I was fortunate enough to spend a week on Blackbeard’s Morning Star liveaboard, and it has changed the way I’ll look at vacations forever.
Looking off the boat on the first day to see a very relaxed-looking sea turtle coming up for a breath in the most beautiful, perfectly blue water I’ve ever seen was the first sign that I would be on the adventure of my life. I saw incredible things, met incredible people and had more fun than I thought was possible in such a short time.
Nervously fumbling with my regulator before my first ocean dive last week now feels like a distant memory. Since then, I’ve been face to face with some creepy barracudas, stared in disbelief at the size of an eagle ray, been arm’s distance from a shark feeding frenzy, and laughed through my regulator at an especially pudgy porcupinefish.
What is a Dive Liveaboard?
Ask any serious diver this question and the answer will be “dive travel at its best.”
As the name implies, a dive liveaboard is a dive boat which guests live aboard for the duration of their trip. It will have everything necessary for diving, as well as sleeping quarters, showers, bathrooms, and perhaps most importantly, the kitchen (the food on liveaboards is amazing).
The differences between individual liveaboards can be huge, but rest assured that there is a boat for everyone – any skill level, any type of diver, any desire for comfort, etc. A dive liveaboard trip can range anywhere from “roughin’ it” on a camping-trip-at-sea style boat to lavish creature comforts on a looks-like-a-scene-from-The-Great-Gatsby type of boat – and anything in between.
But on pretty much every boat, you’ll be able to find comfortable places to relax, probably with some reef creature identification books and fruit to snack on, a good place to nap in the sun, and a well-manned dive deck.
The liveaboard I stayed on was minimalist and rugged and just plain pirate-y. They don’t call it Blackbeard’s for nothing! We slept in (surprisingly large) bunks and spent most of the time on the deck waiting for our next dive. Nothing makes you feel more like a pirate than watching the crew hoist the sail while drinking a local Bahamian beer under the stars – right after an oddly pleasant cold shower.
What Makes an All-Star Dive Trip a Unique Diving Experience?
For most divers, variety is important. If you were to stay at a diving resort, you’d dive the same reef over and over for your whole trip. As beautiful as it might be, you’d miss out on all the other dive sites in the area.
Liveaboards give divers the chance to dive up to over twenty unique dive sites in a week! Surface intervals are spent riding from one remote site to the next, chatting about what everybody saw and what they hope to see on the next dive.
During my first week aboard Blackbeard’s Morning Star, I had the chance to experience wreck diving, drift diving, wall diving, night diving, scattered coral head reefs, an atoll, and a shark feeding. It’s mind-blowing to be able to see so many different things, all in just six days.
I went from diving down to a max depth of 106 feet, where colors are faded and the surface waves are nearly impossible to see, to checking for tiny colorful nudibranchs on fan coral 15 feet down. On Monday I swam with a massive school of shiny silver jacks, and Tuesday I watched dozens of rather toothy reef sharks wreak havoc on some chum above a sunken ship.
Liveaboard diving is also a uniquely immersive way to learn and maintain skills. Most dive liveaboards even offer specialty and advanced certification courses.
For me, freshly certified and having never been on a saltwater dive, it was amazing. I struggled during the informal refresher lesson on my first dive (it had been several months since my certification), but I improved drastically each time I jumped in.
Within a couple of days, I had become a top-notch dive buddy – comfortable enough to have fun and knowledgeable enough to be safe. I can’t imagine trying to retain diving skills without practice, which a liveaboard dive trip supplies quickly and effectively.
Liveaboards are a new diver’s heaven and an experienced diver’s paradise.
Why is a Bahamas Liveaboard the Way to Go?
First of all, the ease of travel can’t be understated. The flight time from Miami to Nassau is less than 45 minutes. It doesn’t seem possible that these remote locations can be so easily and affordably accessed!
The Bahamas is made up of hundreds of beautiful islands, some of them with unexpected inhabitants – pigs and grape-eating iguanas are happy to see you sailing up. Liveaboards give us the ability to pay these cool critters a visit…between dives, of course.
Travelling around The Bahamas by liveaboard is the best way to see as much of it as possible – not only for swimming pigs, but also to get to the coolest, and sometimes fairly distant, notorious Bahamas dive sites like the Washing Machine, Cobia Cage, Blue Hole, or Jeep Reef.
And, when talking about Bahamas diving, the sharks cannot go unmentioned! Shark diving in the Bahamas is famously exhilarating, and many Bahamas liveaboards actually feature a shark feeding dive during the trip. I was in awe as five- to eight-foot-long reef sharks swam (much closer than they look in the pictures, by the way) right over my head to tear up a ball of chum.