For the ultimate diving holiday, there is no better way than to book a liveaboard. True mermaids will get their daily fix of dives and it is an easy way to reach and explore some far fletched destinations, showcasing the best these areas have to offer in one trip.
By now, I have done 4 liveaboard trips in my three years of diving:
Those trips ranged from ultra luxurious to 'dear ceiling please stop dripping on my head!' and the same applied to the equipment provided. As per usual - you get what you pay for.
What they all had in common that even the most luxurious liveaboard, the Scuba Spa, has limited cabin space and while you usually have a designated area to leave your equipment, smart packing is key for a liveaboard trip. Another consideration is the fact that you are most likely going to be far from shops and can't just run out when realizing that you are out of something. So, what to pack for a liveaboard diving trip? Here is my ultimate liveaboard packing list.
The ultimate Liveboard Packing List
Most liveaboards offer equipment rentals but those can get quite pricey and it is not always guaranteed how well maintained gear is or that it has the perfect fit. With that said, take your own if you can.
During my last trip in Raja Ampat, I didn't have my own BCD or regulators and I missed them dearly. At a minimum pack:
- Mask & Antifog (or some Johnson's baby shampoo that can double as anti-fog and shampoo)
- Fins, booties, and socks if you need them, especially if you are planning about 4 dives per day those come in handy to avoid blisters.
- Wetsuit and rashguard: If you only take one, rather take one a little bit thicker as you usually would - most of us tend to get colder the more dives we do in a day. Alternatively, take more than one option and layer if needed. For extended trips, I usually take my 3 mm Scubapro as well as this fun shortie from Cynthia Rowley.
- SMD: Most liveaboards will actually require for you to have a surface marker buoy. Bring one and know how to deploy it. As it isn't (or wasn't) a PADI/ SSI standard ask someone to teach you if you don't know how and practice.
- Reefhook/gloves: Check beforehand if they are a) allowed and b) needed
- Torch: Especially if you are planning to do night dives, bring your own torch. While most liveaboards have the option to hire torches they tend to be quite pricey.
- Tank banger: This might be a bit controversial but I like a tank banger to keep a distance from the reef if I need to as well as to get attention from my dive buddy.
- Extra mask and fin straps: Most liveaboards will have equipment like o-rings and such at hand, but take your own kit if you have special requirements.
Whatever you pack, don't overpack as even the most comfortable cabins tend to be rather small and most liveaboards are a no shoe zone. Next to the usual array of a few t-shirts or vests, shorts and dresses make sure to pack the following:
- 3 bikinis or bathing suits: You always want to have a dry one at hand to change into after a dive, lounging in wet swimwear is just asking for a UTI.
- Travel towel/Sarong: While most liveaboards provide towels for the cabins and after diving, it is nice to have an extra one for excursions and tanning.
- Long sleeve shirt, jersey or hoodie: Even in warm climates, evenings can get chilly especially after a night dive. Also, consider a hoodie or a scarf when you are under the AC or the boat is moving in order not to catch a cold.
Beauty & Medication
- Reef friendly products all the way: Check out the sunscreen and leave-in conditioner from Stream2Sea. I also like coconut oil for my hair and take an extra supply of hair ties.
- Moisturizer, body- and hand lotion for after diving: I don't know about you but sea water really dries out my skin so I prefer oils for after diving.
- Shampoo Bar or Johnson's baby shampoo which can double as a mask anti-fog.
- Medication for seasickness, aspirin, swimmer's eardrops, and decongestant: Make sure you read the side effects carefully as some medication will affect your diving and overall alert levels. I also like Fisherman's Friends or any kind of mints for a dry throat in between dives.
Make sure to bring enough supply of any daily medication you need and some antibiotics just in case - you are most likely to be far from the next pharmacy.
- Enough supply of daily contact lenses as they are more hygienic for diving, solution, and your glasses.
- Most boat toilets are marine toilets so you can't flush paper, tampons or other sanitary products. One of the best ways to travel and dive more environmentally friendly - make a switch to a Diva Cup.
- Camera: I am still a beginner when it comes to my underwater setup and simply use my GoPro Hero 5. I also have a set of PolarPro color filters, an underwater housing (the regular GoPro only goes to 10m), and a PolarPro dome for some fun under/over water shots. Pack extra batteries, SD cards, and chargers as well as microfibre cloths and protective covers.
Pros make sure to bring lights/strobe especially if you are planning to film in the depth and macro. Needless to say, there are plenty of other great underwater cameras out there depending on your expertise and budget. Personally, I am keen to try the Paralenz which automatically color corrects your footage. Alternatively get a LenzO casing for your iPhone.
- Download Dive+ to easily color correct your images afterward. Leave a comment if you would like to correct videos as well and I will send you a code to try the beta version.
- Needless to say, I brought my camera as well as my laptop though I dare say being on a liveaboard it the perfect time to disconnect so rather keep anything you won't need in safety on dry land.
- Insurance card or policy: If you are not a member of DAN make sure you are covered for diving related incidences including a trip to the decompression chamber.
- PADI/SSI: Bring the proof of your highest scuba and Nitrox certification.
- Dry bag for land excursions.
- A deck of cards.
- Fish ID books: If you are looking for something specific bring your fish ID book though all liveaboards I have been on had the right ones for the area we were diving in onboard.
Have you been on a liveaboard before and packed something that came in handy I didn't mention? Please share in the comments!
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. That income goes to supporting this website and keeping it free for you and everyone else!