If scuba diving day trips or pay-per-dive services aren’t as exciting as they used to be, it may be time to step it up a notch. Book a liveaboard dive vacation to re-discover the exhilaration, adventure, and beauty that drew you to the sport from the start.
Liveaboards take you further out to sea to more remote reefs, often with a greater variety of coral and marine life than reefs found closer to shore. And, just imagine waking up to the rising sun with only ocean in sight. Bliss.
Want to dive in a tropical location? Reserve months in advance, and you’ll find many options for choice of boat and desired trip duration. Dive operators typically offer cruises anywhere from 4 days up to 2 weeks in length.
Simply because you won’t step on land for many days (say, to buy forgotten items), liveaboard diving requires some extra preparation. Apart from bringing dive log and dive certification card, you should strongly consider signing up for worldwide diving insurance, such as DAN (Divers Alert Network).
To help you prepare, below we’ve included some reminders and experience tested tips for what to bring for your liveaboard trip. Happy diving!
Safety sausage with line and small weight ball — This essential nylon inflatable alerts boats of your position as you surface. Shine a flash light inside, and it becomes a light beacon on night dives. If you buy online, be aware that the plastic line and weight are sometimes sold separately.
Remember if you’re on a shallow reef, keep the weight ball from getting snagged on coral as you wait for your boat pick-up.
Dive knife — Blunt or sharp tip, serrated or smooth blade, your choice. Will you use it to dig, cut, or saw? Buy a knife based on what you might primarily use it for. If you don’t want your knife to rust, we suggest a titanium blade over stainless steel.
Reef hook — This resembles a single-pronged fish hook with a line that can be attached to your BCD. Reef hooks are used to hook yourself onto rocks to stay in one place in oh-my-god current, without exerting effort.
Underwater camera housing with diffusion plate, silica gel packets and case weights — With all the fantastic diving ahead, people often purchase an underwater housing for their camera. Housing cases are usually camera model specific, and come with a diffusion plate (useful for even light with the flash).
Silica gel packets, a.k.a., “Do not eat” packets are placed inside the case to absorb moisture and stop your lens from fogging up (in a pinch, a tampon works, too). Weight plates, which screw onto the housing case, keep it from floating up your arm (normally not sold with housing).
Cortisone cream — Over-the-counter topical medication used to treat itchy dry skin, or inflammation from debris and jellyfish stings.
Sudafed — Some call it a diver’s secret cure. If you have a cold before diving (or develop one during rainy weather), this decongestant opens your sinuses so you can equalize as you descend underwater.
Taken 30 minutes before diving, you’ll feel more awake, and avoid ear pain and that unpleasant fiery orange mucus from reverse ear squeeze (on ascent).
Swim-Ear or Aqua Ear — These products dry out your ears to help prevent otitis externa, a common ear infection.
Olive oil or baby oil — A few drops help to prevent ear infections, and rid ears of excess wax that can clog them.
Motion sickness pills — You guessed it, this over-the-counter medication helps to quell seasickness. Be aware, you may also feel tired and dehydrated. To recharge, take a cat nap and drink plenty of water.
Rinsing ears with fresh water — This flushes out any ocean particles or bacteria that may enter your ears when diving. Good to avoid ear infections.
Mask issues — Dive instructors warn against mask squeeze, an uncomfortable, blood vessel popping, and sometimes bruising, press of your mask as you descend. Avoid this diving trauma by exhaling through your nose on your way down.
After a giant stride jump off the boat, remember to re-adjust your mask on the surface (otherwise at 20 meters you may find your mask crushing up against your nose).