Exploring the underwater world is an experience every traveler should have at some point. It’s as close as you can get to being weightless. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Belize’s Great Blue Hole and Mexico’s Riviera Maya are just a few destinations with world famous reefs.
When I signed up for a liveaboard scuba diving trip to get my open water certification when I was in the Great Barrier Reef, I had no idea what to pack. I was told only to bring one bag for two days. I wasn’t given too much information and there are a few things I wish I’d packed and a few I should’ve left behind. It really should fit into one carry-on sized bag and if you don’t want to bring the entire contents of your backpack, many dive shops offer luggage storage.
I hope this gives you some idea of what to pack for a scuba diving trip. The list can be adjusted depending on the number of days.
2 swimsuits – Since you spend the majority of your time in your swimsuit, it’s a good idea to bring two so you can let one dry while you wear the other.
2 towels – The same rules apply for towels because nothing is worse than drying off with a wet towel. Perhaps make one a pack towel.
2 dresses – A few cotton dresses can be thrown on over your swimsuit in a pinch.
1 pair of ankle socks – Fins can rub on your heels so a pair of socks makes them more comfortable.
1 bra – Since you will be wearing a swimsuit the majority of the time, you only need a bra for the trip back to land.
2 pairs of underwear – If you don’t want to sleep in your swimsuit, pack a few pairs of undies or one pair of ExOfficio undies.
Sarong – You won’t be allowed into the dining hall in your wetsuit, so throw on a sarong.
Flip flops – Most dive boats take your shoes while you are on board and return them once you leave. You won’t need them while there, but it’s good to have a cheap pair you wouldn’t mind losing.
Leave in conditioner – My hair was constantly a tangled mess and some leave in conditioner could have helped.
Diva cup – There aren’t a lot of trash cans on board to dispose of tampons because everything that comes on the boat must be taken off it. The DivaCup solves this problem and I was never worried about sharks with it.
Deodorant – It gets hot on the sundeck and you don’t want to smell.
Hair ties – If you have long hair you can pull it back so it doesn’t get caught in your mask.
Toothbrush and toothpaste – Keep that smile white, even in the middle of the ocean.
Hairbrush or comb – It may be hard to run a brush through your hair, but it’s always good to have.
Lotion – Salt water dries out my skin and I wish I had brought some body lotion.
Birth control – You never know when you might meet a sexy scuba diver.
Eye drops – If your eyes are sensitive to salt water, eye drops can flush them out.
Contacts/glasses – For those of us who wear contacts, bring extras in case yours fall out. If you wear glasses, you can rent prescription masks from the dive shop.
Sleeping pills – It’s difficult to fall asleep on dive boats because of the people who want to stay up late and the constant rocking of the ship. Gravol can help for both sea sickness and sleeping.
Protection from the Elements
Hat – Ideally one that covers the ears.
Motion sickness tablets – The motion of the ocean can make you queasy.
Sunscreen – SPF 30 minimum, even if you will be in the ocean the majority of the day you can still get burned.
Sunglasses – One pair should be sufficient.
iPod – Good for down time and parties at night with fellow divers.
SD memory card – You can rent an underwater camera from the dive company to capture all the amazing underwater creatures.
Dive log – To keep track of your dives. You can purchase at dive shops if you don’t already have one.
Dive certification card – SSI (Scuba Schools International) or PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) both offer equal certifications. If you’re going on your open water course, they will give you a card.
Dive gear – If you already have gear, including but not limited to a mask, snorkel, tank, fins, weights, regulator, buoyancy compensator, wetsuit, and dive computer, bring it with you. If not, everything can be rented from the dive company.
Money for drinks – Food is included on liveaboard trips, but sodas, beer and wine are not, so bring cash. You set up an account and pay at checkout.
Snacks – If you get hungry in between meals you can bring little snacks on board.
Book – A paperback book is good to have for afternoons between dives and you can swap it with other divers when you’re done.
Eye mask – Block out the light so you can fall asleep. Read about other sleep aids.
Ear plugs – Helps motion sickness and drowns out boat noise.
Journal – Write down daily thoughts and contact information for new friends.
Clothespins – Keep your clothes from being blown from the clothesline into the ocean.
Deck of cards – Always a good idea.
What NOT to bring
Big bulky bags – They can be stored at bus stations or the dive shop.
Laptops, expensive items – You don’t want to worry about it.
Alarm clock – Divemasters will knock on your door at the crack of dawn.
Makeup – There’s no point in applying mascara once you dive into the ocean.