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Best Red Sea Liveaboard Reviews (2022 EDITION)

LAST UPDATED:

September 1, 2022

Scuba diving the Red Sea is a rite of passage for die hard divers who want to discover the world’s best dive sites. 

Straddling Egypt’s eastern coast and running all the way down past Sudan, Eritea and to the north tip of Djibouti, this mighty seawater inlet separates North Africa from the Middle East.

At roughly 2250km long and 355km at it’s widest point, the Red Sea is noted for it’s extensive shallow shelves which are home to some of the healthiest hard coral reefs left in the world. 

In addition to colourful reefs, Red Sea diving is also characterised by many spectacular shipwrecks like the legendary SS Thistlegorm and lots of sharks including oceanic whitetips, hammerheads, tigers, reef, whale and thresher sharks. 

Certain regions of the Red Sea are particularly well known for wrecks whereas others are more sharky! 

The best time to dive the Red Sea is between the months of March to May and September to November. December – February is when you’ll have the best visibility and can spot oceanic whitetip and hammerheads sharks whilst March to May is whale shark season. September to November is the best time to spot thresher sharks and manta rays. 

Whatever kind of scuba diving trip through the Red Sea that you’re looking for, the best way to do it is by going on a liveaboard.

With a liveaboard you can embark on a route that covers a significant and varied part of the Red Sea, whilst visiting more remote dive sites that can’t be accessed from the shore.

Red Sea liveaboards vary quite substantially; not just according to which itineraries they follow but also by price, extra activities and how much diving experience guests are required to have.

You can choose between budget friendly red sea liveaboards that run very short trips or luxury yachts with incredible amenities and extremely long itineraries – as well as many options in between. 

We’ve presented the best Red Sea liveaboards in four groups:

  1. First, the best liveaboards for scuba diving the northern region of the Red Sea where next level shipwrecks await. 

  2. Second, the best liveaboards for exploring the south red sea where there is heaps of shark action and incredible reefs. 

  3. Next, we present all of the best red sea liveaboards together, in order of ascending price.

  4. Finally we present all of the options again, this time as an easy comparison table.  

Best Red Sea Liveaboards for NORTH ROUTES - Wrecks:

SS Thistlegorm, Abu Nuhas, Strait of Tiran, Ras Mohammed National Park and Sharm el Sheikh

Many shipwrecks lie scattered throughout the Red Sea; however the most impressive specimens are generally found within the northern region.

Most notable is the SS Thistlegorm; not only the most famous wreck in the Red Sea but perhaps in the entire world. A 420 foot long cargo ship carrying armoured vehicles, arms and military trucks; it was sunk by Germany bombers in 1941. Now the coral encrusted wreck and it’s military cargo lie on the seabed, making for superb diving. 

Northern routes in the Red Sea usually feature a couple of dives around SS Thistlegorm whilst also visiting a number of the many smaller wrecks found in this region around Ras Mohammed National Park, Abu Nuhas and also Gordon Reef in the Strait of Tiran. 

In addition to wrecks, the Red Sea’s northern region also holds a great variety of coral in the form of pinnacles, walls, canyons and caves. There’s an immense variety of fish and other reef species here along with the possibility to see larger species such as pelagic fish like tuna and jackfish and maybe even hammerhead sharks during the summer months. 

Best Red Sea Liveaboards for SOUTH ROUTES - Sharks & Incredible Reefs:

The very best coral reefs of the Red Sea tend to be found in the southern region where spectacular caverns, swim-throughs and pinnacles await exploration by experienced divers who don’t mind scuba diving in strong currents. 

This is also the best region of the Red Sea for heaps of pelagic action; sharks, manta rays and even dolphins are more likely to be encountered in the Red Sea’s south and in higher numbers compared to the north. 

At the most “northern” point of the Red Sea’s southern region for diving you have ‘The Brother’s”; two islands that not only have excellent wall dives with grey and white tip reef sharks but also a few smaller wrecks to explore including Numidia; a wooden hulled British transport ship that sunk in 1901. 

Further down south; the quality of the reefs and the frequency of pelagic species around them increases; notably so with Daedalus; a stunning reef frequented by hammerhead sharks and mantas as well as Elphinstone which is famous for it’s stunningly intricate hard coral formations and countless fish species. 

Finally you have St.John’s; comprised of several reefs, this area is as far south as Red Sea diving usually takes place. For many, St.John’s is regarded as the absolute most beautiful and colourful of all the Red Sea’s reefs; with thresher sharks, reef sharks and manta rays frequently sighted.

Red Sea Liveaboards in order of Ascending Price

In this next section, we’ll look at all of the top Red Sea liveaboards, but rather than segregate them according to which regions they explore, we’ve included them all together in order of increasing cost. We start with the cheapest of our favourite Red Sea liveaboards (Amelie) and present the rest in order of ascending price:

  • The cheapest Red Sea liveaboard we’re reviewing, Amelie is also one of the few options that’s ideal for beginners as guests only need their open water certification. Routes with Amelie mainly explore the North Red Sea. With a maximum of 12 guests, she’s a great option for small group sizes
  • Blue Force 2 is the second cheapest Red Sea liveaboard on our list and mainly explores the North Red Sea but sometimes ventures down South as well. This is a nicely equipped liveaboard with comfortable cabins and decent common areas for the guests to relax in between dives. 
  • Firebird mainly explores the North Red Sea and despite being the third cheapest on our list takes just 16 guests making her a good option for anyone wanting to avoid diving with huge crowds of divers. Despite being an affordable option, Firebird has not one, not two but three sundecks. 
  • Leaning towards the low cost end of the Red Sea liveaboard price spectrum, JP Marine mainly focuses on exploring the southern region of the Red Sea. There are some very cool itineraries on offer including routes that focus on helping guests dive with hammerhead sharks and dolphins. 
  • Blue Horizon specialises in exploring the Southern Red Sea and offers a special “Project Shark” trip with the aim of frequenting as many shark rich dive sites as possible. Featuring a hot tub and panoramic views, Blue Horizon was awarded “liveaboard of the year” in 2015 by Diver Magazine. 
  • Sleek; spacious and modern, Seawolf Soul offers trips to both the North and South regions of the Red Sea in equal measure. Despite being a relatively affordable liveaboard, Seawolf Soul has some extremely nice cabin options, all of which feature ensuite bathrooms
  • Tillis is a mid-priced liveaboard that mainly focuses on exploration of the southern Red Sea in pursuit of sharks and the very best coral reefs that the Red Sea has to offer. With 13 cabins including twin and honeymoon options, there is an accommodation option for everyone. 
  • With an onboard jacuzzi, bar and sun loungers, Red Sea Aggressor II is a mid-priced liveaboard that feels a lot more like a luxury one. In our opinion, this is one of the absolute best value for money and most luxurious liveaboards from which to discover the incredible shipwrecks of the north Red Sea on. 
  • A beautiful wooden motor vessel that offers sleek and spacious social areas, Seawolf Felo is one of the few options to offer free nitrox to certified divers. She mainly ventures into the Southern Red Sea in pursuit of sharks and next level coral reefs. 
  • The most pricey of the Seawolf Fleet, the Seawolf Dominator is an extremely luxurious diving vessel that mainly explores the South Red Sea and offers luxury cabins, exquisite dining and an extremely experienced and accommodating crew. 
  • Part of the growing Snefro fleet, Snefro Love is one of the few Red Sea liveaboards to offer free nitrox to certified divers. Despite being an impressive 37 meters long, Snefro Love takes just 20 guests ensuring a spacious, un-crowded feel during your stay. 
  • An all time favourite, Aphrodite is one of the only Red Sea liveaboards  to offer extra activities like jet-skiing, wakeboarding and sauna treatment. She runs immensely popular dive safaris – mostly around the northern Red Sea but sometimes around the southern region as well. 
  • Mainly exploring the Southern region, Seven Seas has a barbecue lounge and modern bar plus each one of it’s luxury cabins is outfitted with a private flatscreen TV, DVD Player and minibar. Seven Seas is one of the very few liveaboards to offer a nearly 1:1 crew to guest ratio. 
  • An exceptionally luxurious liveaboard with elegant cabins and onboard amenities, Blue Force 3 is one of the very few options that offers guests the chance to book dive trips through the north and south regions back to back allowing you to explore the entire Red Sea over just one holiday. 
  • With four social areas, and a massive diving deck, Contessa Mia is one of the biggest scuba diving liveaboards in the world. She offers a variety of dive safaris through the north and south regions of the Red Sea. This is the second most expensive option on on our list. 
  • An enormous 43 meter long vessel with ocean-view cabin options, Blue takes just 24 guests and is undeniably one of the most impressive and luxurious liveaboards to cruise the Red Sea. Guests can choose from routes that explore the shipwrecks of the northern red sea or shark themed southern voyages. 
  • The second most expensive of our top Red Sea liveaboards, Heaven Saphir takes a maximum of just 19 guests in 9 extremely luxurious and spacious cabins. Itineraries include visits to the north and/or south regions of the Red Sea. Free yoga is also available throughout the duration of your trip!
  • The most luxurious Red Sea liveaboard of them all, Odyssey has a hot tub, spa and luxury cabins with private baths. For the most part, Odyssey operates dive safaris through the southern region of the Red Sea to rarely visited dive sites with phenomenal coral reef and plenty of sharks. 

QUICK COMPARISON - Best Red Sea Liveaboards:

Liveaboard Name:  Great for: Max Group Size:Go to Booking Page:
AmelieSmall Groups, Flexible Trips, Underwater Photographers12Click Here
Blue Force 2Blue force 2 at seaFriends, Social Areas, Small Groups18Click Here
FirebirdSouth Red Sea, Small Groups, Onboard Amenities16Click Here
JP MarineSouth, Affordable, Hammerhead shark trips28Click Here
Blue Horizonblue horizon at seaShark Trips, Onboard Amenities, Luxury Cabins26Click Here
Seawolf SoulSouth Red Sea, Couples, Friends22Click Here
TillisSouth, Sharks, Small Groups, Honeymoon Cabin26Click Here
Red Sea Aggressor IIHot tub, bar, luxury, north. 22Click Here
Seawolf FeloSeawolf at seaCheapest mid-range option, beautiful yacht.22Click Here
Seawolf DominatorCouples, Crew, Varied Dive Trips22Click Here
Snefro LoveFree nitrox, small groups, value for money20Click Here
AphroditeExtra Activities, Families, Couples, Non-Divers. 23Click Here
Seven SeasCabins w. TV’s, Advanced Divers, bbq lounge24Click Here
Blue Force 3Open Air Bar / Entertainment Zone, Triple Cabins26Click Here
Sea Serpent ContessaContessa Mia at sea.Friends, Staff, Onboard amenities22Click Here
BlueOcean cabin views, spacious, north, south24Click Here
Heaven SaphirFree yoga, north, south, small groups19Click Here
OdysseyHot Tub, Cabins w. Baths, Couples26Click Here

Red Sea Liveaboard Routes

Map of the red sea..
Red sea liveaboard routes north and south.

Map credit: http://liveaboarddiveboat.com/

Northern Red Sea (of Egypt): This is the most popular area to dive in Egypt’s Red Sea.  It is the most beginner friendly in terms of overall diving conditions. Typically, the northern red sea cruise route starts from the coastal city of Sharm El Sheikh.

Egypt’s northern Red Sea is where one will find Ras Mohammed National Park and Tiran – two of Egypt’s most popular diving destinations; famous for their beautiful coral gardens. The northern Red Sea is also teaming with famous shipwrecks. 

These wrecks and the incredible coral gardens of Ras Mohammed National Park and Tiran, are the defining features of northern routes. Read more about north red sea diving highlights.

Southern Red Sea: (In this context we’re referring to the red sea straddling Egypt’s lower/southern half, not the southern most half of the Red Sea itself which spans past Sudan).

Less crowded than Egypt’s northern red sea, the south red sea is prone to stronger currents and less predictable diving conditions. This makes it ideal for experienced divers looking for a challenge…and the chance to swim over some truly next level…superbly pristine coral reefs. You’re unlikely to have to share dive sites with anyone else whilst here!

Southern liveaboard routes generally start from Hurghada and make their way down to Al Ikhwan. Check out the South Red Sea Diving Highlights.

TAKE NOTE: The very best Red Sea liveaboards…those that constantly update and improve their itineraries, offer a variety of liveaboard routes. Many tour both the north and south of Egypts’ red sea, at different months or even at different times of the same month.

Furthermore, some combine lower Northern and upper Southern red sea dive sites into a more “central red sea” themed trip. 

To find out more, read our reviews of the very best Red Sea liveaboards! The full list of each liveaboards’ itineraries is given when you click through to that liveaboards booking page (without needing to book!).

North Red Sea Highlights

Ras Mohammed

Ras Mohammed National Marine Park

Diving into the Ras Mohammed National Park also means you’re swimming through a piece of history; the park was Egypt’s very first national park established in 1983.

The area on the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula is famous for impressive walls that seem to drop straight down into the ocean’s depths, along with beautifully healthy reefs and their accompanying entourage of wrasse, anthia, and jackfish that are always present.

Larger pelagic fish are also very common sights, as reef sharks, hammerheads, massive tuna, and barracuda make their way through the reefs looking for food.

The top dive site in this region is undoubtedly Shark and Yolanda reefs, where any liveaboard worth their salt will be sure to visit if they’re in the area!

Butterfly fish and beautiful Soft Corals await you at Ras Mohammed

Thistlegorm – The Thistlegorm is perhaps the most famous wreck dive in the world and is well worth a visit on your Egypt diving holiday! German bombs sank the WWII cargo ship in October of 1941, and its entire cargo of arms and supplies for the war effort went down with it.

Today, however, its cargo holds are a wreck diver’s dream; you can explore the trucks, armoured vehicles, weapons, and a plethora of other war supplies that are still waiting for delivery under the waves.

 

Shark and Yolanda Reefs – One of the most spectacular dives at Ras Mohammed National Park is undoubtedly Shark and Yolanda Reefs.

The reefs are marked by two massive peaks that rise from the ocean floor and are encrusted with a host of corals and gorgonian fans. As you drift between the two, you’ll spot large pelagic fish that inhabit the region, such as grey sharks, gigantic tuna, and hammerheads.

At Yolanda reef, you’ll be able to dive on the wreck that shares its name and features a 1970s British transport that was laden with toilets and bathtubs, which certainly make for some exciting diving photos!

Crocodile Fish resting on the bottom near the Yolanda Wreck

Abu Nuhas Reef

The Carnatic Wreck sank in 1869, loaded with precious gold and wine...

This reef, just off Shadwan Island, seems to have drawn more than its fair share of ships into a final watery embrace over the years.

There are five cargo shipwrecks strewn across this reef, making it a favorite destination for Egypt liveaboard dive boats looking for a wreck intensive trip.

The ships include the Greek Seastar, the Chrisoula K (also Greek, sank in 1981), the Kimon M (German ship, sank in 1978), the Ghiannis D (Japanese ship, sank in 1983), and the famous Carnatic, a British ship which sank in 1869 with a full load of gold and wine – quickly recovered after the wreck.

Blue Spotted Sting Ray rests at the bottom near one of the wrecks.

South Red Sea Highlights

The Brothers

Both islands provide ample opportunity to view large pelagic fish, as grey and white tip reef sharks prowl amongst the stunning coral and gorgonian fans that comprise much of the reef and nearby walls; hammerheads are also not an uncommon sight.

Big brother island is home to its fair share of wrecks, which include the Numidia and Aida, for those looking for a little intrigue. Finally, the area is awash in stunning fish schools, including dogtooth tuna, barracuda, sweepers, and anthias.

Numidia  – Located at Big Brother Island, the Numidia is a wooden-hulled British transport ship that sank in 1901 while carrying supplies to India.

The highest portion of this wreck – the bow – lies in just 25ft of water, making it a very easy dive, but be careful not to let your curiosity get the better of you; many other sections of the ship lie in much deeper water that requires advanced training.

The corals that have colonized the wreck add a splash of color to the metal frame, and diving into the long-lost cabins is an exhilarating experience!

Daedalus

This is a lonely reef located some 50 miles offshore that is lucky enough to boast marine park status.

The reef itself is a candy store of beautiful corals, anemones, and gorgonian fans, through which Red Sea clownfish, moray eels, dottybacks, and wrasse can easily be spotted.

The prevalence of currents in the area, while making the diving a little more challenging, also creates the perfect environment to spot sizeable pelagic fish like reef sharks, hammerheads, and mantas, who flock to the area to feed.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark at Daedalus

Elphinstone

Beautiful Coral Wall at Elphinstone Reef

This is yet another one of the reefs for which the Red Sea is famous; it certainly upholds the mantel of the region’s beauty very well.

This diving area is typically divided into the northern and southern plateaus; both offer stunning views of beautifully intricate corals, gorgonian fans, sea whips, and sponges – the colors of which are brilliantly complemented by the schools of anthias that dart here and there.

You’ll also find triggerfish, angelfish, and lurking barracudas, along with a few much larger visitors in the form of white tip reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead.

Picasso Triggerfish over Elphinstone Reef

St. Johns Reef

St.Johns Reef is riddled with tunnels and caves awaiting your exploration.

This diving area is about as far south as most liveaboards venture, and is often claimed to be the epitome of phenomenal Red Sea adventures!

The entire area is comprised of several different reefs that flaunt their intense coral formations and color but look closely, and you’ll find several small caverns and tunnels that are ripe for exploring!

Large pelagic fish are also prevalent; you will catch sight of thresher and reef sharks aplenty, along with barracuda, manta rays, and perhaps even a pod of bottlenose dolphins!

Soft Corals adorn the many caves and tunnels of St. Johns Reef

Habili Ali – Out of all the reefs that make up St. John’s, Habili Ali is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular.

The entirely submerged reef offers beautiful corals, sponges, and gorgonian fans on the walls and ridges that are abundant in the area.

Look closely at these walls, and you may even discover a cavern or two that will almost certainly deserve closer inspection!

The reef also attracts its fair share of more massive pelagic visitors in the form of grey reef sharks, mantas, and bottlenose dolphins.

Red Sea Diving - What's it like?

A seawater inlet within the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea straddles Egypt’s eastern coast, travelling down past Sudan and Eritrea; all the way to the north tip of Djibouti, separating North East Africa from the Middle East.

Roughly 2250km long  and 355km at it’s widest point, it has a maximum depth of 3,040 m (9970 ft), but is also noted for it’s extensive shallow shelves, which are renowned for their spectacular coral reefs.

Made up of over 200 coral species, these reefs extend along the red sea coastline for 2000km; being made up largely of stoney Acropora and Porites coral that are up to 7000 years old.

These ancient coral reefs of the red sea are known for their remarkable heat tolerance and resilience to climate change. 

As a result, much of the reef here is in spectacular condition. This gives way to epic marine biodiversity.

With over 1200 species of fish…10% of which are found nowhere else; the red sea is a truly unique place to go scuba diving.

Bluespotted stingrays and crocodile fish are everywhere, whilst lionfish to, float through the water in abundance. Plus, there’s many nudibranchs, flatworms and pipefish to thrill critter seekers. 

It is also home to over ten shark species, including Hammerhead Sharks, Whale Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Tiger Sharks and Leopard Sharks.

Manta Rays are frequently spotted by divers in addition to Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles as well as the rarer Leatherback Turtles and Olive-Ridley turtles. 

Divers also have a good chance of spotting Dolphins, of which 8 species are regularly seen in a variety the sites described further below.

There is even a small population of Dugong in the Red Sea, of which a few individuals can be sighted off the coast off Abu Dabbab.

Aerial view of the red sea.
scuba diver over colourful coral reef in the red sea.
divers with shark over coral in red sea.

In addition to the deep water and coastal regions, other red sea habitats include salt pans, sea grasses, mangroves and salt marshes

There are many historical shipwrecks in Egypt’s red sea such as the SS Thistlegorm, a 128m long British transport ship that was sunk by German planes in 1941. 

Voted the best wreck dive in the world, the SS Thistlegorm’s insane artefacts include 2 tanks, arm trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, boots and even stacks of rifles!

Other shipwrecks in Egypts’ red sea are even older such as Numidia, a wooden hulled British transport ship that sank in 1901 whilst carrying supplies to India…or the Ulysses which sunk in 1887!

Because the Red Sea experiences few storms, most of it’s sites are suitable for beginners. These calm water conditions also what allows the coral here to form beautifully intricate structures.

Due to the excellent visibility and easy access to excess depths, the red sea is also a popular location for technical diving and training. 

The Red Sea offers the full scope of diving experiences – wall dives, drifts, wrecks, pinnacles, shore dives, deep dives and night dives are all to be had here in abundance. 

Check out our other article for more information on Red Sea Diving. 

Best Time to dive the Red Sea

Due to minimal rainfall, the red sea can be dived year round. That said different seasons offer considerably different experiences. Let’s take a closer look: 

December – February: This marks the winter period in the Red Sea. During this time, the water is fairly cold at around 72 F (22 C). This is also the windy season, meaning surface conditions can become quite rough, particularly in northern Egypt. However, visibility is at it’s greatest during this time. It’s also the best time to spot an Oceanic Whitetip Shark.  

March – May: These are the Red Sea’s spring months. Both air and water temperatures are fairly warm, resulting in an optimum balance. This is also the best time to see a Whale Shark, especially in the northern Red Sea. However, this is also diving high season so some dive sites, especially in the northern red sea, maybe crowded. 

June – August: Diving Low Season. Air temperatures become stiflingly hot. However, these warmer temperatures do force Hammerhead sharks further north into Egyptian waters. June to September is the best time to swim with these incredibly shaped predators in the northern red sea. This is also the best time to snag discount liveaboard deals. 

September – November: Autumn period in the Red Sea. Air and water temperatures balance for ideal comfort both above and below the water’s surface. This period is the best time to spot Thresher Sharks in the north red sea and manta rays in the south. This is also one of the more crowded times of year, however, less so than March – May.

Diving Squad Debriefing

And there you go squad mates! We’ve covered the very best Red Sea liveaboards, from budget to luxury; beginner to experienced; shorter to longer itineraries; and then some extras to make sure you’ll find the one liveaboard experience that best suits you.

This knowledge combined with Red Sea diving seasons, conditions, and weather makes you a force to be reckoned with for Egypt diving adventures. Those pyramids won’t know what hit them. Mostly because you’ll be too busy gawping at all the incredible reefs and shipwrecks. 

Have fun and stay safe, eh?

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