Whether your goal is to reach far-flung destinations or maximise your time underwater, liveaboards offer a fantastic way to explore the world's most spectacular dive sites. Some of the ocean's best diving can only be accessed by liveaboard, and even in less remote locations, you can dive the best sites while land-based divers are still tucking into breakfast. With up to five dives each day, you can fully embrace the mantra of many a magical liveaboard trip: dive, eat, sleep and repeat. If this sounds like your cup of tea, read on to discover the world's best liveaboard dive holidays.

Hammerhead shark (Sphyrnidae) swimming in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos has been synonymous with biodiversity ever since Darwin disembarked the HMS Beagle and regaled his theory of evolution almost 200 years ago. Situated 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, this chain of volcanic islands offers the possibility of diving from the main islands. However, the most exceptional diving, found around the remote Wolf and Darwin Islands, is exclusively accessible by liveaboard.

In the waters surrounding these two islands, you'll encounter schooling scalloped hammerheads, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, dusky sharks, silky sharks and the eponymous Galapagos sharks - all vying for your attention alongside behemoth whale sharks. On the return journey to main islands, explore sites featuring freediving iguanas, tropical penguins and red-lipped batfish. If you're looking for the world's best liveaboard dive holidays, the Galapagos Islands is hard to beat.

Whitetip reef sharks rest in a deep cave at Cocos Island

Cocos Island, Costa Rica

If you were you to draw a line north-east from the Galapagos Islands, you would hit Cocos Island, completing one side of the Hammerhead Triangle. The Galapagos Archipelago, Cocos Island and the Colombian island of Malpelo collectively form a triangular swathe of ocean richly populated by schools of sharks with strangely shaped heads.

Located 340 miles offshore from Costa Rica, Cocos Island is only accessible by liveaboard. The overnight voyage departs from the port town of Puntarenas on the mainland's Gulf of Nicoya, and while it may cause seasickness, the experience is well worth it. For those aiming to shoot screensaver-worthy, full-frame photos of endless hammerheads, Cocos consistently delivers. However, it's not solely hammerheads that ensures Cocos Island's position among the world's best liveaboard dive holidays: Galapagos sharks, marble rays, dolphins and tiger sharks are also regularly spotted, while there's always the chance of a whale shark or swooping manta ray...

close up photo of a Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) underwater with fish.

Fuvahmulah Atoll, Maldives

The mere mention of the Maldives evokes visions of luxury diving. This archipelago of pearl-shaped islands, flung across the Indian Ocean, boasts both world-class diving and the most luxurious liveaboards. While marine life is plentiful across the atolls, liveaboard diving in the northern atolls between June and September is one for the bucket list. This is when the gentle mantas come out to play, and you can snorkel alongside hundreds of them as they gracefully barrel-roll through the plankton in Hanifaru Bay.

For shark lovers seeking out the world's best liveaboard dive holidays, the deep south of the Maldives offers a veritable smorgasbord of pointy-toothed predators, including scalloped hammerheads, threshers, tigers, silvertips, grey reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks - all eager to share a wide, toothy grin.

The southernly Fuvahmulah Atoll, in particular, is a highlight for shark diving. Less explored than many other Maldivian atolls, Fuvahmulah, sitting just south of the Equator, promises not only a plethora of sharks but also encounters with manta rays and devil rays, whale sharks and one of the ocean's most bizarre denizens, the elusive mola mola.

pygmy seahorse among the coral in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat, Indonesia, New Guinea

The world's second-largest island, once known as Irian, is split right down the middle, with the western half belonging to Indonesia and the eastern half forming the bulk of Papua New Guinea's territory. The island of New Guinea is said to resemble a bird, and a liveaboard trip to the bird's head allows you to explore the whale-shark-rich waters of Raja Ampat, while the bird's tail feathers shelter some of the world's best muck diving sites and Papua New Guinea's plentiful pelagics. In short, you can enjoy not one, but two of the world's best liveaboard dive holidays from the shores of New Guinea!

Raja Ampat's name means 'Four Kings' in English, and the four kings are the four neighbouring islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. The region sits at the heart of the Coral Triangle, which is home to the richest marine diversity in the world, and its dive sites are visited by a plethora of weird and wonderful critters of all shapes and sizes. Majestic mantas and walloping whale sharks top the roll call of bigger beasts, while the endemic 'walking' epaulette shark, pygmy seahorses and blue-ringed octopus ensure there's plenty to keep an eye out for closer to the immaculate corals.

Sperm whales swimming close to the surface in the ocean

Papua New Guinea, New Guinea

Papua New Guinea's diving is no less impressive. Nicknamed the 'Land of the Unexpected,' Papua New Guinea is the birthplace of muck diving, boasts impressive pelagic action and a couple of iconic WWII wrecks. Planning a two-week trip to Papua New Guinea will allow you to split your time between muck diving in Milne Bay and a liveaboard trip from New Britain's Kimbe Bay to explore the remote Witu Islands and Fathers Reefs. Here, you can dive in the company of barracuda tornadoes, several species of shark, and, if you are in the right place at the right time, pilot and sperm whales...

A plane wreck in Chuuk Lagoon

Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

If the idea of jumping off a perfectly good boat several times a day to explore other boats that have seen better days sounds like a perfect dive holiday to you, then maybe it's time to head to Chuuk Lagoon in Micronesia. Among avid wreck divers, you'll be hard-pressed to find an argument against Chuuk topping the list of the world's best liveaboard dive holidays.

Alongside Kosrae State, Pohnpei State and Yap State, Chuuk State is part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a remote nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that saw heavy fighting during the Second World War. Chuuk Lagoon housed the Empire of Japan's main naval base in the South Pacific theatre, but many of its ships never left...

Operation Hailstone began with an early morning attack on 17th February 1944 and lasted for three days. By the time the dust had settled, myriad Japanese aircraft carriers, destroyers, gunboats, minesweepers and submarines lay wrecked on the lagoon floor, ready for wreck divers to claim Chuuk as one of the world's best liveaboard dive holidays and perhaps the most poignant.