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Preparing for a Liveaboard Diving Trip: What to Pack and Expect

by Max
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Preparing for a Liveaboard Diving Trip - What to Pack and Expect

A liveaboard diving trip is an exhilarating experience. These unique boat vacations allow you to explore the best dive sites on the planet – all in a comfortable and safe environment. With everything taken care of for you, it really can take the stress of booking a holiday. But even with the bulk of your trip taken care of, there are a few things to consider and prepare before booking a liveaboard.

You’ll need to ensure you’re properly equipped – from the right dive gear to sun protection and other essentials. In this guide, we will cover how to prepare for your trip, complete with a comprehensive liveaboard packing list, and what to expect during your stay.

Liveaboard Diving Preparation Tips

Aside from knowing what to bring when liveaboard diving, there are some essential preparations you should make before your trip.

Choose the Right Liveaboard

As a step in your preparation, make sure to do extensive research and read reviews before choosing a liveaboard. You want to pick a vessel that is up to your standards and meets all your needs. Seriously, the liveaboard you choose can make or break your trip – so you want to select one that will provide the best experience possible!

We recommend Liveaboard.com as the one-stop solution to find the liveaboard of your dreams, read up on reviews and take care of the complete booking process.

Consider Your Dive Experience Level

Liveaboard diving is for everyone, but depending on the itinerary and conditions, some vessels may be better suited for certain experience levels. If a certain experience level is required, it is obviously necessary to prepare for your liveaboard trip by completing the required certifications or dives and build up your experience first.

Book in Advance

Liveaboard diving is a popular activity, so book your trip as far in advance as possible. This will help you get the dates and vessel you want. Be sure to consider the seasons when you are booking, as some liveaboards may only run during certain times of the year.

Purchase Dive Insurance

Dive insurance should never be neglected when you prepare for a liveaboard trip. Dive insurance will give you with peace of mind, knowing you are covered in an emergency. Some liveaboards may offer dive insurance when you book, but this isn’t always the case. You want to choose a policy that covers all the areas you plan to dive in, and always read the fine print before you purchase.

You should also consider purchasing travel insurance before your trip.

We recommend DiveAssurethe leading dive insurance with the most comprehensive Diving Accident and Dive Travel insurance plans. Get your dive insurance now and enjoy your scuba diving vacation without worries.

Check Your Gear

Take the time to check that your gear is in good working order and you have everything you need for your trip. If it is not, you will have to get it serviced to prepare your gear for your liveaboard trip. If you are renting equipment, always notify the liveaboard operator beforehand so they can have the gear ready for you.

Get Nitrox Certified

Nitrox is a gas mix commonly used for scuba diving, allowing you to stay submerged for more extended periods. If your liveaboard offers nitrox, we strongly recommend getting certified ahead of time so you can take advantage and get more out of your dives.

Pack Light

You don’t want to be lugging around a huge, heavy suitcase on your liveaboard, so pack light!

Most liveaboards have limited space, so you won’t want to bring too much stuff. Be sure to check out our comprehensive liveaboard packing list below, as it will help you figure out what to bring and what to leave behind.

Preparing for a Liveaboard Diving Trip
Preparing for a Liveaboard Diving Trip

What to Bring For Liveaboard Diving

Once you have boarded your liveaboard, there’s no running back to shore for anything you might have forgotten. You must think ahead and be prepared with everything you need – without overdoing it!

Here is a complete liveaboard packing list to help you pack and prepare everything you will need for your liveaboard trip:


Always check with your airline and liveaboard for any baggage restrictions. However, most will allow one checked bag and one carry-on.

It is best to choose soft luggage that can easily be stored away, but if you’ve packed your diving gear, a hard-shelled case is recommended. This will help prevent any of your gear from being damaged.

Essential Travel Documents

These documents are vital for your trip and should never be left behind. While electronic and digital copies are becoming increasingly commonplace, carrying physical copies with you is still important. This way, if you face any technical issues, you will still have access to your essential documents.


You must bring your passport if you’re traveling from one country to the next. Check that your passport is valid and up-to-date with a longer expiration date than the length of your trip.

Some countries require passports to have a certain amount of validity before expiration. For example, Indonesia requires 6 months of validity; otherwise, you will be denied entry.

Visa or Entry Requirements

Depending on where you are traveling, you may need to apply for a visa before getting on the plane. Sometimes, this can be done at the airport or port of entry – so always double-check in advance.

Keep your visa and other entry requirements in a safe place, such as a passport wallet.

Boarding Passes

Whether they are for the airline or your liveaboard, don’t forget your boarding passes! Print these out, and also save them to your electronic device. This will ensure that you can access them when needed.

Transfer Information

Some liveaboards will provide transfers from the airport to the boat, while others will require you to arrange your own transport. If you’re responsible for organizing transfers, don’t forget to bring all the necessary information with you. This includes your driver’s contact details and the dock’s address.

Dive Log Book and Certifications

Bring your dive log book and evidence of any dive-related certifications you own, such as nitrox or advanced open water. This will help prove your dive experience and show your level of qualification. Some liveaboard itineraries are better suited to more experienced divers, so these items are essential if you are looking to join a more advanced trip.

Dive and Travel Insurance

Before embarking on your liveaboard trip, you must ensure you are adequately covered with the right type of insurance. Keep a copy of your insurance policy with you throughout the journey in case something goes wrong.

We recommend DiveAssurethe leading dive insurance with the most comprehensive Diving Accident and Dive Travel insurance plans. Get your dive insurance now and enjoy your scuba diving vacation without worries.

Dive Gear

This liveaboard packing list may seem extensive, but it really is just the essentials! Remember, most liveaboards offer rental equipment, so if you don’t want to travel with all your gear – this is a great way to save on space and weight.

Here are some liveaboard diving packing essentials you should pack and prepare:


Choose your wetsuit carefully and take into consideration the water temperature and conditions. A 3mm wetsuit is suitable for warm water in tropical climates, and 5mm is ideal for cooler waters. It is down to you and your comfort levels; only you know how cold you get underwater!

Base Layers

Think about it; you’re getting in and out of your wetsuit multiple times a day. Base layers can help keep you warm and comfortable! A long-sleeved rash guard and/or thermal top are a great way to protect your skin from the sun and keep you warm.


Your mask should fit comfortably onto your face and not leak. If you don’t already own one, a good way to find the perfect fit is by trying out various masks in a dive shop before you buy.

Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)

Your BCD should provide enough buoyancy to stay at your desired depth. Weight-integrated BCDs are the most popular choice, providing more comfort in the water. However, weight belts are still a tried-and-true option.

Consider renting your BCD to save space and keep your luggage light.


Choose a reliable regulator that is comfortable to use and can be easily adjusted. Regulators are often the most valuable piece of equipment, while also being comparably small and easy to pack – making them ideal for onboard luggage.


These may be a little large to pack, but fins are essential dive equipment. Fins come in many different styles and blade sizes, so consider the currents and type of diving you’ll be doing. If you want to save space in your luggage, check with your liveaboard operator and see if they offer fin rentals.

Dive Boots

Unless you’re using closed-foot fins, you’ll want to bring a pair of dive boots. Dive boots keep your feet warm in cooler waters while also protecting you from sharp rocks and corals.

Surface Marker Buoy

A surface marker buoy (SMB) or delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) is a must-have for any liveaboard dive. If you are diving in currents, most operators will require that you have an SMB with you, whether it’s your own or provided by the boat.

Dive Watch or Computer

Keeping track of your dive time and the maximum depth is essential for any diving. A dive watch or computer will help you monitor your dive data to keep your dives safe and within limits.

Save-a-Dive Kit

Accidents happen, and even the most experienced divers can find themselves needing a repair.

A basic save-a-dive kit comes in handy for minor repairs or emergencies. Pack some spare O-rings, lube, and a few essential tools – like an Allen key and multi-tool – for those unexpected moments.

Underwater Camera

If you’re a keen photographer, you’ll want to bring your camera gear on board to capture all the fantastic memories of your trip. Most liveaboards will have a designated camera area and a rinse tank so you can keep your gear well maintained.

Don’t forget to bring extra SD cards, batteries, and your camera charger!

Dive Accessories

There are a few dive accessories you may consider packing, depending on your preferences. This can include the following:

  • Hood: Ideal for colder temperatures and added ear protection.
  • Gloves: Depending on local regulations (some dive sites do not allow gloves), these can help to protect your hands from sharp coral during drift dives.
  • Reef hook: This again depends on local rules, but reef hooks are handy when diving amongst strong currents.
  • Dive torch or lights: You may need additional lighting for night or wreck dives. Torches are always a great addition to your diving kit.

Clothing Items

You don’t need to bring your entire wardrobe on board, as you’ll spend most of your time in a wetsuit. However, you must pack some clothing items for the surface intervals and evenings.

Be sure to pack for the right climate, but remember, it can get cold on the boat after completing multiple dives each day.

Here are some ideas on what clothes to bring liveaboard diving:

  • Lightweight, long sleeve tops or t-shirts
  • A warm fleece/sweater/jacket for cooler nights
  • Casual trousers, jeans or shorts
  • A wide-brimmed hat or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket (just in case!)
  • Underwear and socks
  • Bathing suit
  • Sleepwear
  • Deck shoes (for example, sandals or flip-flops)
  • Comfortable shoes for land excursions and traveling to the airport
  • Themed outfit (if you’re liveaboard is having a themed night!)

Personal Items

Your liveaboard may have certain items on board, such as shampoo and soap – but it is advisable to prepare and pack personal items for your own comfort. You can’t simply leave the boat to buy something you’ve forgotten!

Here are some last-minute items you’ll want to consider packing:

  • Prescription medicine
  • Sea sickness tablets
  • Insect repellent
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Towel (if not provided)
  • Menstrual products

Extra Items to Pack For Liveaboard Diving

The following items are not essential for liveaboard diving but may come in handy depending on your destination, itinerary, and what is supplied on your boat.

For some added home comforts while liveaboard diving, why not pack some of these items:

  • Books/reading material
  • Spare contact lenses/solution
  • Phone/laptop/tablet and charger with adapter
  • Travel pillow
  • Ear plugs
  • Travel clothesline and pegs (to dry your clothes)
  • Packing cubes (to keep your clothes organized)
  • Headphones
  • Snacks (most liveaboards provide plenty of snacks, so this is a more personal preference!)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Money or credit card (local currency for gratuities and additional expenses)
  • A small first-aid kit (for minor injuries only, not to replace the one on board)

What to Expect When Liveaboard Diving

Now you know what to bring for liveaboard diving, you might wonder what the experience will be like and how to prepare for it. Each liveaboard will differ from the next and offer its unique charm – however, there are a few key aspects you can expect to experience.

Set Schedule

Liveaboards will provide you with a fixed itinerary outlining the dives, meals, surface intervals, and breaks you’ll undertake. The routine while liveaboard diving can be pretty strict, so you must have good time management skills and stick to the plan. You will often start the day early and have multiple breaks between dives.

Multiple Daily Dives

Your boat’s itinerary will include multiple daily dives at various dive sites. The number of dives and locations may vary slightly due to weather and sea conditions. No matter your experience level, liveaboard diving is a great way to build on your underwater skills and explore the marine world. Night dives are often on the itinerary too, which is a great way to see nocturnal creatures.

Social Setting

Liveaboard diving is a brilliant way to meet other divers and make new friends. As you’ll spend many days together on the boat, it’s an excellent opportunity to socialize and share stories with fellow divers.

Expert Crew

The crew onboard a liveaboard often has an in-depth knowledge of the area and local dive sites. They will be on hand to answer any questions, show you around the boat, and help you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Onboard Amenities

Amenities offered on a liveaboard can vary from very little to a high standard of luxury.

Depending on your boat, you can likely expect air-conditioned cabins, warm showers, a sundeck, and a dining room. Some ships even have fun extras like hot tubs and bars! If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, always do your research and enquire about what is supplied on board.

Limited WiFi

Liveaboards are an excellent way to disconnect from the outside world. WiFi is often limited on liveaboards, and even if the boats offer internet access – it isn’t always available depending on the location. If you’re looking to really escape, taking a trip onboard a boat will be perfect for you!

Food and Snacks

All your food will be provided on the liveaboard, usually prepared by a chef. Expect plenty of hearty meals, usually consisting of local cuisine and some western-style dishes. Many liveaboards will also provide light snacks, hot drinks between dives, and a few treats!

If you have any dietary requirements, be sure to inform the liveaboard before your trip.

Small Cabins

Liveaboards are not known for offering the most spacious cabins. Some boats are larger than others, so you can expect varying room sizes. There is usually not much space in a liveaboard cabin, but you only spend a few hours at night in the room – so it is bearable!

Final Thoughts on Liveaboard Diving Preparation

Until you step foot on your liveaboard and start your adventure, you won’t know what to expect – and that’s the beauty of it!

Liveaboard vacations are different for everyone, but the key is to come prepared and make the most of your experience. Be sure to research the liveaboard and understand what is included in the package, pack the essentials, prepare your equipment, and most importantly, keep an open mind and have fun!

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