Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for a Scuba Diving Trip

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.

diversWhen 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.

Clothing

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.

Shoes

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.

Toiletries

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.

scuba boat tour

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.

Technology

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.

Gear

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.

Other

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.

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Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

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Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Christine says

    When I did a 3-day scuba live aboard trip I did the same thing over and over: wake up, dive, eat, read on the sun deck, nap, repeat. I wayyy over-packed. The only clothes I needed were clothes to sleep in at night and a cover-up. I did wash my hair everyday. Good idea with bringing 2 towels and eye drops! I’d also add chapstick to the list. I can’t wait to go again and bring a lot less stuff!

  2. Whitney says

    I also did a 3 day live aboard trip, mine was out of Cairns. I’d definitely suggest 2 towels, but my reasoning is one for salt water and one for fresh (showers). On my trip, we weren’t allowed to sit down inside with wet suits/clothes on, so I actually changed into dry clothes between each dive (it seems excessive when you consider 4 dives per day, but I was way more comfortable!). agree 100% on no point in bringing shoes – never been on a live aboard where you could wear shoes!
    I’d suggest people ask the dive shop they’re going with what they recommend to include,I’ve found that each company is a bit different.

  3. Elle Couto says

    I did a 7 day liveaboard in Truk – shoes like Tevas so we could do some hard walking on land. Drop the 2 dresses down to 1 and have 2 pairs quick dry shorts along with a light windbreaker. Also 2 quick dry tank for over suit in between dives.

  4. Amelie says

    I worked as a dive master for a while and would definitely recommend these extra items:

    – ear drops to clean out your ears. There’s nothing worse than a ruined trip due to an ear infection. And having water stuck in your ear is just plain annoying.
    – old t-shirt to protect your shoulders from the sun in-between dives
    – Oil for hair. I actually coat my hair in coconut oil BEFORE a dive to prevent tangling (no need for the fancy cosmetic kind. Regular oil works just fine). It protects my hair a lot better and doesn’t leave me looking like a scarecrow between dives.

  5. kat says

    Sooo useful. Some seriously great tips here. And the comments from the ladies viewing also had some gold 😀 WIll look forward to leaving the kitchen sink at home this trip and just packing what you guys suggest! 😀

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