years old.Β Now she is an island living dive instructor turned brewmaster, turned mom.Β  When she is not in the water she enjoys riding her bike and chasing after her dog and her newborn daughter.